Best 13-inch laptops in 2021


Dell XPS 13 (OLED)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Despite their size, a 13-inch laptop with an Intel U-series or AMD Ryzen CPU can provide sufficient performance for the majority of users. Students can carry 13-inch laptops around campus with ease, and business professionals can slip them into briefcases when traveling (or move them from your home office to the couch with ease). The best 13-inch laptops strike the right balance of portability and productivity.

We’ve compiled a list of the best 13-inch laptops, but if this screen size isn’t for you, check out our other options.

best laptops page or the best 15-inch laptops Students should look at our website. if you require more screen space best college laptops They’ll find the best notebook for their fields on this page.

We’re also expecting to get the latest Envy 13 in for a test drive to see if it can unseat the 2019 model, which was previously at the top of this list. The rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh with an upgrade to the M1 chip is one of them. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a number of upcoming 13-inch laptops.

The best 13-inch laptops for every budget are listed below.

The HP Envy 13 is the best laptop under $1,000, with similar features to the Spectre but at a lower cost.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

1. HP Envy 13 (2021)

The best 13-inch laptop for the money

Specifications

CPU:

AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
GPU:
AMD Radeon Graphics
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
256GB
Display:
13.3-inch, 1080p
Size:
The dimensions are 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches.
Weight:
2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Outstanding performance


+1080p display is bright and vivid


+Stylish and compact aluminum design


+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

No IR camera


Plastic touchpad

The all-aluminum design and excellent 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs are what make this such a great deal. The Envy 13 is a fantastic value if you want the best laptop for less than four figures, despite the fact that it still has a plastic touchpad. The HP Envy 13 is one of the best 13-inch laptops on the market and one of the best laptops under $1,000.

The Envy 13 also has a comfortable keyboard and a bright, vivid 13.3-inch display. We discovered that an Envy 13 with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 delivers fast performance for almost any task during our testing. This particular Envy costs only $900 and can outperform laptops costing well over $1,000.

It is the ultimate money-saving laptop if you can get past the lack of an IR camera (there is a fingerprint sensor). There isn’t much about the Envy 13 that we don’t like.

See our

HP Envy 13 (2021) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

2. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

The best overall 13-inch laptop

Specifications

CPU:
Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Display:
13.4-inch, 1200
Size:
The dimensions are 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Attractive, premium chassis


+Great performance


+Good battery life

Reasons to avoid

Lacks legacy ports

However, this update includes Intel’s 11th Generation Tiger Lake processor, as well as a slew of new features, such as improved CPU and graphics performance and longer battery life. The new Dell XPS 13 keeps all of the features from last year’s model, including a smaller frame, four-sided InfinityEdge bezels, and a larger keyboard. When you put one of Intel’s new Tiger Lake processors into a Dell XPS 13, what do you get? These are all reasons why, if money isn’t an issue, it’s the best 13-inch laptop you can buy. Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 are also included. Even more amazing.

Without a doubt. The battery life is two hours longer than Intel’s new Evo standards. Certain AAA games can now be played on an integrated GPU, albeit at low settings, thanks to the new Intel Iris Xe GPU. Furthermore, in many cases, the overall performance is excellent. Is Tiger Lake, however, up to the hype? The Dell XPS 13 is the laptop for those looking for a laptop that is equal parts beautiful, powerful, and long-lasting.

See our full

Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) review

.

And here is our review of the

Dell XPS 13 with 4K display

and the

XPS 13 OLED

released in 2021.

 

Apple’s new MacBook Air with M1 outperforms its predecessor in terms of performance and battery life.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

3. MacBook Air (M1, Late 2020)

The best Mac for students

Specifications
CPU:
M1
GPU:
M1 (integrated)
RAM:
8GB/16GB
Storage:
256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display:
13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel
Size:
The dimensions are 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Breathtaking performance


+Outstanding battery life


+Slim unibody aluminum chassis


+iPhone and iPad app support


+Great speakers and Magic Keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Few ports

If you prefer macOS to Windows 10, the Apple MacBook Air is the way to go. The new M1 chip, which delivers outstanding performance and excellent battery life, is the most significant upgrade to this year’s model, making the new MacBook Air the fastest ultrathin laptop ever.

This is a combination that only the best Windows 10 laptops can offer, and even they can’t compete in a head-to-head comparison. The MacBook Air, best of all, is still only $999, and it offers unrivaled performance as well as 14 hours and 41 minutes of battery life.

So, why should you buy a MacBook Air instead of a MacBook Pro? While the MacBook Pro has better sustained performance, the MacBook Air is less expensive and is completely silent due to its lack of a fan. Of course, Apple’s cheapest 13.3-inch model is also the most portable, measuring only 0.6 inches thick and weighing 2.8 pounds.

