When Jonathan Swift wrote his classic book, Gulliver’s Travels, he couldn’t have known how important all things dwarf-sized would become in the future. Or maybe he did. In the contemporary world, mini-sized laptops are all the rage, especially among working professionals and students.
It is incredibly convenient to lug around a powerful but compact 12” laptop that does everything you need without the bulk. Aside from being lightweight and immensely portable, 12-inch laptops also offer flexibility of use. Most of these computers can be used as regular laptops as well as tablets or even full-purpose desktops.
If you’re on the lookout for a mini laptop that is equal parts stylish and powerful, a 12-inch machine can be an ideal choice. Many picks from this bucket offer a sound, high-performing processor, a vivid display, and a beautifully constructed exterior.
However, 12” laptops are increasingly becoming more expensive, and few choices remain in the under $800 price range.
In fact, most competing brands are targeting the elitist price tiers and vying with each other to produce a device that surpasses its peers. (So, if you’re on a tight budget and do not mind compromising a little on the CPU-prowess and the display-brilliance, consider looking at an 11-inch laptop instead.)
In this article, we have a ready-reckoner on the top ten 12-inch laptops in the marketplace today. This guide will help you make a considered purchase decision that aligns well with your needs. But first, let us study some of the nuances of this interesting product line that you should be well-versed with before spending the big bucks.
- Do You Really Need a 12-Inch Laptop? Why Not Get a Bigger One?
- Our Picks: 10 Best 12 Inch Laptops 2021
- 1. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go (Most Recommended)
- 2. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 2-in-1 12-inch laptop
- 3. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 XE520QAB-K03US
- 4. HP Chromebook X360 12-Inch Touchscreen Laptop
- 5. Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1 12-inch Business Detachable Laptop
- 6. Samsung XE520QAB-K02US Chromebook Plus V2
- 7. Google Pixel Slate 12.3-Inch 2 in 1 Laptop Tablet
- 8. Samsung Chromebook Pro
- 9. XIDU Tour Pro 12-inch Touchscreen Laptop
- 10. Apple MacBook 12 Inch
- Features to Look Out for in a Quality 12-Inch Laptop
- Final Words
Do You Really Need a 12-Inch Laptop? Why Not Get a Bigger One?
Typically, 2-in-1 laptops are pricier than their larger counterparts. You might find a 15-inch laptop at a much lower price than you would pay for your 12-inch notebook.
Why not just get the former then? You would also be getting home more screen space and power, right? Here’s the deal: 12-inch laptops rule the roost when it comes to portability and comfort.
If you’re a working professional or student, you will be working out of the office/classroom, and it will be a pain to lug around a bulky, 15-inch machine that neither fits on your lap nor slides into your backpack.
Even if you intend to use your machine at home or a stationary workstation, you need a computer that you can shift to a power station, when required, or place on the kitchen counter when you need entertainment while cooking.
In fact, 12-inch laptops were designed to cater to the rising need for mobility and detachment. Most of these machines weigh 2–3lbs and provide long-lasting battery backup ranging from 8–13 hours or more.
This will last you for the bulk of your workday and not have you fretting about wires, power cords, and aching shoulders.
As time goes on, the world is only going to become more virtual and fast-moving—a dynamic you can capture with a computer that understands you need to get going and how.
Our Picks: 10 Best 12 Inch Laptops 2021
For the users who are always on the go and need a device that they can carry without any hassle, these are some of the best 12-inch laptops 2021 with a compact and lightweight design.
|Best 12-inch Laptop – Recommended Specs|
|Processor||10th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU|
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics|
|Memory||8GB LPDDR4x RAM|
|Display||12.4″ FHD Display|
|Weight||Under 3 lbs.|
|Battery||Up to 13 Hours|
|OS||Windows 10 Home in S Mode|
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go (Most Recommended)
Price: Starting at $699 | Lightest 12-incher at 2.44lbs; signature style that stands apart
How can Microsoft stay far behind when the marketplace is being captured by 12-inch laptops that are enthralling audiences the world over?
The Microsoft Surface Laptop Go, a stylish laptop available in platinum, blue and sandstone, is driven by an tenth-gen Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 10—a compelling package for non-stop productivity on the go.
It weighs only – hold your breath – 2.44lbs and delivers a battery backup of 13 hours.
Microsoft has constructed this Surface with such care that the results seem, well, effortless. You can transition from laptop to studio or tablet in a blink, thanks to the inbuilt kickstand and innovative design. When you’re on the run, simply use Cortana—Microsoft’s very own digital assistant—to issue voice commands and get going.
