The best 13-inch laptops 2022: top smaller-screen notebooks

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REASONS TO BUY
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best 13-inch laptops against a yellow TechRadar background
(Image credit: Future)

The best 13-inch laptops are power and portability in one appealing package. Components manufacturers have been rolling out smaller yet more powerful mobile components in the last few years, making it more possible than ever for smaller laptops like the 13-inch options on this list to be just as capable as their bigger counterparts.

Case in point, the new MacBook Air (M2, 2022) that can tackle demanding workloads like 4K video editing while keeping things slim, small, and fan-less. In fact, many of these top 13-inch laptops are among the best laptops on the market, now occupying the space where 15-inch laptops used to dominate. They're not too small that they're struggling on performance, but they're not too big and heavy either. 

We've tested hundreds of 13-inch notebooks here at TechRadar, with our computing experts putting them through their paces to really see what they can do. And, we're here to help you find the right one for you by gathering the best of them in one spot. Whether it is a student laptop you need or the best business notebook, you'll find the ideal 13-inch laptop for you here. Don’t forget to take a look at our included price comparison tool to find the best cheap laptop deals right now.

best 13-inchp laptop MacBook Air (M2, 2022) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
The best 13-inch laptop overall

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 chip with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 9-core – 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB unified memory
Screen: 13.6-inch (diagonal) 2560-by-1664 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: up to 2TB

Reasons to buy

+
Great new design
+
Very good performance
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Much more expensive than the previous model
-
New colors are a bit tame

You might say that the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) is for the rest of us who want a MacBook but don't have the money to shell out for the 14-inch or 16-inch Pros. But, that isn't saying that this latest Air is not powerful in its own right. On the contrary, it's more powerful than ever, even delivering on par single-core performance with the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) during our benchmark tests.

It's a little more expensive than it's predecessor, which is disappointing to budget-minded Apple fans, but you might end up being happy to have paid the premium when you realize what you're getting. We found its performance to be exceptional during testing, tackling 4K video editing and music production workflows fast and in silence (thanks to its fanless design). Meanwhile, it's battery life received a 5-hour uptick, giving it 16 hours of use on a single charge, while its screen is bigger and its design is better. 

We may not have gotten those full colors that the iMac 24-inch is sporting, but you’re getting a far more modern design here. It’s even thinner and smaller while offering a bigger screen size.

Read our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review

best 13-inch laptop HP Elite Dragonfly G2 against a white background

(Image credit: HP)
One of the best laptops we’ve tested

Specifications

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i3 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB - 32GB
Screen: 13.3-inch diagonal BrightView LED FHD, 400 nits – 13.3-inch diagonal BrightView LED 4K UHD HDR-400 550 nits
Storage: up to 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Great design
+
Comfortable keyboard
+
Excellent screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
USB-C ports on only one side

The second-generation HP Elite Dragonfly ups the ante in the best 13-inch laptops game. HP’s impressive business laptop is back with its smart design, great battery life, and 2-in-1 prowess. Of course, it’s more powerful now than it’s ever been, touting 11th-gen Intel Core chips, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and now a 4K display, upgrading from its previous Full HD models. There’s a lot to love here, and it might just be as close to being the perfect business laptop as any manufacturer can get. If you can afford it. However, as it is meant for professionals, it’s definitely worth the investment.

Read the full review: HP Elite Dragonfly G2 

best 13-inch laptop Surface Laptop 4 against a white background

(Image credit: Microsoft )
An excellent 13-inch laptop from Microsoft

Specifications

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 / AMD Ryzen 5 - 7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM: 8GB – 32GB
Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable keyboard
+
Beautiful screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Not enough ports
-
Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

While Apple blew us away with the new MacBook Air (above), arch rival Microsoft has also impressed us with its new Surface Laptop 4. As with previous Surface devices, build quality and design is absolutely top-notch here, and its gorgeous PixelSense touchscreen really sets it apart from the competition (a touchscreen is something we've yet to see on an Apple laptop, as Microsoft likes to remind us). It also comes with a brilliant keyboard that's a joy to type on, and some pretty great specs as well, which ensures that Windows 10, and all your favorite apps, run extremely well. Battery life is also very impressive – lasting over 13 hours in our tests – and the price is impressively competitive as well. 

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

best 13-inch laptop MacBook Air (M1, 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Best laptop for students with a flexible budget

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 7-core – 8-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 Retina display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
macOS Big Sur is fast and responsive
+
Battery life is great
+
Silent in use

Reasons to avoid

-
Fanless design could impact performance

Apple finally out their much-talked about M1 silicon chip that’s so far been a real game-changer. And, the first laptop to receive it is the company’s thinnest and lightest, putting it on the list of the most exciting Apple laptops of recent years. With this new chip, the MacBook Air is better than ever, touting excellent performance alongside its brilliant battery life – without raising the price to keep it (fairly) affordable still. It’s not going to be the cheapest option for students, but for those who have a slightly bigger budget, this is the best student laptop to get.

