The best 13-inch laptop 2018: the top 13-inch laptops we've reviewed

Best 13-inch laptop

In 2018, the best laptops are frankly necessary for daily life, but there’s only one reason to go with one of the best 13-inch laptops: 15-inch laptops are just too big, while 12 inches or less will leave you squinting. The best 13-inch laptops, then, exist in a sweet spot for notebook displays – and not without reason. It’s perfect for work, streaming media and everything in between. And, because it’s the most popular display size for laptops – the best 13-inch laptops will be packed with all the latest technology.

The Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best laptops we’ve ever laid our fingers on, winning TechRadar’s Best in Class award three years in a row. Still, we can also understand why someone would prefer the HP Spectre x360 or even the MacBook Air. Because, while the XPS 13 may be gorgeous and thin without losing performance, these other laptops aren’t hindered by baffling webcam placements. Plus, they all do different things.

Keep in mind though, that we’ve seen some awesome 13-inch laptops at Computex 2018 that will be compelling upgrades over the next year. Asus in particular has some noteworthy devices, like a laptop with a touchscreen built into its trackpad. So, make sure you bookmark this guide, as we’ll keep it updated with the best 13-inch laptops as they come out.

At the end of the day, the best 13-inch laptop is going to come down to your own personal preference. Do you need a more traditional laptop that does its job well, or one of the best 2-in-1 laptops that you can flip around into tablet mode? What about a machine that runs macOS High Sierra instead of Windows 10? There are so many choices on the market, and with this list we’ve tried to cover as many as possible. 

1. Dell XPS 13

Best-in-class like you’ve never seen it before

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4K (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Gorgeous new design
Impressive performance
White option is pricier
Still gotta’ move that webcam

Its changes are subtle, and yet the Dell XPS 13 is still the best 13-inch laptop you can buy. On the high end, it now offers a 4K display, for a sharper picture across the board. But even if you can’t afford higher tier configurations, the beautiful design, lengthy battery life and even the SD card slot are still there – plus you’ve got a quad-core processor no matter what poison you pick. Better yet, the 13.3-inch display of the XPS 13 has been squeezed into a smaller frame, which explains Dell’s marketing line: ‘the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop.’ Now stew on that, as you admire the Dell XPS 13’s gorgeous, albeit more expensive, Alpine White finish. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

2. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

Bigger isn’t always better: a memoir

CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Very good battery life
Very expensive 
Not as powerful as 15-inch model

While it may not be as powerful as its behemoth of a 15-inch counterpart, everything else about the 13.5-inch version of the Surface Book 2 is perfect for the mobile workhorse user environment. Whether you’re a creative or a professional, the Microsoft Surface Book 2, with its more compact form-factor rocks a style that’s just as beautiful as its predecessor. What’s more, the dynamic fulcrum hinge is stronger than you remember, which only complements its robust, quad-core CPU.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2

3. Razer Blade Stealth

Fancy an Ultrabook for more than just gamers

CPU: Dual-core – quad-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) LED-backlit IGZO touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Larger, brighter display
Subtler aesthetics on gunmetal version
Shorter and shorter battery life
No 4K display option in sight

We didn’t expect a laptop made by Razer to be thinner and lighter than a MacBook Pro – not to mention prettier, but here we are. The Razer Blade stealth – in its all-new gunmetal finish – rocks not only a beautiful and practical aesthetic with its 400-nit display brightness and full-size USB 3.0 ports, but it also has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it a performance beast. The 8th-generation Kaby Lake R U-series processor make the Razer Blade Stealth a force to be reckoned with. It might not have the best battery life, but an Ultrabook this fast is worth the 16 minutes of battery life you give up. 

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

4. HP Spectre x360

Proving the pen is mightier than the sword

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – 4K (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Stylus included
Stunning features
Weak hinges
Annoying keyboard layout

For anyone who prefers premium build quality over everything, the HP Spectre x360 contains everything you could ever ask for in a 2-in-1 without compromise. Weighing in at just 2.78 pounds and measuring just over half an inch thick, it’s as thin as it is light. Plus, with up to a 4K display and 8th-generation Intel processors, it’s one of the best ways to experience high-quality video streaming as well as 720p gaming on a hybrid. We didn’t even mention the plentitude of ports. You’ll get two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on top of a USB 3.1 Type-A – so you shouldn’t need a ton of adapters. 

