The best 13-inch laptops have the power to handle all of your daily tasks in a slim, lightweight package small enough to slip into a small backpack or large purse. These machines are power-efficient enough to carry all day without having to worry about losing battery during the middle of an important task. Ideally, they should also have a great display or good speakers to help you unwind after a long day at work.
It isn't easy finding the right 13-inch laptop for you. There are a ton of options available. This is due to the market for 13-inch laptops swelling in recent years thanks to declining component sizes and costs (you can thank smartphones and tablets for that).
That's why we've assembled this list of the best 13-inch laptops you can buy, based on our experience testing and reviewing dozens of laptops from the top manufacturers.
So whether you prefer Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS, read on for guidance on the best 13-inch laptops you can buy.
What are the best 13-inch laptops right now?
Right now our recommendation for the best 13-inch laptop you can buy is the Dell XPS 13 Plus because it's a well-rounded and affordable machine that packs speedy performance and a gorgeous OLED touchscreen into a remarkably slim, lightweight design. However, it lacks a headphone jack and sports capacitive keys that may be too daring for some; for those folks we still recommend the Dell XPS 13, still an excellent 13-inch ultraportable that can also be configured with an OLED touchscreen.
If you love the idea of an OLED laptop but want something a bit more affordable, Asus' Zenbook 13 OLED packs great power and amazing battery life, and it's usually a few hundred bucks cheaper than the XPS 13.
If you prefer Apple hardware, the 2020 MacBook Air with M1 is our recommendation for the best 13-inch MacBook. It offers fantastic performance and long battery life, plus it's incredibly svelte and light. Again, if you're willing to pay a few hundred bucks more, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is a great investment that gives you a bit more battery life and processing power than the Air. The M1 chip also gives both laptops the power to run iOS apps natively, which can be fun if you're already invested in that ecosystem.
If you're on a budget, some of the best Chromebooks are on this list, and they're more affordable than the rest without sacrificing much in terms of power -- at least, as long as you're able to keep them connected to the Internet. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 is our recommendation for the best 13-inch Chromebook overall because it has a beautiful display and enough power to handle all your daily tasks. If you'd like to spend a few hundred bucks less, look around for a deal on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 — it's not quite as good but it's still more than capable of getting you through a day at the office or in the classroom, and you can often find entry-level models on sale for $450 or less.
Judging by the name, you might think that the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a bigger version of Dell’s iconic laptop. But it’s actually quite the opposite. This is as minimalist a design as we’ve ever seen from Dell. There’s just two ports. There’s no headphone jack. And Dell even took away physical function keys, replacing them with a capacitive row. There’s not even lines to denmark the touchpad; the entire area beneath the keyboard is one smooth piece of glass.
But the XPS 13 Plus isn’t just a design statement. Dell managed to pack a 28W 12th gen Core i7 processor into this sleek 2.7-pound machine. And the result is a system that can outperform even the mighty MacBook Pro M2 on some tests. However, the short battery life and capacitive function row will give some pause. We also found the bottom gets a bit toasty when running at full power, so keep that in mind.
Read our full Dell XPS 13 Plus review.
Not interested in the Plus? Don't miss our Dell XPS 13 OLED review -- the base XPS 13 is still a great laptop that we recommend often.
Apple has revolutionized its laptops by swapping out the Intel CPUs they've long relied on for its new M1 chip. The M1 is the inaugural product of Apple's new initiative to develop its own silicon, and its debut in the 2020 MacBook Air made that Air the fastest we've ever seen, with incredible battery life. It lasted 14 hours and 41 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test, making the 2020 MacBook Air a great choice if you need a svelte, long-lived MacBook.
Plus, the M1 chip gives it the ability to run iOS and iPadOS apps on your Mac. The webcam is clearer and more color-accurate than ever, thanks to signal processing, On top of that, you get stronger sound than you'd expect from a laptop this small, and Dolby Atmos support helps you enjoy better-sounding movies and TV. Not only is this the best laptop for many if not most Apple users, it's a laptop that should have the PC world looking over its shoulders.
Read our full Apple MacBook Air M1 (late 2020) review.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the closest thing the company makes to a flagship Windows laptop. This 2021 addition to the Surface Laptop line packs premium components into a svelte chassis, and it comes with a clean Windows 10 install that's bloatware-free.
