In our previous article on MacBooks, we covered Apple’s new dual releases, the MacBook Pro 16 and Pro 14 with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. Now, don’t take me wrong, the new MacBooks are absolute mean machines that come with two new processors carrying the legacy of the fabled M1 architecture. They excel at virtually everything you throw at them including mainstream high-resolution gaming with the graphic settings cranked up. But ever wondered what else is out there? We look at MBP 16 alternatives for creators and gamers.
Every consumer loves choices. We discover some excellent alternatives where our readers can turn to in case they wish to shelf the MacBook Pro plans.
A Bit of a Recap – MacBook Pro 16 2021
The MacBooks Pro 16 comes with the option of M1 Pro or M1 Max processor. Both are SoCs (System on Chip) with the latter having 10 processing cores of which 8 are performance cores and two are efficiency cores. The SoC also includes 32 GPU cores onboard and 16 Neural engine cores that enable some pretty hard core gaming on the MacBook Pro 16.
While it starts with 32GB unified memory with 200GBps memory bandwidth, it can be configured with a jaw-dropping 64GB physical memory that has a peak memory bandwidth of 400 GBps. It also features 2 ProRes Accelerator units for video editing and processing. There’s your content creator wishes answered. Whew, that’s the epitome of computing power right there under that shiny hood.
Everything on the MacBook Pro 16 looks awesome thanks to a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display that has a pixel density of 254 PPI from its 3456 x 2234 native resolution. It can sustain up to 1000nits brightness with a peak of 1600nits.
With improved unified memory, the CPU and the GPU in the Pro 16 reduce latency during data transfer between segments resulting in lightning-fast performance. The M1 Max processor has 57 billion transistors that quadruple its computational power in comparison to the original M1.
It is not short of expansion ports either. Moving away from relying solely on USB-C ports, the MacBook Pro 16 comes with SDXC card slot (a welcome return), HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and the good old MagSafe 3 for fast charging.
ProRes Accelerators are there for video acceleration and allow simultaneous playback of 4K and 8K videos. No doubt our alternatives today have big boots to fill in terms of gaming and content creation. Here is the line-up. Let’s take a look at the worthy adversaries.
Top 10 Best Apple MacBook Pro 16 Alternatives
1. HP Omen 16
The Omen 16 comes in two variants each one with the flagship current-generation processors from Intel and AMD. It has the Intel Core i7- 11800H in the Intel variant. This processor is a hyperthreading enabled octa-core processor that has a base core clock of 2.30 GHz but shoots right up to 4.60 GHz with Turbo Boost. It has a low TDP but extremely high supported memory capacity. To rival the unified memory of the MacBook Pro 16, the Omen 16 comes with 24MB of L3 cache and most importantly a discreet Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU with 6GB GDDR6 memory. The AMD variant has AMD’s flagship Ryzen 9 5900HX processor that has the same core and thread count as Intel’s but a lower L3 cache.
A few areas where the Omen would better the MacBook is its support for Windows 11 which essentially is the game changer as game developer studios wholeheartedly focus on Windows OS while developing games and this goes without mention for all the other alternatives too. The Omen 16 also pips the MacBook with a superb 16-inch IPS display that has a response time as low as 3ms. With all the features of a dedicated gaming laptop, the HP Omen 16 would be a viable alternative to the MacBook for content creators and gamers alike.
2. MSI Summit E16 FLIP – CONVERTIBLE
Next up on the list is a convertible that is sturdy enough for heavy content creation. The Flip comes with a powerful Intel Core i7- 1195G7 processor that might not be a dedicated gaming chip but still a powerful quad-core hyper-threader with a 2.90 GHz base clock and 5.00 GHz boost clock. Single-threaded performance is commendable but the main USP of the Flip is its versatility. It comes with 32GB of DDR4 memory and a 2TB NVMe SSD. The display has a high 120Hz refresh rate and 100 percent DCI-P3 colour coverage with touch support.
