10 Best 13 Inch Laptops 2020
How much does size matter, really? When you consider power-packed lifestyles with oodles of travel, last-minute meetings, and the need to work from remote locations, it ends up mattering quite a lot. With time, laptops have evolved in both size and function, managing to pack in a great deal more functionality in compact chassis.
Prominent computer manufacturers including Apple, Dell, HP, Microsoft, Razer, Acer and ASUS have started coming up with their offerings in this space.
So, is this another of those trends that doesn’t last an entire season or a more permanent, disruptive invention with tremendous potential for laptop users?
When you hear “13-inch laptops”, the first buzzword that rings in your ears is portability. There is little doubt that these machines will be infinitely more portable than their 15” counterparts, this rendering themselves more useful for anyone who needs to undertake considerable travel.
This audience-group increasingly includes not only working professionals but also students, freelance writers, creative souls, and anyone struck with wanderlust. But as it turns out, 13” laptops also offer a myriad of benefits other than mobility.
For one, many of these laptops can function as convertibles, which is an added boost to functionality and save you the cost of splurging on a separate device for tablet-occasions.
How do you find the right 13-inch laptop for you? Well, we have prepared a ready list of the best 13 inch laptops 2020 that adapt to different needs and budgets.
Browse through, find the device that gets you ticking, and get ready for a mini powerhouse that fuels your day with sprightly energy!
- The Many Delights of a 13 Inch Laptop
- 13 Inch Laptop vs. 15 Inch Laptop: Isn’t Bigger Better?
- Is a 13-inch Laptop Really Worth It?
- What You Can Expect in a 13-inch Laptop
- Best 13 Inch Laptop Brands
- Our Picks: 10 Best 13 Inch Laptops of 2020
- 1. New Dell XPS 13 7390 – Best 13 Inch Overall Laptop
- 2. New Apple MacBook Pro – Best 13 Inch Laptop for Photo/Video Editing
- 3. New HP Spectre x360 – Best 13 Inch 2-in-1 Laptop
- 4. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best 13 Inch Lightweight Laptop
- 5. HP Elite Dragonfly – Best 13 Inch 2-in-1 Business Laptop
- 6. Apple MacBook Air – Best 13 Inch Laptop for Students
- 7. New Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook – Best 13 Inch Gaming Laptop
- 8. Asus ZenBook 13 UX334FLC-AH79 – Best 13 Inch Laptop with 10th Gen CPU
- 9. HP Pavilion 13-an0010nr – Best 13 Inch Laptop Under $500 – $600
- 10. HP Pavilion 13-an1010nr – Best Budget 13 Inch Laptop Under $1000
- Bonus: LG Gram 13Z990 – Best Lightest 13 Inch Laptop
- The Long and Short of It
The Many Delights of a 13 Inch Laptop
Here’s what you can expect when you bring home a 13-incher:
Portability: Duh, you already knew that, didn’t you? But even so, the portability that comes with a 13-inch laptop can be surprisingly uplifting. It strikes just the right balance between a too-large 15” laptop and a too-small 11 Inch or 12 Inch laptop.
- Superior performance: Despite their compact build, most 13-inch laptops are high on performance. You can easily find a model with an Intel i5 or i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 2TB of storage space, and battery backup ranging from 10 to 21 hours. Additionally, you can also avail of crystal-clear displays and features like RGB lighting, ergonomic keyboards and multiple usage modes.
- Flexibility of use: Thanks to their focus on compact performance, 13-inch laptops adapt well to different needs. For instance, they offer students the convenience they need to multitask on documents, decks, and internet-browsing. They also suit working professionals with adequate options for collaboration, sharing and connectivity.
- Tablet-friendly form: Since many 13-inch machines can be used as tablets, you stand to benefit from the extra mobility. It becomes easy to get the job done during travel, in cramped spaces, and on occasions when a full-purpose laptop is ruled out.
- Future readiness: As is true of latest technologies, 13-inch laptops usually come with contemporary parts/innards, features that take full advantage of the newest breakthroughs (read superior cooling), and the guarantee of being usable several years down the line. This makes them pragmatic choices despite the somewhat steep price tags ($830 to $2000 and above) that most of them come with.