If you're looking for a premium Windows laptop to work from anywhere, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is the way to go. It has a comfy keyboard with well-sized, satisfying keys and a nice Alcantara deck option that gives your wrists a little more comfort than a typical all-metal laptop. Factor in the respectable 10+ hour battery life and the screen's tall 3:2 display ratio, which can help you read and edit documents more comfortably, and you have a great notebook for getting things done on the go.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review.
If you're willing to spend upwards of $500 for a great 13-inch Chromebook, Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook 2 is our top recommendation. Ditching the 4K display that graced the original Samsung Galaxy Chromebook was probably the best thing Samsung could have done while designing the Galaxy Chromebook 2. Now it's way more affordable, but still sports a great QLED display and longer battery life — 7:50 vs the previous gen's 5:55. It's also going to sound great, plus its Core i3 configuration provides a ton of speed for Chrome OS.
We weren't as happy with the vertical travel in its keyboard, which is a bit shallow. This creates a slight learning curve you'll adapt to over time. But to get a Chromebook that looks this good — wow that Fiesta Red color option stands out in a sea of silver Chromebooks and PCs. Plus, at $549 (Celeron) or $699 (Core i3), the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is a pretty good value.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 review.
It's a few hundred bucks more than the above-mentioned MacBook Air with M1, but the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 Apple silicon is a fantastic upgrade for anyone who wants more speed and endurance. Not only does it beat the Air on battery life by almost 2 hours, but it's got a fan inside so its octo-core M1 chip can be pushed even further without heat issues. Oh, and you still get the fantastic Magic Keyboard, which enables comfortable and responsive typing.
Plus, its Retina display is both bright and colorful, so any photos or video you edit on the MacBook Pro will look excellent (as will the next Netflix show you binge). We just wish Apple would update its design or give you more Thunderbolt ports (the 4 USB-C port config is currently limited to Intel-based MacBook Pros). Still, it's amazing to see how Apple's own processors have obliterated the performance seen in its old Intel-based MacBooks. It all adds up to why the 13-inch MacBook Pro is one of the best 13-inch laptops you can buy, especially if you hate carrying a charger around.
Read our full MacBook Pro with M1 review.
One of the key reasons to shop for a 13-inch laptop is portability, but when we hear a laptop is incredibly thin and light, we tend to worry about how long it will last on a single charge. That's not the case here, as the 2-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano lasted 12 hours on our battery test, which puts it up there against some of the very best laptops on the market today.
That's quite impressive when you remember that the 2.9-pound XPS 13 that tops this list is almost a whole pound heavier. Lenovo didn't sacrifice on performance or usability either. The Nano's Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors deliver the speed you need for tons of productivity — and its keyboard provides a snappy and comfortable typing experience that lives up to the ThinkPad brand. You just might need to pack a USB-C hub, though, as it's a little light on ports.
Read our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is an excellent 13-inch laptop for business-minded users because it's light, long-lasting, and looks great on a desk. This 2-in-1's design is one of the most stunning we've ever seen on a laptop, with remarkably thin edges that measure just 0.6 inches in thickness and a deep blue coat of paint that looks refreshing, mesmerizing and classy all at once. And while the Dragonfly is wonderfully light at 2.5 pounds, it also feels impressively sturdy, has an oleophobic coating to prevent fingerprints and uses recycled ocean-bound plastics to help the environment.
Performance and features-wise, this beauty is a beast. Its stunning 13.3-inch display looks gorgeous for movies and TV shows and crushed our color and brightness tests. Its 8th-gen Intel CPU is a bit behind the times these days, but it can still handle everyday workloads without issues, and its keyboard is one of the most pleasant we've ever typed on. Plus, the battery should last you at least 12 hours on a single charge. The Dragonfly is a bit on the expensive side with a starting price of $1,629, but those who are willing to pay the premium will be rewarded with one of the best 13-inch laptops around.
Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review.
Don't let the name fool you: the Asus ZenBook Duo 14 is technically a 13-inch laptop (based on screen size) and it's an intriguing choice for anyone who wants a second screen but doesn't want an external display. It's also a great choice if you want to turn heads at the coffee shop, because it sports a 12-inch touch screen above the keyboard. This screen is great for your secondary windows, such as Spotify, Slack, Discord and more. It can also be used by creative apps from the likes of Adobe, who put touch controls there.
On top of that, its performance is speedy and competitive with the XPS 13, which it trades rounds with in head-to-head comparison. Plus, its battery life is long — especially when you realize it's got two screens to light up. The big downside, though, is that it has no wrist rest since the keyboard is bumped down to make room for the second screen, making the ZenBook Duo 14 a bit ergonomically unfriendly. But if you've got an external wrist rest, you should be good.
Read our full Asus ZenBook Duo 14 review.
After Google hit a home run with the super premium Pixelbook, the company returned with one of the best Chromebooks ever, the Pixelbook Go. More affordably priced (but still on the high-end of this list) this Chromebook is a case-study in why it can be worth it to spend more and invest in your next laptop.
Not only is this Chromebook elegant, with a slim chassis and grippy ribbed underside, but it's got a great screen that's brighter (368 nits) and more colorful (108% sRGB rating) than most screens. Plus, the Pixelbook Go has a great, clicky keyboard that enables comfortable typing. On top of that, it lasted nearly 11.5 hours on a single charge. The only real knocks against the Pixelbook Go are its lack of a USB-A port and how it's not a convertible. That being said, those who can afford the Pixelbook Go will love it.
Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review.
If you're looking for a great 13-inch laptop for under $500, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a great choice. That's due in part to its Intel Core i5-10210U CPU, which provides a ton of speed for Chrome OS (anything more would be overkill), and 8GB of RAM for managing all the Chrome tabs you can throw at it.
Plus, its sharp 2256 x 1504-pixel screen provides bright and vibrant picture output. On top of that, it lasted 11 hours and 54 minutes on our web-browsing based battery test. While it's possible to spend over $500 on this laptop if you trick it out, it's pretty easy to find entry-level models for $450 or less. If you can find it on sale, so much the better!
Read our full Acer Chromebook Spin 713 review.
The AMD-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 OLED is an excellent value, offering an eye-catching 1080p OLED display and exceptional battery life in a slim, lightweight package for less than a thousand bucks.
Sure, the speakers aren't amazing, the webcam leaves something to be desired, and there's no headphone jack, but these are stumbling blocks you can work around. If you need a zippy little ultraportable with a great screen that will last you all day long, you can't do better than the OLED-equipped Asus Zenbook 13 at this price.
Read our full Asus Zenbook 13 OLED review.
If you want a 13-inch tablet that doubles as a laptop, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is a great choice. This iteration of the company's 2-in-1 Surface Pro tablets includes an 11th generation Intel CPU, a 13-inch 120Hz display, two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a removable SSD. Just as important, you'll get Windows 11 right out of the box with this 2-in-1.
Its small size and lightweight design make the Surface Pro 8 ideal to use at home or on the road. The front-facing and rear cameras are also fantastic, providing clean detailed images. Unfortunately, the Surface Pro 8 disappoints as a gaming device and didn't live up to the promised 16 hours of battery life in our testing. Despite some of those qualms, the Surface 8 Pro is arguably the best Surface Pro yet.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review.
How we test to determine the best 13-inch laptops
Our path to finding the best 13-inch laptops for you is littered with test results. To help us better compare and recommend the best machines for you, we run every laptop we review through a rigorous suite of benchmarks and real-world tests to gauge how it will perform during everyday use.
We measure the average brightness and color quality of each laptop's display using our in-house light meter and colorimeter. For general performance, we run our machines through tests that include Geekbench 5 (CPU performance), as well as various 3DMark tests to measure graphics capabilities. We also run a file transfer test to measure how fast a machine's hard drive is, plus a video editing test to see how good it is at crunching video and a custom battery test that has the machine browse the internet over Wi-Fi until it runs out of juice.
We know many people also love to play games on their laptops, so we test the gaming horsepower of every laptop we review by putting it through the Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm graphical benchmark. This is an ideal test for us to use on 13-inch laptops because almost none of them have discrete graphics cards, which means they have a hard time running more modern or graphically-demanding games. Civilization VI is also one of the few relatively modern games with a graphical benchmark that runs on both Windows and MacOS, meaning we can easily compare the performance of MacBooks against that of Windows machines.