Best 12 inch mini laptops – top picks of the moment

The 12 inch format for laptops is basically a hybrid, being halfway between a 10 inch netbook and a 14-15 inch regular laptop.

This might seem as only a comparison in terms of size, but it’s also accurate when it comes to performance, as 12 inch mini laptops tend to have better hardware and are overall superior machines to netbooks.

They are closer to laptops, but are way smaller, of course, being a compact and highly portable productivity solution. In comparison with netbooks, who can mostly deal with regular apps (like word processing, browsing and the occasional videos), some 12 inch mini laptops can deliver good performance for video and photo editing, serious multitasking and even some gaming.

Sure, like with all categories of computers, the 12 inch form factor has to offer something for every type of user and budget and hopefully this article will help you choose your own 12 inch mini laptop from the list below, a list of what we consider the top picks n this class, based on our experience with them, but also reviews posted online by experts and regular users like you guys.

See the list of best 12 inch mini laptops below.

Asus 1215N – classic Eee PC design and great performance for $479

The 12 inch mini laptop looks like a 10 inch Eee PC netbook from Asus, even coming with the notorious Seashell Design. The laptop has a 12 inch, 1366 x 768 display, which is a very good resolution for displaying HD video. The processor comes from Intel, namely the dual core Atom D525, having a clock speed of 1.8 GHZ.

The CPU is also optimized to take in less power than many other dual core processors and has an architecture that will avoid most power losses in the circuitry. The laptop comes with two graphic cards, namely the integrated Intel graphics and Nvidia ION graphics. The ION graphics can deliver perfect 1080p playback, some gaming and video editing, while the onboard video card is much more energy efficient.

The computer comes with 2 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard disk drive and Windows 7 Premium. The keyboard and multi touch  track pad are similar to those on other EEE PC entries, while the battery is said to last for about 4 hours on a single charge. There’s also a HDMI port for connecting the laptop to a bigger display and Wireless N, which is a technology five times faster than standard WiFi.

Asus Eee PC 1215N

Asus Eee PC 1215N

Asus 1215B- a great netbook for HD playback for $449

The 1215B is powered by an AMD Fusion APU, namely the E-350 Zacate chip. This APU (accelerated processing unit) is both a dual core processor, running at 1.66 GHZ and a HD video card, able to play HD video and is compatible with DirectX 11. The setup is not as good as on the 1215N, as the onboard Radeon HD 6310 can deliver HD video, but can’t deal with gaming and other video intensive tasks at the level of the ION graphics.

Other features include a 1366 x 768 LED display, 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard disk drive. There’s also a HDMI port for outsourcing video on a bigger and better display, as well as the usual suspects, like USB ports and WiFi. The 1215B can go for about 8.5 hours on a single charge and runs on Windows 7 Home Premium.

This mini laptop is a good choice if you’re moving a lot and like watching HD videos on the go, while also being able to do some work thanks to the dual core processor and fair amount of system memory.

Asus 1215B

Asus 1215B

MSI Windpad U270- a multimedia 12 inch netbook packed with many additional features

The U270 has the same processor and graphics as the 1215B, namely the Zacate E-350 dual core processor and Radeon HD 6310 integrated video card. The laptop can support as much as 8 GB of RAM, so multitasking will be very enjoyable on it. You can choose between two storage options, 250 and 320 GB, while the display is pretty standard for this class, namely a HD ready 1366 x 768 screen.

The laptop has a USB 3.0 port, which can offer 10 times the transfer speeds of a 2.0 port. Also, there’s a HDMI port, 2.0 USB ports and a HD web cam, able to record 720p video at 30 frames per second. The laptop boosts a couple of MSI proprietary features, like the Eco engine, that helps reduce power drain and a face recognition app for enhanced security.

MSi Wind U270 has a film coating that protects the netbook from fingerprints and smudges

MSi Wind U270 has a film coating that protects the netbook from fingerprints and smudges

Asus UL20FT - tough, metal covered netbook with great processor performance for $549

The UL20FT is a classy and lightweight 12.1 inch laptop, which can deliver great performance on the go. It‘s only 1.1 inch thick and comes with an aluminium brushed finish that keeps fingerprints away and makes the laptop much tougher. In terms of performance, the 12.1 incher matches what bigger machines have to offer.

It has a Core i3 dual core processor, assisted by 2 GB of RAM and a 320 GB hard disk drive. The screen has a 1366 x 768 resolution, which is good for watching HD videos and high resolution photos. There’s also a web cam for video calls, a HDMI port for watching videos on a bigger screen and a battery able to go on a single charge for about 6 hours.

It’s a very well balanced mini laptop and considering it weighs only 1.4 KG, it’s a very good buy for those looking for office and entertainment performance in a package that’s easy to carry around.

Asus UL20FT

Asus UL20FT

Lenovo ThinkPad X201 – classic ThinkPad experience on a more compact machine starting at $909

If you’re a fan of the ThinkPad series, look no further. The X201 has all those features that made the series so popular (including the red dot) and also delivers stunning performance for a 12 inch machine. It comes with a Core i3 or i5 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 250 GB hard disk drive and a 1280 x 800 resolution display, which looks great when playing HD videos.

For that you have the Intel HD graphics, which is a good solution for watching videos and surfing the web, as well as for some light gaming. The OS is Windows 7 Home Premium and the computer comes with a 4 cell battery, as well as WiFi, blue tooth and ports like USB and SD slots.

Lenovo ThinkPad X201

Lenovo ThinkPad X201


The mini laptops we’ve talked about in this article can all deliver very good performance when it comes to video playback and multitasking, surpassing netbooks when it comes to productivity.

Still, they are  ultra portable computers and are very easy to carry around, being the perfect solution for demanding users on the go.

We mentioned a couple of different options, from the affordable Asus 1215B to the all mighty ThinkPad X201, a dream for every mobile enthusiast. Thus, each of you can pick between these devices, based on your needs and budget.

As you can see, there aren’t a lot of laptops in this list, as the 12 inch segment is not as crowded as others. But notebooks in this class do provide the best ratio between portability, performance and price, so you won’t regret getting any of these.

Of course, your feedback and input is greatly appreciated, so don’t hesitate and leave a reply via the form below.

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Last updated: April 18, 2012 | Tags: , , , , ,

As a student and future ScreenWriter and Movie Producer, Mark simply cannot live without his mobile computing solutions. He's grown very fond of smartphones and compact laptops over the years and sometimes he likes to share his views on portable gadgets here on . More on the About page. See all posts by .

One Response to “ Best 12 inch mini laptops – top picks of the moment ”

  1. Martijn said:

    Sep 17, 11 at 11:32 am

    You’re saying the 1215B is not as good as the 1215N. Many tests have shown that the 1215B graphics are a lot better. Higher framerate in games, better HD playback, more power efficient. The only advantage of the 1215N is that the processor is a few percent better. But actually the 1215 sucks since the 1215B was released, because AMD’s APU is cheaper, better (graphics wise) and more power efficient than intel’s atom processor.

    In some cases the 1215B can even win with a processor benchmark. The 1215B will most likely win all graphic benchmarking against the 1215N.

    In my opinion the 1215B is the best 12 inch net/notebook.

    A question for you: where did you get the information that AMD’s HD6310 is incapable of playing videogames? I just played world of warcraft on my 1215B with excellent FPS.

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