Best 13-inch laptops in 2024

13-inch laptops seem to be the sweet spot where sleek meets powerful. Students breeze through campus with these lightweight wonders, while pros tuck them into briefcases for on-the-go productivity (or just conquering emails from the couch). Don't underestimate their bite, though. Packed with Intel, AMD Ryzen, or Apple Silicon muscle, these machines handle most tasks with ease. So ditch the bulk and embrace the possibilities – 13-inch laptops are where portability meets powerhouse.

We've compiled the best 13-inch laptops, but if you're not sold on this screen size, check out our best 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 fields of study.

We've even got a 13-inch gaming rig on this list, but if you want even more screen real estate, check out our short list of the very best 17-inch laptops, which are often much more powerful by default.

This list will see a huge update once we return from CES 2024 as more Intel Core Ultra laptops are announced and come in. 

The Quick List

Best 13-inch MacBook

MacBook Air M2 13-inch

The MacBook Air M2 is the best 13-inch laptop at the moment  (Image credit: Future)
Best 13-inch MacBook

Specifications

CPU: M2 8-Core
GPU: M2 8-Core
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Display: 13.6 inches (2560 x 1664)
Size: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Good performance
+
Bright, colorful screen
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Only two ports
-
SSD somewhat slower than M1 Air

The M2 chip makes the Air a bonafide workhorse, and with over 14 hours of battery life, you can work all day long and then some. Plus, you get to stare into that gorgeous 13.6-inch display, enjoy the surprisingly powerful speakers, type on an ultra-comfy keyboard, and put your best self forward with the improved FHD (1080p) webcam. 

Over a year after its launch, you can typically find the M2 Air discounted below its original $1,199 starting price, one of our only complaints about the refreshed ultralight from Apple.

For the money, the MacBook Air 13-inch gives you more than enough horsepower to push documents for the next five years while only weighing 2.7 pounds, making it easy on your back and not too hard on your wallet. 

See our full MacBook Air M2 review. 

Best 13-inch Windows Laptop

Dell XPS 13 Plus

(Image credit: Future)
Best 13-inch Windows laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel 12th Gen Core i5-1240P
GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Display: 13.4 inch 1920 x 1080 Touch display
Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.7 pounds
Battery life: 7:34

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek, minimalist design
+
Great performance
+
Comfortable keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
The design is highly polarizing
-
Below-average battery life

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is one of our favorite laptops with sleek looks and a fantastic keyboard. Its minimalist styling is both futuristic and divisive, but dig deeper and you’ll be won over by its powerful performance and a stunning optional 4K display that will knock your socks off. 

The Dell XPS 13 Plus displayed its power during our synthetic tests, such as Geekbench 5.4, our comprehensive performance test. With a score of 10,621, the 13 Plus crushed the 6,179 premium average. This is perfect for those who push a lot of documents or refuse to ever close a single browser tab.

When we ran the Handbrake video transcoding benchmark, the Plus transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 8 minutes and 17 seconds, roasting the 9:47 category average. The MacBook Pro saw a time of 6:51. That is not too shabby for a mainstream laptop.. 

The lack of a discrete GPU will cross this off your list if you are looking to play any remotely modern games or get heavily into content creation. But what the XPS 13 Plus lacks in gaming prowess, it makes up with powerful productivity performance. Also, thanks to apps like Pixlr and PhotoPea, which are free and readily available, you can easily handle most of your photo editing needs lickity split. 

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is a top performer where it matters and an excellent choice for busy on-the-move workers who need to remain productive. 

And here is our review of the Dell XPS 13 with 4K display and the XPS 13 OLED released in 2021.

 

Best MacBook for Students

MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

Apple's MacBook Air with M1 (Image credit: Laptop Mag)
Best MacBook for students

Specifications

CPU: M1
GPU: M1 (integrated)
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

Reasons to buy

+
Breathtaking performance
+
Outstanding battery life
+
Slim unibody aluminum chassis
+
Great speakers and Magic Keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Few ports

If you prefer macOS, but don't want to spend over $1,000, go with the Apple MacBook Air. The M1 chip still delivers outstanding performance and excellent battery life in 2023.

So why buy the MacBook Air instead of the Pro? While the Pro has better-sustained performance, the MacBook Air is cheaper and is pin-drop silent because it doesn't have a fan. And, of course, Apple's least expensive 13.3-inch model is the most portable, coming in at only 0.6 inches thick and 2.8 pounds. 

But now the MacBook Air is slower to parity with the MacBook Pro than ever before. It has similar speed and battery life, the same 720p webcam, a comfortable Magic keyboard and two USB-C ports. Also, the 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display on the M1 model was improved with P3 color coverage, making it more vibrant than the previous panel. 

See our full Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Best Business Machine

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)
Best 13-inch business laptop

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1160G7
GPU: Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Display: 13-inch, 2K (2160 x 1350)
Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.66 inches
Weight: 2 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish, stealthy design
+
Bright 13-inch, 2K display
+
12-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited ports
-
Small touchpad

You are probably familiar with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon at this point. It has been our favorite business laptop for ages due to its lightweight design, excellent performance and convenient features. The X1 Nano uses the Carbon as a platform but packs everything into an even smaller chassis with a 13-inch, 2K display. 

That panel is an excellent one, flaunting a sharp picture and gorgeous colors. Despite the high-res panel, the X1 Nano lasted for 12 hours on a charge, making it great for frequent travelers. The performance is good, not great, but you still get a fast machine that weighs only 2 pounds. 

It isn't a perfect laptop — we still favor the X1 Carbon — but for those who need the absolute most portable solution, the X1 Nano is the way to go. 

See our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review.

Best 13-inch 2-in-1 Laptop

Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360

Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 takes everything we love about the clamshell version and adds the flexibility of a convertible. (Image credit: Future)
The best 13-inch 2-in-1

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1360P
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 13.3-inch AMOLED, 1080p
Size: 14 x 9.93 x 0.5 inches
Weight: 3.7 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek, ultra-lightweight design
+
Drop-dead gorgeous display
+
Comfortable typing experience + huge touchpad
+
Surprisingly good webcam and speakers
+
S Pen included

Reasons to avoid

-
Underwhelming screen brightness
-
Battery life fell off from previous gen 
-
No S-Pen silo

Looking for a 13-inch 2-in-1 that can keep up with your productivity or creative tasks? Stop looking right now. The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 360 fits the bill. Pair it up with the S Pen, the stylus that is one of the biggest selling points for the Samsung Galaxy S-series flagship phone line. Now, you can use that stylus to take notes and draw with precision on the Galaxy Book 3 360's display.

It also has a sweet, vivid, 13.3-inch AMOLED, 1080p display.  It also outputted outstanding performance in our benchmarks, outpacing its rivals. We didn't review this exact model, but our only complaint with the 15.6-inch model is that the battery life fell off since last year, but overall the Galaxy Book 3 360 is an outstanding option for anyone looking for a solid 2-in-1 with stylus support.

See our full Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 review

Best Overall Design

Asus ZenBook 13

Asus ZenBook 13 (Image credit: Future)
Best overall laptop design

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB
Display Size: 13.3-inch, 1080p OLED
Size: 11.98 x 7.99 x 0.55 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Great battery life
+
Clicky keyboard
+
Compact, slim and durable chassis
+
Touchpad doubles as a numpad

Reasons to avoid

-
No headset jack

The ZenBook 13 may not have been able to surpass the beastly Acer Swift 5 on our benchmarks, but it crushed the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13 on the graphics and file-transfer tests. It also blew all of its rivals out of the water with its extremely colorful OLED display. The clicky keyboard is impressive, too — especially for such a compact, portable laptop. Laptops with 13-inch displays typically feel cramped, but I felt comfortable typing on the ZenBook 13.

The Numberpad 2.0 is another stellar feature. Asus also deserves a pat on the back for the MyAsus software, an all-in-one app that facilitates all your needs, including quick, wireless file transfers, screen mirroring, configuring fan controls, initiating updates, running a system diagnostics, and coolest of all, using your phone as a webcam. Plus, the ZenBook 13 lasts more than 13 hours on a charge.

See our full Asus Zenbook 13 (UX325) OLED review.

