The Best 13-Inch Laptops for 2021


Should you’re in search of a stability between functionality and bulkiness, a 13-inch laptop computer is a perfect choice. That mentioned, not all 13-inch laptops are created equal. From our view, the Dell XPS 13 is the perfect 13-inch laptop computer obtainable right this moment, however there are many different choices relying on the options you need and the value you’re prepared to pay. 

Many of the high 13-inch laptops are centered on balancing energy and portability, however you could find all the things from funds notebooks to high-end gaming rigs with a 13-inch show. Listed here are the laptops you have to be taking a look at.

The most effective 13-inch laptops at a look:

Dell XPS 13

Mark Coppock/Digital Tendencies

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect 13-inch laptop computer you should buy, and the most effective laptops interval.

Who’s it for: Anybody out there for a 13-inch laptop computer.

Why we selected the Dell XPS 13:

It’s laborious to not sound like full sycophants when speaking about how a lot we love the XPS 13. It’s been our favourite laptop computer for the previous 5 years, and the newest model is best than ever. Dell had already completed what we’ve been begging it to do for years and moved the webcam again as much as the highest of the display screen the place it belongs, and there’s so little else to complain about that it’s laborious to not gush.

As with the XPS 13s that got here earlier than, this model is light-weight (beneath Three kilos), moveable, and exceedingly engaging. Base specs begin with an 11th-generation Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of PCIe NVMe solid-state drive storage. Ports embody two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C (together with DisplayPort and energy supply compatibility), and the laptop computer comes with a USB-C to USB-A adapter to assist handle a few of your older equipment. Dearer choices have a touchscreen and enhance the processor, however in any other case, specs keep comparatively the identical.

Don’t anticipate to play the newest and biggest video games at excessive body charges — that’s not likely what this laptop computer is for. No laptop computer is ideal, however the Dell XPS 13 is as shut as we’ve seen but, appropriate for all kinds of duties and extremely able to dealing with all of them.

Learn our full Dell XPS 13 evaluate

Apple MacBook Air M1

Macbook Air M1 front view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Tendencies

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect laptop computer for college students.

Who’s it for: Any scholar who desires a laptop computer that’s quick and long-lasting whereas being exceedingly simple to hold round.

Why we selected the Apple MacBook Air M1:

The MacBook Air M1 is the proper laptop computer for college students. It’s light-weight, tremendous highly effective, and stacked with the quality-of-life options that Macs are identified for. From distinctive battery life to a big touchpad and the most effective laptop computer keyboards, the MacBook Air comes with all the things college students have to succeed. It’s low cost, too, no less than by Apple requirements. It’s additionally utterly silent.

The most recent MacBook Air options Apple’s new M1 chip that brings collectively CPU and GPU cores with system RAM. Over the Intel processors that proceeded it, M1 is constructed on a extra power-efficient structure. It’s so power-efficient, in truth, that the MacBook Air doesn’t even want a fan. It stays cool just by passing warmth by the aluminum physique, so you possibly can preserve working with out distracting anybody.

For portability, the MacBook Air M1 is 0.63 inches thick at its thickest level, and it solely weighs 2.eight kilos. The port choice isn’t nice with simply two Thunderbolt ports, however you possibly can simply develop the choice with a Thunderbolt Three dock.

The MacBook Air M1 is a critically spectacular laptop computer, not only for college students, however for anybody in search of a extremely moveable, very highly effective machine. In some methods, it’s even higher than the MacBook Professional.

Learn our full Apple MacBook Air M1 evaluate

Asus ROG Stream X13

Playing Fortnite on the ROG Flow X13.

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect 13-inch gaming laptop computer.

Who’s it for: Avid gamers who need to play trendy titles however need to play them on a smaller, lighter laptop computer.

Why we selected the Asus ROG Stream X13:

The Asus ROG Stream X13 took over our high spot as the perfect 13-inch gaming laptop computer because of a mix of contemporary parts and progressive design. It’s not solely a gaming laptop computer but it surely’s additionally a 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 with a taller 16:10 side ratio show, making it perform for extra than simply gaming. Taking a look at it, you’ll see the resemblance to the remainder of the Asus ROG line, with a easy all-black exterior and diagonal traces on the lid and palm relaxation that add some aptitude.

It packs in some critical energy, with our evaluate configuration of an AMD Ryzen 9 5000HS CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. That’s quick sufficient for contemporary titles at 1080p and respectable graphical settings. And Asus has in-built a proprietary PCIe connection that permits you to develop the laptop computer’s GPU through an exterior enlargement field, bundled with some configurations, that helps as much as the RTX 3080.

The ROG Stream X13‘s 13.4-inch show runs at a 1,920 x 1,200 decision, which is ok for avid gamers, and it helps contact and a 120Hz refresh fee. Ports are a bit restricted, however that’s to be anticipated on such a small gaming laptop computer.

Learn our full Asus ROG Stream X13 evaluate

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

Lenovo Chrombook Flex 15 in tent mode.

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect 13-inch laptop computer beneath $500.