Alongside the mobility is a rock-solid processor that supports all your day-to-day pursuits without, as the saying goes, batting an eyelid.
This laptop is equipped with 8GB RAM and up to 256GB of storage space (SSD). This means you can store anything and everything you need without running short on space. And if you do, you can employ the microSD slot to get more.
How’s the display? If the exterior got your hopes up, let them skyrocket with zero hesitation. The Surface offers a glorious PixelSense display with Intel UHD Graphics 620, Surface Pen compatibility, and a screen resolution of 1536 x 1024. The aspect ratio is 3:2.
In the realm of connectivity and device support, this 12-inch laptop is well-endowed. You get one USB-C port, a USB-A port, a front-facing camera (720p HD), 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0. When you get a 12-inch laptop that offers the security and dependability of Microsoft paired with such unhindered mobility, you know you’re onto something.
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 2-in-1 12-inch laptop
When talking about compact and lightweight devices, there’s nothing that beats the amazing range of devices from Microsoft.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is one of the best options around, especially with the thin, lightweight and portable design.
The next-gen design is one of the best around, enabling the users to convert their laptop into a tablet whenever needed.
Better than its precursor launch, the Surface Pro 7 is powered by the 10th Gen Intel Core Processor, redefining performance and all-day productivity without any stops. This standout design of the device also just weighs 1.70 pounds, providing the users with 10.5 hours of battery backup.
As for the display, it is equipped with a 12.3” touchscreen display and the latest model is backed with 256GB SSD for storage and 16GB RAM for memory options. It also features a matte black design for a sleek look.
3. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 XE520QAB-K03US
Next up on the list is a Chromebook. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is a handy little laptop that you can slip into your backpack with ease and without any hassle at all.
For a convertible laptop, it stands out with its sleek and lightweight design. It also has a flexible hinge that makes it easier for you to convert into a tablet as per your convenience.
The device is powered by the Intel Celeron Processor 3965Y that helps you get things done without any damper. It is also backed with powerful battery backup, which again is a reason enough for making the purchase. The built-in pen in the device adds a magnitude of benefits for the user.
The dual camera feature is also quite unique, enabling the users to capture some sleek and crisp shots. The device is backed with 4GB RAM and 64GB in-built memory which can be expanded up to 400GB with an SD card, if needed.
4. HP Chromebook X360 12-Inch Touchscreen Laptop
Another Chromebook with a compact 12” touchscreen display is the HP Chromebook X360.
From reliable performance to expansive display, the device features everything that you’d probably want in a highly functional yet compact laptop.
The device comes with a flexible hinge and convertible design that enables you to switch things up to four different modes.
The model is powered by the Intel Celeron N4000 processor with 2.6GHz burst frequency for unmatched and uninterrupted performance. It is equipped with a 12” HD touchscreen display that enables you to get your work done smoothly without any issues.
Coming round to the storage and memory, the device is integrated with 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC for storage. The model is available in a Ceramic white design, which can be a little hard to maintain but worth the price anyway.
5. Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1 12-inch Business Detachable Laptop
Last on the list is the New Latitude 7210 from Dell. It is available in several different size variants ranging up to 14”.
It is likely one of the bestselling detachable business laptop that you can find in the market that comes with a stunning, sleek and lightweight design.
The device is designed with built-in AI that makes your life a lot easier beyond comprehension.
It is powered by up to 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10810U processor with the Intel UHD graphics for crisp and clear visuals. As for the storage, the device is backed with up to 1TB SSD for storage, which is nothing short of amazing.
It is an expensive device for the kind of features you get but with the reliability and the compact design with such high-end features, you wouldn’t complain about it in the long run.
6. Samsung XE520QAB-K02US Chromebook Plus V2
Price: Under $500 | A well-rounded 12” laptop with an adaptable stylus and 13MP camera
If Chromebooks catch your fancy, this temptingly priced Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 will definitely have you salivating.
It is a deft 2-in-1 (laptop and tablet) driven by an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage space.
The inbuilt memory, although low, should suffice for documents, photos, decks and spreadsheets that you need frequently.
It is possible to expand on this with a microSD card. Since this Chromebook weighs only 2.98lbs and lasts unplugged for 10 hours, it’s comfortable to take with you as you get through your day.
In terms of the display, you can look forward to a WUXGA LED screen with an FHD resolution (1900 x 1200). The display can be rotated a complete 360 degrees, which means you can easily share your screen with peers and colleagues.
The hallmark, however, is definitely its built-in pen that transforms your device from a computer to a notebook, a scratchpad, or a whimsical record-book for your doodles. The pen is amazingly responsive with support for 4096 levels and—believe it or not—doesn’t need to be charged.
