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The best alternatives to the MacBook Pro 16-inch

The MacBook Pro, specifically the M1 Pro or M1 Max 16-inch option, presents a real challenge to comparable Windows laptops. It's incredibly powerful, especially considering how remarkable the battery life is and how quiet the system stays under load.

While no Windows laptops can currently emulate that exact profile of a system, that doesn't mean there aren't solid alternatives to the MacBook Pro. Their battery life may be weaker and they may get rather hot and loud — but in some cases, they offer stronger overall performance. If you want a premium, relatively portable powerhouse, but want to stay on the Windows side of the aisle, these are your best options.

MacBook Pro 16 (2021)
MacBook Pro 16 (2021)
The large-form laptop to beat
Razer Blade 17
Razer Blade 17
A powerful machine for gamers first, creators second
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Dell XPS 17 (9710)
Dell XPS 17 (9710)
A sleeker alternative
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
An upgradeable powerhouse
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MSI Creator Z17
MSI Creator Z17
Highly optimized creative performance
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razer blade 17 review 12

Razer Blade 17

A powerful machine for gamers first, creators second

Pros
  • Great design and build quality
  • Powerful for gaming
  • Extensive ports
  • Excellent, colorful screen
  • Surface stays relatively cool
Cons
  • Throttled CPU performance
  • Poor battery life
  • Very expensive

The Razer Blade 17 is as sleek a laptop as you'll find outside of the MacBook Pro 16. Its all-black exterior and chiseled aesthetic rival Apple's best in terms of its industrial design. It's just as solid, too, with that same feeling of being chiseled out of a solid piece of metal (which it is). If you're looking for a laptop that feels like a MacBook Pro 16, then the Razer Blade 17 is your best choice.

At the same time, the Razer Blade 17 can provide performance that rivals the MacBook Pro 16 with its M1 Max CPU — and in many cases outshines it. We reviewed the Razer with a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12800H, a fast CPU with 14 cores (six Performance and 8 Efficient) and 20 threads but not Intel's fastest. When configured with the Nvidia GeForce 3080 Ti GPU, the Razer Blade 17 scored 969 on the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe Premiere Pro. That's a great test of how well a laptop will handle demanding creative tasks. The MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Max scored 1,167, a higher score but not so much higher that it puts the MacBook in a different class entirely. You can also configure the Razer Blade 17 with a Core i9-12900H, which offers the same core and thread count but a higher clock speed.

And then, that RTX 3080 Ti will net you better gaming performance than Apple's machine could ever dream of. You'll also get a display that, although in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio, has solid colors and contrast and a superfast 240Hz refresh rate (with a Full HD 360Hz option available). All that makes the Razer Blade 17 as much a gamer's dream laptop as a creator's, something the MacBook Pro 16 can't match.

Razer Blade 17
Razer Blade 17
A powerful machine for gamers first, creators second
dell xps 17 review 1

Dell XPS 17 (9710)

A sleeker alternative

Pros
  • Bright, beautiful screen
  • Fantastic build quality and design
  • Performance is impressive
  • Ultra-thin bezels
  • Comfortable keyboard and touchpad
Cons
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Poor webcam

Dell's XPS 17 has the most standout design of any laptop on this list. It's constructed of CNC machine aluminum in the lid and chassis bottom, with black carbon fiber lining the keyboard deck and affording both a striking contrast visually and a more comfortable typing surface. The XPS 17 is as solidly built as the MacBook Pro 16 while being a more streamlined and attractive machine.

The XPS 17 has just undergone a refresh and doesn't yet list all of the configurations we suspect will be coming at some point. Right now, Dell's website lists the Core i7-12700H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 as the most powerful components available. We suspect that the XPS 17 will at least receive a Core i9 option and the same RTX 3060 that graced the previous model. If so, then it will be a fast machine but not as fast as the most powerful MacBook Pro 16.

However, the XPS 17 is also less expensive, and when you configure a more comparable MacBook Pro 16 in terms of price then the performance difference won't be as profound. And you'll have a Windows laptop that will still be faster in its gaming performance while also providing solid creative application support. You'll also get a display that will please creators and an overall design that's just as excellent as Apple's best.

Dell XPS 17 (9710)
Dell XPS 17 (9710)
A sleeker alternative
lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme gen 4 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4

An upgradeable powerhouse

Pros
  • Excellent build quailty
  • Superior entry-level display
  • Solid performance
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Very powerful configuration options
Cons
  • Performance was inconsistent
  • Battery life was middling

Consider the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 a placeholder in anticipation of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 that will make for an even more robust MacBook Pro 16 competitor. For now, Lenovo's most powerful ThinkPad is stuck with Intel 11th-gen CPUs and is limited to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, whereas the fifth generation machine will upgrade to 12th-gen CPUs, including the Core i9 vPro, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.

As it is, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 provides the usual excellent ThinkPad build quality and keyboard, along with solid performance that can mix it up with the MacBook Pro 16 M1 Pro version. It's also upgradeable, with the RAM easily accessible and a second PCIe SSD slot that can be used to expand storage and performance or create a redundant drive.

The laptop is built around an excellent 16-inch display and offers superior connectivity to any of the laptops on this list. If you want performance that's competitive with the MacBook Pro 16 then you'll want to wait for the next generation. But for an all-around laptop that represents the top of the ThinkPad line, even the fourth generation is competitive.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
An upgradeable powerhouse
msi creator z17 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

MSI Creator Z17

Highly optimized creative performance

Pros
  • Excellent productivity and creative performance
  • Good gaming performance
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • Active pen support
  • Solid build quality
  • Attractive aesthetic
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Display is a step behind the best
  • Poor battery life
  • Heavy

MSI is best known for its gaming laptops, and so it knows a thing or two about squeezing every ounce of performance out of a laptop's components. The Creator Z17 is a prime example, using a sophisticated thermal design that allowed its modest Core i7-12700H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti to rival the MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Pro in creative performance. Upgrade to the Core i9-12900H and RTX 3080 Ti and you'll have a Windows laptop that can compete with the MacBook's M1 Max version.

You'll also get excellent gaming performance, a great keyboard and touchpad, active pen support (a first for a 17-inch laptop), and solid build quality. The 17.3-inch IPS display isn't quite up to snuff in terms of color width and accuracy, but it runs at 165Hz and so is great for gamers.

The MSI Creator Z17 aims to match the MacBook Pro 16 in performance, and it succeeds. It's not the lightest or prettiest laptop on this list, but it's a powerhouse addition.

MSI Creator Z17
MSI Creator Z17
Highly optimized creative performance

Editors' Recommendations