If you’re in search of a high-quality mini-computer with fast hardware, premium builds, and modern features, then one of the best 12-inch laptops available might be the perfect fit for you. In this detailed guide, we’ll discuss the available options, including convertible and hybrid 12-inches with touchscreens, regular/classic clamshell 12-inch laptops, and 12-inch business ultrabooks.
However, it’s important to note that affordable 12-inches are scarce, with most options in this class targeting a higher price range. So, if you’re on a tight budget, you may want to consider the well-balanced 11 inches that we cover in a separate article.
We have over 10 years of experience reviewing compact laptops and have hands-on experience with most of the devices mentioned here. In fact, I used a 12-inch laptop as my primary device for many years in the past and still believe that many 12-inches provide the ideal balance between size, weight, and features for an ultraportable. So, you can rest assured that this guide isn’t just a superficial article like many others you might find online.
Inn 2023, the best 2-in-1 12-inch mini laptops are predominantly equipped with touchscreens and come in either a tablet with a detachable keyboard folio or a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree screen format. While the former is excellent as a tablet and suitable for desk use, it may not be practical on the lap. The latter is great as a laptop but may not be as convenient in tablet mode due to its increased thickness and weight.
Most 12-inch options available today fall into the first category, with only a few 12-inch convertibles still available, as you will see below.
The Microsoft Surface Pro – A Versatile Device for All Needs
Despite its age, Microsoft’s Surface Pro remains the top choice in its class. The latest iteration, the Surface Pro 7, offers incremental improvements over its predecessors, including updated hardware, better wireless connectivity, and the long-awaited addition of a USB-C port. However, the newer Surface Pro X boasts a slimmer, more modern design.
Nevertheless, the Surface Pro 7 remains a high-quality device, with a construction made entirely of magnesium and a 12.3-inch 3:2 high-resolution screen. The tablet can be used with a pen for drawing and inking, and Microsoft offers a matching keyboard folio in several colors that is an excellent typing experience with illuminated keys and an Alcantara-like finish.
Under the hood, the Surface Pro 7 features an Intel 10th generation platform with improved performance and graphics power compared to previous generations. The base models with Core i3 processors are fanless and quiet, while higher-tier configurations require a fan to stay cool. The tablet’s only downside is the large bezels around the screen, which may seem outdated by modern standards.
The Surface Pro 7 is built with an Intel 10th generation platform, delivering improved performance and graphics power compared to previous generations. The base models with Core i3 processors are fanless and operate quietly, while higher-tier configurations require a fan to prevent overheating.
All variants of the Surface Pro 7 are capable of handling everyday tasks, with the i5/i7 models capable of handling more demanding loads. However, Microsoft still offers a base model with only 4 GB of RAM, which is inadequate even for daily use. It is recommended to choose an 8 GB configuration or even one of the 16 GB variants if it fits your budget, as prices increase quickly when you customize the tablet.
Pricing is a significant factor that may deter some from purchasing a Surface Pro. The base model starts at $799, but that does not include the keyboard folio or the pen, which cost an additional $200 combined. The i5/8GB variant with minimal storage costs $999, while a top-tier model can easily exceed $2000. Microsoft offers bundles and discounts on these MSRP prices, as well as discounts for students/veterans, so it is advisable to take advantage of them if you are interested in purchasing a Surface Pro.
Samsung Galaxy Book2 – The Ideal Choice for Creators
If you are in search of a Windows tablet that caters to the needs of graphics artists, creators, and those who require high-quality pen support, the Samsung Galaxy Book2 is a product that is worth considering. The device comes with a Galaxy Pen that offers improved precision and lower latency than the Surface Pen. This results in a more seamless experience that is comparable to the iPad Pro and its Apple pen. Additionally, the Galaxy Book2 features an AMOLED high-resolution display that boasts excellent contrast and vibrant colors.
You can choose between two hardware options when purchasing the Galaxy Book2: Intel Core or Qualcomm Snapdragon. The Qualcomm option is particularly interesting as it is based on a Qualcomm processor. While most apps will work fine, you may encounter compatibility issues and poor performance with some older or specialized software. However, this variant offers specific advantages, such as improved efficiency and battery life, always-on connectivity, and included LTE, which are all absent in the Surface Pro.
Like the Surface Pro, the Galaxy Book2 is not a budget-friendly product. The Qualcomm variant starts at $999 and includes the Pen and keyboard folio, but only has a 4 GB RAM/128 GB SSD configuration. The Intel variant, on the other hand, is priced at $1299 and higher. However, you can often find both options significantly discounted online. For updated configurations and prices, follow this link.
