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Best 13-inch Laptop 2023: The top 5 small clamshell picks

In 2023, the form factor of laptops spans many different designs now, from dual screens and foldables to devices you can easily repair yourself. There’s even 18-inch laptops on the market now, but sometimes all you want is a super portable 13-inch laptop, and we’ve put this expertly-tested guide together to help you out.

There are a huge number of laptops out there, with the likes of Acer, Asus, Lenovo and HP launching multiple models each year, making it difficult for the average person to find the perfect option. That’s why we’ve decided to help and create this best 13-inch laptop list.

When considering a 13-inch laptop, you still have plenty of options, even if the industry seems to be moving towards boosting the popular size up to 14-inches. There are decent picks available from the likes of Dell, MSI, Apple, Asus, Lenovo and more, but this list features the absolute best.

So, how do we decide what warrants a place on this list, as well as our wide range of best lists on Trusted Reviews? All of our picks have been tested by our experts. The testing involves using the devices on a day-to-day basis, just like a typical user, combined with industry-standard equipment to get detailed benchmark results that allow us to compare in detail.

Of course, key information like configurations and pricing are all considered in our reviews as well. This all culminates in a star rating to give a succinct take of our thoughts on the product. You can have the confidence that we’ve put the legwork in.

You’re likely here because you want a compact laptop but, if you’re on the fence and fancy casting your net wider, we’ve also got guides for the best budget laptop, best student laptop, best gaming laptop and the best Chromebook.

Best 13-inch Laptops at a glance

  • Best overall 13-inch laptop: Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) – check price
  • Best luxury 13-inch laptop: Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) – check price
  • Best 13-inch laptop for battery life: MSI Prestige 13 Evo – check price
  • Best thin and light 13-inch laptop: Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) – check price
  • Best 13-inch gaming laptop: Asus ROG Flow X13 (2021) – check price

How we test

Learn more about how we test laptops

Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life. 

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps. 

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device for at least a week to ensure our test is as accurate as possible.

Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022)

Best overall 13-inch laptop
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  • Fantastic performance
  • Sleek, updated design
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Long battery life


  • Expensive starting price and upgrades
  • More colours would have been nice
  • The M1 version remains an excellent buy for less

The Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) is a wondrous all-rounder that’s main flaw is simply the higher price you have to pay for such a pristine package.

When Apple introduced the M1 to the MacBook range, it was quite the revelation but the design sorely needed a boost, and that’s exactly what happened with the 13-inch MacBook Air M2. For your money, the M2 version of the Air offers high-end hardware with a recycled aluminium unibody design. It does drop the famed wedge shape of Air models past but the boxier design is stunning in its own right.

Despite its wonderfully portable size, the MacBook Air M2 manages to pack in plenty of power and battery life. Not only can the M2 comfortably eat up intensive productivity tasks, even creative work like 4K video editing is well within this device’s reach. This is all impressively achieved without a fan too. For battery life, this 13-inch laptop is able to manage upwards of 13-hours.

The 13-inch display is a key part of the redesign from the previous model, donning a 13.6-inch panel to be exact. It does come with a notch but it is easy to ignore and it allows the bezels to be significantly reduced around the rest of the laptop. The IPS LCD QHD+ display offers impressive brightness and strong detail.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022) review

Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023)

Best luxury 13-inch laptop
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  • Exciting modern design
  • Top drawer keyboard and trackpad
  • Bright and rich OLED display
  • Thin and light


  • Performance not competitive with rivals
  • Underside gets warm
  • Poor battery life

The Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) may not quite reach the heights of the industry-topping Dell XPS 13 that dominated the 2010s, but its new design offers an impressive glimpse into the future.

This 13-inch laptop stands out for what you lay your eyes on once you open it up. First, the bottom half offers what Dell calls a lattice keyboard. This essentially means there are no gaps between the keys, and it looks great. Morever, the performance is more than up to standard, offering a typing experience that is up there with the best of them. You then have the invisible haptic trackpad, which has no borders but your muscle memory will do the trick. Not only do these cutting edge features look remarkable, they operate at a high level too.

The display keeps the whole thing rolling, with our review model providing a stunning 3.5K OLED panel. The result is a remarkably accurate display that offers luscious colour and bags of detail. Despite its smaller size, this is absolutely a display you’ll revel in watching video on.

Under the hood, this sleek device is backed up by an Intel Core 13th Gen P-series processors, which adds up to plenty of juice for productivity work and the ability to dabble in creative tasking.

Reviewer: Adam Speight
Full review: Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) review

MSI Prestige 13 Evo (2023)

Best 13-inch laptop for battery life
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  • Strong productivity performance
  • Extremely thin and light
  • Fans rarely get instrusively loud
  • Great keyboard


  • Sub-par display
  • High price
  • Poor webcam

In contrast to our luxury Dell XPS 13 Plus pick, the MSI Prestige 13 Evo is all about function, with strong performance and long battery life.

