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Best 12-inch laptop 2022

Surface Laptop Go
Surface Laptop Go (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

12-inch laptops are fairly rare compared to more standard 13- and 15-inch devices, but that doesn't mean that they're bad. In fact, 12-inch laptops are arguably one of the best options available if you need something very lightweight and portable, as they're lighter and smaller than larger devices. On top of that, many of them also still deliver great performance, ensuring that you won't have to sacrifice a buttery-smooth user experience just to size down. There are several of these excellent 12-inch devices on the market, but our favorite is the Surface Pro 7 Plus. Between its powerful specs, beautiful display, and excellent battery life, the Surface Pro 7+ stands as the king of the best 12-inch laptops.

Best overall: Surface Pro 7 Plus

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Since the newest Surface Pro 8 uses a 13-inch panel, fans of the 12-inch form factor should opt for the excellent Surface Pro 7 Plus. It's essentially a beefed-up version of the original Surface Pro 7 that features a wide range of performant specs from which to choose, including 11th Gen Intel CPUs, powerful Intel Xe Graphics, up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 1TB of SSD storage. The 2736x1824 touch display is also gorgeous, as it offers a wide color gamut, strong contrast, and plenty of brightness. Another huge highlight of the Surface Pro 7 Plus is its excellent max battery life of 15 hours, which will ensure that you won't need to charge the laptop often. In terms of connectivity, you get Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and (optionally) 4G LTE connectivity.

The design of the Surface Pro 7 Plus is great, though it's a bit dated compared to what you'd get with the Surface Pro 8. The bezels are a bit on the thick side, but the Alcantara keyboard you can (and should) get with the device feels incredibly comfortable and enjoyable to use. When it comes to ports, you get one USB-A, one USB-C, one microSD card slot, a Surface Connect+ port, and 3.5mm audio. The lack of Thunderbolt is unfortunate, but for a 12-inch laptop, this is still a very respectable selection of ports. Ultimately, the Surface Pro 7 Plus is a stellar device that we highly recommend for 12-inch laptop fans.

Surface Pro 7 Plus

The best 12-inch Surface Pro

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent specs
+
Beautiful display
+
Awesome battery life
+
LTE option
+
Alcantara keyboard is phenomenal

Reasons to avoid

-
Bezels are a bit thick
-
No Thunderbolt

Runner-up: Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you're not a fan of the Surface Pro 7 Plus but want something that will deliver a comparable experience, look no further than the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable. Like the Surface Pro 7 Plus, a wide range of 11th Gen Intel CPUs are available with the device, and other great options like Intel Xe graphics, 16GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB SSD can be chosen as well. The FHD+ 1920x1280 isn't quite as sharp as the panel on the Surface Pro, but it still has excellent colors, contrast, and an impressive 400 nits of peak brightness. The device has a good max battery life of 11 hours, and also comes with Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, and (optionally) 4G LTE.

In terms of design, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is sleek and clean, with narrow bezels, a built-in stand, and a matte "peachskin" finish. Ports on the device include a Thunderbolt 4 slot, a single USB-C, and 3.5mm audio. Though the lack of an SD card reader of some sort is disappointing, the inclusion of Thunderbolt 4 does give the ThinkPad X12 an edge over the Surface Pro 7 Plus when it comes to hooking up peripherals. Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is a great alternative to the Surface Pro 7 Plus that you should opt for if you want slimmer bezels and Thunderbolt 4 support.

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable

A fantastic alternative

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent specs
+
Nice display
+
LTE option
+
Awesome design
+
Thunderbolt 4

Reasons to avoid

-
No SD card reader
-
FHD+ is the only display option

Best mid-range: Surface Laptop Go

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Folks looking for something that offers solid performance for a lower price than the Surface Pro 7 Plus or Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable will love the Surface Laptop Go. This mid-range device features a solid 10th Gen Intel i5-1035G1 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics, up to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 256GB of SSD storage (64GB of slower eMMC is also available if you want to save as much as possible). The max 13-hour battery life is awesome, and the inclusion of both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 means that you can enjoy excellent modern connectivity. The 1536x1024 display isn't the sharpest out there, but it still looks good thanks to its strong colors, contrast, and 400 nits of brightness.

The design of the Surface Laptop Go is incredibly thin and lightweight, making it a fantastic choice for folks who want an ultraportable clamshell device. You get a solid lineup of ports, too, including one USB-C, one USB-A, Surface Connect, and 3.5mm audio. The bezels on the Surface Laptop Go are also quite small, which gives the device a very clean look. At the end of the day, you won't find a better 12-inch device on the market than this if you're looking for solid performance and an affordable price in one value-packed package.

Surface Laptop Go

The ultraportable option

Reasons to buy

+
Solid performance
+
Nice display
+
Ultraportable design
+
Great battery life
+
Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as performant as top options
-
Display could be sharper
-
No LTE or Thunderbolt

Best budget: HP Chromebook x360 12

Source: HP (Image credit: Source: HP)

While we prefer Windows devices here at Windows Central (it's in the name!), it's impossible to deny the incredible value offered by Chromebooks if you're in need of something as simple and affordable as possible. ChromeOS is an incredibly lightweight OS that works well on low-spec devices, and one of the best ones available is the 12-inch HP Chromebook x360 12. Despite its meager Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics GPU, 4GB of DDR4, and 64GB of eMMC storage, this laptop performs well when completing simple tasks such as web browsing or writing documents. You won't be able to do much of anything else with it, but for the rock-bottom price the laptop sells for, that's not unexpected. The 1366x768 display is nothing special, but it's sufficient for basic work, and the 13-14-hour battery life is awesome. Note that you only get Wi-Fi 5 with this laptop, though you still get Bluetooth 5.0.

Design-wise, the HP Chromebook x360 12 is very simple. It's not stylish by any stretch of the imagination, but it's built solidly, which isn't always the case with Chromebooks and other budget devices. You do get a nice port selection that consists of one USB-A and dual USB-C, which is nice if you have lots of peripheral accessories to connect. Ultimately, the HP Chromebook x360 12 is an excellent budget-friendly device that you should choose if you need something as affordable as possible.

HP Chromebook x360 12

Budget excellence

Reasons to buy

+
Most affordable
+
Lightweight ChromeOS
+
Decent display
+
Great battery life
+
Good port selection

Reasons to avoid

-
Far less performant than other options
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No Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt, or LTE
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No configuration options

Bottom line

While 12-inch laptops aren't as common as other devices, they're nevertheless one of the best types of laptops you can get if you need something small and lightweight, yet still also performant. There are many excellent 12-inch laptops available on the market right now, but our favorite is the Surface Pro 7 Plus due to its excellent specs and performance, gorgeous display, and top-notch battery life. It has nearly everything you could want in a 12-inch laptop, and we can't recommend it enough as the best 12-inch laptop.

A strong alternative to the Surface Pro 7 Plus is the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable, which offers the same performance, thinner bezels, and Thunderbolt support with a less sharp display and the lack of an SD card reader as the tradeoff. It's a stellar device that goes toe to toe with the Surface Pro, and if Microsoft's offering doesn't interest you, Lenovo's is definitely worth considering.

There's also the Surface Laptop Go and the HP Chromebook x360 12, both of which are fantastic budget devices. The Surface Laptop Go is ideal for folks who need a fairly performant, yet affordable option, while the HP Chromebook offers enough power for simple tasks like writing documents at a rock-bottom price. If none of these options is a good fit for your needs, make sure to review our roundup of the best Windows laptops for additional options.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.