Who’s it for: Anybody who desires a quick and versatile 13-inch laptop computer however has a restricted funds.

Why we selected the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5:

If you need as a lot as you may get for $500, we propose the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. It’s a versatile 2-in-1 that also has sufficient efficiency to your on a regular basis duties. This may be significantly laborious to seek out on this worth vary, the place the mixture of decrease specs and older elements can imply energy or velocity points for the unwary. However Lenovo has managed to construct the Chromebook Flex 5 for efficiency, and the snappy Chrome OS loading helps make sure that there are not any annoying wait instances as you’re employed.

For this mannequin, you get a 10th-gen Intel Core i3-10110U dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of SSD storage. Whereas that storage could appear to be it’s a bit of low, Chromebooks are likely to function with a give attention to cloud storage and operating apps from the cloud to scale back the storage wanted by yourself laptop computer — and you’ll at all times buy an exterior storage drive.

Battery life is sort of adequate for a full day’s work, and connections embody USB-A and USB-C ports plus a microSD card reader. If affordability is your major objective, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is a fairly nice bundle for the value.

Learn our full Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 evaluate

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect light-weight 13-inch laptop computer.

Who’s it for: Customers who desire a 13-inch laptop computer that gained’t weigh them down.

Why we selected the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano:

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is an excellent mild laptop computer that also packs a ton of energy. The non-touch mannequin weighs only one.99 kilos, and the contact mannequin is barely barely heavier at 2.14 kilos. That’s even lighter than the newest LG Gram, which has lengthy claimed the ultra-portable throne with its 2.2-pound weight. The ThinkPad X1 Nano is constructed like different ThinkPads, too, sporting a carbon-fiber hybrid materials that’s as sturdy as laptops that weigh twice as a lot.

The high-end configuration comes with an Intel Core i7-1180G7, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. If portability is extra necessary than energy, you may also configure the ThinkPad X1 Nano with an i5-1130G7, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Whatever the configuration, the machines comes with a 16:10 2K show (2,160 x 1,350) with a peak brightness of 450 nits and assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR.

The non-traditional decision results in higher battery life general, beating 4K shows just like the one within the Spectre x360. Regardless of stiff competitors from Dell, HP, and LG, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is a showstopper. It maintains the ThinkPad aptitude Lenovo is understood for whereas chopping the burden considerably, all with out sacrificing efficiency or battery life.

Learn our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano evaluate

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go held in a man's hand.
Riley Younger / Digital Tendencies

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect 13-inch Chromebook.

Who’s it for: Chromebook lovers who’ve selected a 13-inch measurement for portability.

Why we selected the Google Pixelbook Go:

Though there are a ton of Chromebooks available on the market, there’s actually just one choice for the perfect efficiency, construct high quality, and design. The Google Pixelbook Go comes straight from the supply, and it’s constructed from the bottom as much as let the Chrome OS platform shine. You possibly can choose up a reasonable configuration with an Intel Core m3 processor and 8GB of RAM, however Google additionally provides a configuration with a 4K show, a Core i7, and 16GB of RAM.

Exterior of uncooked energy, the Pixelbook Go has a couple of design parts that assist it stand out within the crowded Chromebook market. The underside, for instance, is textured so it doesn’t slide away when sitting in your lap, and the stereo audio system are close to the important thing mattress, providing clear audio throughout motion pictures, video games, and music. It’s extremely moveable, too, measuring simply 0.5 inches thick and weighing 2.Three kilos.

Moreover, the Google Pixelbook Go is rated for 12 hours of battery life and comes with two USB-C ports. Most Chromebooks are designed with a funds in thoughts. The Pixelbook Go is designed from the opposite route, matching options with parts to create a Chromebook that lets the light-weight working system shine.

Learn our Google Pixelbook Go evaluate

Apple MacBook Professional 13 M1

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect MacBook for Apple customers.

Who’s it for: Apple customers who need the perfect 13-inch laptop computer obtainable.

Why we selected the Apple MacBook Professional 13 M1:

Identical to the MacBook Air, the newest MacBook Professional relies on Apple’s M1 chip. It’s similar to the chip contained in the MacBook Air, sporting eight CPU cores and 8GB of unified reminiscence. Over the Air, although, the Professional 13 mannequin comes with eight GPU cores; the Air comes with seven. The additional core doesn’t make an enormous distinction, however mixed with energetic cooling, it pushes the Professional 13 barely forward of the Air’s efficiency. Plus, the newest MacBook Professional M1 is $500 cheaper than its Intel counterpart.

The MacBook Professional has energetic cooling, however you gained’t discover it. The fan by no means spun up in our testing, even when operating video games like Fortnite. And sure, the M1 can run video games like Fortnite. Regardless of being cool and power-efficient, the M1 chip is highly effective sufficient for gaming and productiveness. That is nonetheless a MacBook Professional, in any case.

Like earlier fashions, the M1 variation nonetheless comes with a wonderful Retina show, a top-notch keyboard, and clear on-board audio system. The up to date mannequin is best in a variety of methods, too, sporting practically twice the battery lifetime of the Intel fashions that preceded it.