13 Inch Laptop vs. 15 Inch Laptop: Isn’t Bigger Better?
So, granted, a 13” laptop holds promise. But how does it compare to a 15” laptop that offers much more space for dazzle as well as function? Is portability the prime reason to go for the smaller 13-inch computer? When should you opt for the larger cousin? Let’s find out.
- For gaming enthusiasts: A quality gaming experience warrants a high-end GPU that can support top-class graphics and frame rates. It is unlikely for 13-inch laptops to support the best GPUs available in the marketplace today (read NVIDIA RTX). If a gaming machine is what you are looking for, you are likely to be better off with a 15-incher. (The one exception to this comes later in the article.)
- For USB aficionados: Do you usually need a lot of USB ports to get going? Some professions demand constant plugging in to USB devices, memory cards, HDMI cables, the works. If you are in one of these fascinating professions, you will find a 15” laptop better suited to your lifestyle. Since 13” laptops are built to be compact and portable, many of them compromise on the external plug-ins on either side.
- For display dazzle: While many 13” laptops now come with spectacular displays, it continues to be the realm of 15” machines. It is still dicey to find a quality 13” laptop with a 4K, touch display, although this is easily available for 15-inch versions.
Is a 13-inch Laptop Really Worth It?
When laptops were first introduced, their mobility was unbelievable. How could you package all that performance in a computer you could carry in a rucksack? But, with time, laptops have not only become even more portable, but also more powerful.
You can now find 13” laptops that are astonishingly compact and perfect for busy, modern lifestyles. But their travel-friendliness notwithstanding, how functional can they be? Short answer: a great deal!
Not surprisingly, 13” laptops are best suited to hectic lifestyles that involve a lot of travel and running around. You can comfortably lug them along without developing a backache.
You can also work on them in various settings, including a rickety bus, a cramped seat on a flight, and a crowded café. Manufacturers, cognizant of these usage patterns, design these laptops to be well-suited for travel.
Most notebooks boast of reasonably long battery life, an array of connectivity options, a lightweight build, and ergonomic design.
It is easy to be misled into expecting that since 13” computers are so sleek they are likely to be low on performance. But a quick survey of the market will tell you that this is far from the truth.
From Intel Core i7 processors and NVIDIA GTX cards to SSD storage, 13” laptops do not leave you wanting for performance. On the display front too, it is possible to find even 4K OLED displays, although FHD screens are more common.
Do note, however, that the screen real estate is obviously lower than that in a 15” or a 17” laptop. To counter this, some companies use a narrow bezel design that helps expand the screen-to-body ratio.
In some models, this ratio is as high as 95%! This proves quite ample even for the discerning user who values the visuals and the aesthetics in their laptop.
The bottom line is that 13” laptops are definitely worth your consideration if you require a travel-friendly, high-performing companion. Yes, the screen and the keyboard might be more cramped than in a 15” version.
The end experience might not be as enthralling for gamers and creative professionals who simply warrant a larger screen. But if you are willing to ignore these shortcomings, you can get huge bang for your buck.
What You Can Expect in a 13-inch Laptop
So, how good exactly are the specs of a typical 13” machine? You can expect a lot of variability here, depending on the brand and the money you are willing to shell out. But before settling, ensure that your choice offers the following:
- Processing chamber: A 13” laptop might be compact, but it should not compromise on performance. Many brands provide notebooks with Intel Core i7 processors, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 512GB of SSD storage. Make your choice based on your usage patterns and requirements.
- Display and graphics: Most 13” laptops continue to offer integrated graphics. This is usually ample for average tasks like browsing through photos or tuning in to a favorite film.
However, if you plan on gaming or performing CPU-draining tasks like multimedia editing, you should look for a dedicated GPU. Some 13” laptops like the Razer Blade Stealth do offer dedicated graphics.
As for the display, you should be able to find an FHD monitor with support for IPS and a wide color gamut. Ideally, look for a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is suitable for most content. If you so wish, you can also find 13” machines with 4K OLED displays.
