The 13-inch size has become one of the most popular laptop sizes on the market. Most 13-inch laptops are compact and fit easily into most bags, but they aren't so small that they feel overly cramped. They're mostly thin and light laptops designed for general productivity and media consumption, as gaming laptops and mobile workstations—devices designed for more demanding workloads—tend to be 14 inches or larger so that they can fit in a more robust cooling system. As the 13-inch laptop market is large, choosing the right laptop for your needs and budget can be daunting, so we've put together a list of our top picks to help narrow down your options. The list is short for now; however, it'll grow as we review more laptops.
We've tested over 60 laptops, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best 13-inch laptops you can buy. You can also check out our picks for the best laptops, the best Chromebooks, and the best business laptops.
The best 13-inch laptop we've tested is the Apple MacBook Air 13 (2022), a premium ultraportable laptop. It feels incredibly well-built, and it's super thin and compact, making it easy to carry around. It has a bright and sharp display, a spacious and tactile keyboard, and a large and responsive touchpad. Apple's M2 SoC (System on Chip) is blazingly fast and easily handles general productivity tasks like web browsing, text processing, and spreadsheets. It can even handle some light video editing thanks to the newly-added media engines. Plus, it's very power-efficient, resulting in all-day battery life. Our main complaint is that it only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.
If the M2 MacBook Air is too pricey, there's good news. You can still get the older Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It starts at a lower price, and because it's older, it's often on sale. Of course, it doesn't have a new, shiny design like its successor, but as far as laptops go, it's still among the sleekest devices on the market. Its M1 SoC is more than powerful enough to handle general productivity tasks, and its battery also lasts easily through a typical work or school day. The display doesn't get as bright, but visibility isn't an issue unless you're out in direct sunlight.
For Windows users, go with the Dell XPS 13 (2021) instead. It's also a premium ultraportable that provides a great user experience. You can configure it with an Intel 11th Gen Core i3, i5, or i7, and up to 32GB of memory and 2TB of storage. Unless you have an extremely light workload, it's best to get a Core i5, as the Core i3 only has two physical cores, which isn't a whole lot for Windows in 2022. Like the MacBook Air 13, it only has two USB-C ports, but these support Thunderbolt 4.
If you don't want to spend too much on a premium device, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) is a great mid-range option. It's a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge, meaning you can flip the screen around and use it as a tablet. It has a sturdy build, a thin and light design, and all-day battery life. Its 3:2 QHD display gets bright enough to combat glare and provides a little more vertical room than a standard 16:9 screen, which is great for productivity as you don't have to scroll as much when reading a document or website. You get a comfortable keyboard, a decently large touchpad, and a wide port selection that includes one USB-A, two USB-Cs, and an HDMI port.
This laptop is available with various Intel CPUs; however, as it's an older device from 2020, you might only be able to find the Core i3 and i5 configurations. Both CPUs provide a smooth desktop experience on Chrome OS; the only downside is that the Core i3 model usually comes with only 4GB of memory, which might not be enough for heavy multitaskers. This device has a fan to cool the CPU, but it never gets loud, so you don't need to worry about causing too much noise in a quiet classroom or office.
Our best budget pick is the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (2020). Like our mid-range pick, it's also a 13-inch 2-in-1 Chromebook. It feels well built even though it's entirely plastic and very portable, thanks to its thin and light design. The display gets bright enough for use in most indoor settings, the keyboard feels good to type on, and the touchpad is reasonably large, albeit not very accurate. It's available with an Intel Celeron or 10th Gen. Core i3 CPU; both are fast enough to provide a smooth desktop experience on Chrome OS. You just have to be mindful of the number of apps running simultaneously because you can only get 4GB of memory.
The battery lasts a little over seven hours, so you'll have to plug it in for a quick charge to get through the day. There's no biometric for fast logins, and sadly, it can't output to an external monitor.
If you're looking for a 2-in-1 tablet with a detachable keyboard, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021) is the one to get. This model is a huge upgrade over its predecessor, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7. It has a sleeker design with thinner bezels, a slightly larger 120Hz display, and a new type of cover keyboard that allows you to store and charge the Surface Pen. The Intel 11th Gen. processor performs well and can handle most general productivity tasks. The keyboard feels surprisingly comfortable to type on, especially for a type cover keyboard, and it even has backlighting. The downside is that you need to buy the keyboard separately, and the same goes for the stylus.
At this time, Microsoft has already released a new Surface Pro 9, but we have yet to test it. However, it's a minor internal upgrade, as the design is largely the same as the Surface Pro 8, with the only exception being the removal of the headphone jack. There's also an ARM-based version if you need 5G connectivity, but it doesn't perform as well as the Intel version, and you might have some application compatibility issues. The Surface Pro 9 is likely easier to find since it's a newer device, but it might be worth looking around, as you might find the Surface Pro 8 at a much lower price.
If you want a cheaper device for simple web browsing or media consumption, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) is worth considering. It's also a 2-in-1 tablet with a removable keyboard, but it runs Chrome OS. This operating system is more limiting because it doesn't support x86 Windows applications; however, it's generally easier to use than Windows and more touch-friendly. The star feature is its OLED display. It produces vibrant colors and inky blacks and has a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, so you don't get any black bars at the top and bottom when viewing videos online. The keyboard feels pretty cramped, though. It's fine for a few emails but not for long essays.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 13-inch laptops you can get. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s a list of all of our 13-inch laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.