In a sea of huge notebooks and miniscule 2-in-1s, the 13-inch laptops stand proud as the perfect blend of portability and efficiency. They sport hardware that can play games, but last all day on a single charge. They don’t weigh too much, but there is plenty of screen space for all of your work and media needs. The best 13-inch laptops are some of the best laptops, period.
It wasn’t easy, but we’ve narrowed down our favorites from the greatest available today. If you’d like something a little larger, check out our guide to the best 15-inch laptops.
Dell XPS 13
The best 13-inch laptop
Why you should buy this: It’s been the best laptop in the world for years, and the 2019 model is the best yet.
Who’s it for: Everyone but hardcore gamers.
What we thought of the Dell XPS 13:
It’s hard to not sound like complete sycophants when talking about how much we love the XPS 13. It’s been our favorite laptop for the past four years, and the 2019 version only makes it better. On top of a hardware refresh that offers some of Intel’s best mobile processors, Dell did what we’ve been begging it to do for years and moved the webcam back up to the top of the screen where it belongs. That alone makes this better than its predecessor for anyone who plans to video call or web conference regularly.
As with the XPS 13s that came before, though, this version is light, portable, and exceedingly attractive. It’s gradually moving away from the MacBook silver styling which is now so commonplace in the notebook market and has forged an identity all of its own. You’ll want to keep the white interior and “Frost” exterior clean to make sure it stays looking clean, but we feel confident that you’ll love this laptop enough to make the effort.
The display is absolutely gorgeous no matter which resolution you opt for and internal hardware upgrades make sure that this laptop is capable of just about anything you throw at it, from everyday web browsing, to more intensive tasks like photo editing. Don’t expect to play the latest and greatest games at high framerates, but that’s not really what this laptop is for.
No laptop is perfect, but the XPS 13 gets as close as we’ve seen yet.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 review
The best 13-inch MacBook
Why you should buy this: It’s the best MacBook on Apple’s roster with great battery life and portability.
Who’s it for: Apple fans who don’t need the grunt of a MacBook Pro.
What we thought of the Apple MacBook Air:
Apple’s MacBooks might be a little expensive compared to some of the other suggestions on this list, but if you’re an Apple fan or want some of the best build quality of any laptop in the world, you can’t go wrong with the MacBook Air. It’s our favorite of the current MacBook line up and certainly has the best battery life of the lot. It might not be as powerful as the MacBook Pro, but when it comes to embodying Apple’s design ethos of beautiful and light, with a strong and sturdy build, nothing really comes close.
After several years of middling updates, Apple finally overhauled the Air in 2018 and the changes are apparent from the first moment you use it. Where other devices might cut corners on build quality to achieve the weightlessness of modern laptops, Apple’s MacBook Air does nothing of the sort. It’s as sturdy and well built as laptops come.
Head to head on a pure hardware level, the MacBook Air falls behind many other systems on this list. However, it’s still the best MacBook out there and for many, that’s more than enough to make it one of the best laptops you can buy.
Read our full MacBook Air review
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333
The best 13-inch laptop under $1,000
Why you should buy this: You want a laptop that ticks all the boxes that isn’t the Dell XPS 13.
Who’s it for: Everyone but hardcore gamers.
What we thought of the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333:
Always the bridesmaid and rarely the bride, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is so close to being our favorite 13-inch laptop ever made. If it didn’t exist in a world with the XPS 13, it just might take the top spot. As it is, it’s relegated to a very near second place, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
The ZenBook 13 is certainly the more affordable of the two devices. For that lower price tag you get almost as much if you paid more for the Dell machine. For well under $1,000 you get an Intel Core i5 CPU with four cores, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. That’s more than enough to perform any day to day task. Though the XPS 13 starts at $900, the one you’ll want (with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD) starts at $1,200.
The ZenBook has it all. Its battery life is one of the best in this form-factor stretching well past a full workday, and it’s slim and lightweight enough to be competitive with the most portable notebooks in this space. It’s even got a great screen and a distinctive design that helps it stand out from the crowd of silver MacBook copycats.
There’s little else you could ask for in a laptop at this price point.
Read our full Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 review
HP Spectre x360
The best 13-inch 2-in-1
Why you should buy this: You want a powerful tablet and laptop at an affordable price point.
Who’s it for: Those who want the versatility of a 13-inch tablet and laptop in one package.
What we thought of the HP Spectre x360:
The oldest laptop in this list, the HP Spectre x360 holds it own by offering some of the most capable hardware and the greatest versatility. As a 2-in-1 it has the ability to fold up into an ultra-portable tablet for ease of use with its responsive and detailed touch screen. It’s powerful, has a long battery life, and is impressively capable in both tablet and laptop mode. Typically, 2-in-1s are better at one than the other, but the Spectre x360 excels in both areas.
Although it doesn’t quite top our list of the best 2-in-1s anymore, the HP Spectre x360 is our favorite one at this size and it can easily compete with some of the best entries on this list. With capable internal hardware and an attractive design that doesn’t skimp on stability, it’s surprisingly economical too. Other 2-in-1s at this size might have the odd feature that betters it, but they’re also typically a few hundred dollars more expensive, making the Spectre x360 a real bang for buck buy.
You are going to find better dedicated laptops and better dedicated tablets, but for a device that does both well, there isn’t a 13-inch 2-in-1 around that can hold a candle to the Spectre x360. The new version features a new diamond-cut design and updated processors, which sweeten the deal even more.
Read our full HP Spectre x360 (late 2017) review
Razer Blade Stealth
The best 13-inch gaming laptop
Why you should buy this: It’s a fantastic all round laptop with some serious gaming chops.
Who’s it for: Gamers and those who want the power to work and play in a 13-inch form factor.
What we thought of the Razer Blade Stealth:
Yes, yes — we know. The Razer Blade Stealth isn’t really a gaming laptop. It is, however, a gaming-branded 13-inch laptop with more graphical power than any other option on this list. With an Nvidia MX150 4GB graphics chip under the hood, paired up with a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, it can play games like Fortnite smoothly with settings turned down a bit.
What’s most encouraging with the 2019 Razer Blade Stealth is that it betters its predecessor so well. The upgraded hardware gives it a serious leg up on the Stealth that came before and it takes the lead against many other laptops sporting the same graphics chip. While there are certainly more powerful gaming laptops out there, it’s rare to find one at 13-inches that doesn’t have a terrible screen, or awful battery life.
The Razer Blade Stealth is a beautiful laptop, and it has enough grunt to play all the esports games you like at high frame rates. Larger Razer laptops do outshine its gaming ability and other laptops on this list will stomp all over its battery life, but for a laptop that performs well in and out of games and looks good doing it, this is our favorite in the 13-inch space.
Read our full Razer Blade Stealth review