December 26

Best 13-inch Laptop

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Table Of Contents

Do you know what’s funny? It’s that 15” laptops from just a few years ago offered the same screen real estate as a 13.3” laptop gives you today – it’s awesome! Hurray for technology. Now, speaking of technology, it obviously works both ways, and larger models will give you even more screen space. Why would you go for a 13” then?

The main benefit is portability – you are looking at a really small-factor, light machine that you can carry in a really small backpack. It will not weigh you down, while at the same time giving you the opportunity to do your work wherever you go. Of course, you shouldn’t expect anyone of these to classify as the best gaming laptop, as that is not their primary concern.

Of course, the drawbacks exist. Larger machines, of course, boast a larger screen, but they also have superior cooling. However, it is the small form factor that is the winning proposition here. Many users would agree – probably the only reason they would go for this size of a laptop.

We went through some of the options out there, trying to dig out the best for you. Let us take a look!

Best Choice: Microsoft Surface Laptop (1st Gen)

Pros & Cons

  • Small and Light
  • Touch screen
  • Fast storage
  • CPU is a bit long in the tooth

Key Features

  • Intel i7 7th Gen
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 512 GB SSD Storage
  • 2256 x 1504 Touch screen

Microsoft Surface Laptop (1st Gen) Review

Microsoft’s Surface line of products has been going strong for a while now. It is primarily a business machine, sleek, light, and fast, made of premium materials. As a direct competitor to MacBooks, it had to be all of those things.

The hardware allows you to tackle any office work without a hitch. If you are a photo or a video editor, you might want to look elsewhere for more power, but for business users or students, this is the perfect machine. The touch screen is a nice addition, with the resolution higher than 1440p on a 13.3-inch screen making it very crisp.

If you are looking to game on it, you will be disappointed, as it packs only the integrated Intel GPU, however, this is primarily a reliable, high-quality Windows machine for business, and the first generation is now much cheaper than it used to be when it came out.

Premium Pick: HP Envy 13

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful hardware
  • Touch screen
  • Great battery life
  • Users might expect better gaming performance for this price bracket

Key Features

  • I7 8th Gen Intel CPU
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 512 GB SSD Storage
  • 4K Touchscreen

HP Envy 13 Review

HP Envy packs a serious punch. Not only does it pack a 4-core, 8-thread Intel CPU and 16 gigs of RAM, but it also does not hold back when it comes to the screen. It is an IPS micro-edge WLED touchscreen. You could say 4k resolution on a 13.3-inch laptop might be a tad overkill, but if you are looking for premium, HP says you are getting premium here.

The laptop also features security features that are usually missing in the lower-tier products: fingerprint reader, BIOS recovery and protection, and a webcam kill switch.

Premium features also include a durable, all-metal body and a backlit keyboard, with a battery life of up to 12 hours in mixed-use. The only drawback is the GPU – a simple Nvidia GeForce MX250 will help you in video editing, but don’t expect to play newer games in decent framerates.

Best Value: Asus ZenBook 2017

Pros & Cons

  • High-quality build
  • Great Battery life
  • Premium Features
  • No Touch Screen

Key Features

  • I5 7th Gen Intel CPU
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256 GB SSD Storage
  • 3200 x 1800 300-nit Display

Asus ZenBook 2017 Review

ZenBook is thin but powerful, built with quality materials. It is very light, at only 1.17 kg, but it features all the necessary hardware to be fast and responsive. Fingerprint reader and Windows Hello are also part of the package.

It has a 57 Wh polymer battery that will allow around 12h of mixed-use. The screen is great, well-lit, but it lacks the touchscreen option, which some people might expect at this price point.

If you don’t need a touchscreen, but would like an elegant and powerful budget laptop that is also on the light side, it is a solid choice.

Best MacBook: MacBook Air 2017

Pros & Cons

  • Apple software
  • Light and portable
  • Great Battery Life
  • Lower-tier hardware compared to the competition

Key Features

  • Intel Core i5
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB SSD Storage
  • Thunderbolt 2 port

MacBook Air 2017 Review

If you are using Apple products, you are probably familiar with the price premium that Apple tends to have on their products compared to their Windows counterparts. Of course, many people enjoy Apple’s ecosystem and the stability its software offers, or they need particular hardware, such as the Thunderbolt 2 port.

