13-inch laptops have boomed in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. These devices offer the best balance between portability and productivity. Students can effortlessly carry 13-inch laptops around campus, and business professionals can slip these machines into briefcases when traveling. Additionally, these laptops' compact size makes them suitable 2-in-1s for customers who want tablet functionality.
Another benefit of choosing an Ultrabook is that you don't sacrifice performance. While the U-series chips that power these machines aren't quite as fast as H-series CPUs, 13-inch laptops can handle some of the most-demanding tasks, like photo and video editing. And while hard-core gamers may not be satisfied with integrated GPUs, 13-inch devices are fine for casual gaming.
Here are the best 13-inch laptops for every budget.
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 (starting at $999) isn't just the best 13-inch laptop; it's also currently our favorite overall laptop. Dell refreshed the Ultrabook this year with a slimmer design and an eye-catching white color scheme to go along with the features that have made the XPS 13 our favorite consumer laptop several years in a row. Those features include a gorgeous, bezel-less display; fast performance, and more than 10 hours of battery life (on the 1080p model). At 2.65 pounds and a mere 0.46 inches thick, the XPS 13 is a great choice for students or frequent travelers.
Key Specs CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7 GPU: Intel UHD 620 RAM: 4GB to 16GB Storage: 128GB to 2TB SSD Display Size: 13.3 inches Resolution: 1080p or 4K
The long-awaited (and much needed) update to the popular MacBook Air has arrived. The new model features a colorful 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 Retina display with bezels that are 50 percent thinner this year. Touch ID also makes an introduction to the new Butterfly keyboard. The Y-series CPU in the MacBook Air didn't blow us away in our testing, but its 9+ hours of battery life made up for it. Also, the newly designed chassis is 0.6 inches thick and weighs 2.75 pounds, making the new Air slightly smaller and lighter than the previous model.
The sophomore release of Microsoft's traditional clamshell laptop is a hit. The $999 Surface Laptop 2 has a lot going for it, including a gorgeous 13.5-inch display, a slim and sexy design, and 9 hours of battery life. The machine also comes armed with the latest 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs, which provide a significant performance improvement when compared to last year's model. The comfortable soft-touch Alcantara deck returns this year, except now there is a swanky matte black color scheme to choose from, along with the Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Platinum.
Not looking to spend more than $1,000? Don't worry — HP has you covered. The company's Envy 13t (starting at $899) Ultrabook offers strong performance and excellent battery life in a portable, premium design. With a matte-aluminum chassis, the Envy 13t's sharp, tapered edges make it slim and sexy. If that doesn't already give you reason enough to buy the Envy 13t, the laptop also offers a world-class keyboard, so your fingers will remain comfortable during long typing sessions in class.
Key Specs CPU: Intel Core i7 GPU: Intel UHD 620 or Nvidia GeForce MX150 RAM: 8GB Storage: 256GB to 1TB SSD Display Size: 13.3 inches Resolution: 1080p or 4K
If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, then there's only one 13-inch laptop you should consider: the MacBook Pro (starting at $1,299). While this year's 13-inch MacBook Pro falls a bit short in the battery-life department, the laptop makes up for that weakness with unthinkably fast data-transfer speeds. Of course, on top of that, you get all the staples that make Apple products so compelling: a beautiful Retina display, Siri support and top-notch speakers. Also, those wary of last year's troublesome keyboard will appreciate the improvements in the new model.
Key Specs CPU: Intel Core i5, i7 GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 RAM: 8GB, 16GB Storage: 256GB to 2TB SSD Display Size: 13.3 inches Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Business professionals who want a powerful 13-inch laptop should consider the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3. This sleek 2-in-1 combines a beautiful slim aluminum chassis with military strength durability. Add nearly 10 hours of battery life into the mix, and you've got yourself one heck of a travel machine.
A standout feature of the EliteBook x360 1030 G3 is the 1080p Sure View display, which reaches a remarkable 518 nits of brightness. Other things we like about the laptop include its comfortable keyboard and powerful speakers.
Key Specs CPU: Intel Core i5, i7 GPU: Intel UHD 620 RAM: 8GB, 16GB Storage: Up to 2TB Display Size: 13.3 inches Resolution: 4K or 1080p
The Acer Spin 5 is a flexible 2-in-1 laptop that sells for a reasonably affordable price. The $700 convertible laptop allows you to fold the touch-screen display into tablet mode for drawing or tent mode for presentations. Typists will appreciate the very comfortable keyboard, and viewing high-definition content is a joy on the Spin 5's bright, 1080p display. While the laptop's battery life is below average, its Core i5 processor is plenty powerful for streaming videos or loading multiple browser tabs.
This leather-bonded laptop is so much more than just a fashion statement. The HP Spectre Folio is made of 100-genuine cowhide, making it the perfect companion to a designer bag for those fashion-forward users. But it's the laptop's innovative method for converting from a laptop into a tablet that really impressed us.