Simplify Your Daily Tasks with 12-Inch Chromebooks
Chromebooks offer a unique computing experience. They operate on the secure and straightforward ChromeOS and are ideal for tasks such as browsing, video streaming, text editing, and email. Compared to Windows laptops, Chromebooks are faster and easier to use for everyday tasks. This guide provides a better understanding of what to expect from a Chromebook.
However, Chromebooks are not suitable for running specialized Windows software. Although they can run some Windows/Linux apps, there may be compatibility issues and performance sacrifices. Therefore, if you require a computer for specific work/school applications that only work on Windows or for gaming, a Chromebook may not be the best option.
That being said, for the average user who primarily uses the internet, Chromebooks offer excellent value. There are many high-quality Chromebooks of varying types and sizes available, and we have compared and reviewed them in detail in this article.
Below, we have listed some of the best 12-inch touchscreen Chromebooks:
- The Asus Chromebook C302CA is a 12-inch convertible that costs around $400. It boasts of an FHD IPS touchscreen, a premium metallic build, and a backlit keyboard. Although it’s a slightly older model and only has 4 GB of RAM, it’s still competitive and aggressively priced. Check out our full review for more details.
- The Samsung Chromebook Plus is another 12-inch convertible that costs around $420. It’s based on fanless Core M hardware and has a 16:10 IPS display, a non-backlit keyboard, and a smaller 39 Wh battery. It’s a fair alternative if the C302CA is not available in your region.
- The Samsung Chromebook Pro is available for around $500 and is still a 12-inch convertible. It’s slimmer and lighter than the Plus and has a nicer 3:2 screen with EMR support and a built-in pen.
- The HP Chromebook 12 X360 costs around $350 and is an affordable alternative to the Samsung Plus. It has a 3:2 HD+ touchscreen, a convertible form-factor, a backlit keyboard, and a 40Wh battery. It’s based on a lower-tier Pentium hardware platform, so it’s not as snappy as the other options when it comes to multitasking, which is why it’s priced lower.
- The Google Pixel Slate is a 12-inch tablet that costs from $500 and up. It’s similar to the Surface Pro or the Galaxy Book2 and boasts of a high resolution 3:2 screen with EMR pen support, a 47Wh battery, and capable hardware. It’s one of the few Chromebooks you can spec with up to 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage. However, the keyboard folio and pen are not included by default and cost extra.
- The Google Pixelbook is a 12-inch convertible that costs from $900 and up. It’s like the Asus C302CA or the Samsung Pro, but with a much nicer build, keyboard, and 3:2 high-resolution display. It can also be specced with the same RAM and storage options as the Pixel Slate, but it’s an expensive product for what it is, so it’s not for everyone. It’s recommended for power users and those who plan to run Windows/Linux apps alongside the regular ChromeOS capabilities.
HP offers a range of 12-inch Windows tablets, including the Envy X2, Elite X2, and Pro X2.
The Envy X2 comes in two variants: one with a Qualcomm processor that boasts long battery life, LTE connectivity, and always-on functionality similar to the Samsung Galaxy Book2, and another with an Intel Core M processor. The former is priced around $500-$600 with a keyboard included, which is a good deal, but it is not as capable as an Intel/AMD based Windows computer. The Core M variant is available from $850 without the keyboard, which puts it in competition with the Surface Pro.
The Pro X2 is a business-oriented version of the Envy, offering more configurations and additional security features. It has a smaller screen with thicker bezels and a smaller battery, among other differences.
The Elite X2 is the latest addition to HP’s lineup, offering higher-performance Intel Core U processors with SSD storage and a 47 Wh battery. It has the same security features as the Pro X1 but is also the most compact and most expensive of the three, starting at around $1500 at the time of this update.
Dell Latitude 5000 and 7000 2-in-1
Dell has two business-oriented 2-in-1 tablets that closely resemble the HP Elite mentioned earlier. They both feature a 12.3-inch 3:2 display with a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels, along with business-specific features and identical hardware specs (Core U processors, up to 16GB of RAM, SSD storage).
The differences between the two lines are minor and mostly cosmetic. The Latitude 5290 comes in a darker hue, has a slightly flatter keyboard dock, and a 42 Wh battery. It’s also available with lower-end specs. Meanwhile, the Latitude 7200 is more customizable and has a smaller 28 Wh battery. You can find out more about these two devices on Dell’s website or on Amazon.
MacBook by Apple
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