Explore our comprehensive guide on the best 12 inch laptops 2019 that cater to all your computing needs while also offering remarkable portability and convenience.
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.
Modern-day computer makers are focusing their energies on manufacturing laptops ranging from 11–13 inches and infusing them with a brilliant sense of both form and function. 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?
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.
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.
12 Inches of Wonder: The 10 Best 12 Inch Laptops for Every Budget and Need
1. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA
Price: Under $499 | Pocket-friendly laptop with a 360-degree hinge-based design
One of the most affordable 12-inch laptops on this list, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA is a smartly designed device perfect for home, office, and outdoor use. It comes with a reliable 360-degree hinge that lets you mold the laptop as you please—tent, tablet, laptop and stand.
It is driven by a sixth-generation Intel Core m7 processor, 8GB RAM, and up to 128GB of storage space (in addition to free 100GB space on Google Drive).
Since this is a Chromebook, the operating system is a highly responsive and secure Chrome OS. You can access all the apps that you need on Google Play Store and up your productivity game. ChromeOS also comes with automatic updates and anti-virus protection—a Godsend in these times of collaborative work environments. Another professional-friendly feature of this laptop is its web-based management console that gives you centralized organizational management. The battery life is a welcome treat—up to ten hours or the majority of your workday unless you’re an irreparable workaholic.
This affordable device packs in several features that are typically available in higher-end models. For instance, it offers a full-resolution FHD display (1920 x 1080) with a refresh rate of 60Hz. Even though it supports integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 515), the multimedia experience is satisfactory. The stereo speakers have large resonant chambers that create a surround-sound experience. An inbuilt light sensor auto adjusts the brightness of the screen depending on the ambient light. Note that the display is touch-screen (10-point).
|Processor||Intel Core m3|
|Storage||64GB Flash Storage|
|Display||12.5" full-HD touchscreen|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
Portability has never been a problem with Chromebooks, and this one lives up to the reputation. With a weight of 1.2kg (2.65lbs) and a thickness of 13.7mm (0.54”), it’s never a burden to carry. The ergonomic keyboard with a 1.4mm-key-travel distance ensures stress-free typing. Connectivity and device support are also adequate with two USB 3.0 ports (Type-C), a micro-SD card reader, an HD webcam, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.
At its aggressive and super-attractive price range, this ASUS Chromebook is an ideal choice for those who seek an over-performing but budget-friendly 12” laptop.
2. 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.
|Processor||Intel Core i5 1.3GHz Dual-Core|
|Display||12-inch (diagonal) 2304-by-1440 resolution|
|Operating System||Mac OS|
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.
3. Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Price: Under $599 | 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.
|Processor||Intel Core m3 7Y30|
|Display||12.2" FHD (1920 x 1200)|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
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.
4. 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.
|Processor||Intel Core M3 6Y30|
|Display||12.3 Inch 2400x1600|
|Operating System||Chrome OS|
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.
5. Lenovo ThinkPad X280
Price: Starting at $1299 | Topnotch processing with Intel Core i7; longest battery life at 15 hours
There’s a reason ThinkPads have always been immensely popular at workplaces: the security and organizational ease that comes with them is unparalleled. This 12-inch avatar is run by an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8650U (up to 4.2GHz) and equipped with 16GB RAM.
It is a highly secure machine with IR-camera-led-facial-recognition (optional), fingerprint tracking, and MIL-SPEC testing. The cherry on the cake is the insanely long battery backup of 15 hours! You’re guaranteed, pretty much, never to run out of juice on a workday.
|Processor||8th Generation Intel Core i5-8250U|
|RAM||8 GB DDR4 2400MHz|
|Display||12.5" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro|
The Lenovo ThinkPad’s processing configuration is quite flexible. You can also choose a lower CPU setting—a seventh-generation Intel Core i5-7200U that supports Turbo Boost up to 3.10GHz. Either way, the processing prowess belies the fact that you’re using a 12-inch machine. The storage space belies it too, smashing to smithereens the misconception that 2-in-1s cannot offer much memory. This laptop is fitted with 1TB of SSD storage which is ample for you to keep everything you need snugly.
This ThinkPad offers two display options: an HD screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 or an FHD screen with a more expansive, 1920 x 1080 resolution. The latter is a touchscreen with anti-glare to protect your eyes from strain after long hours at work. The graphics support is for Intel UHD/HD Graphics 620 (integrated).
It is easy to assume that performance of this level will add to the bulk and bring down mobility-except, it would be untrue. This laptop weighs only 2.78lbs and has a thickness of 0.70”. It has three inbuilt USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, a microSD card reader, a 720p HD webcam, and an HDMI to let you plug in to any peripherals/devices that you need. The laptop is also well-connected to the world with Intel Dual Band 8265 Wireless AC, Bluetooth 4.1, and optional Fibocom L850-GL 4G LTE.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X280 costs a bomb, but it can be best buddies with anyone looking for a marvel of portability, performance, and dependability.
6. Dell Latitude 7290 Laptop
Price: Starting at $1049 | Attractive 12-inch laptop with highly configurable CPU and storage
Dell has been around for decades; indeed, it was one of the first computers most people got as students or young professionals. In tune with the times, Dell has invested its energies in creating a stellar 12-inch laptop—the Dell Latitude 7290.
It is quite a good-looking laptop with a unibody design, premium construction material like recycled carbon fiber, soft-touch paint, and a thin bezel. But more than that, it’s a high-performing machine with an eighth-gen Intel Core i3/i5 processor, up to 16GB RAM, and up to 1TB SSD storage space. All this comes in a light package that weighs just about 2.63lbs and has a thickness of 0.65”.
