The Best 13-Inch Laptops of 2010

Asus 13 inch laptop computer

The last couple weeks I have been shopping around for a 13 inch laptop computer that we have been wanting for a while. With both of us working around the house, on a computer, a laptop just comes in quite handy.

Looking for the best laptop I can find

My wife always seems to laugh at how much I research purchases like these, but if I am going to spend my hard-earned money on a laptop, I want to be sure it is the best 13 inch laptop I can find! Thanks to the internet, the info is available, it just needs to be excavated.

So I currently use a Mac Mini as my desktop and we have a 15″ Compaq laptop that still works but has a few quirks that hinder it’s usability. I consider myself a Mac convert, because prior to our Mac-Mini purchase, I only had PCs. The purchase of my first Mac really changed things. They are pretty awesome. If money weren’t an issue I would have instantly bought the 13″ Macbook Pro, but when there are so many other much cheaper 13″ laptops, I needed to research the other ones to make the best purchase.

I read a bunch of forum posts and other reviews of  laptops and from what I read these seem to be the best 13 inch laptops of 2010. The notebooks are listed in order of price from high to low.


Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch)

Macbook Pro - the best 13 inch laptopBest Deal: $1135

Learn More: Apple MacBook Pro MC374LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop

If you read many reviews you will see the MacBook Pro often sitting in the top of the list. From a recent Consumer Reports list I saw the MacBook Pro topped the list. If you want to get opinions from actual users check out the reviews over at Amazon.

MSNBC had this to say about the Macbook Pro…

“Elegant and powerful. As much as we like the plastic $999 MacBook, this thin-and-light 4.5-pound laptop is worth the splurge. It has the same sturdy and elegant aluminum unibody construction as its predecessor, plus a backlit keyboard and SD Card slot. And now it packs a faster 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor and double the graphics performance, courtesy of an Nvidia GeForce GT 320M GPU. Better yet, it lasts nearly 8 hours on a charge. Add in Apple’s easy-to-use Snow Leopard OS — and the ability to install Windows if you want — and you have a near-perfect portable.”

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 250 GB Hard Drive, 8x DVD/CD SuperDrive, 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 13.3 inch LED-backlit display, 1280-by-800 resolution
  • NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics processor with 256 MB of shared memory

ASUS U30JC-A1

Asus 13 inch laptop computerFind At: $999

Learn More: ASUS U30JC-A1 13.3-Inch Laptop

The Asus was listed as one of MSNBC’s best back-to-school computers of 2010. They say this about it…

“The U30Jc is decked out in a cool brushed aluminum chassis and comes with crisp Altec Lansing speakers. Other key specs include an Intel Core i3-350M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320GB The storage device that holds your OS, programs, and data.”

  • Intel Core i3-350M Processor (2.26 GHz)
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® 310M Graphics Engine with 512MB DDR3 Dedicated VRAM
  • 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz DRAM
  • Wireless 802.11 b/g/n
  • 320GB Hard Drive (5400 RPM); Super Multi Optical Disk Drive
  • 0.3MP Webcam
  • HDMI Port

Apple MacBook

Macbook - one of the top laptop computersBest Deal: $949

Learn More: Apple MacBook MC516LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop

Just like the MacBook Pro above, the Amazon reviews of this computer really say a lot.

  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, NVIDIA Graphics
  • 250GB Hard Drive, 8x Double-layer SuperDrive, 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 10-hour Battery Life, Glass Multi-Touch Trackpad

Sony Vaio 13.3

Sony Vaio 13 inch laptopAs Cheap As: $899

Learn More: Sony VAIO VGN-SR410J/H 13.3-Inch Laptop

In reading reviews in a few different forums, it seems that many Sony Vaio users are as passionate as the average Mac user. A lot of people had good things to say about the Sony Vaio, although the Amazon reviews don’t really reflect that.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 Processor (2.10GHz)
  • 320GB Hard Drive with G-Sensor Shock Protection, DVD Double Layer Drive
  • 4 MB SODIMM Ram

Toshiba – Portege Laptop

Toshiba Portege R705-P25 Notebook ComputerAs Cheap As: $799

Learn More: Toshiba Portege R705-P25

One of the things this one has going for it is that it was the CNET editors choice. Here is what they have to say about it…

“Different users have different needs, budgets, and expectations, and tomorrow’s technology threatens to make any just-purchased laptop semi-obsolete before it even comes out of its cardboard box. That said, the new Toshiba Portege R705 comes about as close as anything we’ve seen this year, offering a great mix of price, design, features, and performance.”

  • Intel® Core™ i3 Processor
  • 4GB Memory
  • 500GB Hard Drive

Asus UL30VT-X1K

Asus 13 inch Laptop ComputerAs Cheap As: $735

Learn More: ASUS UL30VT-X1K Thin and Light 13.3-Inch Laptop with Kindle for PC

This Asus is one of the best reviewed 13 inch laptops on Amazon.