- Sound: Finding a 13” laptop with fantastic sound can be a little tricky as many manufacturers skimp on this department to enhance the overall sleekness of the build. However, you can look for technologies like Dolby Audio Premium and Waves Maxx Audio. The speakers in your laptop should be well-tuned and capable of delivering distortion-free output.
- Build and portability: This is the USP of most 13” laptops. So, it makes sense to invest in one that is no heavier than 3lbs. Most laptops in this space are super thin too, measuring anything from 0.5–0.7”.
Since you are likely to be traveling a lot with your notebook, double check the resilience of the build. It is sensible to opt for an all-metallic construction built in adherence to durability standards. You can also scout for extra features intended to boost portability, such as glass protection for the monitor.
- Battery life: This is closely related to your laptop’s portability. You would want to be able to use your machine from anywhere without being stuck to a charging station. Battery backup upwards of 8 hours is a good metric to look for. If unplugged usage matters a great deal to you, it is possible to find laptops that can last for 22 hours on a single charge.
- Device support and connectivity: A handy 13” notebook should have a full assortment of USB ports. If a Type-C port is included, fantastic! It is super useful for rapid data transfer and quick charging.
Also, check for the availability of display ports and HDMI to permit you to connect external displays. Internet connectivity is another key consideration. Most laptops now offer compatibility with 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as Ethernet/LAN.
Besides these essential features, the marketplace now also provides additional perks for demanding audiences.
For instance, you can find backlit keyboards that let you work even in low/natural lighting. If gaming is your priority, you can find keyboards with zone-based lighting.
Some 13” machines come with special webcams, IR cameras with facial recognition, security chips, and privacy screens for confidentiality.
Best 13 Inch Laptop Brands
Let’s take a quick look at the leading brands in this space.
Over time, Apple has worked hard to retain its distinctive edge in the world of design and multimedia. Even in the 13” space, Apple continues to be one of the best picks for multimedia editing/generation.
These laptops provide a stellar screen (often, with a Retina display), efficient performance, and tons of storage space.
Apple has been experimenting with innovations in keyboard design as well as features to improve the ease of use. In line with this, you can find keyboards with the butterfly mechanism and the Touch ID for more intuitive interaction with your laptop.
If portability and flexible design are your priorities, then a 13” ASUS laptop can fit right in. You can consider a ZenBook for a winning balance of power, functionality and style.
Some notebooks in this space come with nifty features like ergonomic hinges and long battery backup. ASUS laptops also tend to be cost-effective, making them a worthy choice for anyone watching their budget closely.
Dell can give you one of the finest in this space—powerhouses to reckon with. You can expect great performance (of the Intel Core i7 league), good battery backup, and excellent graphics and sound.
The latter receives generous aid from Dell Cinema in several 13” models. Dell is high on innovation too, and keeps infusing its products with industry-leading features.
For instance, you can find special webcams with noise reduction and improved visuals. The overall build of these laptops is both portable and durable, besides being green.
A brand that has long been known for its dependability, HP continues to hold on to its core values. In the 13” space, you can expect HP laptops to provide competent performance, terrific battery backup (sometimes more than 20 hours!), and a portable build.
HP is also committed to facilitating work in shared environments. To this end, it provides a generous dash of privacy-enhancing features like webcam kill switches and privacy screens.
The Surface series is a fine pick for a 13” laptop, especially if you covet tremendous design. Microsoft has created a sparkling line-up with Surface; these notebooks are portable, high on performance, and look downright glorious.
You can find thoughtful features to simplify your daily life, such as larger trackpads, interactive touchscreens, and complete connectivity options.
Ever since gaming has become a passion—and one that attracts new audiences every day—more and more manufacturers have jumped onto the train. If it is a 13” gaming laptop that you have set your heart on, Razer has great choices.
The company has worked hard to make gaming possible on such a compact form factor. These notebooks offer a hardworking processor, dedicated graphics co-processors (such as NVIDIA GTX), and backlit keyboards. You won’t feel shortchanged on the display either, as most of these machines have a narrow bezel design to realize engaging content.
