It wasn’t that long ago that 12 inch laptops weren’t even a category that existed! Now they’ve muscled their way to overtake larger computers, offering plenty of power in a portable package.
Looking to replace your bulky old machine with a sleek, slim, and powerful notebook? We’ve got you covered with a breakdown of the five best 12 inch laptops available on the market!
Picking The Best Ultraportable 12 Inch Laptop
At this size, your options open up considerably over the smaller 11 inch style. While still incredibly thin and light, you can find some really high end machines here.
To pick the right 12 inch laptop, you should focus on what your typical daily computer tasks will entail.
Are you mostly sending emails? Do you need to run memory-intensive Windows software? Are you more comfortable scribbling notes with a stylus instead of typing?
Most laptops with the 12 inch range will feature a hybrid design, so they can be used as a touch screen tablet or set into an angle like a normal notebook.
Beyond that similarity, you can find laptops at this size in nearly every possible hardware configuration. Let’s take a look at what’s available and help you find the best option!
In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research
The best laptop simply got even higher. Not only did Dell outfit the 2019 XPS 13 with a new Intel Whiskey Lake processor, but it also fixed one of the most annoying flaws of its predecessor. No longer does its digital camera point up until your nose, as Dell’s engineers found a way to fit its webcam in a still-small top bezel. While the 4K model we tested offered lower battery life than others may need, we expect longer endurance on the model with a 1080p display..
The Lineup At A Glance
The Contenders For Best 12 Inch Laptop
1. Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch – For 2-in1
The Samsung Galaxy Book can be a portable, 12-inch notebook with a fantastic display and short battery life.
- Gorgeous Super AMOLED display
- Strong performance
- Responsive keyboard
- Convertible design
- Mediocre battery life
- Lack of design
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3.1GHz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 4GB DDR3-1866 SDRAM | Screen: 12-inch, Full HD+ (2,160 x 1,440) Super AMOLED touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 3 hours | Weight: 1.66 lbs
The Galaxy Book 12 is not only bigger at 12 inches but also more explicit. Plus, it uses Samsung’s own coveted Super AMOLED technology, for exceptional variation and color reproduction. Speaking of which, the bigger Galaxy Book even offers 10-bit HDR support.
Samsung is hoping the Galaxy Book 12-inch will catch your eye out of a growing market, promising the newest in digital S Pen technology and a lot of processing power than you would possibly anticipate from such a thin slate.
It actually feels the part. In contrast to the glass-bodied, Samsung has opted for brushed metal for the Galaxy Book. It’s a clean, minimalistic style, and fairly light-weight too complete with the keyboard hooked up, it undercuts the Surface Pro 4 slightly. That’s despite Samsung having a slightly larger battery.
The cover itself strives to strike a balance between usability and convenience, although it’s not entirely successful. The keys have plenty of travel and are easy to type on, while the trackpad – although smaller than some Windows notebooks – is very responsive.
We can’t honestly suggest any specific flaw in the new pair of Samsung Galaxy Books. For what they are, they do seem to offer a pretty compelling package. Unless you’re extremely into Samsung products and will make liberal use of Samsung’s Galaxy phone-exclusive syncing and biometric login features (Samsung Flow), there aren’t several compelling goals to pick up the Galaxy Book over similarly priced competitors. After all, the Surface Pro 4 offers biometric login through its own IR camera at no extra cost.
2. Dell Inspiron 11 3000 11.6 inches Laptop – Below $300
- Fantastic battery life
- Amazingly low price
- Solid audio
- Dim display
CPU: AMD Dual-Core A9-9420e Processor, 2.60GHz | Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 Graphics: AMD Radeon R5 Graphics| RAM: 4GB DDR4 SDRAM | Screen: 11.6 inches HD 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution | Storage: 500GB HDD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 13 hours | Weight: 4.7 lbs
You’ll be overwhelmed by what you can get for $199 these days. Take the candy-colored Dell Inspiron 11 3000, an 11-inch notebook with significant battery life and solid audio. The display is on the dim side, but overall, this Dell is a great choice for a secondary machine.