In addition, the M1 model’s 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display was enhanced with P3 color coverage, making it more vibrant than the previous panel. However, the MacBook Air is now taking longer than ever to catch up to the MacBook Pro. It has the same speed and battery life as the MacBook Air, as well as the same 720p webcam, a comfortable Magic keyboard, and two USB-C ports.

See our full

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with M1 for 2020 is faster and has a longer battery life than its predecessor.
(Image credit: Future)

4. Apple MacBook Pro (M1, 2020)

The best 13-inch Apple laptop

Specifications
CPU:
M1
GPU:
M1 (integrated)
RAM:
8GB/16GB
Storage:
256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB
Display:
13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel
Size:
12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
Weight:
3.1 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Breathtaking performance


+Outstanding battery life


+Slim unibody aluminum chassis


+iPhone and iPad app support


+Great speakers and Magic Keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Few ports

It’s all thanks to Apple’s new M1 chip, which is the company’s first custom SoC for laptops. The M1 takes the MacBook Pro’s performance and battery life to the next level with the best power-per-watt performance of any processor. This is the huge step forward we’ve been looking forward to.

The MacBook Pro, in particular, outperforms nearly every PC on the market, including some workstations. Despite packing so much power into such a small and sleek chassis, the Pro lasted an impressive 16 hours and 32 minutes in our battery test, which mimics real-world usage.

The webcam (sadly, still 720p) has an image processing unit, and because it runs on Apple’s ARM-based architecture, iPad and iPhone apps are now available on Mac. Yes, you can now use your laptop to run all of your favorite iOS games and apps.

Big Sur, the latest version of macOS, completes the list of improvements found in the new MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is a more capable 13-inch laptop than the MacBook Air in terms of sustained performance, but it is not as good a value. Big Sur is the most significant update to OS X since its launch a decade ago, and it’s a stunning redesign of the desktop OS.

See our

MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

The best 13-inch business laptop

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i7-1160G7
GPU:
Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB
Display:
13-inch, 2K (2160 x 1350)
Size:
The dimensions are 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.66 inches.
Weight:
2 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Stylish, stealthy design


+Bright 13-inch, 2K display


+Weighs 2 pounds


+12-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

Limited ports


Small touchpad

At this point, you’re probably familiar with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The X1 Nano is based on the Carbon, but it comes in a much smaller package with a 13-inch, 2K display. Because of its lightweight design, excellent performance, and convenient features, it has long been our favorite business laptop.

Despite its high-resolution display, the X1 Nano lasted 12 hours on a single charge, making it ideal for frequent travelers. That panel is fantastic, with a clear image and vibrant colors. The performance is adequate, but not exceptional, and you still get a lightweight machine that is quick.

The X1 Nano isn’t perfect — we still prefer the X1 Carbon — but for those who need the most portable solution, it’s the way to go.

See our full

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review

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With the clamshell Pixelbook Go, an excellent 13-inch Chromebook, Google went back to basics.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

6. Google Pixelbook Go

The best 13-inch Chromebook

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i5-8200Y
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
128GB SSD
Display:
13.3-inch, 1080p touch screen
Dimensions:
The dimensions are 12.2 x 8.1 x 0.5 inches.
Weight:
2.3 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Superslim design


+Bright, colorful display


+Great battery life


+Solid performance

Reasons to avoid

Lackluster speakers

The Pixelbook Go is without a doubt one of the best Chromebooks available. The Chromebook’s extreme portability is reflected in its battery life, which lasted an impressive 11 hours and 29 minutes in our web-surfing battery test. Google’s laptop is ultra-thin and light, weighing only 2 pounds and featuring an ergonomic design.

A vibrant 13.3-inch display and solid performance from its Core m3 processor (Core i5 is also available) are among the other highlights. The speakers aren’t great, and Chrome OS still has its flaws, but the Pixelbook Go is a fantastic option overall.

Read our full

Pixelbook Go review

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The HP Spectre x360 13 is one of the best 13-inch laptops, combining beauty and power.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

7. HP Spectre x360 13

The best for creators

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB
Display:
13.3-inch, 1080p IPS touchscreen
Size:
The dimensions are 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Luxurious design


+Sturdy, compact chassis


+Bright 1080p display


+Fast performance

Reasons to avoid

Terrible webcam


Small touchpad

If I had to choose between the 14-inch Spectre x360 14 and the 13-inch Spectre x360 13, I’d go with the 14-inch model. However, when you consider the larger version’s higher price (nearly $400 at the time of writing), I find myself leaning toward the Spectre x360 13. This 13-inch version, like the Spectre 14, has a bright display, a comfortable keyboard, excellent battery life, and one of the most striking designs we’ve ever seen on a laptop.