Other laptop brands you can explore include Lenovo, Acer and MSI. The final choice should be less a function of favoring a specific brand and more dependent on what suits your lifestyle and requirements.
Our Picks: 10 Best 13 Inch Laptops of 2020
Barring the above scenarios, 13-inch laptops are an ideal choice when you are prioritizing portable performance for multiple needs, ranging from the academic to the corporate world.
1. New Dell XPS 13 7390 – Best 13 Inch Overall Laptop
Driving this powerhouse is an Intel Core i7-10710U processor, 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a battery backup of 21 hours.
The FHD display has an optimal screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a brightness of 400 nits. Engaging content is guaranteed, thanks to the screen-to-body ratio of 80.7% and the color gamut of 100% sRGB.
This portable laptop weighs only 2.7lbs and has a thickness of 0.3–0.46”. Further upping the mobility is a full array of USB ports and connections, Killer Wi-Fi 6, support for Cortana, and seamless connections with Dell Mobile Connect.
Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Dell Cinema come together to offer uncompromised picture and sound.
An especially noteworthy feature of this computer is its HD webcam, located at the top of the display.
The webcam features a 4-element lens and temporal noise reduction to deliver finer audio and video for your personal/professional endeavors.
The improved webcam design ties in well with the overall innovation that Dell has successfully delivered, while also ensuring eco-friendliness and recyclability.
2. New Apple MacBook Pro – Best 13 Inch Laptop for Photo/Video Editing
When it comes to multimedia editing, Apple continues to retain its edge. The Apple MacBook Pro, with its Retina display and fantastic performance, is an ideal choice for creative professionals/students.
Fuelling the processing chamber is an Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB RAM, and up to a 2TB SSD. This can comfortably run applications such as Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Photoshop.
The stellar display has always been a stand-out feature of Apple laptops. Here too, you should prepare to be mesmerized by the 500 nits brightness and the wide color gamut that has 25% more colors than sRGB.
Apple has also ensured flexibility of use with the new Touch Bar that replaces the function keys. You can use intuitive gestures like taps and flicks to get your work done in real time.
If you tend to work in collaborative environments, the Apple T2 Security Chip and the fingerprint reader will keep you reassured of privacy.
Interestingly, this laptop, for all its devotion to performance, is tremendously sleek at 3lbs and 0.58” (14.9mm). You can slide it into a backpack and carry it around to meetings or travels.
3. New HP Spectre x360 – Best 13 Inch 2-in-1 Laptop
It boasts of a hinge-based design that lets you work ergonomically.
An Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and up to 2TB storage (SSD) let you blaze through your tasks. The battery backup is an unbelievable 22 hours—plenty to get through your day, catch that long-haul flight, and unwind in your hotel room.
This laptop comes with a 4K OLED display so immersive (screen-to-body ratio of 90%) that your content truly shines. Not only that, but the screen is also anti-reflective and color calibrated. The beauty is all-encompassing; the aluminum body with the gem cut design makes this convertible quite a looker.
Bonus: This HP laptop is committed to privacy. It offers a Webcam Kill Switch designed to give you peace of mind during and after video calls with peers/colleagues.
Rest assured that no one will guess you were lounging about in your PJs! Plus, you also get access to a quick-mute button and a privacy screen. The latter is a Godsend when you work in, say, a café, and don’t want people to sneak.
4. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best 13 Inch Lightweight Laptop
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 manages all of that while also delivering fantastic performance and ease of use.
Driving this computer is an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, and up to a 1TB SSD. The 10 point multi-touch screen offers a resolution of 2256 x 1504.
How about the display and sound? Well, Microsoft offers Intel Iris Plus graphics, which does a pleasant job of rendering varied formats of content. But the omnisonic speakers tuned with Dolby Audio Premium truly steal the show, delivering undistorted and vivid sound.
This Surface laptop is well-connected too, complete with an HD camera compatible with Windows Hello, USB ports (including a Type-C one), a Surface Connect port, and compatibility with Wi-Fi 6.
You can stay attuned with your peers and colleagues as well as devices and peripherals on the go. Design-wise too, Microsoft has ascertained that your comfort takes centre stage, with thoughtful nuances like a larger glass trackpad, optimization for Office 365, and strong glass protection for the display.
