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These days, the best laptops are almost a necessity for day-to-day life, but there’s only one real reason to go with one of the best 13-inch laptops: they’re the perfect size. Let’s face it, 15-inch laptops are simply too big, while less than 12 inches leaves you squinting. The best 13-inch laptops are the sweet spot for notebook displays – they’re perfect for work, streaming media and everything in between. And, because it’s the most popular display size for laptops – the best 13-inch laptops will be packed with all the latest tech.
The Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best laptops we’ve ever laid our fingers on, winning TechRadar’s Best in Class award three years in a row. Still, we can also understand why someone would prefer the HP Spectre x360 or even the MacBook Air. Because, while the XPS 13 may be gorgeous and thin without losing performance, these other laptops aren’t hindered by baffling webcam placements. Plus, they all do different things.
Keep in mind though, that we’ve seen some awesome 13-inch laptops at Computex 2018 that will be compelling upgrades over the next year. Asus in particular has some noteworthy devices, like a laptop with a touchscreen built into its trackpad. So, make sure you bookmark this guide, as we’ll keep it updated with the best 13-inch laptops as they come out.
At the end of the day, the best 13-inch laptop is going to come down to your own personal preference. Do you need a more traditional laptop that does its job well, or one of the best 2-in-1 laptops that you can flip around into tablet mode? What about a machine that runs macOS High Sierra instead of Windows 10? There are so many choices on the market, and with this list we’ve tried to cover as many as possible.
Its changes are subtle, and yet the Dell XPS 13 is still the best 13-inch laptop you can buy. On the high end, it now offers a 4K display, for a sharper picture across the board. But even if you can’t afford higher tier configurations, the beautiful design, lengthy battery life and even the SD card slot are still there – plus you’ve got a quad-core processor no matter what poison you pick. Better yet, the 13.3-inch display of the XPS 13 has been squeezed into a smaller frame, which explains Dell’s marketing line: ‘the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop.’ Now stew on that, as you admire the Dell XPS 13’s gorgeous, albeit more expensive, Alpine White finish.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13
While it may not be as powerful as its behemoth of a 15-inch counterpart, everything else about the 13.5-inch version of the Surface Book 2 is perfect for the mobile workhorse user environment. Whether you’re a creative or a professional, the Microsoft Surface Book 2, with its more compact form-factor rocks a style that’s just as beautiful as its predecessor. What’s more, the dynamic fulcrum hinge is stronger than you remember, which only complements its robust, quad-core CPU.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2
We didn’t expect a laptop made by Razer to be thinner and lighter than a MacBook Pro – not to mention prettier, but here we are. The Razer Blade stealth – in its all-new gunmetal finish – rocks not only a beautiful and practical aesthetic with its 400-nit display brightness and full-size USB 3.0 ports, but it also has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it a performance beast. The 8th-generation Kaby Lake R U-series processor make the Razer Blade Stealth a force to be reckoned with. It might not have the best battery life, but an Ultrabook this fast is worth the 16 minutes of battery life you give up.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth
For anyone who prefers premium build quality over everything, the HP Spectre x360 contains everything you could ever ask for in a 2-in-1 without compromise. Weighing in at just 2.78 pounds and measuring just over half an inch thick, it’s as thin as it is light. Plus, with up to a 4K display and 8th-generation Intel processors, it’s one of the best ways to experience high-quality video streaming as well as 720p gaming on a hybrid. We didn’t even mention the plentitude of ports. You’ll get two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of a USB 3.1 Type-A – so you shouldn’t need a ton of adapters.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
While Samsung may not be well known for its laptops – beyond its Tab Pro S convertible, at least – Samsung’s follow-up to the 2012 Series 9 Notebook has impressive performance at a competitive price. Marketed as an Ultrabook, it’s certainly disheartening to know it can only last 5 hours in between charges, but given its beautiful design, it almost doesn’t matter. As a bonus, with the Samsung Notebook 9, you won’t have to deal with the bloatware that makes many other Windows laptop the target of derision on tech forums.
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell XPS 13
Everyone hates change. However, while the 15.6-inch frame of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin we once knew will soon be erased from our memories forever, the new 13.3-inch model doesn’t seem like a terrible upgrade. It’s bounced two generations into the future in terms of processing power, and although there are no discrete graphics present, we’re glad to see a keyboard that can compete with some of the heavier hitters. It’s nothing revolutionary, yet as far as hybrid notebooks go, this one ain’t too shabby (plus it’s cheaper than a weaker MacBook Pro).
Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Surface Laptop
The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first effort at a ‘traditional’ laptop – even if it does come with a PixelSense touchscreen and Alcantara keyboard. It also features specs that’ll make the 12-inch MacBook Blush, like a U-series 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor – making Apple’s thin and light look obsolete by comparison. It might have limited ports and has S Mode by default, but it’s appealing for its design, beautiful screen, and beefy performance.
Read the full review: Surface Laptop
As 2-in-1 laptops have become more prevalent in recent years, their manufacturers have been improving them at a nigh-equal pace. This rings true for few laptop makers more than it does for Lenovo, however, who has taken the liberty of crafting drop-dead gorgeous convertibles with standout watch band-like hinges, much like that of the Yoga 920. This rendition of Lenovo’s increasingly popular brand of hybrids sees the integration of USB-C ports, a centered webcam and, perhaps more interestingly, an 8th-generation Intel quad-core processor regardless of which configuration you opt for. It does purr more loudly than expected, and tablet mode could use some work, but the Lenovo Yoga 920 is ultimately worth its price of admission.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920
Apple’s MacBook Air still puts on a decent fight, even though it’s starting to show its age. While it still rocks an Intel fifth-generation Core processor, rather than the newest Coffee Lake silicon, it’s still a capable machine – even more so now that 8GB of RAM is the standard. If you’re looking for the best 13-inch laptop for casually browsing the web, checking email and word processing, you can’t go wrong with the MacBook Air – not to mention that it’s still the cheapest laptop that runs macOS.
Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air
The latest iteration of Apple’s seminal Macbook Pro series is here, and as you’d expect it makes a number of notable improvements over last year’s offering. While it may not exactly feature the strongest battery life in the game (scoring under an hour less than last year’s unit), it does feature a stronger CPU, and thus – better performance. And, the MacBook Pro 2018 takes that improved performance even further. Plus, when you add all of that on top of Apple’s continued devotion to simplicity and beautiful design, you get a laptop that is sleek, portable and powerful.
Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2017)
Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article