The MacBook Professional M1 is a breakthrough machine for Apple, bringing worth and efficiency extra in-line with the remainder of the market with out sacrificing all of the issues that make Apple laptops particular.

Learn our Apple MacBook Professional 13 M1 evaluate 

HP Spectre x360 13

HP Spectre X13 360 laptop open on a desk.
Mark Coppock/Digital Tendencies

Why you should purchase this: It’s the perfect 13-inch 2-in-1.

Who’s it for: Anybody who desires a convertible 2-in-1 with a beautiful OLED show.

Why we selected the HP SPectre x360 13:

The Dell XPS 13 has remained our favourite laptop computer for a number of years, however there has at all times been an in depth second: The HP Spectre x360. Just like the XPS 13, it’s a skinny and light-weight machine packing the newest parts. That features an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor with Iris Xe graphics, 256GB of SSD storage, and 16GB of RAM.

For the show, HP has a couple of completely different choices. The Full HD touchscreen on the bottom mannequin is nice, providing skinny bezels and a peak brightness of 400 nits. Nonetheless, HP additionally provides a 4K OLED, which additionally has a peak brightness of 400 nits and superior colours and distinction. As a 2-in-1, all Spectre x360 13 shows assist contact.

Though the HP Spectre x360 performs second fiddle to the XPS 13 in a couple of areas — particularly battery life — it’s nonetheless a outstanding 2-in-1. The 13-inch mannequin we’re recommending is nice, however HP additionally has a brand new 14-inch mannequin. It’s not a lot bigger general, however the 3:2 display screen side ratio provides a bit of additional display screen actual property.

Learn our evaluate of the HP Spectre x360 13

Analysis and shopping for ideas

Does laptop computer display screen measurement matter?

Sure, it undoubtedly does. The change in measurement could make issues like working in functions facet by facet far more fluid. The general measurement of the laptop computer additionally makes a distinction in portability. Sliding a 15-inch laptop computer right into a backpack isn’t at all times attainable, and neither is attempting to make use of it in cramped areas like a small espresso store desk or on an airplane.

Maybe extra importantly, although, there are important variations in configuration choices between 13-inch and 15-inch laptops. Take the Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15, for instance. The XPS 13 maxes out at a four-core processor with built-in graphics, whereas the XPS 15 can now embody as much as an eight-core processor with a discrete GTX 1650 graphics card. The additional house within the chassis permits for these extra highly effective parts, that means they’ll present a big enhance in efficiency.

What is an efficient display screen decision for a 13-inch laptop computer?

Most 13-inch laptops are supplied in two decision choices: 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) and 4K (3,840 x 2,160). The 4K choices are sometimes considerably dearer and lose a few hours in battery life. For most individuals, the 1080p configurations shall be a lot sharp, particularly on a display screen this measurement. You could need to bounce as much as 4K, nevertheless, for the broader coloration gamut that usually comes with it. Modifying photographs in 4K with higher colours is right.

Your decision choices change for laptops with taller screens. The MacBook Professional, for instance, has a sharper 13-inch display screen with a 16:10 side ratio, leading to a 2,560 x 1,660 display screen decision. In the meantime, the Floor Laptop computer 2 has a fair sharper 3:2, 13-inch display screen with a 3,000 x 2,000 decision.

Which is the perfect laptop computer model?

Selecting the perfect laptop computer model comes all the way down to a mix of which firm designs the perfect merchandise and supplies the perfect service. Dell suits the usual for each of those, having constructed the perfect laptop computer you should buy proper now. HP and Lenovo are shut behind, providing good laptop computer designs and comparable customer support.

On a special tier is Apple, which builds the sturdiest laptops you should buy. In addition they supply a high-caliber customer support expertise that includes an precise brick-and-mortar retailer (in case you have one in your space). That score has lowered a bit with its latest keyboard kerfuffle, the place reliability has turn into a critical challenge. However even there, Apple finally fessed up and began changing the laptops altogether.

Is a 13-inch laptop computer too small for gaming?

A 13-inch laptop computer could not appear as visually immersive as a bigger display screen can, but when your GPU can assist your favourite recreation, then a 13-inch laptop computer would show to be a wonderful gaming machine. Whereas your situational consciousness is undoubtedly improved with greater shows, the display screen could not totally assist the sport. It could be finest when you double-checked your bigger laptop computer’s specs; The processor, RAM, SSD, and GPU all want to have the ability to assist the parameters required to your recreation comfortably.

How do I do know what measurement my laptop computer is?

To rapidly measure your display screen, seize your ruler, measuring tape, or different measuring instruments and maintain it diagonally throughout your display screen. The machine ought to stretch from a high nook to the other backside nook. Make certain to not embody the borders of your display screen in your measurements. Should you don’t have any software to measure the display screen bodily, strive trying to find your laptop computer make and mannequin quantity on-line. 

Should you choose any of those computer systems, make sure to reap the benefits of Black Friday laptop computer offers to get a wonderful worth to your laptop computer.

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