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Best 13-inch laptop

5. Samsung Notebook 9

Great performance on the cheap

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED anti-reflective display | Storage: 256GB SSD

Thin, smart styling
Competitively priced
Micro-sized video ports
Short battery life

While Samsung may not be well known for its laptops – beyond its Tab Pro S convertible, at least – Samsung’s follow-up to the 2012 Series 9 Notebook has impressive performance at a competitive price. Marketed as an Ultrabook, it’s certainly disheartening to know it can only last 5 hours in between charges, but given its beautiful design, it almost doesn’t matter. As a bonus, with the Samsung Notebook 9, you won’t have to deal with the bloatware that makes many other Windows laptop the target of derision on tech forums. 

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell XPS 13   

6. Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

Different, but not forgotten

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED with touch panel | Storage: 256GB SSD

Excellent keyboard
Long battery life
Fuzzy 480p webcam
Stylus not included

Everyone hates change. However, while the 15.6-inch frame of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin we once knew will soon be erased from our memories forever, the new 13.3-inch model doesn’t seem like a terrible upgrade. It’s bounced two generations into the future in terms of processing power, and although there are no discrete graphics present, we’re glad to see a keyboard that can compete with some of the heavier hitters. It’s nothing revolutionary, yet as far as hybrid notebooks go, this one ain’t too shabby (plus it’s cheaper than a weaker MacBook Pro).

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Surface Laptop   

7. Surface Laptop

Microsoft’s most direct shot at the MacBook yet

CPU: 7th generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 2,256 x 1,504 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Gorgeous design
Well built
Windows 10 S is limited

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first effort at a ‘traditional’ laptop – even if it does come with a PixelSense touchscreen and Alcantara keyboard. It also features specs that’ll make the 12-inch MacBook Blush, like a U-series 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor – making Apple’s thin and light look obsolete by comparison. It might have limited ports and has S Mode by default, but it’s appealing for its design, beautiful screen, and beefy performance. 

 Read the full review: Surface Laptop

8. Lenovo Yoga 920

Versatile with a generous helping of elegance

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Lovely design
Lacks graphical power
Keyboard still annoys in tablet form

As 2-in-1 laptops have become more prevalent in recent years, their manufacturers have been improving them at a nigh-equal pace. This rings true for few laptop makers more than it does for Lenovo, however, who has taken the liberty of crafting drop-dead gorgeous convertibles with standout watch band-like hinges, much like that of the Yoga 920. This rendition of Lenovo’s increasingly popular brand of hybrids sees the integration of USB-C ports, a centered webcam and, perhaps more interestingly, an 8th-generation Intel quad-core processor regardless of which configuration you opt for. It does purr more loudly than expected, and tablet mode could use some work, but the Lenovo Yoga 920 is ultimately worth its price of admission.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920 

Best 13-inch laptop

9. 13-inch MacBook Air

The best battery life in a 13-inch laptop

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, LED HD (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Fantastic battery life
802.11ac Wi-Fi
No Retina screen
Not easily upgradeable

Apple’s MacBook Air still puts on a decent fight, even though it’s starting to show its age. While it still rocks an Intel fifth-generation Core processor, rather than the newest Coffee Lake silicon, it’s still a capable machine – even more so now that 8GB of RAM is the standard. If you’re looking for the best 13-inch laptop for casually browsing the web, checking email and word processing, you can’t go wrong with the MacBook Air – not to mention that it’s still the cheapest laptop that runs macOS. 

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

best 13-inch laptop

10. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

The smallest MacBook Pro is a force of nature

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 – 650 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Faster processor
Superb battery life
Force Touch underdeveloped
Unchanged design

The latest iteration of Apple’s seminal MacBook Pro series is here, and as you would expect it makes a number of notable improvements over last year’s offering. While it might not exactly feature the strongest battery life in the game (scoring under an hour less than last year’s offering), it does offer increased performance by way of a new CPU and faster RAM. Add that to Apple’s continued dedication to simplicity and beautiful design and you have a laptop that is sleek, portable and reliable.  

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2017)

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article