Fortunately for Apple users, Apple has made some much-needed changes to the MacBook Pro in the latest generations. That means not anymore, or relying too much on the Thunderbolt/USB-C connection. Latest models and they come with M1 series processors, high-end design and mini-LED backlight displays. Apple has also added back some ports that were missing from previous generations and removed the Touch Bar.
But the fact remains that there is a much greater variety of designs, feature sets, and display options for Windows laptops and Chromebooks.remains the preferred platform for local gaming. allows Macs to work around the game problem to some extent, but not completely; only a fraction of the gaming universe can be played through the cloud.
Anit can stretch the limits of your budget, and those who have set aside a nice chunk of cash might want something a little more adaptable. No one can deny that one attractive thing is diversity. Even if you’re trying to emulate the MacBook menu (or ) are all sizes much cheaper as well as 14- and 15-inch laptops, which are slightly smaller and lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but not as small as , across the price spectrum. You can also get more variety with alternatives like . Plus we see a lot .
This list is regularly updated with new models that we have tested and reviewed. It’s a great place to start to get an idea of what’s available. If you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or 2-in-1 is right for you, head to our laptop FAQs at the bottom of the list.
So if you’re looking to switch to Windows, here are our recommendations for laptops to fill that MacBook-sized void in your life.
For much less than the entry-level MacBook Pro 13, the HP Envy x360 13 is a great choice for an older high school or college student—or anyone looking for a small, stylish, and easy-to-use—two-in-one. It’s lightweight, weighing just under 3 pounds (1.3 kg) and has a long battery life despite its size. It’s also available with a choice of AMD Ryzen 5 4500U or Intel 11th Gen Core processors.
Read our HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review.
Slightly larger than the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the Yoga 9i, a slightly updated and renamed version of the Yoga C940, is fast, attractive and packed with features. Plus, it gives you something you can’t find in a MacBook: a 360-degree screen that lets you use it as a tablet or prop it up in a tent or kiosk configuration.
Read our Lenovo Yoga 9i review.
If, like me, you’re not a fan of OLED screens for photo editing – they’re not optimized for Adobe RGB and don’t have great tonal range in the shadows – then you need a laptop with a good IPS display. The Dell XPS 17 9720 with its 4K screen option delivers, and it’s not as reflective as the OLED screens I’ve seen. Dell’s PremierColor software isn’t perfect, but it gives you more control over screen settings than I’ve ever seen, and it has two Thunderbolt 3 controllers to keep your external drives happy. It’s heavier than the MacBook, but not much bigger, especially given its larger 17-inch screen. And while its battery life isn’t mind-blowing, its performance can certainly keep up.
And a great, lower-cost alternative is the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus, which isn’t heading towards the top of the range primarily due to lower build quality, and I suppose if you’re looking for the equivalent of a MacBook Pro, you want a metal chassis, a better screen, and higher-end components. But if you want to save even $1,000, it’s worth considering.
Read the Dell XPS 17 9720 review
Cheaper than even the MacBook Air, with roughly the same dimensions but lighter. The 13-inch Flex 5 has two-in-one flexibility if everything you do is cloud-based. Its sleek look and feel at the price of Chrome OS make it a cost-effective alternative.
Read our Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 review.
If you’re drawn to the MacBook Pro for its aesthetic without the features, Razer is your go-to choice for Windows. If you want one that roughly matches the 14-inch Pro in terms of design, size and weight, the Blade 14 is your choice; its little brother, the Razer Book 13, is a great alternative to the 13-inch MacBook Pro if you want something a little smaller and cheaper.
The 14-inch Razer Blade, a smaller version of the 15-inch base, packs plenty of gaming power for its size without feeling small — an important factor for a gaming laptop that Apple doesn’t have to worry about — but has decent battery life, a nice size for travel and a subtle design (for a gaming laptop) that’s buttoned up enough to sit in a meeting with top people or clients.
Read our Razer Blade 14 (2021) review.
