Intel’s 12th Gen Alder-lake processors have brought some significant improvements over their predecessors and after a couple of years of questionable reliability, you can finally buy Intel-powered ultrabooks without worrying about massive compromises. This time Intel is providing a wide range of laptop CPUs, with much higher core counts, and the new P-series to go along with the old-school U-series and H-series.
For working professionals, carrying something that is both powerful and lightweight is a must. Thanks to the 12th-gen treatment, there are a lot of ultrabooks to choose from this time, but not everything is going to be right for you. Depending on specific workflows and different price segments, there are specific laptops, that’ll be a good fit for different types of professionals.
Now, something I need to get out of the way is that Intel-powered ultrabooks mostly aren’t for the type of creative professionals that need sustained CPU workloads all the time or a lot of GPU power.
Because of the thermal limitations of a thin & light chassis, the CPU is eventually going to throttle, dropping the peak clock speeds which is going to decrease performance during intensive tasks. At least till now, manufacturers haven’t been able to get around this as beefy cooling solutions won’t just fit inside an ultrabook. The same thermal limitations also make it hard to include high-power GPUs as well.
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Intel 12th Gen CPUs in Ultrabooks and How They Are Different
Team blue has released three different series of chips this year including the 15W U-series, the 45W H-series, and the brand new 28W P-series. Also new for this year, there are a bunch of 9W U-series chips. These new low-power CPUs are mostly geared toward fanless systems.
There’s also the 55W HX series, which is technically a higher TDP H-series with better performance and the HK series has overclocking capabilities, but those aren’t used in ultrabooks.
Intel 12th gen Core U-series: The U-series has the lowest performance of the bunch and the best battery life. Laptops that come with a 12th gen U-series CPU, are going to be great for general workloads such as taking notes, working on a spreadsheet, making presentations, and these are also great for content consumption. Most importantly, you’ll be able to do all that while not needing to plug in your laptop for a very long time.
Intel 12th gen Core P-series: There used to be a massive gap between the U-series and H-series processors when it comes to performance and battery life. The P-series was introduced to sit in between these two as a more balanced option that can provide significantly better performance compared to U-series while also consuming less power compared to the H-series. While this has completely changed the game for ultrabooks in the performance department, my testing reveals that battery life improvements over the H-series are minimal.
Intel 12th gen Core H-series: When you’re looking to get as much performance as an Intel ultrabook can offer right now, you’d want to get something with a 12th gen H-series CPU. These will give you excellent performance for demanding tasks. However, because of the higher 45W TDP, it also consumes a lot of power which results in the lowest-lasting battery life in the bunch. So, the H-series powered laptops are going to be the most powerful ultrabooks available, but you’ll need to plug them in, multiple times a day.
Now, in general, you’ll see four types of CPUs from Intel including the Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9. This is pretty simple. The Core i3 will offer the lowest performance, lower core counts, and lower Cache memory, and as you go for higher numbers, these aspects will keep improving.
However, again in my testing, I haven’t seen the 12th gen i9 CPUs being able to push out their best performance in ultrabooks, so sticking to i7 at the higher end, is a better option. You get a very similar performance while saving a good chunk of money. These CPUs will perform to their full extent in Gaming laptops as those have much better thermal capabilities.
The Best 12th Generation Ultrabooks You Can Buy Right Now
I’ve selected the most practical options here based on a bunch of factors, but the basic criteria all of these laptops fulfill are, all of them are respectively thin, weighs less than 3.3 lbs (1.5 kgs) with robust build quality, and of course, all of these are powered by 12th gen Intel CPUs. They also have premium typing-friendly keyboards, Windows Precision trackpads with a glass surface, and are running on Windows 11 out of the box.
Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro / Pro 360
When it comes to being the absolute style statement while still maintaining good performance and being one of the lightest ultrabooks out there, Samsung takes the crown with the Galaxy Book 2 Pro and the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360. Both models are available in 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch sizes and are powered by Intel’s 12th-gen P-series processors.
