The best 13-inch laptops may be small, but thanks to the improvements manufacturers have made on internal components, they are just as powerful as some of the best 15-inch laptops. In fact, they’ll even see you through many of the more demanding workloads like video and photo editing. That’s while keeping things portable and travel-friendly.
With the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) leading the charge, the best 13-inch laptops have proven that they too can deliver a breathtaking performance worthy of light video editing and some gaming. And, because they have the advantage of being light and small, they’re ideal for professionals and students who need power without the bulk.
There’s a reason many of the best 13-inch laptops are also on our best business laptops, best Ultrabooks, or best laptops lists. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a specific brand like the best Acer laptops, want a particular form factor like a 2-in-1 laptop, or trying to choose between the best Windows laptops or the best Macs. Whether you’re a professional who needs a little more power or a student looking for the most affordable portable like a Chromebook, you’ll find one here to match your needs.
Apple finally out their much-talked about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. It’s not going to be the cheapest option for students, but for those who have a slightly bigger budget, this is the best student laptop to get.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
The second-generation HP Elite Dragonfly ups the ante in the best 13-inch laptops game. HP’s impressive business laptop is back with its smart design, great battery life, and 2-in-1 prowess. Of course, it’s more powerful now than it’s ever been, touting 11th-gen Intel Core chips, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and now a 4K display, upgrading from its previous Full HD models. There’s a lot to love here, and it might just be as close to being the perfect business laptop as any manufacturer can get. If you can afford it. However, as it is meant for professionals, it’s definitely worth the investment.
Read the full review: HP Elite Dragonfly G2
While Apple blew us away with the new MacBook Air (above), arch rival Microsoft has also impressed us with its new Surface Laptop 4. As with previous Surface devices, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us). It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 10, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
The flagship HP Spectre x360 (2021) is the newest in the flagship product line and continues the tradition of pairing elegance and premium design with the newest in specs for a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as much substance as it is style. This gorgeous Windows laptop comes with the new 11th-gen Intel CPU and enough battery life to get you through a long day at work. While it does come with a price tag to match and its 2-in-1 factor can be bulky for those making use of its tablet mode, not to mention that it can get loud, it’s a stunning laptop with excellent performance.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2021)
If you’ve long been admiring Google’s premium Chromebook but the price is holding you back, then you might want to consider the new Google Pixelbook Go instead. Freshly-baked by Google, this alternative to the manufacturer’s pricey Pixelbook boasts many of its high-quality features, but without that steep price tag – namely, an incredible battery life and that coveted keyboard. If your computing use is limited to sending and responding to emails, creating documents and excel sheets on Google Docs and Sheets, and streaming movies and videos after work, then this one’s a winner.
Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life. Thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip, the new MacBook Pro 13-inch delivers excellent performance and exceptional battery life. Its performance is so impressive, in fact, that it can easily handle 4K - and even 8K - videos. If you’re looking for a powerful laptop that keeps things small and lightweight, this is the best 13-inch laptop money can buy.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)
At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it to our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others. Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. This is among the best 13-inch laptops, and it’s worth every penny.
Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020)
The “world’s first gaming ultrabook” doesn't just talk the talk; it also walks the walk. Razer has spruced up its Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook with the latest internal components without affecting its super-quiet operation. Packed with a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor and better graphic options, 13-inch laptop delivers and much better than its predecessor. In fact, it might just be the best gaming experience we’ve ever had on integrated graphics with the Iris Plus configuration. Round that out with extremely quiet fans, low thermal power, extended battery life and that delightful Mercury White color, and we are sold. You will be too, if you can afford the price.
Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2019)
With the Lenovo Yoga C940, the company continues with its tradition of making elegant and stunning Ultrabooks. And, don't be thrown off by its looks, there's plenty of power hiding inside. With a comfortable keyboard, stylus, TrueBlock Privacy Shutter and rotating soundbar, it's quite a feature rich machine as well. It's not perfect - that soundbar is a work in progress and the battery life could be better - but it's a great portable that can stand up to the competition.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C940
If you want a workhorse of a laptop that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, look no further than the ASUS ZenBook 13 UX325. It’s thin and light form as well as exceptional battery life puts it in the same league as the best Ultrabooks out there. Its MIL-STD-810G takes it a step further, making it a robust candidate for your in-the-field needs. Its affordable price tag does come with a few surprises – the biggest one being it’s a bit underpowered. However, you’re not doing anything intensive, it should have enough to see you through your daily demands.
Read the full review: ASUS ZenBook 13 UX325
Bill Thomas has also contributed to this article
- Want more choices? Check out our list of the best laptop 2021