A pro-level graphics card in the Nvidia RTX 3050Ti, superbly thin bezels on a 16:10 screen, huge storage and versatile usage options make the MSI E16 a tailor-made device for content creators who can create and ‘Flip’ to demonstrate their content on the go. Beat that MacBook Pro 16.
3. HP Victus 16
HP’s Victus 16 has similar edges over the MacBook Pro 16 as the Omen 16. It comes with all the same features as the Omen sans the graphics card. While the Omen has the powerful RTX 3070, Victus comes with a slightly less powerful Nvidia RTX 3060 but the same 6GB DDR4 VRAM. The display is exactly the same as the 16.1-inch IPS panel found in the OMEN 16.
However, it is the price of the device which should be an enticing factor to work in its favour as the most powerful variant of the Victus 16 is available for under $1750. Less than half the price of the MacBook Pro 16.
4. ASUS VivoBook Pro 16X
If there is a device that can match the MacBook Pro 16 toe-to-toe in terms of display, it is the VivoBook Pro 16X from Asus. It comes with a 16-inch OLED panel that has a mouth-watering 4K resolution on a 16:10 aspect ratio. The response time is less than a second and the icing on the cake is a VESA certified HDR True Black 500 rating. The display has a brightness of more than 500 nits which is impressive for a 4K OLED display. The new VivoBook is nowhere a slouch in terms of performance as it manages to rake up big numbers in single and multi-threaded benchmarks from its Intel Core i7- 11370H processor.
The thin laptop comes with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and 1TB hi-speed SSD storage. Although not tailor-made for gaming, the processor has a boost clock of 4.80 GHz and is a quad-core hyperthreading enabled chip that has plenty to offer for content creators. Graphics are managed by Nvidia RTX 3050 but the VRAM capacity could have been higher than the 4GB GDDR6 memory it comes with. The VivoBook becomes a viable alternative to the new MacBook for everyone looking for a display to behold.
5. LG Gram 16Z90P 16
The Gram 16 is a productivity focussed laptop from LG that has carved quite a niche out for itself for being an excellent value for money device. It comes with a gorgeous 16-inch IPS screen with a 99 percent DCI-P3 colour gamut and a WQXGA 2560 x 1600 resolution. For graphics, it has Intel Xe which allows high-resolution content creation and editing. You can also manage a bit of gaming on it. It has a mid-level performer processor in the Intel Core i7-1165G7 and comes with 16GB DDR4X RAM and 1TB of storage.
For those who are wondering why the LG Gram 16 is even on this list, well it is solely upon its battery prowess. It can stay awake for extremely long durations thanks to the Intel Evo branding. It can match and at times better MacBook Pro 16’s battery back up with a jaw-dropping 22 hours battery life on a single charge. Even the new Mac may die on you on a hectic day but the Gram 16 sure won’t.
6. MSI Creator Z16
MSI Creator Z16 Source AmazonAs the name suggests, the Creator Z16 is the content creator’s bible. It has Intel’s most powerful processor in the Intel Core i9- 11900H and a whopping 32GB physical memory. The processor can execute the heaviest of workloads, handle the most complex applications and games like a pro without even flexing its muscles. It has a base clock of 2.50 GHz and a boost clock of 4.9 GHz. Graphics are managed by Nvidia RTX 3060 and whatever content you work on looks fabulous on the 16-inch, 120Hz, QHD+, Touch-enabled display.
If there is anything that can stand up to the MacBook Pro 16 and challenge it in almost every segment, it’s the MSI Creator Z16. It is a laptop that would be loved by gamers and content creators alike for its chart-breaking specifications. The only chink in its armour could be its battery life which is still great for a gaming laptop but miles away from the MacBook Pro 16. The alternative seems even sweeter when you know it comes with a 2TB SSD, better cooling mechanisms and costs more than a grand lesser than the big Mac.