The Spectre x360 13 is a reasonably priced premium convertible laptop that can transform into a tablet, despite the lack of a stylus. It has 11th Gen Intel CPUs for fast performance, and the built-in IR camera and fingerprint sensor eliminate the need for a password.

See our 

HP Spectre x360 13 review

.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 combines the best features of the clamshell model with the versatility of a convertible.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

8. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The best 2-in-1 laptop

Specifications
CPU:
11th Generation Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 processors
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe
RAM:
8GB/16GB/32GB
Storage:
256GB/512GB
Display:
a 13.4-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200-pixels or a 4K display
Size:
The dimensions are 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches.
Weight:
2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Slim, attractive design


+Top-rate build quality


+Bright 13.4-inch display


+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

Scant on ports


Shallow keyboard

Dell’s new XPS 13 2-in-1Everything we love about the clamshell XPS 13 is now available in a flexible convertible chassis, including fast performance (thanks to 11th Gen CPUs), a sleek, lightweight design, and a long battery life. A 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200-resolution display is also included.

No, that isn’t a typo; the touch screen on the XPS 13 2-in-1 has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes it taller than almost every other 13-inch display. Even better, that panel is both bright and colorful. While the XPS 13 2-in-1’s shallow keyboard isn’t for everyone, it makes up for it with long battery life and excellent build quality.

See our full

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review

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ThinkPad X13 (AMD)
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

9. Lenovo ThinkPad X13 (AMD)

The best business laptop

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U
GPU:
AMD Radeon
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
256GB SSD
Display:
13.3-inch, 1080p
Size:
The dimensions are 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.7 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Outstanding performance


+Durable chassis


+Best-in-class keyboard


+Plenty of ports

Reasons to avoid

Subpar battery life


Thick display bezels

The ThinkPad X13 comes with all of the best ThinkPad features, including a world-class keyboard, a webcam cover, a rubber pointing stick, and a magnesium chassis rated to military-grade durability, all for well under $1,000. Because it has a lot of features at a low price, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13 with AMD CPUs is the best business laptop for students.

Oh, and there are so many ports that you won’t need to buy a dongle. In addition to its security and durability features, the ThinkPad X13 offers exceptional performance thanks to AMD Ryzen CPUs that outperform Intel counterparts. The ThinkPad X13’s battery life is a letdown, but the price-to-performance ratio more than compensates.

See our full

ThinkPad X13 (AMD) review

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Asus ZenBook 13
(Image credit: Future)

10. Asus Zenbook 13 (UX325) OLED

The laptop with the best design

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i7-1165G7
GPU:
Intel Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB
Display Size:
13.3-inch, 1080p OLED
Size:
The dimensions are 11.98 x 7.99 x 0.55 inches.
Weight:
2.5 pounds

Reasons to buy


+Great battery life


+Clicky keyboard


+Compact, slim and durable chassis


+Touchpad doubles as a numpad

Reasons to avoid

No headset jack

Its extremely colorful OLED display also blew all of its competitors out of the water. The clicky keyboard is also impressive, especially for a laptop this small and portable. Normally, laptops with 13-inch displays are cramped, but I felt at ease typing on the ZenBook 13. The ZenBook 13 didn’t quite match the Acer Swift 5 in our benchmarks, but it blew away the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13 in the graphics and file-transfer tests.

Another excellent feature is the Numberpad 2.0. In addition, the ZenBook 13 has a battery life of more than 13 hours. Asus also deserves credit for its MyAsus software, which is an all-in-one app that handles everything from quick, wireless file transfers to screen mirroring, configuring fan controls, initiating updates, running system diagnostics, and, perhaps most importantly, using your phone as a webcam.

See our full

Asus Zenbook 13 (UX325) OLED review

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One of the best 13-inch laptops on the market is the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

11. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

A sleek choice for Windows 10 users

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU:
Iris Xe
RAM:
16GB
Storage:
512GB
Display Size:
13.5-inch, 2256 x 1504-pixel
Size:
The dimensions are 12.1 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches.
Weight:
2.8 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Sleek aluminum chassis (in various colors)


+Bright and vivid display


+Quick performance


+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

No Thunderbolt 3 ports


Thick display bezels

Users of Windows 10 who are envious of the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air should look at the Surface Laptop 4. The Surface Laptop 4 is arguably more attractive than Apple’s beloved notebooks, thanks to its excellent build quality and slim, elegant aluminum chassis. It also has a 13.5-inch display (with a 3:2 aspect ratio) that is brighter than the one on the most recent MacBook Pro.