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U|
|Display||12.5" HD 1366 x 768 Anti-Glare|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro|
How’s the unplugged usage on this machine? Dell claims all-day battery life which means you’re sorted for most of the day. When the charging runs low, you can power up to 80% in under an hour, thanks to Express Charge. This is beneficial when you’re working on the go and cannot be restricted by charging stations.
The display on this machine is pleasant—an HD screen that supports distortion-free viewing from multiple angles. Since the bezel is really thin, you also feel more immersed in whatever is transpiring on the screen.
Dell does a fantastic job of making its products well-connected and versatile. The Latitude is fitted with a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, a USB Type-C port, an HDMI, and an SD card reader. It also supports 4G/LTE connectivity and business docking (WD15)—features that make it ultra-smooth for use in the workplace. The business dock allows you to connect to external displays, devices, you name it.
If you’re looking for an all-rounder laptop that keeps your data secure and fuels all your computing endeavors without pulling you down with weight, the Dell Latitude is worth your consideration.
7. Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 Laptop
Price: Starting at $899 | 2-in-1 with innovative auto-deploy kickstand and world-class security
If you’re fond of the Dell Latitude lineup but are on a tight budget, the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is an option worth looking into. With construction, design, and connectivity options similar to its dearer contemporary, this is one of the lightest machines on this list.
The tablet-only version weighs 1.89lbs, while the tablet-keyboard combination weighs 2.65lbs. A smartly designed device with a kickstand that auto-extends and rotates up to 150 degrees, this computer is a heady amalgam of portability and classy processing (with Intel Core i Dual/Quad CPUs). The battery life is akin to that of #6, complete with Express Charge for powering up instantly.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-8650U
|Display||12.3" WUXGA+ 1920 x 1280 Touch|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro|
Security is a prime concern for the Dell Latitude, and if data protection is something that keeps you up at night, you’ve finally found a mate. This machine is fitted with industry-leading security solutions including a self-encryption device, NFC, a fingerprint reader (optional), and FIPS 140-2 (optional). The Dell ControlVault is exemplary when it comes to authentication—it’s a fortress out there!
Display-wise, you can look forward to a bright, thin-bezel, FHD screen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The screen supports an active stylus so that you can doodle away to glory. But the keyboard is the real showstopper here; it attaches magnetically to let you shift from tablet to laptop mode sooner than you can say Jack Robinson.
It is rare to find a 12-inch laptop with such premium features in the sub-$1000 price range. This makes the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 the perfect choice for anyone who needs a computing companion for a hectic, travel-intensive lifestyle.
8. XIDU 12.5 inch Windows 10 Laptop
Price: Under $300 | Cheapest 12-inch laptop
Yes, that price tag is for real. The XIDU 12.5 inch Windows 10 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 Quad-Core Celeron N3450 processor and 6GB 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 2.2lbs and is 0.6” thick—a configuration that is designed for glitch-free portability.
|Processor||Intel Celeron N3450 Quad-Core|
|Display||12.5 Inch 2K (2560 x 1440)|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
While the processing front is quite sound, offering Turbo Boost up to 2.4GHz, the memory on offer is rather low—64GB 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 12.5-inch 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 70% 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.
9. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Price: Starting at $899 | Lightest 12-incher at 1.7lbs; 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 Pro 6, a stylish 2-in-1 available in platinum or black, is driven by an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 processor and Windows 10—a compelling package for non-stop productivity on the go.
It weighs only – hold your breath – 1.7lbs and delivers a battery backup of 13.5 hours. You can choose from personalized “Type Covers” that are made from classy Alcantara material, so you have a device that radiates your personal style.
|Processor||8th Gen Intel Core i7|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
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 16GB RAM and up to 1TB 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 2736 x 1824. 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 3.0 port, a mini display port, a front-facing camera (5MP), a rear-facing camera (8MP, 1080p), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1. 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.
10. HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2
Price: Around $1500 | Highly configurable 12-inch laptop with up to i7 processor and 4K display
Onwards to the final 12-inch computer on the list – the HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2, a powerful machine driven by an Intel i7/i5 processor, up to 16GB RAM, and as much as 2TB of SSD storage space. It is a highly configurable purchase which means you can choose the settings based on your needs and budget.
For instance, you can choose 118GB of Intel Optane memory in conjunction with your regular space. The construction of the EliteBook remains light yet durable at 2.5lbs and 0.53”. You can conveniently carry it with you without feeling burdened; if anything, its elegant exterior makes a distinctive style statement.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-7200U|
|Display||12.5" diagonal FHD touch|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro 64|
Aside from the remarkable processing, the HP EliteBook also offers a bright and vivid display that isn’t commonly found among many contemporaries in this price range. You can opt for the 4K display (3840 x 2160) with a super-thin touchscreen protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Even the lower setting—1920 x 1080—offers an industry-leading brightness of 700 nits. The sound system by Bang & Olufsen delivers pure, noise-free audio. Suffice it to say, the multimedia experience on the EliteBook is, to risk a cliché, elitist.
You won’t compromise on collaboration and sharing with this laptop as it comes fitted with two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and one HDMI. It also supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 to facilitate data transfer and internet connectivity.
HP’s response to the quest for 12-inch laptops combines style and sensibility in a beautiful package. Even though it’s costlier than some other options available in this market, you’d be paying the premium for superior all-round performance.
Did you enjoy perusing our list of the best 12-inch laptops in the marketplace in 2019? 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 ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA (#1), the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 (#3), or the Samsung Chromebook Pro (#4). The XIDU 12.5 inch Windows 10 laptop (#8) 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 (#7) or the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 (#9). Willing to go all out for a 12-inch laptop that exceeds every expectation? The Apple MacBook 12-inch (#2), the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 (#5), the Dell Latitude 7290 Laptop (#6) and the HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 (#10) epitomize customer delight.
Here’s hoping you find your perfect, 12-inch-sized computing mate!