The 2023 MacBook Pro 14 is the new hotness from Apple and it’s sure to be a great laptop, but starting at $1,999 for the M1 Pro model with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, there are plenty of laptops out there that are going to be a better value for many users.
Whether you are a diehard macOS or Windows user, we’ll cover a handful of options that come in for less (in some cases much less) than the new MacBook Pro 14 and offer similar hardware and strong enough performance to take its place.
Here are the top five laptops that are a better value than the 2023 MacBook Pro 14.
1. 2021 MacBook Pro 14
Let’s start with the obvious: the 2021 MacBook Pro 14 remains an excellent laptop. We awarded it 4.5 out of 5 stars when we reviewed it in 2021 and it has shown little signs of slowing down in the intervening months. Beyond the introduction of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which delivered outstanding performance and battery life (over 14 hours!), the 2021 MacBook Pro 14 also brought with it the new MacBook design.
That exact design carries over to the 2023 model, including the somewhat controversial notch, but also the universally loved return of ports like the MagSafe 3 charging port, an HDMI port, and an SD card reader to complement the trio of Thunderbolt 4 ports. Even a devoted Apple fan would be hard-pressed to tell the old and new MacBook Pro 14 models apart, so it purely comes down to those new chips.
Now we haven’t seen prices fall too much yet, but when the 2023 MacBook Pro is available in stores, we expect to see the 2021 MacBook Pro 14 drop to its lowest price ever, which could mean $500-$600 in savings. Weigh that against the roughly 30% M2 Pro/M2 Max graphics performance improvements and I think many will conclude the 2021 MacBook Pro 14 is the right choice for them.
2. HP Envy 16
Turning to a Windows machine, the HP Envy 16 is a beautiful laptop that offers several advantages over the 2023 MacBook Pro 14, while coming in for hundreds less depending on the configuration. It starts at just $1,399, but jumping to the configuration with an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU and an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU takes it up to $1,769, still $230 shy of the base 2023 MacBook Pro 14. You can even bump up to 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, doubling the MacBook Pro on both counts and stay $20 below the MacBook’s starting price.
While those specs, coupled with the 16-inch 2560 x 1600-pixel 120Hz IPS display, make this a more than capable content creation laptop, gamers will take note of that RTX 3060 GPU and know that this wildly outclasses the 2023 MacBook Pro as a gaming laptop. The larger display also gives you a more expansive canvas or a larger battlefield, depending on your usage. The 2023 MacBook Pro 16 bumps all the way up to a $2,499 starting price, so you are saving even more in that comparison.
The bountiful array of ports may also make MacBook Pro 14 owners envious with two USB 4 ports, two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 port, an AC power port, a headphone/mic combo jack, and a microSD card reader. Finally, while it will bump the price above the base model MacBook Pro 14, you have the option of a 4K multitouch OLED display — try getting that on a MacBook.
3. MacBook Pro 13 M2
Returning to the Apple fold, the MacBook Pro 13 M2 is another option that prospective 2023 MacBook Pro 14 buyers should strongly consider. Once again, this model earned 4.5 out of 5 stars and an Editor’s Choice award from us last year, and it starts at $1,299 a $700 savings versus the Pro 14 — and it’s often on sale.
The standard M2 doesn’t offer the top-end performance of its M2 Pro and M2 Max siblings (we’ll find out exactly what that difference is once we finish our review of the new Pro 14), but for many users, that is likely to be a negligible trade-off in real-world performance and saves you hundreds of dollars. The other good news is that you have the laptop with the best battery life, over 18 hours in our testing.
The design and the display are the biggest sacrifices you are making. The Pro 13 M2 still uses the older MacBook design with the TouchBar and just a trio of Thunderbolt 4 ports along with a headphone/mic jack. The display is a smaller 13.3-inch Retina Display and it lacks the brighter 120Hz mini LED panel of the Pro 14. On the positive side, you don’t have the notch to worry about.
4. Acer Swift 5
If you are looking for a 14-inch form factor, outstanding build quality, and a gorgeous display the Acer Swift 5 is a fantastic alternative to the Pro 14. Our pick for the 2022 Laptop of the Year was another recipient of a 4.5 out of 5-star rating and our Editor’s choice award.
While the 2023 Pro 14 is sure to outscore it on benchmarks, the Swift 5 shocked us with its “rival-beating performance” that eclipsed the MacBook Air M2 — and even the MacBook Pro M2 in some cases. That includes speedy video transcoding and ultra-fast file transfers for those of you that are content creators.
What’s most impressive is that the Swift 5 does all this while weighing only 2.65 pounds and coming in at $1,549 for a model that includes an Intel Core i7-1260p CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Toss in the 12 hours of battery life along with the robust collection of ports and it’s easy to see why the laptop one of our writers called “cheaper and better than the M2 MacBook Air” is also a strong challenger for the Pro 14.
5. MacBook Air M2
Finally, we return once again to Apple for the refreshed MacBook Air M2 from last year. Unless you are a content creator that regularly finds yourself in a time crunch for rendering video or compiling code, the drop-off in performance on the M2 Air isn’t going to impact you too greatly.
The M2 Air got a larger 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664-pixel Liquid Retina display, now mirroring the notched look of the Pro 14 and Pro 16. Regrettably, it didn’t pick up all the new ports of its larger siblings, but it did add MagSafe 3 to its pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports.
The Air M2 offers solid battery life at 14 hours and 6 minutes in our testing and is more portable than the Pro 14 at 2.7 pounds compared to 3.5 pounds. If you were worried about your budget with the $1,999 Pro 14 then you will be thrilled to hear that the M2 Air starts at $1,199 and we’ve seen it drop all the way to $999.
If you were wavering between the M2 Pro and M2 Max models of the Pro 14, the Air M2 isn’t likely the choice for you. But if you were looking at the base model and sweating that price, this gives you probably 80% of the experience for 50% of the price.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.