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The best MacBook alternatives from Dell, Lenovo, HP, and more

MacBooks are expensive and, let’s face it, best when you have a ton of other Apple products. Which are also expensive. Yet, MacBooks are still amongst the best laptops you can buy, have a large following, and quite reliable machines. So, what is the iPhone shunning, Android phone using person to do when they want that kind of quality? They need to get a MacBook alternative.

Unfortunately, there is no one perfect MacBook alternative, as the only way to perfectly capture the essence of a MacBook is by… having a MacBook. That being said, some laptops do better in this regard than others. The following laptops effectively work as the best MacBook alternatives, all in their own special way, for a specific MacBook without having the Apple insignia or price tag.

The best MacBook alternatives

  • Best MacBook Air 13-inch alternative:
  • Best MacBook Air 15-inch alternative:
  • Best MacBook Pro 14-inch alternative:
  • Best MacBook Pro 16-inch alternative:
  • Best MacBook Pro 13-inch alternative:

How to choose a MacBook alternative

It should go without saying that choosing a MacBook alternative all comes down to finding a laptop that is similar to a MacBook. But, if that were so easy this article wouldn’t be necessary (and trademark lawyers might possibly be on the move).

We advise looking at the following qualities highly when choosing your suitable MacBook alternative:

Functionality and reliability

If you know Mac, you know the “It just works.” slogan. Part of this comes down to simplified and streamlined design. Another part quality hardware. And a final part that MacOS still gets less viruses than the competition.

In any event, the following laptops do their best to live up to these standards, even if they can’t get the MacOS virus resistance bonus. These laptops have quality hardware that is known for being reliable.

Streamlined aesthetic

From a user perspective, Apple products feel easy and intuitive to use. The need to go behind the scenes and fix files and play with unintegrated settings is somewhat less common for the average MacBook user than the average Windows user. At the same time, visual displays are paired down to promote the essentials.

The following laptops pride this paired-down aesthetic in the same way. Things should look clean and straightforward, not dizzying. For the most part, external features are felt, not seen.

How we chose these MacBook alternatives

Using the principles outlined above, we compared laptops to the latest MacBooks and made the hard choices. In practice, this means that we look at the primary qualities of the best MacBooks currently available and match up their qualities with other laptops. We’re also taking a look at one of the older models and finding a suitable comparison. Since MacBooks typically come in two editions, one smaller and one larger, we’ll try to keep to similar size guidelines when possible. Additionally, we’ve outlined our reasonings for each pick and, when suitable, provided runner-up choices (Macbook alternative alternatives, if you will) to provide more choices for you.

MacBook Air 13-inch alt: Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13 9315 on a table against a window.
Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Sleek design Lower battery life
Great general functionality
Comfortable keyboard

Our expert reviewer took on the MacBook Air M2 last year and left an unfortunate number one pick for alternative: The M1 MacBook Air. While that’s a good sign for Apple lovers, it isn’t the most promising signal for those seeking an alternative. However, our experienced laptop reviewer was also kind enough to put a nod towards the Dell XPS 13. Admittedly, this was an obvious pick, but you want as many confirmations as possible when going into this sort of selection.

For its own sake, the Dell XPS 13 has a paired down design with a nice keyboard and bright display. There are no extra stereo speaker ports on the sides of the keyboard, just pure keys and interface. The small bezel around the 13.4-inch screen is a nice touch, as well.

Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7 Evo 12th Gen
RAM 32GB
Storage 1,000GB SSD

MacBook Air 15-inch alt: 16-inch HP Spectre x360 2-in-1

An open HP Spectre x360 16 sits on a table, angled so that the screen and keyboard can be seen.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Very solid build Lower battery life
Excellent productivity performance Expense comparable to MacBook
Beautiful OLED display

This entry is a double-whammy of sorts: The HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 does well as a competitor against the larger of the MacBook Air models, but also satiates an unusual desire. As it turns out, MacBook users — and those avoiding MacBooks altogether — are looking at 2-in-1 laptops for a great MacBook alternative. In other words, something that goes beyond current Apple MacBook capabilities.

