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), the successor to the popular M1 MacBook Air from 2020. There's no denying that this is a premium device the moment you pick it up, and it's super thin and compact, so it's easy to carry around. This new model sports a fresh new design with thinner bezels, a better 1080p webcam, and a more powerful M2 SoC. The display gets bright enough for use outdoors, the keyboard feels spacious and tactile, and the touchpad is gigantic and responsive. The battery life isn't as good as the M1 MacBook Air, but it's still pretty impressive at almost 11 hours of light use. The main downside is its port selection, which only includes two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, a headphone jack, and a MagSafe charging port. It's better than its predecessor but a tad stingy nonetheless.
If you're a little put off by the M2 MacBook Air's price, you can still get the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020). It's cheaper, and it's often on sale. Of course, it doesn't have a new, shiny design, 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 lasts a little over 13 hours of light productivity. 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 can get this laptop with an Intel Pentium Gold, 10th Gen. Core i3, i5 or i7 CPU, and up to 16GB of memory and 256GB of storage. These Intel CPUs are a few years old; however, they still hold up and are powerful enough to run Chrome OS smoothly. As for memory, 4GB is enough for most people with a light workload, but if you often have multiple applications running simultaneously, it's best to go up to 8GB or 16GB. Its port selection is good; you get one USB-A, two USB-Cs, an HDMI 2.0, a headphone jack, and an SD card slot.
One thing to note is that the Intel 10th Gen. model is discontinued, which is why you can find it cheaper. If you can't find one, there's a newer Intel 11th Gen. model available on Amazon. Although we haven't tested it, it looks to be physically similar to its predecessor, but you'll likely get better performance, thanks to the newer chip. The downside is that it's more expensive.
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. As for the battery life, it lasts a little over seven hours, so you'll have to plug it in for a quick charge at some point. 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. Its Intel 11th Gen. processor performs well and can handle most general productivity tasks. The battery lasts only about seven hours of light use, but the power adapter is fairly compact, and you can also charge via its USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports. 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. However, it's a very minor 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 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.
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.