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!
Recommendation for January 2021
Contenders For Best 12-Inch Laptop In 2021
Samsung Galaxy Book – 2-in-1 Pick
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.
Recommended configuration for Samsung Galaxy Book
CPU: Intel Core i5-7200U | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12″ 2160×1440 FHD Touch AMOLED Display| Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 1.66 pounds
Dell Inspiron 11 3195 – Best 11.6-Inches Laptop
You’ll be overwhelmed by what you can get for $300 these days. Take the candy-colored Dell Inspiron 11 3195, 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.
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 3195 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.
Recommended configuration for Dell Inspiron 11 3195
CPU: AMD a9-9420e | Graphics: Radeon 5 Graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 11.6″ 1366×768 LED-backlit Touch Display| Storage: 64GB eMMC | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 11 hours | Weight: 4.49 pounds
HP Chromebook – Best For Students
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.
Recommended configuration for HP Chromebook
CPU: Intel Core M3-7Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.3″ 2400×1600 HD Display| Storage: 32GB eMMC | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 13 hours | Weight: 3.06 pounds
Lenovo Miix – Best For Travel
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.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo Miix
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 | Graphics: Adreno 540 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12″ 1920×1080 HD Display| Storage: 128GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 S | Battery Life: 20 hours | Weight: 1.70 pounds
Asus Chromebook Flip – For Business
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.
Recommended configuration for Asus Chromebook Flip
CPU: Intel Core M3 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.5″ 1920×1080 HD Display| Storage: 64GB SSD | Operating System: Chrome OS | Battery Life: 10 hours | Weight: 2.65 pounds
Most 12-Inch laptops lack the power but not with Dell’s Latitude 12 that has a very sleek portable body and powerful configuration which you’ll surely love.
It is more like a hybrid tablet but it is really a laptop that can be used as a tablet, it is also rugged so you can expect it to be compact and build with quality.
Powered by a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM you can surely use this as your primary laptop.
The 12” display is Corning Gorilla Glass so it is a scratch-resistant, the touchscreen is so durable you can have the confidence to let your cats play with it.
Overall this laptop is simply the best 12-inch laptop you can buy at under $500 price tag.
Recommended configuration for Dell Latitude 12
CPU: Intel Core i5-7Y54 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.3″ 2880×1920 HD Corning Gorilla Glass Display| Storage: 256GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 7 hours | Weight: 1.5 pounds
Lenovo Yoga 720 – Powerful 12-Inch Pick
Want an absolute laptop performance in a 12-inch laptop? The Lenovo Yoga 720 is packed with power inside a very small body.
This laptop is powered by a powerful Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM that is more than enough to take on heavy tasks. While the IPS display makes sure you have an immersive viewing experience.
It comes with a stylus that is perfect for artists and others who like to draw digitally, the 512GB SSD is more than enough for your files so maybe you won’t need any extra storage.
The flexible 360-degree hinge allows you to use this as a tablet for a more precise stylus drawing or a more convenient web browsing experience.
In terms of power, the Lenovo Yoga 720 is the most powerful on the list and could be your 2-in-1 laptop.
Recommended configuration for Lenovo Yoga 720
CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5″ 1920×1080 FHD IPS Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 7 hours | Weight: 2.53 pounds
Microsoft Surface Pro – Performance Killer
This powerful offering from Microsoft is undoubtedly the best 12-inch laptop on the list, in terms of power, build and other features, this is one great laptop.
This very portable laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor backed by massive 16GB RAM so you can take on any computing needs.
The stylus pen on this laptop is sold separately but in case you needed it it is worth the money especially if you draw digitally.
This laptop can run on 13.5 hours in a single charge so you can use it for a whole day without the worry of getting out of juice while working.
The display on this laptop is extremely high quality so you can have an immersive viewing experience.
This laptop is surely the ideal 12-inch laptop if you have some spare money to go all out.
Recommended configuration for Microsoft Surface Pro
CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 12.5″ 2736×1824 FHD Display| Storage: 512GB SSD | Operating System: Windows 10 | Battery Life: 13.5 hours | Weight: 1.69 pounds
Picking The Best Ultraportable 12 Inch Laptop in 2021
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!
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 in 2021, and have you seen any others we should be checking out? Sound off in the comments section below!