The Dell XPS 13 is a 13.3-inch laptop that’s trimmed down so much that the body is essentially the size of an older 11.6-inch laptop. Being part of the company’s XPS lineup means that both the chassis and components are top-of-the-line, so you also get great battery life and performance. It’s powered via USB-C and comes with a microSD reader and a headphone jack. It comes in a standard clamshell as well as a two-in-one, but I prefer the two-in-one because you can fold it into a tablet if you have to work in a tight space.
Read our Dell XPS 2-in-1 review.
What’s better than the Touch Bar? A whole second half-screen display, that’s it. The Duo’s second flip-out screen can act as an additional display, an extension of the primary display (for browsing those long web pages), or a separate control center from which you can launch custom Asus tools or control surfaces for select creative applications. . Plus, Asus excels at squeezing every bit of performance out of its high-end laptops, and the 14-inch also delivers great battery life.
It comes in two models, the 15-inch and the 2021 14-inch Duo 14 that we reviewed. The Duo 14 has either 11th generation Core i5 or i7 processors, optional Nvidia MX450 discrete graphics, and up to 32GB of memory.
Read our Asus ZenBook Duo review.
Which is faster, a MacBook or a Windows laptop?
That is almost impossible to answer.
For one thing, it’s a moving target. We’re starting to see Windows models with new 12th Gen Intel processors that share the same hybrid core architecture as Apple’s M1 chips, as well as new mobile GPUs. We haven’t had a chance to test many of these next-generation models yet, but it’s safe to assume that Apple’s M1 processors will face stiff competition.
And Apple hasn’t even released an M1 MacBook with a discrete GPU yetcompete with current low-end Nvidia and AMD graphics up to RTX 3070 and Radeon RX 6800M and though neither is really surprising. But that said, at the high end, we’re still in a sort of MacBook holding pattern when it comes to comparisons with heavier Windows options.
In addition, differences in operating systems complicate everything. Mac OS has long been more efficient than Windows, and that has only gotten better now that Apple owns its entire food chain. However, they don’t have to worry about compatibility with partner systems and countless different components. Then throw in the difficulty of getting repeatable, comparable, representative and broad-based benchmark results for cross-platform comparisons… well, I don’t feel like going down that rabbit hole right now.
Is the MacBook Pro better than a Windows laptop for content creation?
Again, a tough question to answer because you can’t make any sweeping generalizations. If you’re basing your concerns on the old reputation of Windows being inferior for graphics work, that was accurate at the time, but it’s no longer true.
Screens on Windows laptops have come a long way, and convertibles (also known as two-in-ones) mean you can paint or draw directly on the laptop screen. You would have to buy an iPad with the MacBook.
Some graphics applications are only available on one platform or the other, so figuring out which ones you need and which ones you can switch from is the first thing you need to decide before deciding between Windows and MacOS. Also, consider that MacOS no longer supports 32-bit apps, so if you have an old favorite that hasn’t been updated—this happens mostly with small tools—but still exists in Windows, that’s something to think about.
Some applications may also be better optimized for one platform than another, or may rely on specific GPUs from AMD or Nvidia for their best acceleration. Since you can’t really use an Nvidia card with a Mac, and none of the M1 MacBooks include any discrete graphics, Windows is probably a better bet, especially for programs that rely on Nvidia’s CUDA programming interface. Also think about any accessories you need – the drivers and tools you need to use them may not be available or may be removed on one or the other.
MacBooks can run faster than equivalently configured Windows laptops simply because MacOS is much more tightly integrated with the hardware than Windows can ever be on its side of the fence. Microsoft simply has to support a much wider range of hardware than Apple will ever need, and that increases performance; this can be especially important for latency-sensitive activities such as audio recording. The flexibility of Windows is both its strength and its weakness.
The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets, and other PC-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in CNET’s labs, and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating the aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality of the device. The final review verdict is a combination of these objective and subjective judgments.
The list of benchmark software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important benchmarks we currently run on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra.
For a more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it, see our How We Test PCs page.