As much as some of us may deride the's , and over-reliance on USB-C connections, its balance of screen quality, weight, battery life and performance had no Windows-based peer devices for a long time. 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 of colors and high dynamic range that can rival or outperform the MacBook's Retina Display.
Thechanges things up a bit. It's still the size of the 15-inch but slightly heavier and ditches the butterfly-switch keyboard in favor of a slightly better scissor-switch-based one. It's basically the same, however, still with no 4K options. On the other hand, like its predecessors, its performance still beats similarly configured Windows systems on a lot of tasks.
But even an entry level MacBook can stretch the limits of someone's budget, and even those who have set aside a nice chunk of cash might want something a little more customizable. No one can deny that one appealing thing aboutis the variety. Even when trying to imitate the offerings of a MacBook (heck, or even an iPad or iPad Pro) there are all sizes of far less expensive Chromebooks, as well as 14- and 15-inch laptops that are slightly smaller and lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but not quite as small as the MacBook Air, across the price spectrum. Plus, we're seeing lots of .
With longer battery life than the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the more flexible feature set of a two-in-one, the Spectre is a great choice for work and play. The backlit island keyboard is a pleasure to type on, making it great for typing on. Software-wise, the HP Spectre comes with Windows 10 Home 64, a 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor and 256 GB SSD storage. Users are also a fan of its trackpad. Read our HP Spectre x360 13 (late 2019) review.
Just a little bigger than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, the Yoga C940 is fast, attractive and feature packed. Plus it gives you something you can't get in a MacBook: the 360-degree screen that lets you use it like a tablet or prop it up in a tent or kiosk configuration. Read our Lenovo Yoga C940 (14-inch) review.
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 a half pound more.
If you're willing to go with black, you can get a 4K, 100% Adobe RGB screen and a GeForce RTX 2070 for $2,900. That's more expensive than the comparable MacBook configuration (around $2,700), but it's a much better gaming laptop. Battery longevity is pretty meh, however, and with the 4K screen it's even worse. Read our Razer Blade 15 Advanced review.
Dell's is a 13.3-inch laptop that's so trimmed up that the body is basically the size of an older 11.6-inch laptop. Being part of the company's XPS line means both its chassis and components are top notch for its class, so you're getting great battery life and performance, too. Power delivery is via USB-C and it comes with a MicroSD reader and headphone jack. Read our Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.
Cheaper than even the MacBook Air with the 15-inch footprint of the Pro, but with a higher-resolution display and two-in-one flexibility, Chromebooks are one class of options with no Apple analog. But if everything you do is cloud-based, the C630's sleek look and feel at a Chrome OS price makes a much more cost-effective alternative. It comes with 8 GB RAM and could even serve as a gaming laptop for more casual gamers. Read our Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 review.
Best alternative for mainstream photo editing
Dell XPS 15 9500
If, like me, you're not a big fan of OLED screens for photo editing -- they're not optimized for Adobe RGB and aren't great at tonal range in the shadows -- then what you need is a laptop with a good IPS display. The Dell XPS 15 9500 with the 4K screen option delivers that, and it's not as reflective as the OLED screens I've seen. It doesn't quality as an "RTX Studio" laptop because it tops out at a GTX 1650 Ti, but that graphics processor is sufficient for most photo editing and you don't need the Nvidia Studio drivers for most photo editing. Dell's PremierColor software isn't perfect, but it gives you more control over screen settings than most I've seen, and it's got two Thunderbolt 3 controllers to make your external drives happy.
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. Marketed as a gaming laptop, the Area-51m can be outfitted with a desktop-class i9-9900K processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, 64 GB RAM and 3TB storage (2TB SSD). That will run you $5,150, though.
Starting at a more modest $3,330, you can still buy a desktop-class octa-core i7, RTX 2070, 16 GB RAM and 1TB SSD. That should still deliver comparable performance to a $4,500 MacBook, and you can add a boatload of connectors. It performs well as a gaming laptop 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. Read our Alienware Area-51m review.