The best 13-inch laptops 2016

Where portability meets power

Best 13 inch laptop

Updated: The impeccable Samsung Notebook 9 has won top marks and is officially on our list of best 13-inch laptops, read on to see why.

In many ways, a 13-inch laptop is the perfect size for a portable PC; they're not as fiddly and squint-inducing as netbooks, but not as heavy and awkward as a full-on notebook.

And, there are plenty of PC and Mac options available, too.

For a broader view, look at our best laptops in the world today. But whatever you do, read on to find our favourite 13-inchers of the past few months in no particular order.

Best 13 inch laptop

1. Dell XPS 13

A revolution in laptop design

CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) | Storage: 256GB SSD

Gorgeous bezel-less display
Strong performance
No Ethernet port
Off-center webcam

Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn't all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and it has just enough battery life to never leave you in a lurch. Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen quad HD+ version, or if you stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will provide you with a delightful experience for years to come.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

best 13 inch laptop

2. 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

The smallest MacBook Pro is a force of nature

CPU: 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Graphics 6100 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch IPS, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Storage: 128GB 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 Trackpad that uses different levels of sensitivity instead of mechanical buttons to make clicks. Solid Apple build quality, a great display and decent levels of performance across the board make the new MacBook Pro with Retina one of the safest bets on a 13-inch laptop today.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display

Best 13 inch laptop

3. Samsung Notebook 9

Great performance on the cheap

CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | 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

Best 13 inch laptop

4. Asus ZenBook UX305

A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, up to QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 512GB SSD

Vibrant, glare-free screen
Excellent keyboard and trackpad
Weak sauce graphics
Tinny speakers

The ZenBook UX305 is a well-built, fully metal machine that's thin, light and attractive. Now available with Intel's full-fat Core i-series processors in addition to the usual Core M chips, the UX305's astonishing value makes it hard to ignore. Updated with a gorgeous QHD+ display, it stands out as a shining example of a computer that offers power and portability in a small package that doesn't break the bank.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305

Best 13 inch laptop

5. 13-inch MacBook Air

The best battery life in a 13-inch laptop

CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 6000 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, LED-backlit glossy display (1,440 x 900) | Storage: 256GB 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. If you don't like the look of its lowly 1,440 x 900 pixel-resolution display, there's always the 12-inch MacBook - and new MacBook Air models are expected to launch this summer.

Read the full review: 13-inch MacBook Air

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

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