This MacBook is slightly less powerful than some of our other choices from the list, but it is certainly a machine that can do the work it is intended for. It also offers Thunderbolt 2,  its price has dropped from the initial one, as well, which makes it a great option if you are looking for an Apple machine.

Best Flip ‘n’ Fold: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

Pros & Cons

  • Flip ‘n’ fold design versatility
  • Touchscreen
  • Light and fast
  • Not everyone will enjoy working on a 13” tablet that is not the lightest in class

Key Features

  • i5 8th Gen Intel CPU
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 256 GB SSD Storage
  • 360 degrees flip ‘n’ fold design

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin Review

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin seems to have everything anyone might need: solid CPU power, enough fast storage and RAM, touchscreen, and a screen that can flip on its hinges by 360 degrees, practically turning this into a tablet.

This model boasts great connectivity as well since it features 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0, full-size HDMI, and Gigabit Ethernet, which is great in this day and age of manufacturers constantly removing connections to save space. This, unfortunately, means that it is slightly “beefier” than some of the models mentioned today, at 1.45 kg.

The slightly increased weight and the size of the screen mean that it might prove to be a bit unwieldy when it comes to using it in tablet mode, but that depends on your personal preference.

 


13-inch Laptops – Buying Guide

To Touch Or Not to Touch

Touchscreens are quite useful and very ubiquitous these days, as you will probably agree. However, the discussion can be had about whether they are necessary on laptops that are not 2-in-1 (flip ‘n’ fold).

Yes, some things are easier to just touch on the screen, especially if you are using the laptop to watch a video or read a pdf file. However, you might consider those without a touch screen in order to reduce the price.

Screen Resolution

Another way to save up when purchasing small screen laptops is to consider whether you really need a resolution higher than 1080p. Of course, higher resolution also implies higher-quality screens, with better contrast. Still, if you have limited resources, this might be one of the things to look into.

CPU Power

You will notice that most laptops that made the choice above are 7th and 8th gen intel i5s. This means two things. First, the laptop market is still struggling to get more than 4 cores out there at reasonable prices. Second, Intel has had 95% of the laptop market for years.

replacing a laptop CPU upgrade

These days, times they are a-changing and AMD has made significant progress with Ryzen processors (read about their awesome new series in our choice for the best AMD Ryzen 3000 CPU) and they are slowly but surely coming to the laptop market as well.

This means that around this time next year we should have much more CPU variety when perusing the 13-inch laptop market.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 13 or 15-Inch Laptop Better?

This is entirely up to you. Do you have the strength and want to carry a larger backpack? Go for the 15-inch version, as it is likely to offer better performance, which is especially true if you are on the lookout for a great budget gaming laptop. If you lack the strength, space, or simply don’t need power in the GPU department, our list of 13-inch models above is your best bet.

What Is the Best Size for a Laptop?

The best size for a laptop is the one that suits your needs. If you need to lug it around all the time, it won’t help to have even the best 17-inch laptop in your bag, you will still be tired. However, if it will stay in your room most of the time, then a 13-inch model, like one of the above, might turn out to be small. Your needs – your choice.

What Size Laptop Is Best for College Students?

For college students, it is all about the balance between portability and power. In order to carry it everywhere, the laptop needs to be small and light, so check out the list above. For non-school activities, such as gaming, you will need something more powerful, which in turn, usually isn’t very light. Check out our choice for the best gaming laptop under $800, if you are looking for power over portability.

How Long Should a Laptop Last?

If you’ve asked this question in the early 2000s, the answer would probably have been “6 months”, due to the insane speed with which hardware was becoming obsolete. With today’s technology, especially if you are not using your laptop for gaming, you should have no problem using it for 2-4 years.

replacing a laptop battery hp

If it was powerful enough when you purchased it and you don’t encounter mechanical problems, you might be able to get as much as 6 or more years, for light workloads.

Is Dell or Hp Laptops Better?

When it comes to this size of a laptop, the popular vote seems to be on the side of Dell XPS 13 as a powerhouse laptop that is also small in size. It is a great tool for developers and advanced users. Of course, there is a price premium attached to it.


Final Words

Whether you need a laptop that’s on the smaller side for work, travel or even gaming on the go, we got you covered. While there are multitudes of other laptops on the market, different choices out of the five we handpicked for you possess everything you might need.

However, before you commit to a purchase, make sure to be in the clear about what’s the best 13-inch laptop for your specific needs.


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