Best 13-inch gaming laptop

Best Gaming Laptops 2021: Asus ROG Flow X13/Asus ROG XG Mobile

(Image credit: Future)
Best 13-inch gaming laptop

Specifications

CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q/ Nvidia RTX 3080
RAM: 32GB
Storage: Dual 1TB PCI m.2 SSDs
Display: 13.4 inches, 4K
Weight: 2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

+
Head-turning, versatile design
+
Great gaming and overall performance
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Keys are a bit small
-
Display could be brighter and more vivid

Asus has done it again. They’ve changed the definition of what the best gaming laptop is. By itself, the Asus ROG Flow X13 is a compelling laptop. It’s very rare to see a 13-inch gaming laptop and even rarer for it to be a 2-in-1. But Asus didn’t stop there, they threw a high-powered AMD Ryzen 9 processor into the mix and even outfitted the notebook with its own discrete Nvidia GPU. 

It’s when the XG Mobile comes into play that things get interesting. For the life of me, I’m baffled how they fit an RTX 3080 into such a small enclosure. Even though I wish Asus could have found a more elegant solution than that huge proprietary plug, I can’t argue with the results. The XG Mobile is the proverbial trap card, transforming it into the dark magician of gaming laptops. It doesn’t have any right to be as powerful as it is, but here we are, again impressed by Asus’ ingenuity. 

See our full Asus ROG Flow X13 review.

If the ROG Flow sounds intriguing but a detachable form factor is more your speed, the new Asus ROG Flow Z13 could be the answer.

How to choose the best 13-inch laptop

Do your intensive daily workloads require more RAM than the average Joe? Are you a video editor who needs extra storage? Are you a gamer who wants a powerful GPU? Sorting through the best laptops to fit your lifestyle is a tricky business.

To make your shopping process a little easier, our Editor-in-Chief Sherri L. Smith has put together some tried-and-true guidelines to help you choose the best laptop.

Budget: What you get for the money.

You can find decent Windows laptops and high-quality Chromebooks for under $500. However, better mainstream laptops usually cost more than $700 and premium Ultrabooks can run over $1,000. The best gaming laptops can cost $2.000 and up, but you can play the latest titles at decent frame rates on gaming laptops under $1,000.

Screen Size: 12 to 14 inches for Portability

Knowing a laptop's screen size tells you a lot about its portability overall. If you want to use your computer on your lap or carry it around a lot, go for one with a 12, 13 or 14-inch display. If you want to use the computer on tables and desks and won't carry it around much, a 15-inch model may give you more value. Some gaming rigs, media machines and workstations even have 17 or 18-inch screens, but those are hardest to carry.

2-in-1 or Clamshell?

More and more of today's laptops are 2-in-1s with screens that either bend back 360 degrees or detach so you can use them as tablets. If you like the idea of using your laptop in slate mode for drawing, media consumption or just using it standing up, a 2-in-1 could be for you. However, you can often get better features or a lower price by going with a traditional clamshell-style laptop.

Battery Life: 8+ Hours for Portability

Unless you only plan to use your laptop on your desk, battery life matters. Even within the home or office, having plenty of juice enables you to work on the couch or at the conference table, without being chained to the nearest outlet. For the best portability, we recommend getting a laptop that lasted over 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. The longest-lasting laptops endure for over 10 hours.

Specs: 1080p / Core i5 / 8GB Are Best Bets

You can spend a lot of time delving into specs, but here are the key components to think about. If you just want really good mainstream performance, go for a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p screen.

How we test the best 13-inch 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.

See this page on how we test laptops for more details on our benchmarking procedures.

Why Trust Laptop Mag

Laptop Mag reviews over one hundred different laptops every year, from paperweight ultralights to everyday workhorses to lumbering gaming notebooks that scorch the frame rates of even the hottest AAA games. We're not just experts in the laptop field, as we go one step further by meticulously testing smartphones, tablets, headphones, PC accessories, software, and even the latest in gaming. 

We are 100% independent and have decades of experience to help you buy with confidence. In fact, Laptop Mag has been testing and reviewing products for three decades, and we continue to deliver trustworthy reviews you can rely on. 

Our experienced team of writers and editors scour the available information about the laptop and put it through its paces to determine which is best for you. But before they start, the testing team subjects each system to a rigorous regimen of synthetic and real-world tests to see how a system handles the type of work and games you’re most likely to throw at it. 

Our editorial trustworthiness is enforced by one of the world's largest technology publishers, Future Publishing. As a company, we have unrivaled experience across every tech sector — and we're the group's specialist for all things mobile tech.