Dell presents the plastic Inspiron 11 3000 in kid-friendly red, white and blue designs. We tend to test the former, which is a shade that reminds me of a kid’s race-car bed.
The notebook’s bright lid attracts as many eyes as fingerprints (tons) with a matte, off-tone Dell logo in the center of its lid. Inside, the power button is located near the top-right corner of a recessed full-size keyboard.
One of the things that actually stands regarding the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is its design. This machine comes in a sleek, durable design with the matte Dell logo on the center of its glossy lid. The power button is dextrously located on the top right corner of the laptop’s full-sized keyboard.
You can choose the Dell Inspiron in red, blue, or white colors. However, you should consider giving the white version a wide berth because this hue tends to show all kinds of scuffs. The Inspiron buttonless touchpad certainly tracked my input and recognized three-finger Windows 10 app navigation gestures.
3. HP 2-in-1 12.3 Chromebook – For Students
- Bright, high-res display
- All-day battery life
- Solid audio
- Comfortable typing experience
- A bit heavier than other convertibles
- Thick bezels
- Short Storage
CPU: Intel Core M3-7Y30 Dual Core | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 4 GB LPDDR3-1600 SDRAM | Screen: 12.3 inches HD 2400 x 1600 Pixels Resolution | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 13 hours | Weight: 3.06 lbs
As the public welcomes Chrome OS, OEMs have started to incorporate Google’s operating system into their merchandise in new ways. Soon, Chromebooks won’t be just the cheap laptops you buy for your kids as an alternative to a costlier macOS or Windows machine—or for yourself as a secondary device.
HP’s Chromebook x2 is one amongst the first higher-end Chrome OS devices to come out, not to mention one of the first Chrome OS tablets available.
HP designed the Chromebook x2 to dignify the Chrome OS knowledge, similarly to how Google’s own Pixelbook handles the OS. The x2 is constructed with premium materials and filled with higher internals than most Chromebooks, making it a good choice for Chrome OS enthusiasts.
At a high price for the tablet plus its keyboard and stylus, the Chromebook x2 isn’t trying to be the most affordable Chromebook—rather, it’s making an attempt to appeal to those who want a premium Chromebook that balances style, versatility, and power.
Aside from Google’s Pixelbook, the Chromebook x2 is the most luxurious Chrome OS device you’ll ever hold. The tablet’s weightiness would strike you as soon as you took it out of the box, and its metal edges merged with ceramic white back finish make it a very attractive device.
HP finished the white color using the identical anodized electrodeposition method used in previous Spectre laptops, proving that the company didn’t cut any corners, instead of breaking the plastic-clamshell shackles that once restrained Google’s operating system.
4. Lenovo Miix 630 Laptop – Travel Buddy
The Miix 630 looks and feels like an incredibly luxurious Windows tablet, with excellent portability and connectivity options. The incredible battery life promises are another major plus.
- Beautiful look and feel
- Excellent included accessories
- Massive battery life potential
- Comfortable typing experience
- Tiny port selection
- Thick bezels
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 | Graphics: Adreno 540 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12 inches HD 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution | Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 S | Battery Life: 20 hours | Weight: 1.70 lbs
Unlike the bulk of laptops and tablets at CES 2018, the Miix 630 could be a whole-cloth overhaul on an existing brand instead of a refinement. Gone is the kickstand with the watchband hinge on the backside of the device, and a new keyboard cover that bends in the rear to assist the device.
Regardless, the tablet feels improbably well-built and looks plenty sleek in its Iron Grey-colored, 12.3 inches metal frame. The actual fact that this device looks and feels just as premium as, say, the Surface Pro is proof of how serious Lenovo is about this new type of Windows device.
Lenovo has added one USB-C 3.1 port, an SD card reader, a Nano SIM card slot and an audio combo jack. Thankfully, the USB-C port can support several display standards and up to 4K resolution, but you’re almost positively going to need a USB-C hub if you’re looking to do serious work at the desk with this machine.