Our HP Spectre x360 review (of the 13.5-inch edition) paints it as what it is, a high-end Windows laptop with a nice screen and great performance. Our comparison of the laptop vs the MacBook Air further shows its strengths (and ultimately gives it the win over the M2-equipped version of the MacBook Air. Tellingly, both accounts of the HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 spend relatively little time showing off the 360-degree rotation of the laptop. It’s a bonus over the MacBook Air, no more no less.  Quality design, in all aspects of the laptop, and hardware alone are enough to carry this laptop to a place of excellence.

Specifications
Processor 13th Gen Intel Core i7
RAM 16GB RAM
Storage 2TB SSD

MacBook Pro 14-inch alt: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 opened and using software.
Lenovo
Pros Cons
Great, sturdy build Expensive
Connectivity with Android and iOS phones
Excellent support for business

Finding a suitable MacBook Pro alternative is a challenge that’s quite difficult. Comparing the MacBook Pro and the XPS 15, and you see the MacBook Pro is the clear winner, for example. Comparing the MacBook Pro M3 Max to Windows laptops shows just how unusual it is. To find a good alternative, we need to find an unusual machine. Powerful, but not too gamer-fied.

Our solution comes in the form of the the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11).  This laptop line has shown consistent upgrades from the 10th to 11th gen and, like all of the best Lenovo laptops, it has a sturdy build quality and comes with excellent support for businesses. Fans of the connectivity that comes with the Apple ecosystem, but are jealous as mere Android users will like that Intel Unison tech makes the transfer from your phone (iOS or Android) to the laptop easy. This includes file transfers and calls, which can now be taken via the laptop.

Specifications
Processor From 13th Gen Intel Core (i5 or i7 lines)
RAM From 16GB to 64GB
Storage Up to 2TB SSD

MacBook Pro 16-inch alt: Acer Swift X 16

Acer Swift X 16 front view showing display and keyboard.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Pros Cons
Great for productivity and creativity More bland than the MacBook Pro
Good build quality Short battery life
Lower than MacBook pricing

Once again, MacBook Pro alternatives aren’t easy to come by. However, if you’re looking for something bigger with a good build quality, you should look at the Acer Swift X 16. Our Acer Swift X 16 review dubbed it the “anti-MacBook Pro”. Here’s why:

Though a tad thicker than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the Acer Swift X 16 sits within Acer’s thin-and-light category. It has a strong build quality and relatively streamlined keyboard, managing to include a thin-keyed numpad over on the right. It has a great 1600p OLED display, giving great colors, with graphics all powered by a GeForce RTX 3050. And, speaking of the hardware, it is more than equipped to power your productivity-related and creative software.

Runner-up: We’ve already discussed it, but the is more suited for this size category than the 15-inch it was poised to replace.

Specifications
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS
RAM 16GB
Storage 1TB SSD

MacBook Pro 13-inch alt: Asus ZenBook 14 OLED

Asus Zenbook 14 OLED rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends / .
Pros Cons
Great pricing Could stand to be more powerful
Excellent screen for price
Intense battery life

We perused the best budget laptops for this one, as the MacBook Pro 13-inch is a somewhat older model. The correlations are perfect, but you should come away highly satisfied with the Asus ZenBook 14 OLED, a computer with a sleek design, quality screen, and high functionality. You’ll be impressed by its nearly-all-day 22-hour battery life and ability to get daily tasks done. Tucked away features, such as the numpad that glows up from under the trackpad when called and the fingerprint reader will delight you, giving you the things you need without cramping up the space. How very Mac-like!

Runner-ups: If you came to this section looking for a 13-inch MacBook alternative, not necessarily budget, consider the (it also happens to be one of the best laptops around). For a less expensive one, check out the or any of the other laptops in our best 13-inch laptops selection.

Specifications
Processor AMD Ryzen 5
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB SSD

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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John Alexander
John Alexander is a former ESL teacher, current writer and internet addict, and lacks the wisdom to know what the future…
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