Windows alternatives to 2016 15" MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sanpete, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. Sanpete macrumors 68020

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    Nov 17, 2016
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    Utah
    #1
    There's a lot of talk here and elsewhere about the new MBPs being overpriced and outclassed by the competition. Some refer to last year's model, preferring the slightly faster CPU, port/slot variety and MagSafe to the improved screen, speakers, dGPU, trackpad, keyboard, heat management and new touch bar. I can see that might work better for some.

    But the legitimate Windows alternatives I'm having more trouble finding. The Dell XPS 15 UHD does seem a worthy alternative. What else would you consider real Windows alternatives to the new 15" MBPs? Something with a comparable or better screen, power, build quality, portability, battery life, or whatever else you think matters?

    (My new 15" MBP is due here Wednesday, by the way.)
     
  2. maratus macrumors 6502a

    maratus

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    #2
    There're quite a bit of complaints regarding XPS 15 drivers / stability which I didn't really have time to explore yet. So it's just a warning. Otherwise it seems like a decent machine, except that its cooling isn't really better than rMBP so they both run hot. I wish I had a chance to test it extensively.

    As far as other options go, there're very nice laptops from HP (ZBook Studio and higher), Lenovo P50, Razer Blade and, surprisingly, Surface Book with Performance Base. The latter has a significantly slower CPU but has a different feature set. And it's priced on par.

    Resolution? Sure, there're plenty of 4K IPS options. Quality? Not likely. I've rarely seen screens as good as rMBP's IPS panel to be honest. I only wish it was a bit higher resolution (3360 x 2100)
    CPUs are more or less the same (top 45W quad-cores)
    Workstation GPUs (M1000M, M2000M) or previous gen GPUs (GTX 960M, 965M) are much less power efficient than Pro 460 and out of all of them only 965M and M5000M are marginally faster in 3D. The new GTX 1060 is much faster (with comparable power efficiency), but obviously has higher power consumption / heat.
    Many competitors go to 32GB RAM or even 64GB RAM. That's the main rMBP's disadvantage. Apple engineers decided to slightly increase battery life and greatly minimize standby battery drain with LPDDR3, hence the max. 16GB option.
    I'm not a huge fan of aluminum enclosures because they bend if dropped. Thinkpads seem to be more rugged and withstand drops better unless the enclosure breaks, but their build quality (impressions) is on par. Internal build quality (logic board routing, components placement) is better in rMBP.
    Not better for sure, unless you downgrade CPU to dual core or even ULV. rMBP is still extremely good in portability and battery life.

    In my opinion the new rMBP addresses a very significant bottleneck of the previous generation that many ignore – it manages heat better. It's still far from ideal, but better is better, right?

    And of course its killer feature – dual 5K and quad 4K external screen support, which none of the other laptops have afaik.
     
  3. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    Feb 17, 2016
    #3
    Are you serious?

    The 2016 MacBook Pro 15" has far more issues than the Dell XPS 15 9550.
     
  4. maratus macrumors 6502a

    maratus

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    #4
    Oh yes, I'm serious.

    I assume you're talking about 3-finger drag and GPU going crazy (since the latter isn't even limited to dGPU, it looks like a firmware issue). And you know what, I'm not even worried about that, because I know that Apple will fix it and its customer service is exceptional. Can't say the same about Dell.
     
  5. tubeexperience macrumors 68030

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    Feb 17, 2016
    #5
    And the issues with the Dell XPS 15 9550 has to do with buggy drivers from Intel.

    The issues have already been fixed.

    As for the 2016 MacBook Pro, no so much.
     
  6. motime macrumors 6502

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    Jun 9, 2015
    #6
    Just get a thinkpad man, they are still pretty cool machines.
     
  7. auero macrumors 65816

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    Sep 15, 2006
    #7
    The Dell XPS 13/15 are still good, but due for an update. I'd probably buy Razer Blade if I was looking to buy a Windows machine today. http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade

    I'm not a fan of the logo on the lid, but there are ways to cover that up.
     
  8. skids929, Dec 5, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016

    skids929 macrumors 6502a

    skids929

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    Mar 24, 2011
    #8
    The only Laptop I would endorse (which is absolutely meaningless so take it FWIW) is the Lenovo's. They are all nice, not quite apple quality standards but better than Dell all day long. The Yoga 910 or the new Yoga X1 Thinkpad would be my top choices. Then I'd start looking at HPs most likely.

    The one issue with everything I said above is they all come loaded with Windows, so in the end who cares because whatever nice hardware you end up with is shot with a crappy user experience with Windows.

    Don't put too much stock in what other websites (probably PC based sites) are saying about Apple. Yes they are expensive, but I love my new 13 MBP TB. Love the keyboard, love the giant track pad, the OS, the TB, blazing speed- but agree and hate the price. Oh and before I forget, I own a Yoga 900 btw, got it for my kids so I go back and forth a lot. Like I said nice machine, but Windows, ick.. One you go Mac you don't go back!
     
  9. Azadre macrumors 6502

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    USA
    #9
    Lenovo's have had rootkits as official software. I will never buy a lenovo because of that.
     
  10. malikkamran macrumors 6502

    malikkamran

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    Pakistan
    #10
    Hp pavilion x2 is great you get 10 hours battery life and only 300 dollars
     
  11. rshrugged macrumors 6502a

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    #11
  12. skids929 macrumors 6502a

    skids929

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    #12

    You can get that removed with a signature install of Windows 10. But yeah more proof Windows and any machine associated with it sucks.
     
  13. AdonisSMU macrumors 603

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #13
    no such thing right now. The truth is the vast majority of people don't need or want a real alternative to a 15" MBP.
     
