The best 13-inch laptops have mastered the art of squeezing a lot of power into 13-inch slim bodies. When it comes to these notebooks, portability is the name of the game, something many users – from students looking for affordable portables to professionals who want a thin and light machine – appreciate. While 15-inch laptops offer a larger screen and space for more powerful internals, the best 13-inch laptops offer a slim form factor that’s ideal for traveling.
While that doesn’t mean they can’t compete with the best of them in performance – they acquire more than enough power in their small form to get you through demanding tasks such as photo editing, music production, blogging, and even light gaming. Many of these laptops are powerful enough to make our best laptops, best business laptops, or best Ultrabooks lists.
Best 13-inch Laptops list
The best 13-inch laptops offer a perfect balance between portability and productivity. School or College students can effortlessly carry 13-inch laptops around campus, and business professionals can put them in backpacks while traveling.
Dell XPS 13 2020
The best 13-inch laptop in the World
It’s hard to improve near perfection, but the XPS 13 2020 manages to make the best laptop even better – and it’s so good that the Dell XPS 13 won our title for the best laptop. Dell’s latest flagship PC features Intel’s latest 10th generation processors, making multitasking between apps and even doing some light gaming a breeze. The laptop’s Infinity Edge screen now has a screen ratio of 91.5% without getting in the way of your favorite movies and TV shows.
Some smaller improvements make the XPS 13 2020 better than its predecessors. The laptop’s comfortable keyboard is now edge-to-edge, and the touchpad is 17% larger, making it much easier to work with documents for long periods without getting cramped. With a few minor material changes, the beautiful aluminum design is even more attractive to use and hold, and the Dell XPS 13 2020 quickly catches the eye at the top of its class.
MacBook Pro 13-inch
Best laptop for photo editing
The MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 solves the biggest problem with Apple’s other outstanding 13-inch laptop: the keyboard. By dropping the shallow keys of the older Butterfly keyboard in favor of the fabulous Magic Keyboard, the latest MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers the comfortable and responsive typing experience we’ve longed for on Apple’s flagship laptop. However, a great new keyboard isn’t all the new MacBook 2020 has.
The new 13-inch model gets a nice power boost with a 10th generation Core i7 processor, combined with its available 3733MHz RAM, blazing-fast SSD, and Intel Iris Plus graphics, provides reliable performance for multitasking and photo and video editing. The 2560 x 1600 on the MacBook Pro is still as beautiful as ever, and the laptop lasts almost 11 hours. Apple has doubled the price for RAM on the entry-level model, and you pay for the 10th generation power, but overall the latest MacBook Pro is one of the best 13-inch laptops that you can buy.
HP Envy 13
A premium laptop under $1000
HP has a long tradition of making laptops you can rely on, and the HP Envy 13 is no different – it’s one of the best choices you’re going to find in the best 13-inch laptops under $1000 range. We include it here because of its excellent balance between price and performance. This is a laptop that will last you a long time. The 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 resolution display is at the forefront here – bright and sharp and great for streaming video, surfing the web, and working on documents.
While creatives may want a little more in screen real estate, the smaller display size makes this a portable laptop, and thanks to its reliable build quality, it doesn’t feel like you have to be extra careful with it. With a choice of Intel’s Core processors inside and some compelling combinations of RAM and internal storage also available, this is a laptop ready to handle all but the most demanding tasks (don’t try to gamble on it). A special mention for the audio developed in collaboration with Bang and Olufsen, which sounds great.
HP Spectre x360
The best 2-in-1 laptop right now
The Spectre x360 13 is the best 2-in-1 laptop ever. Updated with a 10th generation CPU and a more modern design, the Spectre x360 13 has improved almost every way over its excellent predecessor. Highlights of this laptop include a beautiful design that flaunts faceted edges and beveled corners. Those precision-cut details make the Spectre look more like a piece of jewelry than a gadget.
Along with that, stunning design is a clear 1080p display, epic 13+ hours of battery life, and fast overall performance. There’s almost nothing the Spectre x360 13 doesn’t do well, although the speakers could use some tuning. We set the Spectre x360 13 up against some of our other favorite 2-in-1 laptops, including the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and Lenovo Yoga C940, but none of these great competitors could dethrone the HP.
