Laptops have come a long way from being bulky devices with massive power bricks. Carrying an ultrabook around for work purposes is no longer the chore it used to be once. However, full-size 15-inch laptops can still be a bit too big to carry around. Thankfully, with companies releasing powerful and yet sleek ultrabooks, there are plenty of great 13-inch and almost-14-inch laptops out there that offer the perfect balance between portability and performance.
Don’t get us wrong, we still love the Dell XPS 13, but it’s not the only ‘right’ choice anymore. We get it if you desire the new MacBook Air or even the HP Spectre x360, but the best 13-inch laptops excel in different ways altogether.
Dell XPS 13 (2019)
If it ain’t broke, make it handsome
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.6GHz) | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) UltraSharp InfinityEdge touch display | Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB-C 3.1, micro SD card reader, headset jack | Connectivity: Killer 1435 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with 4 array digital microphones | Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.23kg) | Size: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3-0.46 inches (3.02 x 1.99 x 0.78-1.16cm; W x D x H)
Impressive new design
Dell’s XPS 13 line-up might as well be one of the sleekest, yet powerful Windows ultrabook out there. This year, Dell updated the XPS 13 with some subtle changes, making it better than ever before. With the Dell XPS 13 (2019), you now get a 4K display for a sharper picture across the board.
But even if you can’t afford the more premium, high-end 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.’ The 2019 model finally has the webcam above the display- the former model’s most obvious design flaw.
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
Asus ZenBook 13 (2018)
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 8265U (quad-core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.40GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2GB DDR5 RAM), Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) wide view touch display | Storage: Up to 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD | Ports: 1 x microSD card reader, 1 x 3.5mm combo audio jack, 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x full-sized HDMI, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 | Camera: VGA webcam | Weight: 1.19 kg | Size: 18.9 x 30.2 x 1.7 cm (W x D x H)
Fast fingerprint sensor
Decent battery life
If you are in the market for a 13-inch laptop that looks great, is powerful and affordable at the same time, you might want to look at the Asus ZenBook 13. With Intel’s latest Core i5 processor and an optional Nvidia GPU, the ZenBook 13 sits pretty near the top of the pile when it comes to the best 13-inch laptops. Heck, it might even be the best, since the hardware is a touch better than even the beloved Dell XPS 13.
Of course, there’s bound to be a few catches – the touchpad works almost too well, and you can’t lay the screen flat if you want to use a stylus- but it’s still a great option, especially considering the price point and the features. Oh, and the display is something special, too.
HP Spectre 13
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3-2133 SDRAM | Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) micro-edge WLED-backlit multi-touch IPS | Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD (NVMe M.2) | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, 1 x headphone/microphone combo | Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac (2×2) Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0 | Cameras: HP Wide Vision HD Camera with dual-array digital microphone | Weight: 2.45 pounds (1.11kg) | Size: 12.03 x 8.83 x 0.41 inches (30.56 x 22.4 x 1.04cm; W x D x H)
Super thin and light
Not enough ports
The HP Spectre 13 certainly won’t weigh down your backpack; it won’t weigh down your work, either. Packing an Intel Core i7-8550U processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe-based SSD storage space, the Spectre 13 is a better-looking, slightly more expensive alternative to the Dell XPS 13.
The display leaves something to be desired, as does the trackpad, but it can handle the average workload (though people with graphics-heavy jobs should look elsewhere) with zero crashes, and the battery life is a pretty solid 6+ hours.
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
Impressive battery life
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
Microsoft Surface Book
The original Surface is still good enough
Processor: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics (1GB GDDR5 high-speed memory) | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, SD card reader, mini headphone/mic combo jack | Connectivity: 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: Windows 8MP rear-facing auto-focus camera (1080p HD), 5MP front-facing Hello face-authentication camera (1080p HD) | Weight: 3.48 pounds (1.58kg) | Size: 12.3 x 9.14 x 0.51-0.90 (W x D x H) (312 x 232 x 13-22.8 mm)
Thanks to its 3:2 aspect ratio and having a 13.5-inch screen, the first Surface book is quite a bit taller than your average 13-inch laptop. With 3,000 x 2,000 pixels under its belt, it sits at a happy middle ground of being sharper than most other laptops (including every MacBook in existence) without the troubles that plague 4K screens.
Microsoft has perfected the concept of the 2-in-1 laptop by splitting the laptop in half. All the essentials for a Windows 10 tablet are packed into the Clipboard, which can be used as Surface tablet on its own. But then the slate marries perfectly with its other half that contains extra batteries and a dedicated GPU.