The keyboard is also excellent, and it is even more comfortable to type on than the MacBook’s new Magic Keyboard. The Surface Laptop 4 is a fantastic laptop for people who want a stylish ultraportable machine with excellent build quality, despite the lack of Thunderbolt 3 ports and chunky bezels. The Surface Laptop 4 also has a fast performance and a battery life of more than 10:45 hours, which we like.

See our full

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review

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(Image credit: Future)

12. Asus ROG Flow X13

Best 13-inch gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Ryzen 9 5980HS
GPU:
Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q/ Nvidia RTX 3080
RAM:
32GB
Storage:
Dual 1TB PCI m.2 SSDs
Display:
13.4 inches, 4K
Weight:
2.9 pounds

Reasons to buy

+Head-turning, versatile design


+Great gaming and overall performance


+Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

Keys are a bit small


Display could be brighter and more vivid


Expensive

It’s unusual to come across a 13-inch gaming laptop, let alone one that’s also a 2-in-1. Asus has done it once more. They’ve redefined what constitutes the best gaming laptop. The Asus ROG Flow X13 is a compelling laptop on its own. But Asus didn’t stop there; they also threw in a high-performance AMD Ryzen 9 processor and outfitted the notebook with its own discrete Nvidia GPU.

Even though I wish Asus had come up with a more elegant solution than that massive proprietary plug, I can’t fault the end result. The XG Mobile is the proverbial trap card, turning it into a dark wizard of gaming laptops. It has no right to be as powerful as it is, but here we are, once again, awestruck by Asus’ ingenuity. Things start to get interesting when the XG Mobile is introduced. I’m baffled as to how they managed to fit an RTX 3080 into such a small space.

See our full

Asus ROG Flow X13 review

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How to choose the best 13-inch laptop

When it comes to choosing the best 13-inch laptop, there’s a lot more to consider than screen size.

Even though it is only 0.5 inches thick and weighs around 2 pounds, it has a 13.3-inch edge-to-edge display. The first consideration is portability. Because they provide a good balance of screen real estate and portability, 13-inch laptops are popular, particularly among college students. A good example is the Dell XPS 13.

Another important factor is battery life, as portable machines should have long runtimes. Consider a laptop with a battery life of at least 9 hours, which should be sufficient for a full day of work or a long international flight.

Chromebooks like the Pixelbook Go, for example, are a great value, and we’re seeing more and more 13-inch models on the market. We recommend a laptop with an Intel U-series or H-series Core i5 processor, at least 8GB of RAM (16GB is ideal), and a minimum of 256GB of storage. AMD’s 4000-series chips are hot on their heels, so keep an eye out for them. Although the new MacBook Air 2020 doesn’t meet those requirements (it uses a low-power Y-series processor), it’s still a good option if you prefer macOS and don’t want to spend a lot of money.

When it’s time to watch Netflix or YouTube, choose a laptop with a bright, vivid display (like any of the ones listed here). A comfortable keyboard and a sensitive touchpad are also important considerations.

How we test laptops

We look at the laptop’s performance, battery life, display, speakers, and heat management, among other things. Before our reviewers get their hands on a laptop, we put it through extensive benchmark testing, both synthetic and real-world.

We put the laptop through a slew of benchmarks, including Geekbench 4.3 and 5.0 and 3DMark professional graphics tests, to see how well it performs. We use a Klein K10 colorimeter to determine the brightness and sRGB color gamut of the laptop’s display during our benchmarking.

The Dirt 3 benchmark with medium settings at 1080p resolution is our real-world graphics test. We put the laptop through its paces by converting a 4K video to 1080p resolution and duplicating a 4.97GB multimedia file.

We also perform heat tests on the laptop by playing a 15-minute full-screen video and measuring temperatures in various areas. A runtime of over 9 hours is considered a good result for MacBooks and premium Windows 10 laptops, whereas gaming laptops and workstations that can stay powered for longer than 5 hours deserve praise. Finally, our battery test entails continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.

Our reviewers also put the laptop through extensive hands-on testing, critiquing everything from the materials to the feel of the touchpad.

Phillip can be found playing video games, reading, traveling, or watching soccer when he’s not tinkering with gadgets. He covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity while there, writing reviews for a variety of gadgets. Phillip Tracy works as an assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag, where he reviews laptops, phones, and other gadgets as well as reporting on industry news. Prior to that, he covered 5G and IoT for RCR Wireless News. Phillip joined the Daily Dot as a tech reporter after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a journalism degree.