Getting the negative out of the way, the Prestige 13 Evo certainly doesn’t offer up the fanciest of displays. But it’s a testament to the rest of the device that, if it did, this would likely be a contender for the best laptop around.

Despite being a 13-inch laptop that is impressively thin and light, this MSI Prestige 13 Evo manages to sport very few compromises. The performance here is ideal for productivity users who have several tasks to complete at once or are in need of many tabs being open. The small chassis and power surprisingly doesn’t add up to loud fans or a warm body, with both rarely disturbing you.

The battery life is the star of the show, with this device’s modest 75Wh cell managing close to 16-hours of battery life. That means you’ll be able to get roughly two days of work out of this laptop under the right conditions. The keyboard isn’t compromised either, offering up surprisingly good travel and a satisfying click, though the keys are slightly small.

Reviewer: Adam Speight
Full review: MSI Prestige 13 Evo review

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023)

Best thin and light 13-inch laptop
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  • A near-flawless OLED display
  • Suitable productivity performance
  • Good battery life
  • Jaw-droppingly thin and light


  • Irritating fan noise
  • Battery capacity and graphical power worse than last gen
  • High starting price

Like the Dell XPS 13 Plus, the Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) isn’t the peak device is the range’s history but, in 2023, it remains a strong option.

The Zenbook S 13 OLED really is a sight to behold. The previous model was truly excellent while being impressively thin and light, but the 2023 version takes this even further. This newer laptop revamps the design of the lid, using sustainable materials to create a unique and eye-catching look, and it’s backed up by being just 13.9mm thin and weighing 990 grams.

The 13-inch screen on the Zenbook S 13 OLED is another highlight too, as you might expect from its name. The 16:10 2.8K OLED panel offers an experience that truly defies its smaller size. The resolution means there are tons of detail, the squarer aspect ratio is ideal for productivity and the thin bezels create an immersive vibe. It’s top-notch in terms of colour accuracy and makes watching video a joy.

This laptop won’t knock your socks off in terms of running whisper quiet or having a long battery life but the productivity performance is up to snuff. It largely kept pace with competitors in our benchmarks and you’ll be able to run upwards of 20-25 tabs in Google Chrome with little trouble.

Reviewer: Adam Speight
Full review: Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED (2023) review

Asus ROG Flow X13

Best 13-inch gaming laptop
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  • Superb, versatile design of laptop and dock
  • RTX 3080 delivers great gaming speed
  • GTX 1650 is a solid eSports chip
  • High-quality display


  • Laptop and dock design won’t suit everyone
  • Laptop is sometimes too hot
  • Middling battery life
  • Minimal laptop connectivity

A thin and light 13-inch gaming laptop? No, you aren’t dreaming. The Asus ROG Flow X13 (2021) is our favourite 13-inch gaming laptop, and it isn’t just because it is one of the few devices to warrant this moniker. It is truly impressive in its own right.

The ROG Flow X13 can be viewed in two different ways, either as a thin and light gaming machine that can run the latest games at entry-level settings or, on top of all of that, something to be paired with Asus’ ROG XG Mobile external graphics chip to gives it more performance heft.

The laptop itself is an impressive feat of engineering, managing to offer a lightweight and trim 13-inch design alongside gaming-friendly features. It may not suit serious eSports types but the keyboard is pleasingly crisp and offers surprisingly good travel. The display errs on the side of gaming prowess, with FHD+ resolution alongside a strong 120Hz refresh rate. However, it is 16:10 so it will equally suit productivity tasking.

When paired with an RTX 3080 version of the XG Mobile, this combination managed upwards of 90fps in fidelity-focused titles like Horizon Zero Dawn and Borderlands 3. For those craving higher refresh rates, we managed to hit that 120fps sweet spot in our Dirt Rally test.

Reviewer: Mike Jennings
Full review: Asus ROG Flow X13 (2021) review

We also considered…

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Is 13-inch a good size for a laptop?

It really comes down to personal requirements but there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with a 13-inch laptop. It is likely the ideal size for those who crave portability but still want enough space on a display to get things done.

Is a 13-inch laptop good for students?

It will depend on the requirements of your study but, for writing essays, research and browsing the web, 13-inch laptops offer plenty of room. If you are someone who likes to have windows side-by-side then, if you don’t have easy access to a monitor to pair a 13-inch laptop with, you may want to opt for a larger size.

Specs compared

Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Refresh Rate
Audio (Power output)
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Cinebench R23 multi core
Cinebench R23 single core
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
Geekbench 6 single core
Geekbench 6 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalDiskMark Write Speed
Brightness (SDR)
Black level
Contrast ratio
White Visual Colour Temperature
Adobe RGB
PCMark Battery (office)
PCMark Battery (gaming)
Battery Life
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

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