The Galaxy Book 2 Pro/Pro 360 comes with 1920 x 1080, 10-bit, 60 Hz OLED displays with a peak brightness of 500 nits. These are still 16:9 displays though, so if you’re on the fence about the same, it’s something you should keep in mind. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 is a 2-in-1 flip device with Touchscreen and Stylus support. The regular Galaxy Book 2 Pro is a regular clamshell laptop and although it misses the Touchscreen support, it also costs a little less.
Samsung has gone with the Intel Core i5-1240P and the Intel Core i7-1260P processors with Iris Xe Graphics for the Book 2 Pro series. You can combine that 8GB or 16GB LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of PCIe Gen 3 SSD. Now, Samsung does seem to be running the Galaxy Book 2 Pros at a lower wattage to maintain the thermals in that super thin chassis, so the performance is a bit suppressed, but this doesn’t make a huge difference in real life.
The input selection is quite limited for the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360. It gets 1x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port, 2x USB 3.2 Type-C ports, 1x 3.5mm Headphone combo jack, and 1x MicroSD slot.
The regular Galaxy Book 2 Pro gets a bit more versatility with 1x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port, 1x USB 3.2 Type-C port, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A port, 1x HDMI 2.0 port, 1x 3.5mm Headphone combo jack, and 1x MicroSD slot. All models come with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.
These are also super light at just 1.92 lbs (Book 2 Pr0)/2.29 lbs (Book 2 Pro 360) for the 13.3-inch models and 2.45 lbs (Book 2 Pr0)/3.11 lbs (Book 2 Pro 360) for the 15.6-inch models. You get either a 63 Wh battery (13.3-inch) or a 68 Wh battery (15.6-inch) which should give a long battery life, again thanks to Samsung running the CPUs at a lower wattage. The Galaxy Book 2 Pro starts at $1099.99 while the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 starts at $1299.99.
Additional Highlights: 1080P Webcam, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos support
Buy the Galaxy Book 2 Pro/Pro 360 for,
- The super thin & light form factor and stylish design
- Infinite contrast and rich colors on the OLED panel
- Long-lasting battery life
Don’t Buy the Galaxy Book 2 Pro/Pro 360 if,
- You don’t want a 16:9 display
- The price seems too much for the provided hardware
- You don’t want a slightly compromised performance
Dell XPS 13 Plus
If you are looking for the most premium 13-inch ultrabook out there, no other device even comes close to the Dell XPS 13 Plus. Powered by Intel’s P-series chips, Dell has taken a bold shot by creating a gorgeous gapless keyboard and an invisible haptic trackpad alongside a touch-sensitive backlit function row, all housed in a Gorilla Glass surface.
Dell provides a bunch of display options including a 1920 x 1200, 10-bit, 60 Hz IPS panel available in both Touch and Non-touch configurations, a UHD+(3800×2400), 60 Hz IPS Touch panel, and a 3.5K (3456 x 2160), 60 Hz OLED Touch panel. The IPS panels are brighter peaking at 500 nits while the OLED model gets up to 400 nits. All configurations are 10-bit, but the 60 Hz refresh rate might be a deal breaker for many considering the high price.
This is one of the only ultrabooks that can be configured with the higher-end i7-1280P, but, if you don’t need that, it also comes with the regular i7-1260P and i5-1240P configurations. There are also 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB LPDDR5 RAM options that can be paired with 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD storage.
Sadly, the port situation is a complete nightmare on the XPS 13 Plus. Dell has only included 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, that’s it. To Dell’s credit though, they do include USB Type-C to Type A and Type-C to 3.5mm Headphone jack adapters in the box, but using one of them is going to block one of your ports. It also ships with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2.
The overall weight of the device is around 2.71 lbs for the IPS models and 2.77 lbs for the OLED model. The battery is 55 Wh, so if you’re going for one of the higher-res display models, you’ll need to plug in your device more frequently. The Dell XPS 13 Plus starts at $1299.00, but as you amp up configurations, it’s can get pretty expensive, pretty quick.
