13-inch laptops fill an important role for people in search of the ultra-light and super-portable. They are the preferred size for those who are constantly moving about and do not want the inconvenience of being weighed down by larger laptops.
It is fortunate that technological advancements have allowed laptop manufacturers to design and produce laptops that are slim in build yet powerful in performance. Processor chips are smaller than ever.
Modern solid state hard drives are significantly smaller than their older hard disk drive counterparts. Materials such as aluminum alloys allow for light but sturdy casings.
Pretty much the only downside a 13-inch laptop has these days is its small screen. However, there are many who are more than willing to overlook the smaller screen size in exchange for added flexibility and mobility.
We surveyed the 13-inch laptops that are currently in the market and compared them against our list of considerations to discover the Top 5 best 13-inch laptops.
How we chose the best 13-inch laptop
We studied the most popular 13-inch laptops in the market today and did a detailed analysis on the most important features users looked at when choosing a 13-inch laptop to buy.
13-inch laptop users generally cover a wide demographic. They can be old or young, professionals or students, travelers or the home-bound.
It seems that only unifying criteria for them was the fact that they are looking for a product that will offer maximum mobility but still have more power than a tablet.
From our analysis and studies, we found that there were five considerations that regularly popped up when deciding on which 13-inch laptop to buy.
- CPU & RAM
- Accessories & Peripherals
We determined this final list by gathering feedback from numerous 13-inch laptop users to find their most looked-for feature when it comes to purchasing a 13-inch laptop.
The five best 13-inch laptops
Here’s a list of the five best 13-inch laptops:
The most important consideration when choosing the best 13-inch laptop
Design came out to be the most important feature when considering which 13-inch laptop to purchase.
Design plays a larger part than just the aesthetics of the laptop. Laptop designers also look at the materials used as well as how core components are placed. For example, most of today’s lightest laptops come with an aluminum enclosures or other lightweight alloys.
They provide a light casing that is quite sturdy and can help dissipate heat from the internal components. The screen and bezel are also significant factors to how wide the final product will be.
This is not to say that the looks of the laptop is not important. People who are looking for a 13-inch laptop are also looking for a slim laptop. Any 13-inch laptop over an inch in thickness is not likely to be popular amongst 13-inch users.
Other considerations when choosing the best 13-inch laptop
Battery was another important consideration when choosing a 13-inch laptop.
People who are looking for 13-inch laptops are generally people who are constantly on-the-move. This means that they are also people who are not necessarily going to be near power points. We found that battery life was a significant factor for 13-inch laptop users.
In general, most users look for laptops that are reputed to have at least 10 hours of battery life.
CPU & RAM
With the latest advancements, there is no reason why a 13-inch laptop cannot pack some power under its keyboard.
These days, 13-inch laptop users expect their laptops to come with decent CPU and RAM. They expect at least an Intel Core i5 processor (or equivalent) and 8 GB of memory.
In general, people looking for 13-inch laptops are also on the hunt for the lightest laptops; however, we found that most thirteen-inch laptops fall within the same general weight range between 2.8 pounds and 3.5 pounds.
With less than one pound difference between the lightest and heaviest 13-inch laptops, we found that weight became a lower consideration as most people are satisfied with the 3 pound weight range (until someone disrupts the status quo and comes out with a 2 pound laptop).
Accessories & Peripherals
One of the first things to go when designing a 13-inch laptop is its accessories and peripherals. Webcams, microphones, speakers, USB ports and card readers can sometimes be left out of certain 13-inch laptops in order to make space for components or to make the laptop lighter.
The best 13-inch laptops should not sacrifice too much on peripherals. At the very least, 13-inch users expect a webcam, microphone and speakers for video calls.
Wi-fi and Bluetooth and a given (although, amazingly, you can find some laptops that don’t come Bluetooth-ready). The laptop should have a bare minimum of two USB ports.
The best 13-inch laptop
For our #1 Pick, we had to go with the Dell XPS9360-3591SLVTouchscreen Laptop.
Dell claims this is the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet but we are more enamored with it’s virtually borderless InfinityEdge display.
This sleek laptop has a very thin bezel (just 5.2 mm in thickness) between the display and the edge of the laptop. The overall effect gives users the most amazing feel of working on pure screen with no edge separating it from reality.
When it comes to 13-inch laptops, the display screen is like prime real estate while the bezel is unusable plots. You can imagine how great it feels when using Dell’s near-edgeless XPS 13 with minimal real estate wastage.
Because the 13-inches is calculated from a top corner to the diagonal bottom corner, having such a thin bezel allowed Dell to create a laptop that is just 11.98 inches in width and 7.88 inches in depth. Dell’s XPS 13 is just 0.33 to 0.6 inches thin, making for an incredibly slim build.
As its name implies, the XPS 13 is a touchscreen laptop. The screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Class for scratch resistant. The LED-lit display has an UltraSharp QHD+ resolution of 3200 x 1800 with IPS allowing for viewing angles up to 170°.
On the inside, the XPS 13 Touchscreen houses a 2.2 GHz Intel Core i5-5200 processor and 8 GB DDR3L memory that is teamed up with 256 GB SSD. The graphics run on Intel HD Graphics 5500. The sleek laptop will be matched with smoothly run programs and speedy load times.
The Dell XPS 13 comes with the standard 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has stereo speakers, microphone and a webcam (though oddly positioned at the bottom left) for video calls.
You’ll find two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 (USB 3.1 Gen 2) port, a headset jack and a 3-in-1 card reader.
