The Best 13-Inch Laptops of 2018: Portable Notebooks for Any Budget
Laptops with 13-inch displays 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
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
Forget about those silver or black laptops for a second — how about a pop of color? The Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN ($999) is among the most beautiful devices we've tested this year. The laptop's navy blue color scheme and the glossy finish on its lid make this machine's competitors look bland. A vivid and bright display complements the design well, and with more than 9 hours of battery life, the Asus will stay powered for an entire workday. The ZenBook 13 can also play most casual games at solid frame rates, thanks to its dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU.
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
Business professionals in the market for a 13-inch laptop should look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad L380 (starting at $584). Like the other laptops in Lenovo's flagship lineup, the L380 has a magnificent keyboard and a durable chassis that is tested to 12 military-grade certifications. While the display is somewhat dull, the ThinkPad impresses with strong overall performance and good endurance. And at $899, the L380 is a relatively affordable business laptop, especially compared with other ThinkPad laptops.
Key Specs CPU: Intel Celeron 3965U or Intel Core i5, i7 GPU: Intel UHD 620 RAM: 4GB, 8GB Storage: 128GB to 512GB SSD Display Size: 13.3 inches Resolution: 1366 x 768 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.
The new Surface Laptop 2 has a revamped keyboard with 1.5 millimeters of key travel, which should make it more comfortable to type on. While the 13.5-inch clamshell laptop still doesn't have a USB-C port, the Surface Laptop 2 does come with the latest 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs. There is now a black color variant to go along with the blue, burgundy and silver. Battery life is rated at an excellent 14.5 hours of video playback, though we'll have to wait for a review unit to test those claims.