  • 1.3GHz Intel SU7300 Core 2 Duo Processor; Kindle for PC pre-loaded
  • 4GB of DDR3 RAM, 2 slots, 4GB Max
  • 500GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM); No optical drive
  • NVidia G210M Graphics with 512MB DDR3 + Intel GMA 4500MHD (Switchable VGA)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth; .3mp webcam; Windows 7 Home Premium Operating System (64 bit); up to 11 hours of battery life

TOSHIBA Satellite U505-S2005

Toshiba Satellite U505 Laptop ComputerAs Cheap As: $729

Learn More: Toshiba Satellite U505-S2005 TruBrite 13.3-Inch Laptop

  • 2.13GHz Intel Core i3-330M Processor
  • 4GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM Memory
  • 500GB Serial ATA Hard Disk Drive (5400RPM)
  • DVD SuperMulti Drive with Labelflash
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge LaptopAs Cheap As: $703

Learn More: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 019624U 13.3-Inch Laptop

  • 1.3GHz Intel SU7300 Core 2 Duo ULV Processor; 3MB L2 Cache; 800MHz FSB Speed
  • 3GB PC3-8500 1066MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 320GB (7200RPM) SATA Hard Drive
  • Windows 7 Professional

Dell Inspiron i14R

Dell 14 inch laptop computerAs Cheap As: $633

Learn More: Dell Inspiron i14R-1761MRB 14.1-Inch Laptop

This one is actually 14 inches, but since it is so close I thought I’d include it. MSNBC says this about it…

“Who needs cable? This 14-inch notebook does something that will make your student smile—and potentially save you money. Intel’s Wireless Display technology lets users beam Hulu, YouTube, and any other Web video to the big screen from across the room.”

  • 2.13GHz Intel Pentium Core i3-330M processor with 3MB cache
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz
  • 500GB, 5400 RPM hard drive; 8x Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics and 14-inch High-Definition WLED
  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium

Toshiba Satellite T235D

Toshiba Satellite 13.3 inch notebook computerAs Cheap As: $587

Learn More: Toshiba Satellite T235D-S1345 TruBrite 13.3-Inch Ultrathin Laptop

  • 1.5 GHz AMD Athlon II Neo dual-core processor K625 (2 MB L2 cache)
  • 320 GB SATA hard drive (5400 RPM)
  • 4 GB of installed DDR3 RAM (expandable to 8 GB)
  • ATI Radeon HD 4225 graphics card

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9 Comments
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  1. You can routinely find the Asus UL30 series laptops for around $650 depending on the graphics card selection. Just be careful with the specs and the model names. There are lots of variants, some worth the extra money, some not. For example, the one you listed with Kindle for PC is just extra free software. It’s not worth any extra, but for some reason, it gets marked down in price often. IMO, the extra graphics support isn’t worth the money most of the time, and for most people. Try Amazon for those.

    I also recommend the Lenovo U350 series. I’ve had one for a year or so, and it has been great to me. Again, watch the specs on those too. Don’t buy them through Lenovo. Look for a deal through the online retailers. I think I got mine through a CircuitCity (owned by tigerdirect now) for about $600 after some cash back incentive things. I don’t really like the think pads much.

  2. Have you looked at the refurbished section of the Apple website? They currently have a 13 inch Macbook Pro listed for $929. Not the cheapest laptop on the market, but it will save you $270 on this particular configuration:

    http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/mac?mco=OTY2ODY3Nw

  3. Charles Anderson

    Don’t overlook Refurbished units. I bought my son a 13″ MacBook pro for $929. This was an Apple refurb with full 1 year warranty. With the apple care (3 year warranty) $249, it cost the same as a new 13″ MacBook Pro

    My Recommendations.
    Save your money and buy the one you really want. Otherwise you will regret it every-time you use the laptop as you will not be satisfied. Buy the 3 years of warranty, keep the packaging, and sell it 2.5 years later. And go again. If you are using this as part of your livelyhood, you need something relatively current. Upgrading regularly would be part of the cost of doing business.

    I also own a Mini. I did not buy the warranty on it. In my experience circuit boards fail right away, or last along time. The parts that fail in years 2 – 5 are batteries, screens, and power supplies. These are cheap on desktop machines but very expensive on laptops. Plus laptops take more abuse.

    Just my opinion.

  4. Thanks for all the research! My computer is really limping (7 years old) and I know the time is coming soon to replace it. I was dreading doing the research which is like trying to read a foreign language to me. Just show me the on button….

  5. Totally agree with the commenters who say save up and get what you really want. It was hard for me to buy a Mac Pro knowing there were cheaper options out there, but there’s so much you can’t see in the specs. I use a Mac at work and know how easier they are to use and how much less hassle they are overall. I decided to wait longer and save up more than spend the next 3-5 years saying “Gee, I wish I’d bought the one I really wanted”.

  6. Cynthia Marshall

    Why buy a refurbish laptop for just a much money as a brand new one. I’m also in the market for a new laptop I will be a first time buyer and confused as to which will suit me best. Since they all need upgrading in a few months and why is the MacBook pro gb memory so low compare to the Sony vaio

  7. Macs are PC’s too.

    PC stands for personal computer.

  8. What are operating system that those laptops are using when you buy it?
    There are also nice laptops and can be consider best also with low prices. Remember that not all people can afford to buy laptops with the amount stated above.

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