  14. maratus macrumors 6502a

    maratus

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    #14
    is that a 15" rMBP alternative? :D
     
  15. David58117 macrumors 65816

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    Jan 24, 2013
    #15
    Don't get the XPS15 now - a refresh is coming within a few months.

    But I had one and it was great.
     
  16. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    Apr 14, 2010
    #16
    FWIW, what I got was a 15" Dell Precision 7000 series. 7510.

    Thicker/heavier, obviously. I'm okay with that. Has an actual proper docking connector for a traditional workstation port replicator. 1920x1080 screen; 4k is an option, but I didn't want that. Screen is matte, which I consider a huge win. Trackpad and touchpoint pointer devices, both with three physical buttons that work really well. Actual key travel, which is also important to me. CPU is 2.8GHz Xeon, it has 32GB of DDR4 and can upgrade to 64GB, so it's got a lot more memory and can upgrade further. Has a PCIe slot for an industry-standard NVME drive, so you can upgrade that if you want, also has a 2.5" HDD bay which you can use for a moving-parts drive or another SSD. Ethernet port, USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port (it can do the fancy dock thing through that, although that can't power it under full load), thunderbolt 2 port, several USB 3 ports, SD card reader, HDMI port, also a smart card reader. When docked, has actual serial and parallel ports, even. Indicator lights for things like "is battery charging". (I didn't know that was an important feature, until my spouse's 2016MBP stopped working and I discovered that there's no way to tell whether it thinks it's plugged in.) BIOS has configuration options for things like "turn off wireless when ethernet is connected" and such, which is a feature I've had to hack around and emulate on my macs. Oh, and $1,300 cheaper than the MBP I ended up not keeping because I couldn't use it. And of course, the keyboard has escape and function key row.

    I dunno about Windows, I'm dual-booting to Win7 for emergencies but basically I run Linux on it.

    And it is just such a joy to be back to having a computer with actual expansion and upgrade options, using industry-standard interfaces for drives and memory so I can buy more in two years if I want, with garden-variety screws and no elaborate anti-tampering devices to keep you from opening it. Oh, and a replaceable battery that isn't glued in.

    I still miss MacOS, but I do not miss Apple's hardware at all.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 5, 2016 ---
    The thing about "alternative" is that it doesn't mean "exactly the same". In my case, a much thicker and heavier laptop is an excellent alternative, in much the way that a delicious pizza is a good alternative to eating moldy cardboard.
     
  17. thesaint024 macrumors 6502a

    thesaint024

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    #17
    That thing looks dope for gaming. I would be very intrigued if I were looking for a mobile gamer. That's not quite a MBP alternative though. Nice machine, but different purpose. Not commenting on better, just saying depends on your purpose. I have to make a friggin disclaimer every time I post!
     
  18. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    #18
    ... "Alternative" does not mean "exact drop-in replacement for". If I wanted a drop-in replacement for the 2016 MBP, I'd get an ipad.
     
  19. AdonisSMU macrumors 603

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #19
    Yeah anything is an alternative I guess.
     
  20. adww12321 macrumors member

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    Dec 24, 2012
    #20
    I'm posting this with an XPS15. When the machine was released about a year ago, it was a reliability nightmare. BSODs-galore. Part of the problem was with Intel, the Skylake drivers were awful. They've since been fixed.

    The NVMe drivers also had problems. Also fixed. Gotta give some props to Dell, they've issued ... 6 bios updates so far? maybe more? One as even as late as a week ago.

    So my machine at least has been rock-solid stable for months. Feel bad for people who thought the machine was an irredeemable lemon and dumped it before it became stable. But it has meant that refurbs are available cheap :)
     
  21. thesaint024 macrumors 6502a

    thesaint024

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    Republic of California
    #21
    Making no assumption on your background or demographic, but "dope" is a complement. Not bashing this machine. In a year or two, I might be considering this one that I honestly was not aware existed since I wasn't in the market for one.
     
  22. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    #22
    Wasn't arguing with that part, just the "not an alternative" part. Of course it's an alternative. Any laptop could conceivably be a viable alternative.
     
  23. thesaint024 macrumors 6502a

    thesaint024

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    Republic of California
    #23
    Yes, and the "alternative" part wasn't a diss either. I wasn't saying either is superior, just in line with MBP for it's typical usage. The razer would smoke the MBP for it's designed use. Depends on what the user wanted to do with the laptop. From his post, sounded like he wanted as similar to the MBP in all ways. The only one I'm familiar with that fits the bill is the XPS. I researched a lot in the 13" class since that size is what I always get. XPS and Spectre were really the only ones that played competitively in the same space. Actually had an XPS for awhile. My knowledge on 15's are not up to date since I haven't been in the market for one in years. Semantics on "alternative". I was defining it as a closely spec'd, designed to do the same tasks. Gaming laptops in general, even this one, are different in form and battery. But yes, even a $400 HP is a viable alternative. But I don't think that was the question.
     
  24. therealseebs macrumors 65816

    therealseebs

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    Apr 14, 2010
    #24
    I think the key is "or whatever else matters". A lot of the people jumping ship were never looking for anything similar to the 2016 MBP in the first place.

    Me? If I could get something like a 2010 17", only with modern/upgraded hardware, that'd be awesome. So, 17" 1920x1200 display, matte screen, ethernet port, multiple USB ports, SD card reader, HDMI, minidisplayport/TB2, magsafe, and at least one TB3 port. User-upgradeable memory, user-upgradeable storage. Ideally, with two storage options; say, minipci and nvme. Touchpad with actual physical buttons. Actual keyboard with key travel and not missing the function keys. That would be so much better.
     
  25. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #25
    I've never seen a thinkpad that has a screen that rivals xps 15 UHD/rmbp. All the ones I've seen top out at 1080P which is now considered low res.
     

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