Samsung has another cherry on the cake to offer with the Chromebook Plus V2 – a gorgeous auto-focus 13MP camera. This laptop also comes with two inbuilt USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a microSD card reader, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
Chromebooks have cemented their reputation as dependable, mobile devices that adapt perfectly to multiple uses in the classroom, office, and public transport alike.
This Samsung Chromebook is an inexpensive pick with decent processing strength and a convenient stylus-friendly display–not a combination that’s commonly available in this price range.
7. Google Pixel Slate 12.3-Inch 2 in 1 Laptop Tablet
The Google Pixel Slate 12.3-Inch 2 in 1 can be an excellent choice, especially if you are scouting for a highly portable laptop that is a brilliant traveler.
At 1.59lbs and 0.3”, this is one of the lightest and slimmest 12” laptops you can find in the marketplace.
While it is straightforward and convenient to use this device, you will need to purchase a keyboard and stylus separately if you want the complete experience.
Powering this laptop is an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB of storage space. It is tailor-made for multitasking with a wide variety of useful tools like split-screen and multi-window browsing.
Since the Google Assistant is inbuilt, it is simple to get through your day with all the answers you need. An intuitive night light lets you wind down at the end of it all.
It also helps that the device automatically updates itself (in the background), which ensures you have access to the best features for productivity at all times.
If you were worried that Google must have skimped on the display to keep things sleek, get prepared to be astonished. The Google Pixel Slate actually prioritizes amazing multimedia experiences.
The display is molecular, supporting 6-million pixels and an aspect ratio of 3:2. You can enjoy a meticulous rendition of colors and details when you use this laptop/tablet for viewing your favorite content.
The sound system matches up too, with the two front-firing speakers delivering great-quality audio. You can easily use this device for watching movies or sitting back and flipping through your cherished videos.
8. Samsung Chromebook Pro
Price: Under $600 | Stunning Quad HD display and backlit keyboard at an affordable price
The second Samsung Chromebook on this list, this laptop brings together some of the choicest features you seek in a compact laptop: feather-light weight (2.4lbs), ultra-thin profile (0.55”), and gorgeous display (2400 x 1600).
Priced affordably at under-$600, the Samsung Chromebook Pro is fueled by an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB RAM, and 32GB of storage space. This is considerably lighter than the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2; the screen resolution is also more optimal and detailed.
As is expected from Chromebooks, this 2-in-1 is highly responsive and efficient. Its ChromeOS lends it the power to respond instantly and offer you a vast world of productivity apps on Google Play Store.
The operating system updates automatically and comes with inbuilt virus protection. Note that the battery backup is a tad lower than in #3 at about nine hours.
The Quad HD display is a clear winner. The wide aspect ratio (3:2) lets you dive deep into the imagery, and the Gorilla Glass construction keeps the screen safe as you travel.
You can use the stylus to doodle, take notes, or sketch; the experience is supremely comfortable. Plus, since the display can be rotated to a full 360 degrees, you can easily share the screen with peers at work or school.
Here’s the best part about this 12” laptop: its willingness to stretch the boundaries. Even though it’s such a lightweight, tiny computer, it lets you use a full-purpose keyboard. The keyboard is backlit, so you’re unfazed by low-lighting conditions. It is equipped with two USB-C ports that you can use for superfast data transfer and external displays (4K), a 720p webcam, and a microSD card reader.
Keep this Chromebook Pro high up in your list if a dazzling display and commendable overall performance occupy center-stage among your priorities in a 12-inch laptop.
9. XIDU Tour Pro 12-inch Touchscreen Laptop
Price: Around $400 | Cheapest 12-inch laptop
Yes, that price tag is for real. The XIDU Tour Pro 12.5″ touchscreen laptop fits the bill if you covet a 12-inch laptop with commendable processing, quality graphics, and pricing that feels too good to be true.
It is driven by an Intel Celeron 3867U processor and 8GB RAM.
It offers a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 which is divine for all multimedia pursuits such as watching movies or browsing through photographs. The laptop weighs only 2.5lbs and is 0.6” thick—a configuration that is designed for glitch-free portability.
While the processing front is quite sound, offering Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz, the memory on offer is rather low—128GB of eMMC storage space. (You can extend this through the microSD card slot, but you might be disappointed if inbuilt memory is your thing.)
The battery life is also a slight downer—only about six hours. However, you can stay connected with the world for most of that duration through two USB 3.0 ports, a mini HDMI port, a microSD card slot, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
At this delight of a price tag, the XIDU tour pro manages to pack in quite a punch with premium features.
