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Best MacBook Pro alternatives for 2019

Think different about your laptop options.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As much as some of us may deride the MacBook Pro's awful keyboard, annoying Touch Bar and over-reliance on USB-C connections, its balance of screen quality, weight, battery life and performance for a long time it had no Windows-based peer. But now that OLED displays are beginning to hit the market that balance is tipping a little. OLED delivers true blacks, which means high contrast, as well as a wide gamut and HDR, which can rival or outperform the MacBook's.

And one nice thing about Windows laptops is the variety. In this case there are 14-inch laptops that are slightly smaller and lighter than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but not quite as small as the 13-inch model, for less money, plus we're seeing lots of experimentation with multiscreen designs.   

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Asus ZenBook Pro 15

Best overall alternative

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The Zenbook is the closest equivalent to a MacBook we've found, though it doesn't look anything like one. It's roughly the same size and weight, with a color-accurate 100 percent Adobe RGB 4K display -- and therefore a higher pixel density than Apple's Retina -- and discrete graphics. While it performs well, it still lags behind the comparable Core i9-8950HK MacBook, though that might be attributed to the difference in memory configurations. Its big weakness is battery life. But it costs $2,300 compared to $3,100 for an equivalent MacBook, and it will most likely outperform the entry-level 15-inch MacBook at around the same price. The second-screen touchpad seems gimmicky, but it might feed any Touch Bar nostalgia you're feeling.

Razer Blade 15

Best comparable design

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If you're drawn to a MacBook Pro for its featureless-slab aesthetic, Razer's your Windows go-to, especially now that the company's offering a model in Mercury white. It's priced similarly to the entry-level MacBook Pro model and should provide a similar level of performance. But the white version of the Razer only comes with a 1,980x1,080-pixel screen and is limited to an i7-8750H processor, relatively small 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM. It also weighs 0.5 pounds more. 

If you're willing to go with black, you can get a 4K 100 percent Adobe RGB screen (I haven't tested it for accuracy, though) and a GeForce RTX 2070 for $2,900. That's more expensive than the comparable MacBook configuration (around $2,700), but it's far more gameworthy. Battery life is pretty meh, however, and with the 4K screen is likely even worse.

Lenovo Yoga C930

Best for battery life and light weight

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With roughly the same insides, the 14-inch C930 is $1,600 vs. the 13-incher's $2,300 or the $2,400 base configuration of the 15. It's also a convertible, which is more flexible, and has better battery life. The performance won't match that 15-inch base configuration, however. You can opt for the 4K display over the default 1,920x1,080-pixel screen in order to get Retina-beating pixel density, but it will cost another $200 and tank the battery life.

Alienware Area-51m

Best performer as a desktop replacement

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This lacks the elegant design of the MacBook, but if you need raw power in a desktop replacement, this 17-inch behemoth can be configured to outperform the top-end MacBook Pro. You can get a desktop-class i9-9900K processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, 64GB RAM and 3TB storage (2TB SSD). That will run you $5,150, though. 

Starting at a more modest $3,330, you can still get a desktop-class octo-core i7, RTX 2070, 16GB and 1TB SSD. That should still deliver comparable performance to a $4,500 MacBook, and you can add a boatload of connectors. It'll handle games well too. The Alienware only has an 1,920x1,080 display, which is kind of sad. It's intended to be run while plugged in -- with two AC adapters -- so it doesn't matter that a 4K display would sap the already sad battery life.

Huawei Matebook Pro X

Best budget option

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You can save a lot of money by dropping to 14 inches. The Matebook Pro X delivers performance equal to the last-generation top-end MacBook 15 but starting at $1,100, it costs less than the cheapest Retina MacBook 13. The 3,000x2,000-pixel screen delivers better-than-Retina pixel density, accurate sRGB color and the laptop is thinner and lighter than a 15-inch MacBook. Plus, battery life is decent.

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