The best 13-inch laptops offer an excellent balance between portability and productivity. Students can effortlessly carry 13-inch laptops around campus and business professionals can slip them into briefcases when traveling.
We've compiled the best 13-inch laptops, but if you're not sold on this screen size, check out our best overall laptops page or the best 15-inch laptops if you need more screen real estate. Students should see our best college laptops page, where they'll find the best notebook for their respective majors.
Here are the best 13-inch laptops for every budget.
Which 13-inch laptop is best?
Dell improved upon a winning formula with the latest XPS 13, which has a smaller footprint than the previous model thanks to the removal of the bottom bezel. The laptop has everything you could want in an ultraportable notebook, including gorgeous display options, a sleek design and fast performance. The only downside is the lack of a legacy USB-A port.
For that, you should consider the HP Spectre x360 13. It uses a drop-jaw hinge for its USB-A port. On top of that, the Spectre x360 13 has a premium chassis that can convert into a tablet along with speedy performance and nice 1080p or 4K panel options. Speaking of 2-in-1s, Dell updated its premium convertible recently with the XPS 13 2-in-1. It's a good option for consumers but business users might opt for the HP Elite Dragonfly, a stunner that puts up a fight against the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (our favorite business laptop).
Apple users have two options to choose from but until the MacBook Pro gets updated with a better keyboard, we can only recommend the MacBook Air. The new model has a more reliable Magic Keyboard along with faster performance and a lower price than its predecessor.
The best 13-inch laptops you can buy today
1. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
2. HP Envy 13 (2019)
3. HP Spectre x360 13 (Late 2019)
4. Apple MacBook Air (2020)
5. Google Pixelbook Go
6. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
7. HP Elite Dragonfly
8. Razer Blade Stealth
9. Lenovo IdeaPad 730S
10. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition
The best overall laptop
CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/ Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200 or 4K | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds
The Dell XPS 13 is a serious workhorse and the best premium laptop for college students. Powered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel graphics, the notebook is ready for work or play. And with over 12 hours of battery life, you've got plenty of time for both, The notebook consistently performed either better or on a par with competing systems.
But rest assured, the laptop is just as pretty as it is powerful. The company managed to make a laptop that's smaller and lighter than previous models. Despite the smaller size, Dell added some big changes, including a larger trackpad and keyboard. Plus, you get a 13.4-inch, near-bezelless display on every side –– the first in the world to do so.
It's an exercise in patient restraint, improving the notebook in a bunch of small ways that add up to a big leap for the system. If you're looking for the total package, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for you.
See our full Dell XPS 13 (2020) review.
The best laptop under $1,000
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620/Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds
Starting at just $799, the HP Envy 13 is one of, if not, the best value in laptops right now. In many ways, the Envy 13 is a Windows 10 alternative to the MacBook Air, except even better thanks to its longer battery life, stronger performance and lower price.
Redesigned for this year, the Envy 13 also has a slim attractive aluminum chassis. Some handy security features --- a fingerprint sensor and webcam kill switch --- are just the icing on the cake, as is the bright and vivid 1080p display.
With everything it has going for it, the Envy 13 is undoubtedly the best 13-inch laptop for those on a budget.
See our full HP Envy 13 review.
The best 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds
The Spectre x360 13 is HP's best 2-in-1 laptop ever. Updated with a 10th Gen CPU and a more modern design, the Spectre x360 13 is improved in almost every way over its excellent predecessor.
Highlights of this laptop include a stunning design with chamfered edges, a bright 1080p display, epic 13+ hour battery life and fast overall performance. With everything it has going for it, the Spectre x360 13 is the best 13-inch laptop for those who want a 2-in-1 design.
4. Apple MacBook Air (2020)
The best 13-inch Apple laptop
CPU: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 (Y-series) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel | Size: 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds
If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, then there's only one 13-inch laptop you should consider: the Apple MacBook Air (starting at $999). The biggest improvement to this year's model is the new keyboard, which fixes all the issues we had with the previous Butterfly version.
Other improvements include more powerful 10th Gen Y-series processors and a superfast SSD. The 13.3-inch Retina display is still a sight to behold, and the MacBook Air remains the sleekest laptop in Apple's lineup. Of course, you still get everything that makes Apple's laptops so popular: a gorgeous unibody aluminum design, good speakers and solid battery life.
See our full Apple MacBook Air (2020) review.
5. Google Pixelbook Go
The best 13-inch Chromebook
CPU: Intel Core i5-8200Y | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen | Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.3 pounds
The Pixelbook Go is easily one of the best Chromebooks you can buy. Google's laptop is superslim and light at just 2 pounds, and it sports an easy-to-grip design. The extreme portability extends to this Chromebook's battery life, as it lasted a very impressive 11 hours and 29 minutes on our web-surfing battery test.
Other highlights include a vibrant 13.3-inch display and solid performance form its Core m3 processor (Core i5 is available). The speakers aren't stellar, but overall the Pixelbook Go is a great option.
Read our full Pixelbook Go review.
