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?
|HP Envy 13 (2019)|
CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/ Core i7
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|Dell XPS 13 (2020)|
CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7
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|Apple MacBook Pro (2020)<|
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
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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 those looking for a cheaper option should get the HP Envy x360 13.
Now that every Apple laptop has been updated with the Magic Keyboard, we recommend going with the MacBook Pro. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be happy with the MacBook Air, but the MacBook Pro is a great all-around upgrade if you can splurge on it.
1. HP Envy 13 (2019)
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.
2. Dell XPS 13 (2020)
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.
3. Apple MacBook Pro (2020)
The HP Envy x360 13 is the best laptop for under $1,000 and one of the best 13-inch laptops on the market. While it doesn’t come with a stylus (neither does the Surface Pro), the Envy is a 2-in-1 so you can flip it into tent or tablet mode. What makes this such a fantastic value is its entirely aluminum design and Herculian AMD Ryzen processors.
In our testing, we found that an Envy x360 13 with a Ryzen 5 4500U CPU can outperform laptops with 10th Gen Intel chips. This specific Envy costs just $800 and can outmuscle laptops that cost well over $1,000, including the exorbitant MacBook Pro. Moreover, the Envy x360 13 has a bright, vivid 13.3-inch display and a comfortable keyboard.
There is very little we don’t like about the Envy x360. If you can get over the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port and IR camera, then it is the ultimate money-saving laptop.
4. HP Envy x360 13 (2020)
If you prefer macOS to Windows 10 and need a 13-inch laptop, then your best bet is the Apple MacBook Pro (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 U-series processors, which outmuscle the MacBook Air by a good amount, and a superfast SSD. The 13.3-inch Retina display is still a sight to behold, and the MacBook Pro remains a sleek laptop despite having an aging aesthetic. Of course, you still get everything that makes Apple’s laptops so popular: a gorgeous unibody aluminum design, good speakers and solid battery life.
5. HP Spectre x360 (Late 2019)
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.
6. Google Pixelbook Go
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.
7. Razer Blade Stealth (2018)
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.
8. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
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.
9. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
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.
10. Lenovo IdeaPad 730S
Windows 10 users envious of the MacBook Pro should turn their direction to the Surface Laptop 3. With a first-rate build quality and a slim, elegant aluminum chassis, the Surface Laptop 3 is arguably more attractive than Apple’s beloved notebooks. It also has a similarly fantastic 13.5-inch display (with a 3:2 aspect ratio) that is more vivid than the one on the newest MacBook Pro.
Other things we like about the Surface Laptop 3 are its fast performance more than 9 hours of battery life. The keyboard is also fantastic, and even more comfortable to type on than the new Magic Keyboard on the MacBook. So although there are no Thunderbolt 3 ports and the bezels remain a bit chunky, the Surface Laptop 3 is a wonderful laptop for people who want a stylish ultraportable machine with outstanding build quality.
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.