5. HP Elite Dragonfly – Best 13 Inch 2-in-1 Business Laptop
Sample this: a brightness of 1000 nits, a superior magnesium chassis, and bodyweight less than 2.2lbs (1kg)! This convertible gets tons of brownie points as a lightweight, high-performing business laptop. It is equipped with a competent Intel Core vPro processor, gigabit-class 4G-LTE connectivity (optional), and almost foolproof security.
The latter relies on fingerprint-based security as well as facial recognition, thereby easing your mind when you travel for business. If you don’t want to opt for 4G-LTE, you can always fall back on good old gigabit-speed Wi-Fi 6.
This Dragonfly is spellbinding to look at—always a bonus in this modern age. The iridescent dragonfly blue finish and the diamond cut accents are particularly gorgeous, lending to the laptop a distinctive aura.
Since you can use this computer in multiple modes— laptop, tablet, tent and media—there should be bountiful scope to show it off!
Note: Here too you can find the HP Privacy Camera for fret-free video calling. There is also a privacy screen to let you work on confidential documents without the fear of prying eyes.
6. Apple MacBook Air – Best 13 Inch Laptop for Students
Like its peer on #2, this one also comes with a Retina display that beautifully and accurately (48% more colors) renders your content.
The processing chamber houses an Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM, and up to 1TB SSD storage. This proves quite ample for both day-to-day tasks and more intensive pursuits like wireless streaming and multimedia editing.
This notebook comes with a handy flexibility feature—the Touch ID—that simplifies the ways in which you can interact with the laptop. It is especially useful when you want to work while traveling, on public transport, etc.
On the security front, this computer has its bases covered with the Apple T2 Security Chip and fingerprint-based access.
A particularly useful feature for students is the improved keyboard design with butterfly mechanism. It verifiably provides greater comfort while typing. The keyboard is backlit so that you may work in dimly lit settings.
The MacBook Air lives up to its name—it is indeed feather-light at 2.75lbs. Thickness-wise too, it is very sleek at only 0.6” (15.6mm).
Bonus: The screen offers improved text clarity, which helps you while taking notes or catching up on your classroom reading.
7. New Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook – Best 13 Inch Gaming Laptop
Driven by an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics, this Ultrabook can play most present-day AAA games.
You can opt to get up to a 4K screen resolution and experience fine picture and sound during gameplay. Since the bezel is really narrow at only 4.9mm (0.19”), you can make the most of the 100% sRGB color gamut with minimal external interference.
This Razer laptop is incredibly portable; it weighs in the range of 2.92lbs–3.24lbs and is only about 0.6” thick. What’s more, the touchscreen is well-protected by Gorilla Glass, which also adds to the overall portability of this laptop. You can carry it with you to outdoor gaming events without being afraid of damage.
Providing full device support is a full range of ports, including a Thunderbolt 3. There is also an infrared camera compatible with Windows Hello and a specially designed Razer Chroma keyboard.
To elevate your gaming experience, the keyboard provides full key backlighting (single-zone) and anti-ghosting.
8. Asus ZenBook 13 UX334FLC-AH79 – Best 13 Inch Laptop with 10th Gen CPU
This 2.8lbs, royal-blue laptop is fueled by a tenth-gen Intel Core i7-10510U processor, bolstered by 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. This sleek, 0.7” notebook comes with an FHD monitor. The bezel is so narrow that it realizes a screen-to-body ratio of 95%.
A productivity-boosting feature of this ZenBook is its “Screenpad 2.0”—an interactive touchscreen added to the main display. You can use it to swiftly switch apps, access tools like handwriting, dock windows, etc. In fact, this laptop is committed to flexible use overall, built as per an ergonomic hinge design for enhanced audio, cooling and typing. It is also fitted with several USB ports, including a Type-C one, and delivers compatibility with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11Ax), Bluetooth 5.0, and facial recognition via Windows Hello.
Bonus: Asus offers a carry sleeve and a USB 3.0 to RJ45 cable with the package. Traveling with this laptop and staying connected just became even easier.
