4 Cheap MacBook Alternatives That Are Powerful Without the Price

4 Cheap MacBook Alternatives That Are Powerful Without the Price

Here’s the thing about Apple’s laptops: they’re expensive. The tools you get with Apple’s Macbook range (including the Air and the Pro) are not necessarily more advanced than cheap alternatives sporting a Windows operating system, especially if most of what you do involves word processing tools and web browsing.

In fact, after reviewing so many laptops that I’d consider to be “MacBook alternatives”, I’m confident in saying that a cheap (or at least cheaper) laptop would likely satisfy your need/s for a capable portable computer. You may have to get used to a different operating system, but you could also save some money.

So, here’s what I reckon you should consider instead of a new MacBook Pro or Air. These cheap MacBook alternatives are just as capable as the machines Apple sells, without the software or the walled garden.

We’re looking specifically at laptops with the power to stand up to both the Pro and the Air, so keep in mind some of these devices (and some customisation options) will be slightly more expensive than the Air, but cheaper than the Pro.

Just so we’re clear, here’s how much you’ll spend on a MacBook directly from Apple, in case you want to directly compare prices with the laptops in this article:

The Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

I loved the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio so much that I continue to use it instead of my 2021 MacBook Pro. Available from $1,761 and up to $3,400, with more powerful specs the higher you go (including an RTX 3050 Ti in the most powerful model), the Surface Laptop Studio offers a premium laptop experience at each price point it’s offered at.

This touch-screen laptop has one of the most beautiful chassis I’ve ever seen on a portable computer. The cheapest model includes 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and an i5 processor.

Personally, it’s one of my favourite recently released laptops and could be well worth picking up instead of a MacBook Pro or an Air at its cheaper price points.

Price: From $1,761 to $3,400.

surface laptop studio
Image: Zachariah Kelly/Gizmodo Australia

The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED

The ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED is a feature-rich device, packing the 11th Gen i7 processor, a 4K HDR OLED display (a “world first”), Nvidia GeForce MX450 graphics and a…. ScreenPad?

One of the things that will jump out at you with the ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED is that the touchpad is also its own small screen. This means that you can drag and drop windows from the main screen of the laptop and use them on the touchpad.

Gimmicks aside, this device definitely has the power that you’d expect from a MacBook Pro, although it’s slightly more expensive than the 2022 model MacBook Air.

Price: $2,099

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The Dell XPS 13 Plus

While it’s difficult to call the Dell XPS 13 Plus an alternative to the MacBook Air, as it’s priced just above Apple’s lightweight laptop, it’s certainly an alternative worth considering if you were after a MacBook Pro.

Lightweight with a small screen, LED function/hotkeys and a side-to-side keyboard layout, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a weapon for its size. It also includes the latest generation of Intel processors.

But really, the aesthetic is the real takeaway here. Just look at this beautiful keyboard.

Price: From $2,300 to $3,700

 cheap macbook alternatives
Image: Dell

Surface Laptop 4

Last on our list is our cheapest MacBook alternative, the Surface Laptop 4.

A nearly perfect laptop, the Surface Laptop 4 comes with up to 32GB RAM and processors from Intel’s 11th generation of processors.

Alternatively, this laptop is also available with an AMD processor and GPU.

If you don’t want to spend too much on a laptop but still want a capable day-to-day machine, then the Surface Laptop Studio is likely to satisfy you.

Price: From $1,011 to $1,899

cheap macbook alternatives
Image: Microsoft

That’s about it for the moment

We expect our minds to change from time to time, but as for right now, these are our picks for the laptops you should consider instead of the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

We’re pretty happy with the Surface Laptop Studio as a serious MacBook Pro alternative, and with several different models and price points available, it’s well worth considering.

If that hasn’t sold you, here’s our guide to choosing the right MacBook for your needs.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.