7. LG Gram 16T90P 16 – CONVERTIBLE
We have another convertible in our hands and just like the earlier Gram this one too is a business focussed laptop and makes the cut owing to similar attributes as the MSI E16 Flip. The new Gram is placed better than the E16 due to its superior display which it shares with the ‘conventional’ Gram 16. There is a Gram pen to give shape to your imaginations on the touch screen which is an added convenience for content developers.
The processor is a bit of a step down from the original Gram 16 though as the Intel Core i5- 1135G7 is more of a low- midrange performer with a lower base clock of 2.40 GHz and a boost clock of 4.2 GHz.
The branding of Intel Evo remains and the convertible still offers blistering battery performance and makes the cut with over 21 hours of battery life on a single charge.
8. Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16
Also making the cut for the MacBook Pro 16’s alternatives is the 16-inch gaming flagship from Lenovo. The 5i Pro 16 comes with the Intel Core i7-11800H powerhouse processor that has a boost clock of 4.60GHz. Its 24MB smart cache is particularly helpful for fast computing as is its wide number of memory/storage combinations.
Of all the laptops in the list, only the 5i can be configured with 64GB DDR4 physical memory. It is a multitasking magnet and its huge memory can handle heavy simultaneous multi-tasks all at once. It is good for gaming owing to the ray-tracings supported Nvidia RTX 3050 laptop graphics card with 4 GB GDDR6 memory.
The laptop has a beautiful 16-inch QHD IPS display with a high 165Hz refresh rate and is also one of the minuscule classes of laptops that still feature a physical ethernet port. The Lenovo 5i is good at gaming and can be considered as a viable alternative to the MacBook Pro 16 for its gaming capabilities and additional connectivity features.
9. Dell Inspiron 16
The last entrant on the list today is Dell’s 16-inch laptop, a timeless performer from the Inspiron series. The Inspirons have always been value-for-money devices and the new laptop is no different. Specs-wise it does not disappoint at all with a powerful Intel Core i7 11800H processor that has powered the most number of devices on this list and 16GB DDR4 RAM. Ray-tracing is activated in games thanks to an Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics card added to the mix.
A standout feature with the Dell Inspiron 16 is its 16-inch 3K resolution IPS display that has 100 percent sRGB coverage but a low average brightness. Users looking for a more conservative approach with their laptops and looking for more utility than bling would be pleased to have the Dell Inspiron 16 in place of the eccentric MacBook Pro 16.
10. Huawei Matebook 16
Harnessing the power of AMD 5000 series chip, the Huawei MateBook 16 has the power, the good looks and most importantly the 16-inch 2.5K FullView Display with ultra narrow bezels and productivity friendly 3:2 aspect ratio to earn itself a place on our list. It may not come with a dedicated GPU but the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H chipset with its 8-core and 16-thread CPU is paired with AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics.
The embedded graphics is powerful enough to game on at medium settings on major titles and certainly powerful enough to take on business productivity and creative tasks. Our only beef with the device is the dim display only managing a maximum of 300nits but sufficient for creators with 100% sRGB colour gamut and 1500:1 contrast ratio. You can read more about the only AMD powered MacBook Pro 16 alternative on our list in our full review.
The new MacBook Pro 16 is one heck of a device that is going to dominate the charts for quite some time. There are in fact no laptops right now that can stand toe-to-toe with it or trade blow for blow. Yet there are several viable alternatives as the Windows OS still dominates with bigger user base and has an extensive ecosystem of development and support across different sections of applications. Studios and developers are more inclined towards the development for Windows than MacOS mainly because they can reach a wider market.
Then there is also a premium pricing policy that works against it as not everyone can afford a MacBook Pro 16 and to be honest, there isn’t a single application or regularly occurring scenario out there where one would need such tremendous computing power that the MacBook Pro 16 powered by the M1 Max SoC offers. In that regard, going for a Windows-powered laptop that is efficient at handling anything you throw at it now, as well for the next 5 years or more seems a much cheaper and better alternative.