9. HP Pavilion 13-an0010nr – Best 13 Inch Laptop Under $500 – $600
The HP Pavilion 13-an0010nr can be the perfect choice, with its Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, FHD display with IPS, and up to 11 hours of battery backup.
You should get about 6.5 hours of unplugged usage even if you indulge in wireless streaming.
While the RAM and memory support is a tad low at 8GB and 256GB (SSD), respectively, you shouldn’t face a glitch while performing standard computing pursuits. This computer comes with a cost-effective price tag Under $600.
Many budget laptops, especially in the 13” form factor, tend to compromise on the display. Not HP. The company has always been renowned for reliability, but lately, it has also been focusing on innovative design.
Here, the micro-edge display has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080—ideal for multi-format content. Since the color gamut is also expansive at 72%, the details in your imagery render accurately.
This HP Pavilion is astonishingly light at 2.88lbs and measures 0.61”. The mineral silver color is quite striking too!
10. HP Pavilion 13-an1010nr – Best Budget 13 Inch Laptop Under $1000
Priced at $739.99, this 2.88lbs device is powered by an Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 8GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD.
Additionally, HP has generously added 25GB of online storage (Dropbox) to the mix for one year. The FHD display, with a 72% color gamut and a full screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, is vivid and clear. Plus, since you get terrific audio by Bang & Olufsen, multimedia pursuits are enjoyable.
This HP laptop has stellar design and premium construction, built with 3D metal-forming technology. It also offers a thoughtful elevation to the keyboard in a successful attempt to add comfort to the typing experience and efficiency to the cooling system.
HP has traditionally been famous for its focus on security and durability. This 13” laptop continues the lineage with the Bios recovery and protection module. Not only is your laptop safe from unauthorized access, but it also recovers faster from any systemic issues.
Bonus: LG Gram 13Z990 – Best Lightest 13 Inch Laptop
It comes with a phenomenal battery life of 24.5 hours—this is easily among the best in class and lends you exceptional liberty of use on the go. It also boasts of a lightweight built that weighs only a tad over 2lbs and measures 0.6”.
LG is a laptop manufacturer that has lately emerged as an option worth exploring, mainly for the way it manages to come up with multipurpose laptops within a budget.
Thankfully, this device does not skimp on performance to bring you all that portability. So, you can comfortably add to its list of merits the strength of an Intel Core i5-8265U processor (eighth-gen), 8GB RAM, and a 256 SSD.
Suffice it to say that you have a hardworking machine that not only travels well but is also up to snuff for all your regular pursuits.
How is the display of this machine? Quite pleasing! The FHD screen comes with an IPS panel to let you view the proceedings from multiple angles without experiencing any loss of detail.
The bezel is ultra-slim; it minimizes external interference and enables you to focus on what’s transpiring on the screen.
In the looks department, this metal-alloy laptop is quite attractive to behold. Since it offers a gamut of USB ports and support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi, you can connect to any devices that you may need on the run or get on to the World Wide Web.
An added advantage is the backlit keyboard. It lets you continue to work or play even when the natural lighting is low (or artificial lighting is inadequate).
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The Long and Short of It
Have you managed to arrive at a decision regarding your purchase of a 13-inch laptop? We tried to present a complete panorama of some of the best options in the marketplace, catering to multiple budgets, requirements, and focus areas.
If you are looking for an all-rounder that marries wins in size with magnificent performance and display, consider going all-out with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (#4), the latest Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (#2) or the Dell XPS 13 7390 (#1).
Budget-watchers can delight in the Asus ZenBook 13 UX334FLC-AH79 (#8) or the HP Pavilion 13-an0010nr (#9)—both of them satisfactory in performance without drilling a hole in your pocket.
If your needs are more specialized, say, a long battery life (HP Spectre x360, #3), competitive gaming (Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook, #7), or a flip-based display (HP Pavilion 13-an1010nr, #10), you can take your pick from the assortment accordingly.
It may be early days yet, but it seems that 13-inch laptops are here to stay. They have managed to capture an optimal spot between their mightier and tinier cousins, emerging powerful and versatile in their own right.