Read the full review: MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

best 13-inch laptop Samsung Galaxy Book Pro against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)
Samsung makes a MacBook rival

Specifications

CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5 - i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3” FHD Touch Display
Storage: 256GB – 512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing battery life
+
Great performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Design is a bit boring

The Samsung Galaxy Book Pro may not be reinventing the wheel but that’s okay. It’s a great, if somewhat unexciting, 13-inch portable that rivals the MacBook in a lot of ways. It’s not only very light and provides great day-to-day performance, but has the kind of battery life most other laptops aspire to, making this the ideal kind of laptop to take on the road. On top of that, it’s a fully featured machine that integrates well with Samsung devices, such as the company’s smartphones for an Apple-like ecosystem.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 

best 13-inch laptop HP Spectre x360 (2021) against a white background

(Image credit: HP)
A brilliant update

Specifications

CPU: 11th-gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 – Iris Xe
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch diagonal, FHD (1920 x 1080) OLED touch – 13.3-inch diagonal, 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) OLED touch
Storage: 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD – 2 TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous design
+
Excellent battery life
+
Great performance for day-to-day work

Reasons to avoid

-
Fans can get noisy
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Pricey

The flagship HP Spectre x360 (2021) is the newest in the flagship product line and continues the tradition of pairing elegance and premium design with the newest in specs for a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as much substance as it is style. This gorgeous Windows laptop comes with the new 11th-gen Intel CPU and enough battery life to get you through a long day at work. While it does come with a price tag to match and its 2-in-1 factor can be bulky for those making use of its tablet mode, not to mention that it can get loud, it’s a stunning laptop with excellent performance.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2021)

best 13-inch laptop Google Pixelbook Go against a white background

(Image credit: Google)

7. Google Pixelbook Go

The best mainstream Chromebook

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core m3 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD – 13.3-inch 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display
Storage: 64GB – 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
+
Rare 1080p webcam

Reasons to avoid

-
No biometric login

If you’ve long been admiring Google’s premium Chromebook but the price is holding you back, then you might want to consider the new Google Pixelbook Go instead. Freshly-baked by Google, this alternative to the manufacturer’s pricey Pixelbook boasts many of its high-quality features, but without that steep price tag – namely, an incredible battery life and that coveted keyboard. If your computing use is limited to sending and responding to emails, creating documents and excel sheets on Google Docs and Sheets, and streaming movies and videos after work, then this one’s a winner.

Read the full review: Google Pixelbook Go

best 13-inch laptop MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro is more powerful than ever

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display with P3 and True Tone technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Reasons to buy

+
M2 chip is a brilliant performer
+
Excellent battery life
+
Almost silent in use

Reasons to avoid

-
No new design
-
Still only two Thunderbolt ports

It's hard to fault the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) despite the fact it hasn't arrived with any new design updates. After all, the M1 version was already pretty impressive, and this M2-powered model kicks things up a notch with more power and longer battery life.

So, while this model looks pretty much like its predecessor, it's a much better choice if you want the most powerful 13-inch MacBook. Our testing shows that it's achieved better performance in both single and multi-core CPU tests, making it a much more capable multitasking machine than the M1 and and Surface Laptop 4. It also lasted almost two hours longer than the M1 MacBook Pro 13-inch in our battery life test. This is right for you if you're looking for the best 13-inch laptop that lasts longer and juggles different apps without breaking a sweat. 

Read our in-depth MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

best 13-inch laptop Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) against a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

9. Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020)

Dell does it again

Specifications

CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7
Graphics: Up to Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 32GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.4" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning design
+
Gorgeous 16:10 display
+
Excellent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Sound quality is just OK
-
Pricey

At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it to our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others. Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. This is among the best 13-inch laptops, and it’s worth every penny.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020) 

best 13-inch laptop Lenovo Yoga C930 against a white background

(Image credit: Lenovo)

10. Lenovo Yoga C940

The Lenovo Yoga is back and it means business

Specifications

CPU: up to 10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM: up to 16GB
Screen: 14” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, touchscreen, glossy, 400 nits –14" UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS, touchscreen, glossy, HDR 400, 500 nits
Storage: up to 2TB SSD PCIe

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent design
+
Great performance
+
Comfy keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Battery life

With the Lenovo Yoga C940, the company continues with its tradition of making elegant and stunning Ultrabooks. And, don't be thrown off by its looks, there's plenty of power hiding inside. With a comfortable keyboard, stylus, TrueBlock Privacy Shutter and rotating soundbar, it's quite a feature rich machine as well. It's not perfect - that soundbar is a work in progress and the battery life could be better - but it's a great portable that can stand up to the competition.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga C940

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Matt was TechRadar's Managing Editor for Computing and Entertainment, looking after two of the best, and most exciting, channels on the site. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made. He's also a huge film and TV fan and Marvel geek, and his favorite recent film is Dune.

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