The best 2-in-1 laptop
CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: IntelIris Plus | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB | Display: 13.4-inch,1920 x 1200-pixel or 4K | Size: 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds
Dell's new XPS 13 2-in-1 takes everything we love about the clamshell XPS 13 --- fast performance (thanks to 10th Gen CPUs), a sleek, lightweight design and very long battery life --- and put it in a flexible convertible chassis. You also get a unique 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200-resolution display.
No, that's no typo; The XPS 13 2-in-1's touch screen has a 16:10 aspect ratio, making it taller than almost every other 13-inch display. Better yet, that panel is both bright and vivid.
See our full Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review.
The best business laptop
CPU: Intel Core i3/i5/i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: Up to 2TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.2 pounds
HP's Elite Dragonfly redefined what it means to be a business laptop. This stunning laptop has a breathtakingly gorgeous chassis that flaunts a unique dark-blue finish.
The design is as practical as it is attractive; The Elite Dragonfly has flexible hinges that convert the laptop into a tablet, and at 2.2 pounds, it's one of the most portable 13-inch laptops around.
You'll somehow need to take your eyes off the Elite Dragonfly's aluminum body to appreciate its bright and vivid 13.3-inch display. But the Elite Dragonfly's greatness doesn't stop there. The laptop also has a surprisingly comfortable keyboard, fast performance and a host of security features, including an IR camera, a fingerprint sensor and MIL-SPEC-810 rated durability.
See our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
The best gaming laptop
CPU: Intel Corei7-8565U | GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU/Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB | Display: 13.3-inch 1080p or 4K | Size: 12 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.9 pounds
The Razer Blade Stealth is the best laptop for gamers who want to play on the go. The Stealth has a sleek, unibody aluminum chassis that can be easily slipped into a backpack. Somehow, Razer found a way to pack a dedicated GPU into this 13-inch machine.
While the optional GeForce MX150 GPU can't play the most demanding games, you shouldn't have any problems running most AAA titles on low graphics settings. Oh yeah, and this year's model has surprisingly long battery life, at more than 8 hours.
See our full Razer Blade Stealth review.
The laptop with the best design
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Display Size: 13.3-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.1 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches | Weight: 2.4 pounds
At 0.5 inches thick and 2.4 pounds, the extremely sleek IdeaPad 730S is one of the thinnest and lightest 13-inch laptops we've reviewed. Along with a portable chassis, it has a vivid and detailed 13.3-inch, 1080p display, and strong performance thanks to its Core i5 CPU and fast 256GB SSD.
Impressive audio quality and a surprisingly capable webcam make the IdeaPad 730S a steal at less than $1,000,despite sub-par battery life.
See our full Lenovo IdeaPad 730S review.
The best laptop for designers and artists
CPU: Intel Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB | Display Size: 13.3-inch, 4K | Size: 12.1 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds
What sets the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition apart from the competition is a nifty pen garage built into the stylus. Using a strong magnet, the slot holds the included stylus in place so you don't have to worry about losing it.
Other things we love about the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 are its sleek, stylish design, fast performance and competitive price.
See our full Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition review.
Credit: Laptop Mag
How to choose the best 13-inch laptop
There's a lot to consider beyond screen size when choosing the best 13-inch laptop.
The first is portability. 13-inch laptops are popular, especially among college students, because they offer a good balance between screen real estate and portability. The Dell XPS 13 is a great example. It weighs around 2 pounds and is just 0.5 inches thick yet you get a 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display.
Battery life is another key component because portable machines should deliver long runtimes. Consider a laptop that gets at least 9 hours of battery life, which should be enough to get you through a full day of work or a long international flight.
When it comes to specs, we recommend buying a laptop with an Intel U-series or H-series Core i5 CPU, at least 8GB of RAM (16GB is great) and a minimum of 256GB of storage. AMD is coming in hot with its 4000-series chips, so keep an eye out for those. You might notice that the new MacBook Air 2020 doesn't fit those requirements (it has a low-power Y-series CPU) but it's still a good option if you prefer macOS and don't want to spend a fortune. Speaking of which, Chromebooks like the Pixelbook Go offer excellent value and we're seeing more and more 13-inch models.
Other things to consider include a comfy keyboard and sensitive touchpad. And when it's time to watch Netflix or YouTube, be sure to get a laptop with a vivid and bright display (like any of those listed here).
How we test laptops
We put each laptop through extensive benchmark testing — both synthetic and real-world — before they end up in the hands of our reviewers. We evaluate each aspect of the laptop, including its performance, battery life, display, speakers and heat management.
In our benchmark testing, we use a Klein K10 colorimeter to detect the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop's display. For performance testing, we run the laptop through a gauntlet of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests.
To determine real-world performance, we task the laptop to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution and to duplicate a 4.97GB multimedia file. Our real-world graphics test is the Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution.
We also run heat tests by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in different areas of the laptop. Last but not least, our battery test consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. For MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, a runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise.
These tests are complemented with extensive hands-on testing from our reviewers who critique everything from the laptop's materials to the feel of its touchpad.