Additional Highlights: Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support, optional Intel vPro
Buy the XPS 13 Plus for,
- The minimalist yet futuristic design
- Uncompromised P-series performance in a 13-inch Windows laptop
- Consuming high-quality HDR content
Don’t Buy the XPS 13 Plus if,
- You need a ton of ports on your laptop
- You’re not comfortable with the new Keyboard layout (check in a store if possible)
ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED
If you’re looking to get something that’s powerful, compact, and sleek, but doesn’t cost a premium, the 14-inch ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED is probably the best ultrabook on the market right now. It is also using the Intel P-series chips at their full 28W TDP, has a stylish design, and has the best display in its price range.
ASUS is killing it in the laptop display department this year, and the Zenbook 14 OLED is not an exception. It has a 2.8K (2800 x 1800), 10-bit, 90Hz OLED display which is surprisingly also very color accurate and has a peak brightness of 600 nits for HDR content and about 400 nits for SDR content. Of course, it also has the modern 16:10 aspect ratio.
You get to choose from the Intel Core i5-1240P and the Intel Core i7-1260P as you may expect, but unlike the Dell, you don’t get the upper i7-1280P option. There is also 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB RAM with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB of the faster PCIe Gen 4 storage. Just going over the value proposition, and the i5 model of this laptop is almost unbeatable in its segment right now.
The port situation is also pretty good though. You get 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, 1x USB 3.2 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0 (listed as the confusing HDMI 2.1 TMDS, which is technically HDMI 2.0), 1x 3.5mm Headphone combo jack, and 1x MicroSD card slot. On the connectivity side, you get Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.0.
It is not as light as the Samsung is, but it’s still respectable at just 3.06 lbs, which in my opinion is still a breeze to carry. It also has a bigger 75W battery, but it’s running at full TDP, so you’re still gonna need to plug it in, about twice a day. The Zenbook 14 OLED starts at around $749.99 for the base i5 256GB model but spending a little more to upgrade to a faster/higher capacity SSD is absolutely a no-brainer.
Additional Highlights: HDR10 and Dolby Atmos support
Buy the Zenbook 14 OLED for,
- The gorgeous 2.8K OLED display
- Being an excellent value for money
- Having a good selection of ports
Don’t Buy the Zenbook 14 OLED if,
- You’re not going to benefit from the 720P webcam
- A Touchscreen is necessary for you
LG Gram 17
There aren’t a lot of big-screen ultrabooks out there, so if you’re looking for one, the LG Gram 17 is your best choice. Not only it’s the lightest 17-inch ultrabook ever made, but it’s also quite powerful thanks to the 12th gen P-series treatment. LG has used Magnesium alloy to achieve a unique combination of strength and portability.
You get a QHD (2560 x 1600), 10-bit, 60Hz IPS display which peaks out at 350 nits. It’s a great display but isn’t enough to keep up with the OLED displays that the competition is offering, so in my book that’s the compromise, you’ll make for getting a 17-inch 16:10 display in an ultrabook. It is perfectly fine indoors, but the low brightness can be a problem outdoors.
There are the standard Intel Core i7-1260P and Intel Core i5-1240P CPU options, but what makes this one special is that alongside the Iris Xe integrated GPU, you get an option to configure this laptop with a freakin’ RTX 2050. No other ultrabook is offering that particular luxury for GPU-intensive tasks so that kinda sets the Gram 17 apart.
LG offers a wide range of RAM and storage options on the Gram 17. You can get 8GB at the base, or move up to 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR5 RAM alongside 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB of PCIe Gen 4 SSD storage. The variant with the dedicated GPU is available in 16GB, 1TB, and 32GB, 2TB configurations.
Surprisingly enough, LG was able to retain a decent amount of ports on the considerably thin, Gram 17. You get 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, 2x USB 3.2 Type-A ports, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm Headphone combo jack, and 1x MicroSD card slot. The company also provides a USB Type-C to LAN adapter in the box. For connectivity, it has Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.