Looks wise, the XPS 13 has a clean silver chassis made of aluminum with backlit keyboard. The entire thing weighs just 2.9 pounds and is reported to have up to 14 hours of battery life.
The four other 13-inch laptops we tested
When thinking about 13-inchers and Apple, most people think about their MacBook Airs; however, we feel that Apple’s latest 13.3 inch MacBook Pro gives users many of the size and weight benefits of the MacBook Airs combined with the power expected of a MacBook Pro.
In terms of size and weight, the 13-inch MacBook Pro is on par with the MacBook Air. The Pro weighs 3.02 pounds while the Air is 2.96 pounds. The MacBook Air is even (very) slightly bigger in terms of width and depth, yet both provide the same 13.3 inch screen.
The Apple MacBook Pro comes with IPS Retina Display and a LED back-lit screen with WQXGA resolution of 2560 x 1600.
The MacBook Pro 13.3 inch has a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB memory, and 256 GB PCIe SSD hard drive, while running an Intel Iris Graphics 540 GPU.
802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 is included as well as two Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) ports and a headset jack. The 2016 MacBook Pro also comes with 7209 FaceTime HD Camera, dual microphones, and stereo speakers.
Apple claims it’s latest MacBook Pro has up to 10 hours of battery time. It is enclosed in an aluminum enclosure with Apple’s usual simple lines. The keyboard is backlist as always.
One cannot mention 13-inch laptops without giving due props to Microsoft’s Surface Book.
This 13.5 inch touchscreen laptop comes with 10-point multi-touch and the Microsoft Surface Pen has a resolution of 3000 x 2000 and can rotate 360° around its hinge.
In addition to that full rotation, the screen can also be detached from the keyboard to convert it into a tablet. If you are looking for flexibility and versatility, the Surface Book might be exactly what you need.
The Surface Book comes with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and can come in a combination of either 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM. Microsoft also offers an array of hard drives available, ranging from 128 GB flash memory to 1 TB flash memory.
For those who plan to work with videos a lot, there is also a Surface Book that comes with an NVIDIA graphics card.
The Surface Book has both front-facing as well as back-facing cameras as well as dual mics and stereo speakers. It also comes with two USB 3.0 ports, a mini DisplayPort, an SD card reader, and a headset jack. 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are, of course, included.
Microsoft’s Surface Book is our heaviest laptop on this list, weighing in at 3.34 pounds (including the keyboard). It is 0.51 to 0.9 inches thick, 12.3 inches wide, and 9.15 inches long with a magnesium silver casing. The laptop has a battery life of up to 12 hours.
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Samsung’s 13.3 inch Notebook 9 also features on this list with its Full High Definition (FHD) LED low-reflective display of 1920 x 1080 resolution and it’s screen that can recline flat on a surface with its 180° rotation. This laptop might be the best choice for those who tend to work outdoors a lot.
The Notebook 9 comes with 2.3 GHz dual-core 6th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 256 GB M.2 SSD drive.
The Samsung Notebook 9 comes with a mini VGA port, a micro HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. Those who own Samsung smartphones can also look forward to easy links between the devices via SideSync, Wi-Fi Transfer and Samsung Link.
Samsung’s Notebook 9 is said to have up to 10 hours of battery life and weighs just 2.8 pounds. It is just 0.53 inches thick.
- Thin and light, premium metal design at just under 1.9lbs
- 13.3-Inch Full-HD LED Display with Windows 10 Pre-installed
- 256GB Solid-State Drive for fast boot, great performance, and enhanced...
The final laptop on our list is the ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA. This 13.3 inch touchscreen laptop comes with a 360° rotating hinge so that users can use the laptop in a variety of modes, including laptop mode, tablet mode, and tent mode.
The touchscreen has 10-point multi-touch and features a FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080. The LED-lit screen has anti-glare features as well as IPS for viewing angles of up to 178°.
The 13.3 inch ZenBook UX360CA comes with 0.9 GHz dual-core 6th-generation Intel Skylake Core M3-6Y30 and 8 GB LPDDR3 RAM. It also has 512 GB SSD and Intel HD Graphics 515.
The ASUS ZenBook UX360CA has a 1.2 megapixel HD camera with stereo speakers and digital array microphone for video calls. It also comes with a USB 3.1 (Type-C) port, two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI port, a SDXC card reader and a headphone jack.
The ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA features a gray aluminum unibody with the usual ASUS concentric circle pattern and a backlit keyboard. The laptop weighs just 2.86 pounds and is just 0.54 inches thick. ASUS reports that the laptop has up to 10 hours of battery life.
- 13.3-Inch Touch IPS FHD display, 1920 by 1080 resolution
- 6th generation Intel Core M3-6Y30 CPU. 512GB Solid State Drive with 8GB onboard...
- 1x Gen 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.0, 1x Micro HDMI. Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11ac...
The bottom line
From the specs available in laptops these days, it is easy to see why a 13-inch laptop would be the preferred choice for people looking for a lightweight device.
The need for ultra portability need no longer be limited by sub-par components. Anyone who has no problem using a 13-inch screen can certainly find a 13-inch laptop with great specs with ease.
Our favorite is definitely the Dell XPS with is near edge-to-edge screen. The MacBook Pro, however, does bring the usual simplicity and usability that is consistent with MacOS.
The Microsoft Surface Book and ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA caters to anyone looking for a hybrid mix between laptop and tablet. The Samsung Notebook 9, ASUS ZenBook UX360CA and Dell XPS are all under three pounds in weight.
Depending on your needs and requirements, you are bound to find a 13-inch laptop that can suit you.
Looking for laptop that is smaller than 13 inches? check out our top rated 11 inch laptops here.