Best overall: Microsoft Surface Pro

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The latest Surface Pro (starting at about $800) from Microsoft takes a great design and makes it better. Get inside up to an Intel Core i7-7660U processor (CPU), 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). The chassis is as strong as always, but has smoother, rounded edges, redesigned radial vents, and a kickstand that bends back to 165 degrees for a better inking experience. The display has a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution, and above it is an IR camera for Windows Hello logins. Grab a Surface Pen and Type Cover separately to complete the package.

Bottom line: The Surface Pro is the best laptop you'll find at 12 inches or under.

One more thing: Our review of the Surface Pro contains much more information on what's new and what makes the Surface Pro so great.

Why the Surface Pro is the best 12-inch laptop

Microsoft's Surface lineup is meant to set the bar high so that other laptop manufacturers can follow suit with their own products. As a result, we get premium products that, while costly, will hardly disappoint.

The newest Surface Pro (which dropped the numeral, which would have been 5) takes a good thing and runs with it, making only small changes. The chassis is slightly more streamlined, and the kickstand now allows the tablet to sit flatter on a table, perfect for anyone with inking in mind. The new Surface Pen is about as good as they get, and the detachable keyboard turns a tablet into a laptop in seconds.

Inside, you can choose from plenty of hardware to ensure you're getting a laptop that you need. Choose from up to a seventh-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The 12.3-inch display is absolutely gorgeous, and the 3:2 ratio is perfect for this type of device. If you need the best 12-inch laptop out there, go with the Surface Pro.

Best Budget: CHUWI LapBook 12.3

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Budget laptops usually suffer from a dismal display, but not the CHUWI LapBook (at about $419). Here we have a 12.3-inch IPS display with a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution and a matte finish. Inside is a seventh-generation Intel Celeron N3450 CPU, 64GB of Toshiba eMMC storage, and 6GB of DDR3 RAM. The all-metal chassis can take a beating, and a fanless design keeps it running quiet, even under load.

Bottom line: The best budget 12-inch laptop is the CHUWI LapBook 12.3.

One more thing: Have a look at our review for much more information on what makes the 12.3-inch LapBook so great.

Best Gaming: Razer Blade Stealth

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Razer laptops strive to be the thinnest gaming devices out there, and with a name like Stealth, you should expect nothing different. For about $1,399, you can get a 13.3-inch 4K display, an Intel Core i7-8550U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. All in all, the laptop weighs under three pounds and is only about a half-inch thick. If you love to game and need something ultraportable, this is the device for you.

Bottom line: The Razer Blade Stealth is the best gaming laptop in the 13-inch range and while it's not quit in our bracket for this round-up, it's difficult to find solid 12-inch gaming laptop.

One more thing: Consider adding a Razer Core to the mix for some insane graphics power.

Best Ultrabook: ZenBook 3 UX490UA

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The ASUS ZenBook 3 Deluxe is an insanely slim laptop, sporting Intel's seventh-gen processors, a gorgeous design and build, as well as a stunning (yet only 1080p) 14-inch display. The company has packed this large display in the 13-inch chassis, slicing the bezels down to just 0.3-inches.

It's a little pricey, though. The new ZenBook 3 will set you back around $1,849, which is substantially more expensive than our best overall pick, though we're rocking some serious computing power with the Intel Core i7-8550U 1.8 GHz processor.

Bottom line: The ZenBook 3 is a great all-rounder that offers incredible levels of portability.

One more thing: You're restricted on port availability with this slim laptop.

Best Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X280

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ThinkPads are known for their business-focused design, and the X280 from Lenovo (starting at about $884) is made for portability. The 12.5-inch display is available in an HD or FHD configuration, and inside you can get up to an Intel Core i7-8650U vPro CPU, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Plenty of ports allow you to connect a wide range of peripherals, and an optional WWAN chip means you can stay in touch when out in the field. The classic ThinkPad keyboard is here, along with the TrackPoint and physical buttons.

Bottom line: The best 12-inch laptop for business-centric users is the Lenovo ThinkPad X280.

One more thing: Check out our review for more information about the ThinkPad X280.

Best Tablet: Huawei MateBook

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Huawei's MateBook (starting at about $850) is first and foremost a 12-inch tablet with a Full HD touchscreen and a beautiful slim design. It weighs just 1.4 pounds, yet has inside some decent hardware that can help you through a workday. Get up to an Intel Core m5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, and enjoy a battery that can last up to about seven or eight hours. A fingerprint reader built into the side of the tablet ensure secure logins through Windows Hello.

Bottom line: For a great tablet experience, check out the Huawei MateBook.

One more thing: Make sure you pick up the MateBook's companion keyboard at the same time; get it in beige or orange.

Conclusion

For the best 12-inch laptop out there, go with the Surface Pro. CHUWI's LapBook is great budget option, and if you love to game, check out the Razer Blade Stealth. Need a business partner? The ThinkPad X280 is a strong option, and if you love the idea of a notebook, and ASUS ZenBook 3 is thin and light. If you'd just like a great tablet experience, the Huawei MateBook will do you well.

Best overall: Microsoft Surface Pro

See at Microsoft

The latest Surface Pro (starting at about $800) from Microsoft takes a great design and makes it better. Get inside up to an Intel Core i7-7660U processor (CPU), 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). The chassis is as strong as always, but has smoother, rounded edges, redesigned radial vents, and a kickstand that bends back to 165 degrees for a better inking experience. The display has a 2,736 x 1,824 resolution, and above it is an IR camera for Windows Hello logins. Grab a Surface Pen and Type Cover separately to complete the package.

Bottom line: The Surface Pro is the best laptop you'll find at 12 inches or under.

One more thing: Our review of the Surface Pro contains much more information on what's new and what makes the Surface Pro so great.

Updated May 23, 2018: We've refreshed this list with some new laptops to ensure you're still getting the absolute best laptops that are on the smaller side of the spectrum.