MacBook Air 2020
The best portable MacBook
It’s incredible what a difference the right keyboard makes. Since 1999 the MacBook Air 2020 has the improved Magic Keyboard, which replaces the butterfly switch with a scissor mechanism that allows you to type much more comfortably. Apple has also upgraded the Air to the 10th generation Intel Core processors (from 8th generation). It’s a Y-Series chip (which is not as powerful as the U-Series CPUs), but it turned out to be enough for everyday use and basic multitasking.
Apple not only lowered the price by $100, but it also doubled the standard MacBook Air storage, from a 128GB SSD to a 256GB drive, which still offers lightning-fast read speeds. The MacBook Air also has great endurance, with a battery that lasts all day. It took 9 hours and 31 minutes (almost 50 minutes longer than the regular system) for our web surfing test to charge the MacBook Air fully. Add to that Apple’s relatively bright and colorful Retina display and surprisingly powerful speakers, and you have the best 13-inch laptop for most Apple fans.
Asus ZenBook 13
The laptop with the best design
We have always liked the Asus ZenBook line and the new ZenBook 13, which only increases our appreciation. ZenBook is first and foremost about design; the blue flap with concentric circles makes your silver base laptop, just like the MacBook Pro. Oh, and by the way, the chassis is MIL-STD-810G tested to withstand some unsavory environments. If that’s not enough, the touchpad on the ZenBook 13 is a ScreenPad 2.0, or a small screen that can start programs, serve as a toolbar, or expand the 13.3-inch, 1080p panel.
Adding a cherry to this already sweet package is ZenBook 13’s great audio, a decent variety of ports it offers despite being such a portable laptop, and outstanding performance supported by a discreet GPU. Overall, this is one of the best 13-inch laptops that you can buy right now.
Razer Blade Stealth
A compact laptop by Razer
The Razer Blade Stealth is the best 13-inch laptop for gamers who want to play on the go. The Stealth has a sleek, unibody aluminum chassis that can easily be slid into a backpack. Somehow Razer has found a way to put an impressive GPU in this 13-inch machine. Although the optional GeForce MX150 GPU can’t play the most demanding games, you shouldn’t have problems with most AAA titles at low graphics settings. Oh yes, and this year’s model has a surprisingly long battery life of more than 8 hours.
Microsoft Surface Book 3
The best premium 2-in-1 laptop
The third edition of Microsoft’s Surface Book is, of course, the best so far, and it is unique among laptops – a full-sized portable notebook with a good keyboard and laptop specifications, but at the same time with a screen that you can completely disconnect and use as a keyboard. It comes on the tablet-laptop hybrid device from the opposite direction from the Surface Pro and the Apple iPad Pro, in other words, and we think this is an approach that many people will like.
It means that you can pack the Surface Book 3 full power – you can put an Intel’s Core i7 processor and an Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 graphics chipset in this laptop if needed. Like all other devices in the Surface range, the build quality and hardware aesthetics are impressive, and you also have a choice of 13.5-inch and 15-inch screens – it depends on how much you want to spend and how portable you want your portable computer to be.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
Decent laptop with a strong performance
The Surface Laptop 3 for Business with Intel’s processors is a better laptop than its AMD sibling. It has better performance, longer battery life, faster hard drive, and Windows 10 Pro. If the gap in price would be wider – the Intel model is only $100 more expensive – then we could consider the AMD model. Still, we strongly recommend going to Microsoft’s online store and order the business edition instead.
Without considering Microsoft’s misleading “for business” designation, the Surface Laptop 3 is one of the best laptops out there. It has excellent performance, long battery life, a fast hard drive, and Windows 10 Pro. Plus, you get Microsoft’s sleek aluminum chassis and a beautiful display. If you’re a fan of Microsoft notebooks, this is the best 13-inch laptop for you.
Acer Swift 3
The best budget laptop
Another budget laptop in our list, the Acer Swift 3, runs on AMD Ryzen CPUs. This laptop goes toe to toe with Dell’s XPS 13 and Apple’s MacBook Pro. That’s how fast the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU is. The Swift 3 also features a comfortable keyboard, which features clicking keys that provide plenty of feedback. Students also save login time thanks to the Swift 3’s built-in fingerprint reader on the keyboard deck.
And all this power is packed in aluminum and magnesium to make it look like a champion, too. The only major caveat is the display, which is on the dull and boring side of the equation. If your student already has another large screen for watching the best Netflix shows, consider the Swift 3: it’s a surprising beauty. Overall, this is one of the best 13-inch laptops.