If you want an excellent laptop that does just a bit more, then the Surface Book is your ticket.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book review
Razer Blade Stealth
A fancy 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
HP Spectre x360 (2019)
HP’s flagship 2-in-1 gets a welcome upgrade
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 4MB cache, up to 4.6GHz) | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB DDR4 | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch panel (WLED, IPS) | Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2) | Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x microSD, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack | Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 | Camera: HP TrueVision FHD IR webcam | Weight: (1.32 kg) | Size: 30.88 x 21.79 x 1.45 cm (W x D x H)
Ultra-thin and light styling
Long-lasting and quick-charging battery
Large top and bottom bezels
Touchpad is not as good
The HP Spectre x360 is the one you introduce to your parents. It’s strikingly well-crafted, boasting a silvery design that makes it every bit as cutting-edge on the outside as it is within. Given the choice between an 8th-generation i5 or i7 Ultrabook-class processor and a 1080p or 4K screen, HP has given plenty of room for customisation.
It’s not under powered, nor does its battery life suffer from overcompensation. In fact, in our own video loop test, the HP Spectre x360 lasted a whole 8 hours and 45 minutes. The 2019 model of the Spectre x360 has an SD card slot (along with a number of other connectivity options), thus fixing a major problem in the previous model. The touchpad could be more responsive, but you can always opt for an external mouse.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
Asus ZenBook Flip A UX370
High price for high performance
CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache up to 3.7GHz) | Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8/16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 | Storage: Up to 1TB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, SATA3) | Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) LED-backlit (60Hz, 100% sRGB, 178-degree viewing angle, Corning Gorilla Glass) | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2×2), Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 480p (VGA) webcam | Weight: 2.42 pounds (1.1 kg) | Size: 12.32 x 8.58 x 0.43 inches (31.3 x 21.8 x 1.09 cm; W x D x H)
Thin and light-weight
Powerful internal hardware
Unimpressive battery life
The Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 has plenty of performance to spare, while keeping the base frequency low until it’s needed. At just 1.1kg, it’s certainly light enough, and the inclusion of a slip case means that you can pop its svelte 13.3-inch form into any bag easily. There is a slight downside in that there aren’t too many ports, with only a pair of USB 3.1 Type-C slots present.
From simple file copying, to full software installations, this thing just flies, and it feels silky-smooth in Windows 10. It’s super pricey, but the durable build, latest hardware specs and performance make it a good value for (a lot of) money option.
Read our full review here: Asus ZenBook Flip S UX370 review
Asus ZenBook Flip UX360 CA
A budget-friendly, thin-and-light powerhouse
CPU: Intel Core M6Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD
Lacks backlit keyboard
Only 4GB RAM
Asus extended its ZenBook lineup in September 2016 with its very own UX360 CA. Though it carries similar features as its predecessors, its 2-in-1 flexibility is what makes it stand out.
The laptop is powered by a sixth-generation Intel Core M6Y30 processor and 4GB RAM. It’s also available with 8GB RAM in the international market, but Indian customers will have to satisfy themselves with a 4GB variant.
The laptop’s capabilities of bending backwards that allows users to experience both laptop and tablet form is an added edge.
Lenovo Yoga 910
Versatile with a generous helping of elegance
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.9-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS multi-touch | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Substantially larger screen
Heats up (and gets loud) fast
Disappointing battery life
The Lenovo Yoga 910 is all about second chances. The company reimagined the design with this one, opting in favour of a more pristine outward appearance and a heavy duty Intel Core i7 processor, as well as a 4K display.
Lenovo also managed to squeeze in a larger, nearly 14-inch screen into the 13-inch chassis of the Yoga 900.
Even with the implementation of USB-C ports, the Lenovo Yoga 910 doesn’t completely neglect USB Type-A, dragging the precious connection standard of the past along with it.
Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910
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
The MacBook Pro 2018 feels like the final form of Apple’s pro series laptop since its 2016 redesign. It keeps the thin and light design, but brings a wealth of improvements, both to the hardware within and, more importantly, Apple has vastly improved the Butterfly keyboard – making it quieter and more reliable.
So, you no longer have to worry about it breaking cause a piece of dust appeared under the spacebar. So, if you need an ultra-portable workhorse running macOS Mojave and you can justify the cost, the 2018 MacBook Pro won’t let you down. Keep in mind, though, the model without the Touch Bar is still running last year’s hardware.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch)