The Best 13-Inch Laptops of 2021

Size doesn't matter with the best 13-inch laptops that balance power and portability.
The Best 13-Inch Laptops of 2021
Image credit: Dell (Unsplash)

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Laptops are increasingly capable of providing ample processing capabilities in smaller form factors. As such, you don’t have to sacrifice power for portability. While tablets can be convenient for use on the go, a laptop with a built-in keyboard offers unrivaled ease of use. 

Although a large screen can be great for productivity, massive 17-inch or even 15-inch screens can add quite a bit of heft to a laptop. With a 13-inch laptop, you can use the built-in screen while out and about, and an external monitor while at home or the office. Thus, a 13-inch laptop is a compelling choice, especially for frequent travelers. 

Previously, we broke down the best laptops for business to help you keep working on the go. We’ve curated the best 13-inch laptops for all uses, from small gaming laptops to budget options and everything between.

Best Overall: Razer Blade Stealth 13 ($1,800), also at other retailers 
Best Gaming Laptop: ASUS Rog Flow X13 ($3,300)
Best Under $500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 ($331), also at other retailers 
Best 2-in-1: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ($1,500), also at other retailers
Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano ($1,390)
Best Thin and Light: Apple Macbook Air ($900), also at other retailers

Best Overall: Razer Blade Stealth 13 ($1,800)

Best Overall: Razer Blade Stealth 13 ($1,800)
Image credit: Razer

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 (also at other retailers) is an exceptional laptop that’s great for casual gamers and creatives alike. There's an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti MAX-Q GPU paired with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 quad-core CPU. As such, the Blade Stealth is a solid choice for entry-level 1080p gaming as well as video or photo editing. 

It’s available with either a 1080p 120Hz IPS display or a 4K 60Hz OLED touchscreen. Connectivity is great with a Thunderbolt 4 port, USB-C, USB Type-A, a high definition (HD) webcam and 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6. At a mere 3.26 pounds and with dimensions measuring 8.27in. x 11.99in. x 0.60in., the Blade Stealth 13 is thin, light and brawny.

Build quality is spectacular with an aluminum chassis. The keyboard is a real treat to type on with good key travel and Razer’s customizable RGB Chroma backlighting. 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM alongside a 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD provide plenty of multitasking capabilities as well as storage space. With a premium vibe, the Razer Blade Stealth is a versatile 13-inch laptop that’s great for work and play.

Best Gaming Laptop: ASUS Rog Flow X13 ($3,300)

Best Gaming Laptop: ASUS Rog Flow X13 ($3,300)
Image credit: Asus

The ASUS ROG Flow X13 is an outstanding 13-inch gaming laptop that offers a compromise-free gaming experience. Boasting an octa-core AMD Ryzen 9 CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, the ROG Flow X13 packs plenty of processing power. It includes an ample 1TB SSD which provides plenty of storage space for games and 32GB of LPDDR4X RAM.

An included ROG XG mobile docking station includes an Nvidia RTX 3080 GPU in an external GPU (eGPU). This docking station utilizes an interface that reduces bottlenecks for better bandwidth than traditional eGPUs. At under three pounds and less than an inch thick, the ROG Flow X13 is extremely portable. 

Inputs and outputs include an HDMI 2.0b, USB 3.2 Type-A, a pair of USB Type-C ports and a 720p webcam. Additionally, the ROG Flow X13 touts Wi-Fi 6 for blisteringly fast wireless connectivity when used in conjunction with a Wi-Fi 6 router. The 4K 3840 x 2400 edge-to-edge 13.4-inch IPS touchscreen display looks absolutely stunning.

Best Under $500: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 ($331)

At less than $500, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 (also at other retailers) is one of the best ChromeOS devices on the market. In spite of its budget price tag, the Flex 5 offers a 1080p 1920 x 1080 touchscreen. Under the hood, there’s an Intel Core i3-10110U CPU and 4GB of DDR4 RAM. A 64GB eMMC module lets you install apps and programs. 

With a 2-in-1 design, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 doubles as a tablet. A slew of different ports such as a pair of USB-C jacks, a USB Type-A port and 3.5mm headphone jack let you connect an array of peripherals. What’s more, the Chromebook Flex 5 comes outfitted with Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6 for fast wireless speeds. 

Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5 may be budget-priced, but it punches well above its weight class with good build quality, solid computing power and a low price tag. It’s a neat device that provides good usability without breaking the bank.

Best 2-in-1: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ($1,500)

Best 2-in-1: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ($1,500)
Image credit: Dell

Dell’s XPS 13 (also at other retailers) is a gorgeous-looking 2-in-1 laptop that offers tablet functionality. Arriving in a slick chassis, the XPS 13 may be equipped with up to 32GB of LPDDR4X RAM and as large as a 512GB NVMe SSD. Configurable with Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics or a beefier Interl Iris Xe GPU, the XP3 13 is excellent for creatives. 

There are two different screens to pick from: A 13.4-inch 16:10 full HD WLED 1920 x 1200 touch display or a 13.4-inch 16:10 3840 x 2400 4K touchscreen. Either way, the 16:10 aspect ratio affords more screen real estate than a traditional 16:9 13-inch panel. There’s a choice of an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor or an Intel i7-1165G7 CPU. 

With good build quality, 16:10 1080p or 4K screen options, the XPS 13 does just about everything well. It’s lightweight, has a small footprint, comes with a long-lasting battery and includes great graphical performance.

Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano ($1,390)

Best Battery Life: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano ($1,390)
Image credit: Lenovo

For a 12-hour battery that lasts long enough for you to keep working from anywhere, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is a fantastic option. It arrives with a 13-inch 2K 2160 x 1350 display. Powered by an Intel i5-1130G7, Core i7-1160G7 or a Core i7-1180G7 CPU, the X1 Nano packs up to 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD. 

Clocking in at 2.14 pounds, the X1 Nano is pretty easy to tote around. Amenities such as Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 make it an extremely up-to-date laptop. Furthermore, the ThinkPad X1 Nano is Ubuntu Linux certified so you can run many different Linux operating systems (OSes) on the X1 including Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Debian and a host of other Windows alternatives.

Best Thin and Light: Apple MacBook Air ($900)

Best Thin and Light: Apple MacBook Air ($900)
Image credit: Apple

Apple’s MacBook Air (also at other retailers) is a sleek, attractive thin-and-light 13-inch laptop. At its core, you’ll find an Apple M1 chip that delivers improved processing power over its predecessor. Battery life is phenomenal at up to 18 hours and build quality is excellent thanks to an all-metal chassis. Sturdy yet portable at under three pounds, the MacBook Air M1 is a phenomenal ultraportable laptop.

It’s available in several different colors including silver, gray and gold. There’s a choice of up to a 2TB NVMe SSDs and 16GB of RAM. The 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 60Hz Retina display offers pure eye candy visuals. Aside from high-quality construction including a pleasant keyboard, the MacBook Air comes running Apple’s macOS, which provides a user-friendly, polished software experience. 

Connectivity is pretty good with 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, a headphone jack and a pair of Thunderbolt 4 USB ports. The backlit keyboard is comfortable to type on and features good key travel. From hardware to software, the Apple MacBook Air is a lovely, high-end device.

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