We’ve yet to be able to fully test a Windows laptop or tablet running on Qualcomm’s smartphone processor. However, we’re anticipating rather sick battery life numbers. That’s because Lenovo isn’t the first device maker to promise 20 hours of battery life from one of these.
At any rate, we’re majorly excited by the Snapdragon push into Windows 10, and this looks like one of the strongest devices in the fleet so far.
5. Asus C302CA-DHM4 Chromebook Flip 12.5-Inch – Good For Business
Even after all this time, the Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is still worthy of its premium stature with a dazzling screen, tactile keyboard and classy design that’s equally as comfortable to use in tablet mode or as a traditional laptop.
- Elegant tablet mode
- Gorgeous vivid screen
- Tactile keyboard
- Middling speakers
- The battery is not so lasting
- Storage is very less
CPU: Intel Core M3 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.5 inches HD 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution | Storage: 64GB SSD | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.65 lbs
The Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is everything we have a tendency to ever need in a very premium Chromebook.
Despite the fact that the intention of the “premium Chromebook” has been kicked around since Google first advertised the Chromebook, it wasn’t until we got our hands on the Chromebook Flip that we saw the purpose perfectly done.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s one of the best Chromebooks around – even after all these years since its original release.
Like the Asus Chromebook C100 before it, the Asus Chromebook Flip is fitted in an all-aluminum chassis, though this time it comes with an anodized finish slightly than a brushed texture.
Overall, it has a clean, no-nonsense look, and folds up to a nearly symmetrical slab of metal.
Luckily, the first Chromebook C100’s long, bar-shaped hinge has been succeeded by the ZenBook Flip UX360’s multi-gear, metal mechanism. These two smaller joints facilitate this laptop to feel less like a toy and also allows it to look like a regular notebook.
What’s The Point Of Picking A 12 Inch Model Over Any Other Size?
Like with an Android tablet or an 11 inch hybrid Chromebook, the big draw here is in the portability aspect.
All of our contenders listed above tend to be around the same weight and profile size as the smaller 11 inch machines. They are often closer in size to a tablet than a full laptop.
A single inch can make a huge difference in performance, however! There’s a clear increase in specs at the 12 inch size over smaller machines.
With more room to pack in extra hardware, you typically get 8GB of RAM at this size. You’ll also notice much newer processors that can provide increased speed.
When you hit the more expensive models, storage capacities absolutely skyrocket. You won’t typically see 512GB SSDs in 11 inch machines, but you can get that level of storage space in a 12 inch.
What Are The Potential Downsides To Compact 12 Inch Computers?
First and foremost, you will pay a premium for the compact, lightweight design of these slim profile machines.
In many cases, you will actually end up spending more on a 12 inch device while getting lower specs over larger laptops. The draw here is the light weight and ease of carrying over high end hardware.
If you go with a 13 – 15 inch model, you can typically find units with more RAM, faster processors, and larger drives — and all at the same or even lower pricing.
As with most other ultrabooks, 12 inch devices typically aren’t designed for user upgrades. When you a buy one of these models, you will have the same internal RAM and hard drive for the machine’s entire life cycle.
What If I Don’t Want A Touch Screen Laptop?
The vast majority of 12 inch notebooks will feature touch screens, and many will also include a 2-in-1 design.
Whether they have a 360 degree hinge or a detachable keyboard, computers at this size are meant to be used in multiple configurations.
With the increased portability of an ultrabook, it makes sense to include the touch feature. From tapping icons on an app to jotting notes with a stylus, smaller screens just work better for touch displays.
Not all users need that functionality, however. Office settings may not require any touch screen apps, and if you prefer typing with a keyboard you may never use the touch display.
If you want the more typical clamshell design, you can find some older HP EliteBook models at 12 inches that lack the touch screen.
In most instances though, you’d be better off getting a larger laptop if you need to ditch the touch feature.
Finding A High End Laptop In A Compact Size
As our five contenders should have made clear, you don’t have to sacrifice power to get an extremely portable and lightweight computer.
What do you think of our picks for the best 12-inch laptop available in this year, and have you seen any others we should be checking out? Sound off in the comments section below!