For instance, it offers a backlit keyboard that is uber-comfortable to type on. The display, of course, is topnotch with a 2K screen and ninth-gen Intel HD Graphics that clearly render all visual content. In fact, this laptop provides almost 85% more on-screen space than a full HD display.
You cannot do better than this if you’re on a shoestring budget but want the comforts of a 12-inch laptop that understands flexibility and versatility like the back of its hand.
10. Apple MacBook 12 Inch
Price: Under $1550 | Lightest MacBook at only 2lbs; scintillating Retina display and rapid processing
There’s something to be said about an Apple MacBook, isn’t there? All that beauty and style blended with smooth performance–it’s the recipe for true-blue delight. Apple has a delightful 12-inch laptop that weighs only 2lbs and has a thickness of 13.1mm (0.51”) which makes it the leanest and meanest MacBook ever.
This mobility comes along with a seventh-generation Intel Core processor (m3, i5 or i7), 16GB RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. The processing configuration offers astonishing ease not only for day-to-day tasks but also for more demanding pursuits like streaming videos or editing multimedia content.
When you get home the Apple MacBook 12-inch, you can experience the work that has gone into designing a device that draws in minimal power, occupies negligible bulk, but delivers 20% faster performance (up to 3.6GHz) and 35% longer battery capacity (10 hours).
The compactness can partly be attributed to the 14nm process technology and low power requirement (5W). When your laptop generates less heat, it will not only remain cooler for longer but also make do with a sleek, fan-less design.
Design and display have always helped MacBooks stand apart in a crowd. This one has a dazzling Retina display with an impressive 2304 x 1440 screen resolution, a 16:10 aspect ratio, and 178-degree viewing angle.
As you sit back and savor multimedia content, you’re likely to forget that this is only a 12” machine. Honest!
To let you connect to devices and peripherals, the MacBook is fitted with a Type-C USB port that provides data transfer speeds up to 5GBps.
It also supports 802.11 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. Pair that with its unique, butterfly-mechanism keyboard, and you have a laptop that’s tailored for sharing and creating.
This one was built just for you if you covet style, performance, and premium features in a 12-inch machine and don’t wince at that rather hefty price tag.
Features to Look Out for in a Quality 12-Inch Laptop
Here are the prime features you should have your eyes on:
- Processor: It is a misconception that 2-in-1s are low on performance. Many modern-day notebooks offer competent processors that smoothly perform day-to-day tasks as well as demanding activities like streaming/editing multimedia content. If you’re a design professional or ardent gamer, look for an Intel i5 or i7 processor. But if you seek a laptop for everyday needs like checking e-mail and browsing the internet, you should be comfortable with an Intel i3, m3 or Celeron CPU.
- Battery backup: Since 12-inch laptops are designed for life on-the-go, long battery life is pivotal. Depending on your needs, look for a machine that can work unplugged for at least 6–8 hours or more.
- Design and display: Seek out a laptop that is sturdily built with lightweight but durable material. Many 12-inchers are also supremely stylish and sleek; if elegance gets you going, prioritize a classy exterior that will elevate your style quotient. Ensure that the display is at least HD with a fair resolution if you intend on watching A/V content. Of course, if this is going to be your mainstay, you should prefer to get an FHD display with a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080.
- Weight and thickness: If a 12-inch laptop is bulky and thick, it defeats the purpose. Find a laptop that weighs 2–3lbs or less and has a thickness in the range of 0.50–0.75”. This ensures you can carry it around in a backpack without developing a body ache.
- Support for peripherals and connectivity: When you use your 12-inch machine on-the-run, you’re likely to need both an internet connection and ports to plug in USB devices and external displays. Get a laptop that is fitted with inbuilt ports and card readers and is compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Did you enjoy perusing our list of the best 12-inch laptops in the marketplace in 2021? The demand for these tiny powerhouses is burgeoning as people become more mobile and seek increased flexibility in work and play.
Most leading computer manufacturers including Apple, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung now offer 12” machines that combine performance with portability.
If you’re scouting for an inexpensive device that gets the job done, you’ll be pleased with the Surface Laptop Go (#1), the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2, or the Samsung Chromebook Pro.
The XIDU 12.5 inch Windows 10 laptop is one of the cheapest albeit relatively new 12-inchers available today. It brings to the table many superior features and is worth a shot if you’re feeling experimental.
In a higher price tier (but still sub-$1000), you can check out the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 laptop.
Willing to go all out for a 12-inch laptop that exceeds every expectation? The Apple MacBook 12-inch, the Surface Pro 7, the Dell Latitude 7210 Laptop and the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go epitomize customer delight.
Here’s hoping you find your perfect, 12-inch-sized computing mate!