To MacBook Pro or not To MacBook Pro: With so many options in the market today, it is hard to really pin point the perfect laptop for your needs. While many creative professionals will look towards Apple as their laptop of choice, there are some amazing Windows alternatives that will offer similar or better performance at lower prices.
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The good, the bad and the ugly of the new MacBook Pro:
The new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar was released in the fourth quarter of 2016 and offers some great new features. However, Apple received a massive backlash for their decision to remove all of the legacy ports in favor of four USB 3.1 Type-C ports. The new Touch Bar offers some great new features for creatives and if you work with the Adobe collection of apps then you will love the shortcuts that will be available. If you choose the cheaper of the new 2016 MacBook Pros then you will have to make do with Intel’s Iris Pro graphics and while it is great for basic tasks, it does struggle with more intensive tasks when it comes to design work. If you have deeper pockets then you can look at the top of the range MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics which will offer far superior performance for its huge price tag.
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Is the hype worth it?
It is easy to get lost in all the hype when it comes to finding the best laptop for the creative arts. Apple has been fairly successful in convincing us that their sleek and sexy unibody laptops are exactly what we want and need as creative professionals. But the reality is that there are laptops on the market that offer far better performance for way less of your hard earned cash. The myth that Mac’s don’t crash is not true what so ever, nor is the myth that they run Adobe’s apps better than Windows based laptops. So what other option are there on the market?
What to stay clear of:
If you are looking for a great laptop as a creative, then stay clear of the budget range of laptops, this is one case where the saying “you get what you pay for” rings true.
Don’t be fooled by talk about the amount of cores that a certain processor offers. Just because a laptop offers a Quad Core processor, does not mean that it will outperform a higher-end Dual Core processor. Do your research and check out a few comparison websites to really choose the best possible processor and laptop for your needs.
The amount of GB of a hard drive does not determine its performance and speed. If it is not stated as having a SSD, Hybrid or a 7200rpm hard drive installed then it is more than likely that it has a standard, slower 5400rpm mechanical hard drive. These standard budget grade hard drives should be avoided as they offer slower boot speeds and generally perform slower for most tasks.
Not all display panels are created equally, have a look at some test results for the specific laptop that you are looking at. Have a look for higher and Adobe RGB percentages, the higher these values are, the more accurate your colors will be.
Thin, light and powerful:
Most Ultrabooks on the market offer decent performance with the added benefit of being extremely thin and light. You also get great battery life, which is one of the biggest complaints when it comes to budget friendly laptops. If you are after a good Ultrabook then consider the Dell XPS 13. The latest XPS 13 now features a powerful seventh generation Intel i7 processor, however you will have to make do with the Intel HD Graphics. But at less than half the price of the top of the line MacBook Pro, you will have plenty of wiggle room to upgrade the RAM to 16GB and the SSD to at least 512GB.
If the Dell XPS is not right for you then have a look at Microsoft’s Surface Book. The top of the line Surface Book will still set you back quite a bit, but you will get a 1TB SSD, 16GB of RAM and a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card. Not only is the top of the line Surface Book quite powerful, it also offers a really impressive battery life.
If you really want to push the envelope, then have a look at Razer’s Stealth Ultrabook. The new comer to the Ultrabook market has released a great 12-inch laptop with great hardware specs. The top of the line Razer Stealth also features a seventh generation Intel i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB solid state drive. While the Stealth also relies on Intel’s HD Graphics, but you will be able to connect the Razer Core to the Stealth. The external GPU dock will allow you to use a powerful desktop graphics cards for superior rendering performance. For less than the price of the new MacBook Pro, you will be able to pick up the Razer Stealth, the Core dock and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card.
The powerful gaming giants:
If you really need a powerful laptop to run your design or video editing apps, then have a look at a higher-end gaming laptop. But be aware that these monster laptops offer fairly poor battery life compared to the MacBook Pros or most of the Ultrabooks on the market. But you do get far more powerful processors and graphics cards for more intensive apps. The added benefit is that you will also be able to play some of your favorite games on these powerful machines. If you are after a thin and light gaming laptop that will compete with the Macbook Pro, then have a look at the Razer Blade 14-inch. The latest Razer Blade offers a powerful Skylake-based Intel i7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. More importantly the QHD display offers an impressive 95% sRGB gamut and 71% Adobe RGB gamut, making the Razer Blade great for creatives. The 1TB version with a QHD display still comes in cheaper than the latest MacBook Pro.
If the compact 14-inch display is too small for your needs, then have a look at the ASUS ROG G752VS-XB72K OC Edition. With a much larger 17.3-inch display you will find it far more comfortable to work on larger documents or with multiple windows open. The NVIDIA GTX 1070 offers great performance and the unlocked multiplier i7 processor offers the power that you will need for heavy rendering. While the MacBook Pro can be configured to up to 2TB, the ROG only features a 256GB SSD, however you do get a 7200rpm mechanical hard drive which offers 1TB of storage space. The biggest down side of the ROG is that it offers fairly poor battery life due to its powerful hardware. If you can live with the poor battery life, then the ROG might be perfect for you. At almost half the price of the top spec MacBook Pro, the ROG offers you more bang for your buck.
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While the new MacBook Pro looks amazing and the new Touch Bar is an interesting feature that offers a new world of possibilities, there are many Windows based options that offer better features and hardware. So consider looking at a Windows based laptop when next you upgrade your work laptop.