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MacBook Pro Alternatives

Why NOT To Buy A MacBook Pro

A few weeks back, we published an article describing Bill Lake’s purchase of a $3,000 MacBook Pro and his justification for such a pricey endeavor. While many of his points are valid, the fact remains that many people simply cannot justify spending so much on a laptop, especially with today’s tough economy. For a consumer to buy even a more basic MacBook Pro, he or she must commit to spending at least $2,000, which is still too much money for many of us for a laptop.

Most people interested in a MacBook Pro consider it because of its own unique combination of features. But with a retail price of $2,000-$2,500 for this laptop, this unique combination of capabilities comes at a steep price. Other notebooks have many (if not all) of the features you would find in the MacBook Pro, and if you can prioritize those features that you truly want, you can recreate  most of the Mac experience and save a good chunk of cash. While it is possible to install OSX on some PC systems, it is a very complex and unreliable process, so you will miss out on the OSX experience. However, keep in mind that most Mac applications do have PC-compatible counterparts, and for the few that don’t, there is still the option of VMware. If you can go without OSX, the savings are substantial.

When thinking about the features to which most people are attracted, I came up with several main categories: performance, battery life, aesthetics, and build quality. Now, there are plenty of laptop manufacturers that could stand up to these requirements, but limiting my search to Dell, Sony, Asus, and MSI gave me a wide spread of features and prices. On the following pages, you’ll see my picks for MacBook Pro alternatives. But first, here are the MacBook Pro's specifications:

Processor
Core 2 Duo (6 MB cache, 2.53 GHz)
Memory
4 GB DDR3-1066
Hard Drive
320 GB 5,400 RPM
Video Card
Nvidia 9400M and 9600M GT 512 MB
Display
15.4" LED 1440x900
Relevant I/O Ports
2x USB, Mini Display Port, IEEE 1394b, 34 mm Express Slot
Dimensions
14.35 x 9.82 x .95"
Weight
5.5 lbs.
  • 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