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MacBook Pro Alternatives

Dell Studio XPS 16

Dell’s Studio XPS 16 is the most expensive alternative on my list, weighing in at a hefty $1,624 as I have configured it, but you can save an additional $175 by going with an only slightly slower processor (the 2.4 GHz 3 MB cache P8600). The loss in performance should be nearly negligible, but I chose the T9550 configuration because it was most similar to that of the MacBook Pro’s 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo.

So, what makes the XPS 16 so much like the MacBook Pro? For starters, it looks surprisingly good for a Dell. With aluminum accents, leather grip trim, and an obsidian black paint job, it could win a few beauty pageants. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but opening it up reveals a stunning LED screen and brilliant backlit keyboard, much like the MacBook Pro (although granted, it is not quite as sleek). Either way, it would be tough to call this machine unattractive. Under the hood, it is a powerful beast, sporting the same DDR3 and processor  as the MacBook Pro, all powered by a nine-cell Li-Ion battery, giving it up to eight hours of battery life. All of this weighs in at 6.5 pounds, which is slightly heavier than the 5.5 pound MacBook Pro, but it is still reasonably light.

It also has a few features not found in a 15.4” MacBook Pro. The Studio XPS 16 has premium speakers as well as a subwoofer, giving it excellent sound quality. It also has one ultimate coup de grace, its 16” Edge-to-Edge 1920x1080 LED display, trumping Apple’s greatest oversight in its 15.4” line, the mediocre 1440x900 screen. Oh, and it has an HDMI port.

Sadly, however, it isn’t all diamonds and pearls. Compared to the Apple’s all-aluminum unibody design, the XPS 16 is lacking in build quality, although with its aluminum hinges, only slightly. Also, the XPS 16’s keyboard leaves a bit to be desired and is just a small bit flimsy.

All in all, the XPS 16 scores high for performance, battery life, and aesthetics, but only receives a moderate score for build quality.

Dell Studio XPS 16
Processor
Core 2 Duo T9550 (6 MB cache, 2.66 GHz)
Memory
4 GB DDR3-1066
Hard Drive
320 GB 7,200 RPM
Video Card
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650 512 MB
Display
16" RGBLED 1920x1080
Relevant I/O Ports
3x USB, 1x eSata, HDMI, 8in1 Card Reader, 54 mm Express Slot, IEEE 1394a
Dimensions
15.15 x 10.02 x .95-1.34"
Weight
6.5 lbs.
Price
$1,624
  • So essentially, Pay more for a MacBook Pro for equal or lesser performance, but my farts will smell better?
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    Sleepless in BostonSo essentially, Pay more for a MacBook Pro for equal or lesser performance, but my farts will smell better?
    No, you'll just think your farts smell better, and then tell everyone about how good they smell.
    Reply
  • norbs
    Who cares what little kids think, you could not afford a mac book or the cheaper PC alternative, your opinion doesn't matter... ;)
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    I want to know why all the crap ware you get with PC manufacturers isn't mentioned. I mean sure, you could just reformat when you get the thing, but for some people, that's a complicated task.
    Reply
  • touchdowntexas13
    That's like saying, I want to know why the article didn't take into account the range of compatibility with games/applications that the other systems have. If you want to start a whole mac vs. pc thread, then go ahead, because you will probably get plenty of responses. Unlike the title suggests, the author of this article was obviously trying to keep a level playing field. He even threw in a refurbished mac to show a cheaper solution that would be almost just as good as the real thing.

    If we are going to be nitpicky, he didn't compare the hdd's, which some of the other systems either had a faster or a bigger hdd than did the macbook pro.

    And before someone says "you could always just dual boot with windows", that would be an expense that would need to be taken into account, because windows is expensive. And that would be just as complicated as removing the crapware off of those pcs...

    Very nice article by the way. I can't say i needed to be told that there are cheaper/faster alternatives to macs, but it's good to see this site acknowledge people that can't afford them.
    Reply
  • shurcooL
    Sony Vaio Z is a sleek sexy 13.3" machine weighing at only 3.5 lbs. It looks kinda similar to the FW series, except smaller.

    It seems like a nice competitor to the regular MacBook, no?
    Reply
  • andy_newton
    It all comes down to what you are going to use this laptop for and for how many years.

    If you intend to buy a new laptop once a year just for Casual Gaming, Facebook, and other non critical things or just because you easily get bored then it's pretty obvious: Don't buy a Mac.

    If you do tons of color critical work such as prints, movie, special effects, & CAD then it's quite obvious too: Among all the choices in the article, Macbook Pro is the only one that comes with a Monitor suited for those specific tasks even if your choice of OS is Windows.

    Another thing: those 8 hr battery life claims--is it with Vista doing nothing? How do you get 8hrs?

    I've never come across any Vista Premium notebooks (including any Apple) that lasts more than 4 hrs running Vista doing nothing with all hardware turned on (Wifi, bluetooth, 50% LCD Brightness, 50% Volume, 50% Backlit )

    I'd appreciate it if someone can enlighten me.

    -ND
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    Yeah, I'm skeptical about the 8 hours of battery life thing too, but it seems to be about the average laptop manufacturers are claiming for their 9 cell batteries. I seriously doubt any of them, including the macs, get 8 hours.
    Reply
  • quantumrand
    Andy_NewtonIf you do tons of color critical work such as prints, movie, special effects, & CAD then it's quite obvious too: Among all the choices in the article, Macbook Pro is the only one that comes with a Monitor suited for those specific tasks even if your choice of OS is Windows.
    I just have to say, the 15.4" MacBook Pro doesn't have that great of a screen. True, it's LED backlit, so it gets a uniform brightness. But, at 1440x900, it's held back considerably. The XPS 16 would be a much better choice screen wise, being LED backlit and 1920x1080. The Vaio also has a supperior display.
    Reply
  • cadder
    I just now configured a Dell Latitude E6500 as closely as I could to the MBP and it came out at $1291. I picked the E6500 because it has the all metal chassis. A few months ago I bought an E6500 for myself, spec'd out a little higher than the MBP but I bought it with a coupon from the Dell outlet and got it for a LOT less money.

    I also picked the same resolution as the MBP and it is known that of the 3 manufacturers that make these display panels Dell sometimes uses the same one that Apple uses. So the Dell display would not be inferior to the MBP, it would be IDENTICAL. I've checked and my own E6500 has the identical display panel that the MBP uses.

    I am not an Apple fan in any way, for several reasons, but I'm learning that part of the price difference between Apple and "the others" is that Apple uses premium hardware. You can get a budget 15" laptop for around $600. You just have to decide if you are willing to spend more money for that and for their other features. I didn't want a budget laptop so I spent a lot more, but still far short of the MBP.
    Reply