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

Best 13-inch laptop

It’s necessary to have one of the best laptops in 2018. However, the best 13-inch laptops are our favorite for one reason – they’re the perfect size. 15-inch laptops are just too big, and anything less than 12 inches is just too small to get the job done. The best 13-inch laptops, then, are the sweet spot for notebook displays – they’re perfect for watching some Netflix, getting work done and are even the best laptops for college students. And, because the best 13-inch laptops are the most popular display size, they’re usually rocking the latest tech.

And, while the Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best laptops we’ve ever used, we’d understand why someone would prefer the HP Spectre x360 or even the MacBook Pro. Because, even if the XPS 13 is gorgeous, thin and powerful, these other 13-inch laptops aren’t held back by awkward camera locations. The best 13-inch laptops are all good at different things.

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
Powerful 
Very expensive 
Not as powerful as 15-inch model

It’s not as powerful as its 15-inch counterpart, but everything else about the 13.5-inch version of the Surface Book 2 makes for one of the best 13-inch laptops for anyone looking for a mobile workhorse. No matter if you’re a professional or creative, the Microsoft Surface Book 2, with its more compact form factor, rocks an aesthetic that’s just as gorgeous as its predecessor. What’s more, the dynamic fulcrum hinge is even stronger now, which only complements its robust, quad-core processor. 

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

You wouldn’t expect a Razer laptop to be prettier, thinner and lighter than a MacBook Pro, but this is the world we live in. The Razer Blade Stealth – in its all new gunmetal finish – rocks not only a gorgeous 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 makes the Razer Blade Stealth a force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t have the best battery life in the business, but it’s worth the 16 minutes of battery life to have one of the best 13-inch laptops. 

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 at the time of this writing. Australian and UK readers: check out a fine alternative in the Dell XPS 13    

6. Asus ZenBook 13

Thin. Blue. Beautiful.

CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U | Graphics: Intel UHD 620; Nvidia GeForce MX150 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) wide view touch display | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD

Long battery life 
Improved fingerprint reader 
No USB-C 

If you’re looking for a thin, stylish and speedy 13-inch laptop to carry around with you, and you don’t mind giving up some high-end features, you’re going to love the Asus ZenBook 13. Measuring just half an inch thick and weighing just 2.5 pounds, this is the ideal laptop to carry when you’re traveling. And, don’t think you have to give up on power with all this portability either. The Asus Zenbook 13 is strapped with an 8th-generation quad-core Kaby Lake R processor, 8GB of RAM and a speedy SSD. The only thing you’re missing here is USB-C, and while it’d be a nice feature to have, it’s easy to look past in a laptop this stylish.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook 13 

7. 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

No one likes change, we get it. Still, the 15.6-inch frame of the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin we once knew will soon be erased from our memories forever, but the new 13.3-inch model doesn’t seem like an awful upgrade. It’s bounced two generations into the future in terms of processing power, and even though there are no discrete graphics – we’re happy to see a keyboard that can compete with some of the heavy hitters. It’s not going to blow your mind, 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  at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Surface Laptop    

8. 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
No USB-C

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 Kaby Lake CPU – making Apple’s thin and light look obsolete. It might be hampered by limited ports and the default S Mode – but that’s easy enough to overcome. It’s real appeal is its design, gorgeous display and serious performance. 

 Read the full review: Surface Laptop

9. 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
Thin
Lacks graphical power
Keyboard still annoys in tablet form

As the best 2-in-1 laptops become more and more common, their manufacturers have been improving them steadily. This is doubly true for Lenovo who has been crafting drop-dead gorgeous convertibles with standout watch band-esque hinges, much like that of the Lenovo Yoga 920. This version of Lenovo’s popular 2-in-1 hybrid brand sees the integration of Thunderbolt 3, an improved webcam and, most importantly, an 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake R processor at every configuration. It’s loud, but the Lenovo Yoga 920 is without a doubt one of the best 13-inch laptops you can buy today. 

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 920 

10. MacBook Pro (13-inch mid-2018)

Powerful. Elegant. Expensive

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5 – Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | RAM: 8GB - 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Powerful 
Gorgeous design 
Expensive  

The 2018 MacBook Pro feels like the natural evolution of Apple’s pro-series laptops since it was redesigned a few years ago. It keeps the slim-line design, but improves on the keyboard, making it quieter and more reliable, while also boosting performance to new heights. If you need an ultra-portable workhorse running macOS, and you can justify the cost, the 2018 MacBook Pro won’t let you down. Keep in mind, though, that the model without a Touch Bar has yet to be upgraded. 

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch Mid-2018) 

Joe Osborne and Gabe Carey have also contributed to this article