The new MacBook Pro has some actual pros up in arms. With only two USB Type-C ports on the base model (four on the Touch Bar model), no SD card slot, the end of MagSafe charging, an older 6th Generation Intel CPU and a $1,499 starting price, some Apple lovers are considering alternatives.
In our 13-inch MacBook Pro review, we said that we really like its beautiful display, improved butterfly keyboard, louder speakers and long battery life. That’s why we awarded it 4 out of 5 stars. But if you’re looking to dip your toes into the Windows 10 waters for a truly Pro machine, here are the best options:
Our favorite overall laptop now has Intel’s 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPU, and should be considered seriously by anyone in the market for a new laptop. At 12 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches, it’s thicker than the superthin MacBook Pro, but you’ll get two USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3, an SD card slot and your choice of either full-HD nontouch or QHD+ touch screen options with virtually no bezel around its beautiful Infinity Edge display.
Don’t let the fact that Razer makes gaming machines fool you — you can get some serious creative work done on its machines. The Razer Blade uses the latest 7th Generation Intel CPU, has options for 14-inch displays up to 3200 x 1800 and includes a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3. It’s a little hefty at 4.2 pounds, but you’ll get 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, which will let you play intense games as well as boost your Photoshop performance. The one catch? No SD card slot; you’ll need to upgrade to the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro for that.
If you need more versatility, check out Microsoft’s Surface Book, which is one of our favorite combinations of laptop and tablet so far. The 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 touch-screen display is sharp and ready for artists who want to use the included Surface Pen. You’ll get two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and Mini DisplayPort, but you’ll have to do without the latest USB Type-C port. The Nvidia GTX 965M GPU and 6th Generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs aren’t the latest and greatest, but the Pro’s design and tools make it a contender for artists and other creatives.
If the OLED Touch Bar on the Mac isn’t enough for you, how about an OLED display? The ThinkPad X1 Yoga 14-inch OLED screen gives you astounding colors and extra-wide viewing angles. Plus, you’ll enjoy full-day battery life and an SD card slot, though there are no USB Type-C or Thunderbolt options here. At 2.8 pounds, you can carry it anywhere with ease. But if you want the latest and greatest, you’ll have to wait for a refresh with Kaby Lake CPUs; current models sport older Skylake processors.
Apple isn’t the only company that makes laptops that are thin, light and well-designed. The HP Spectre x360 is drop-dead gorgeous and light at 2.8 pounds and 0.5 inches thick. You can get it with the latest Kaby Lake CPU and a speedy PCIe SSD, and it has both USB Type-C and Type-A ports. But HP ditched the SD card, too, so you may still need a dongle for that. We also love the Spectre for its amazing audio and long-lasting battery.
If you want to replace the 15-inch MacBook Pro, try Asus’ ZenBook Pro. The UX501VW has a beautiful all-metal build, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and a 15.6-inch 3840 x 2160 touch screen. Like the new MacBook Pro, it’s only available with a Skylake CPU, but the 16GB of RAM and discrete Nvidia GeForce 960M GPU with 2GB of VRAM allow for great performance. At 5 pounds, though, it’s a bit chunky compared to other devices of this size.
It’s hard to argue with the Dell XPS 15 — it’s the XPS 13, but bigger. This model doesn’t have a Kaby Lake option yet (that’s likely coming early next year), but there’s an option for an Nvidia 960M GPU and up to 16GB of RAM. You also get a whole bunch of ports, including two USB 3.0 ports, a Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and an SD card reader. At 4.4 pounds and 0.7 inches thick, you’ll be able to carry it around in any bag without a problem.
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