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This gorgeous Dell laptop is the best Windows alternative to Apple's MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)

Dell XPS 17
(Image credit: Future)

Let’s be clear, straight off the bat; the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro is one of the best mobile workstations you can buy. Whether you're a video editing wizard or looking for a laptop for coding, the 2021 version of Apple's larger laptop has set the standard for what a Pro laptop should feel like.

But what is you want a different notebook; right now, there's only one laptop that can truly match a top of the range MacBook Pro off the shelf. The Macbook Pro's nearest rival is the Dell XPS 17 9710, powered by Windows 11 Home (with no option for Windows 11 Pro, out of the box, which is an oddity).

It doesn’t quite carry the same cachet as Apple’s newest machine, but still has a few cards up its sleeve if you're looking for a Windows 11 laptop that's at least in the same ballpark.

We believe however that the price of the XPS 17 is likely to be part of Dell's Black Friday deals so keep tabs on it. The current price is its lowest yet.

Rivaling the MacBook Pro

The top-of-the-range XPS 17 model actually shares some similarities with the MacBook. It has a 97WHr battery, can host up to 8GB of RAM and accommodate 8TB of SSD (potentially in RAID-0 for even faster performance).

While it doesn't have any HDMI port, it does have four Thunderbolt 4 ports, one audio jack and one SD card slot.

It features a larger 17-inch display that is 20% sharper than Apple’s with a higher-than-4K resolution - oh and it is touch-capable. It is less bright than Apple's though (1,000 nits vs 500 nits).

It's powered by an Nvidia Geforce GTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of GDDR6 video memory, which should is more than a match for the 32 cores in the MacBook Pro with the M1 Max.

As you might expect, Dell has the upper hand when it comes to pricing. At $5,095.99 (around £3,730/AU$6,800), the XPS 17 undercuts Apple’s equivalent by a staggering 20%, with the equivalent MacBook Pro 16 coming in at $6,099 (roughly £4,460/AU$8,200).

The comparison becomes even less favorable for Apple when you factor in warranty and services. AppleCare+ for the new MacBook Pro costs $399 and includes a three-year warranty, two incidents of accidental damage and 24/7 priority access to Apple experts. 

Dell, on the other hand, provides 4-year Premium Support Plus (with accidental damage service) for just under $500, which is much better value. The XPS 15 might not garner the same attention and acclaim as Apple's machine, but its many qualities and cheaper price tag make it a serious contender.

Bear in mind

  • If this XPS 17 model is not available in your territory, you may have to use a specialist parcel forwarding service if you want to take advantage of the deal.
  • If you've managed to get hold of a cheaper product with equivalent specifications, in stock and brand new, let us know and we'll tip our hat to you.
Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.