Thanks to the Magnesium alloy chassis, this huge ultrabook weighs just 2.98 lbs for the regular variant and about 3.16 lbs for the dedicated GPU variant. The regular variant also has a smaller 80 Wh battery while the dedicated GPU variant has a bigger 90 Wh battery. These are going to last you for a long time and with moderate usage, you should be able to go almost an entire work day on a single charge.
Keeping up with their weird pricing strategy, LG has listed the Gram 17 for a very premium price tag. However, you generally get these laptops at huge discounts on Amazon or other retailers. For example, the regular i7 variant with 16GB RAM and 1TB storage is listed for $1799.99, but you can get it for about $1399.00. There is also a 16-inch variant (Gram 16) with identical perks, in case you need that.
Additional Highlights: HDR and DTS-X Ultra support, 1080P Webcam
Buy the Gram 17 for,
- The massive 17-inch display
- A dedicated GPU option
- Long-lasting battery life
Don’t Buy the Gram 17 if,
- You need to work outdoors a lot
- The price seems a bit too much
ASUS Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition
While manufacturers are sticking to the P-series for ultrabooks, some users need even more power while also not increasing the heft. ASUS did just that with the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition. This one comes with the full-fat H-series chips running at a whopping 45W TDP and has much better-sustained CPU performance over its more efficiency-focused siblings. It also has a space-themed design and a secondary display on the lid.
The display is very similar to the regular Zenbook 14 OLED with a 2.8K, 10-bit, 90Hz OLED panel maxing out at 600 nits in HDR and 400 nits in SDR. However, unlike its more affordable sibling, it is a Touchscreen. The colors are super accurate and the aspect ratio is 16:10, so that’s not going to be an issue.
ASUS lets you choose from three different CPU options including the Intel Core i5-12500H, Core i7-12700H, and Core i9-12900H. You don’t get a dedicated GPU though, so you have to make do with the integrated Iris Xe graphics. As far as RAM is concerned, both the i5 and i7 variants get 16GB of LPDDR5 treatment while the i9 variant gets 32GB. For storage though, all the variants get PCIe Gen 4 type SSDs, but the i5 variant gets 512GB of storage, while the i7 and i9 variants get 1TB of storage.
The port and connectivity options are identical though. You get 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports, 1x USB 3.2 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0 (listed as HDMI 2.1 TMDS, which is indeed HDMI 2.0), 1x 3.5mm Headphone combo jack, and 1x MicroSD card slot. For connectivity, you get the same Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.0.
It weighs around 3.09 lbs which is still pretty light to carry around, but the battery is smaller at 63 Wh. 45W CPUs are power-hungry chips, so it’s no surprise that the laptop can do around 4 hours unplugged (tested on the i7 model) with moderate use. So, battery life isn’t the strong suit of this laptop.
ASUS is currently only selling the i9 variant of Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition in the US and it’s listed at $1999.99. But, you can get it for less online, during sales or you can choose the regular Zenbook 14X OLED instead to save some money.
Buy the Zenbook 14X OLED Space Edition for,
- The space-themed special edition design
- A bright and color-accurate 2.8K OLED display
- The more powerful 45W H-series chips
Don’t Buy the Zenbook 14 OLED if,
- You need a long battery life
- The 720P webcam is going to be problematic
Intel 12th Gen Powered Ultrabooks For Professionals -The Takeaway
Thanks to massive improvements to the 12th generation of Intel CPUs, most professionals focusing on day-to-day work schedules to performing CPU-intensive tasks, no longer need to carry a bulky laptop or have a separate desktop in hand. Unless the work is highly GPU intensive, ultrabooks are now more than enough to handle most tasks that professionals require.
Also, U-series chips are slowly moving to more budget-oriented devices and fanless foldable display laptops. So, unless you need either of those, you’re mostly gonna have a P-series or occasionally an H-series processor on your ultrabook from now on. That means better performance across all devices.
I hope this article was helpful and you found the best 12th gen ultrabook for your professional workflow. In case you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share this article with anyone looking to buy a new Thin & Light laptop.