The 8 best 13-inch laptops of 2017

The best 13-inch laptops are constantly shifting position, as computer manufacturers introduce new models that blend high performance with high portability. A truly great 13-inch laptop will be the perfect pairing of those two aspects, giving you a machine that can go where you go and do what you need it to do.

The category of laptops with 13 inch displays is full of great machines running Windows and Mac OS alike.  Shoppers looking for a more budget-friendly option can check out the best Chromebooks, though this list does include some modestly priced laptops as well. 

Don’t be surprised if there are some big shake-ups to the best 13-inch laptops in the next few months, as AMD’s new mobile Ryzen processors could make a splash in upcoming laptops. Until then, check out our picks for the best 13-inch laptops.

Best 13-inch laptops:

  1. Dell XPS 13
  2. Asus Zenbook Flip UX360
  3. HP Spectre x360
  4. Samsung Notebook 9
  5. Acer Aspire S 13
  6. Lenovo Yoga 910
  7. 13-inch MacBook Air
  8. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Best 13 inch laptop

1. Dell XPS 13

If it ain’t broke, make it handsome

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i3 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 256GB SSD

Faster than ever
Same long-lasting battery
Still poor webcam position
No Windows Hello

Now graced with 7th-generation Intel Core i processors, Dell has struck (rose) gold with the XPS 13. The lush design, lengthy battery life and even the SD card slot are still intact, only now it’s souped up with improved internal specs and sleeker appearances reminiscent of the MacBook and HP Spectre lineups. What’s more, the full-size processor and 13.3-inch display are crammed into an 11-inch frame made possible by Dell’s own nearly bezel-less InfinityEdge display technology. 

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 

Best 13 inch laptop

2. Asus ZenBook Flip UX360

An affordable 2-in-1 laptop

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core M3 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 – 620 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – QHD+ (3,200x1,800) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Thin and light
All-day battery life
Lacking multitasking performance
Sacrifices to build quality

Asus has added a new entry to its Zenbook lineup with the UX360, offering a lot of the same internals as its predecessor but with the flexibility of a 2-in-1 laptop. While the ability to bend over backwards may reduce the build quality somewhat, it offers new levels of functionality for computer users who want a laptop and tablet all in one. Thanks to an all-day battery, the Zenbook Flip UX360 really can go with you for everything you do. And, with a wide variety of internal customization, you can deck out the Zenbook Flip UX360 for your own specific needs, saving you money or boosting its performance.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook Flip UX360

3. HP Spectre x360

HP’s flagship 2-in-1 goes ultra-thin with style

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i3 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce 940MX 2GB | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS UWVA LED-backlit multi-touch display | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Ultra-thin and light styling
Long-lasting and quick-charging battery
Lacks SD card reader
Especially thick bottom bezel

The HP Spectre x360 is the one you introduce to your parents. It’s strikingly well-crafted, boasting a silvery design that makes it every bit as cutting-edge on the outside as it is within. Given the choice between a 7th-generation i5 or i7 Ultrabook-class processor and a 1080p or 4K screen, HP has gives plenty of room for customization. It’s not underpowered, nor does its battery life suffer from overcompensation. In fact, in our own movie test, the HP Spectre x360 lasted a whole 8 hours and 45 minutes. The only real catch is that, like a lot of its competitors, the Spectre x360 also lacks an SD card slot, opting instead for a pair of USB Type-C ports.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Best 13 inch laptop

4. 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

Though it's failed to make a dent in the laptop space with much more than its Tab Pro S convertible, Samsung's follow-up to the 2012 Series 9 notebook boasts not only capable specs, but a competitive price as well. Marketed as an Ultrabook, it's certainly disheartening to know the battery life lasts only five hours, but given its sleek and sexy design, it almost doesn't matter. What's more, with the Samsung Notebook 9, you won't have to deal with bloatware made infamous by many of the other Microsoft OEMs.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9

5. Acer Aspire S 13

A budget-friendly, thin-and-light powerhouse

CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 4GB – 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

High performance
Low price
Exterior feels a little cheap
Disappointing battery life

That’s not a typo you just read on the specs sheet – the Acer Aspire S 13 truly is a beast. Replete with a Skylake Core series processors shoved inside a tiny, 13.3-inch body, the Aspire S 13 can handle practically anything you throw at it productivity-wise. Unfortunately, the catch is that with all this power comes a distinct shortage on battery life. It may be an Ultrabook, but the Aspire S 13 only managed 3 hours and 12 minutes in our PCMark 8 battery test. Luckily, the Acer Aspire S 13 also comes with the benefit of USB 3.1, all but a boon in this awkward early age of USB-C.

 Read the full review: Acer Aspire S 13 

6. Lenovo Yoga 910

Versatile with a generous helping of elegance

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

Substantially larger screen
Rocking speakers
Heats up (and gets loud) fast
Disappointing battery life

The Lenovo Yoga 910 is all about second chances. It throws away many of the signature design traits of the previous model, the Yoga 900, in favor of a more pristine outward appearance and a heavy duty Intel Core i7 processor as well as the option of a 4K display. Lenovo also managed to squeeze a larger, nearly 14-inch screen into the same 13-inch chassis of the Yoga 900 without compromise. Not to mention, even with the implementation of USB-C ports, the Lenovo Yoga 910 doesn’t completely neglect USB Type-A, dragging the precious connection standard of the past along with it.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910

Best 13 inch laptop

7. 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

In a market densely populated with slim-line laptops from a massive range of manufacturers, Apple's MacBook Air fights on admirably – though it started showing its age on the outside a long time ago. It has Intel's fifth-generation Core-series processors rather than the newest Skylake variants, but it's still a capable machine; even more so since Apple made 8GB of RAM standard across the line.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

best 13 inch laptop

8. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

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

Though it may not have the 12-inch MacBook's slick design, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina features Apple's Force Touch track pad that uses different levels of sensitivity instead of mechanical buttons to make clicks. Even without the fancy Touch Bar, the MacBook Pro exceeds expectations with two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, quieter fans, louder speakers and even a battery life exceeding 7 hours in our anecdotal testing. Despite a controversial keyboard mechanism, the MacBook Pro is thinner, lighter and ready to travel.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016)

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article