The HP Spectre x360 has an outstanding all-metal body, dazzling touch display, and powerful hardware, making it the best 13-inch laptop you can buy right now.

Update 5 December 2016: This list has been refreshed with a new best 13-inch laptop: the HP Spectre x360. Also new to this list are successors to some of our previous picks from Lenovo and Alienware, as well as the updated HP Spectre.

Best overall

HP Spectre x360

See at HP

The HP Spectre x360 has a fantastic build quality and a chassis that is only 0.54 inches (1.37cm) thick. The 13.3-inch, 1080p touch display works well while in tablet, stand, or tent modes, and the keyboard and touchpad are a joy to use while in notebook mode. Inside you get a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB solid-state drive.

Bottom line: For the best 13-inch laptop, you have to go with the HP Spectre x360.

One more thing: The full review of the HP Spectre x360 has more details to help you decide if it's the laptop for you.

Why the HP Spectre x360 is the best 13-inch laptop

HP's Spectre x360, updated for late 2016, has returned and impressed me all over again.

Everything about the new HP Spectre x360 screams quality. The solid, silver chassis doesn't show most scratches or fingerprints, and is only about a half-inch (1.38cm) thick when closed and weighs just 2.85 pounds (1.3kg). When opening the lid and rotating it back for tent, tablet, or stand modes, the hinges feel solid and there's no unnecessary wiggle.

As far as performance hardware, get up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive. This laptop can handle whatever you throw at it with ease, and with a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, you won't get stuck looking for an outlet.

The 1080p touch display has deep color, excellent viewing angles, and near-perfect contrast. It reaches from edge to edge thanks to a reduced bezel, and the IR camera built into the top of the screen is compatible with Windows Hello for fast, secure sign-ins.

Configurations of the new HP Spectre x360 start at about $1000.

Runner-up

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

See at Dell

The XPS 13's 13.3-inch touch display has up to an 1800p resolution and sits in a chassis that would normally house an 11-inch screen, which results in an almost complete lack of bezel. The new Kaby Lake Intel processors deliver increased performance and better battery life, and 16GB of DDR3 RAM ensures you can power through anything thrown your way. Configurations start at about $800.

Bottom line: The XPS 13, once the best 13-inch laptop you could buy, was only recently bumped off the pedestal by the new HP Spectre x360, so you know they're both quality picks.

One more thing: The solid-state drive in the XPS 13 can be upgraded at a later time if you want to save some money right now.

Best convertible

Lenovo Yoga 910

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The Lenovo Yoga 910 is a convertible laptop that's all about style and performance. The chassis is only 0.56 inches (1.42cm) thick and the entire thing weighs only 3.04 pounds (1.38kg). Configure your Yoga 910 as you see fit; options go up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive. The 13.9-inch touch display comes in 1080p, but for only a few hundred dollars more, you can upgrade to beautiful 4K. Configurations start at about $1050.

Bottom line: For a high-performing convertible with lots of style, go with the Lenovo Yoga 910.

One more thing: Use the built-in fingerprint reader to log in with Windows Hello.

Best gaming

Alienware 13

See at Dell

The updated Alienware 13 is a compact gaming laptop with a lot of power. Get inside an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM — if you're a VR enthusiast, this GPU will run your Rift or Vive without a problem. For a processor, choose up to an Intel Core i7-6700HQ with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, and grab up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM to keep things running smoothly. The 13.3-inch display comes in either 1080p or 768p options depending on your budget. Configurations start at about $1200.

Bottom line: The best 13-inch gaming laptop is the Alienware 13.

One more thing: Grab up to a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive for speedy Windows 10 bootups and for plenty of room to store all your games.

Best for mobility

Samsung Notebook 9

Samsung Notebook 9

See at Amazon

Looking for a 13-inch laptop that fits just about anywhere and weighs almost nothing at all? Look no further. Despite its half-inch (0.27cm) thickness and 1.9-pound (0.86kg) weight, the Samsung Notebook 9 manages to cram in powerful hardware and a battery that will last you upwards of eight hours. You get a 6th-generation Intel Core i5 processor with a 2.3GHz clock speed, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. The LED display has a 1920x1080 resolution that is great to look at, and its brightness and anti-glare coating ensure you can use your laptop in pretty much any setting. This configuration starts at about $940.

Bottom line: For a mobile laptop that doesn't skimp on performance, check out the 13-inch Samsung Notebook 9.

One more thing: A privacy shade keeps your screen exclusive when using your laptop in public.

Best executive

HP Spectre

HP Spectre

See at HP

From start to finish, the HP Spectre screams luxury. The chassis, made from carbon fiber and aluminum, is finished in two tones: luxe copper and matte black. Each key on the keyboard is backlit to match the copper, and the touchpad is made of glass. The entire thing is only 0.4 inches (1.04cm) thick and weighs only 2.45 pounds (1.11kg), and when you close the lid there is no sign of a hinge thanks to the unique piston design. For hardware, get up to a 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive — these specs, combined with the 13.3-inch, 1080p display, equal a beautiful laptop geared toward the executive lifestyle. Configurations start at about $1170.

Bottom line: For the 13-inch laptop that looks like a million bucks but doesn't cost anywhere near, go with the HP Spectre.

One more thing: Audio by Bang & Olufsen delivers a listening experience not usually found in a laptop.

Conclusion

For a great mobile laptop, have a look at the Samsung Notebook 9, and if you're a gamer, you'll love the Alienware 13's customization options and powerful hardware. For a great convertible laptop, go with the Lenovo Yoga 910, and for a luxury laptop geared toward the executive lifestyle, check out the HP Spectre. The Dell XPS 13, once the best 13-inch laptop, is now second only to the amazing new HP Spectre x360.

Best overall

HP Spectre x360

See at HP

The HP Spectre x360 has a fantastic build quality and a chassis that is only 0.54 inches (1.37cm) thick. The 13.3-inch, 1080p touch display works well while in tablet, stand, or tent modes, and the keyboard and touchpad are a joy to use while in notebook mode. Inside you get a 7th-generation Intel Core i7-7500U processor with a clock speed up to 3.5GHz, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to a 1TB solid-state drive.

Bottom line: For the best 13-inch laptop, you have to go with the HP Spectre x360.

One more thing: The full review of the HP Spectre x360 has more details to help you decide if it's the laptop for you.