It’s clear that laptops are made for portability, but it’s equally clear that not all laptops are exactly as portable. The same goes for versatility – some can only be used for a certain purpose, while others are good for many different tasks. Detachable laptops are part of the latter category. They can be used both as an actual laptop and as a true tablet by just attaching or removing a keyboard-touchpad module, which doesn’t happen with flip-hinge convertible laptops. If you want to enjoy playing on your touchscreen without being afraid that you’d damage the keyboard on the other side, detachable laptops are a way better idea than their flip counterparts. When it comes to portability, they also have the edge, as you can either only take the tablet with you or put them in different pockets of your backpack, if necessary.
In order to give you a bit of help with your search, we’ve selected some of the best detachable laptops Amazon has to offer and made a list. They are all good, albeit for different purposes, and it’s quite likely that you’ll find something that suits your preferences among them. Without further ado, here’s our list of the best detachable laptops we could find:
1. Dell XPS 12 – Editor’s Choice
This little one is part of Dell’s most premium line of laptops, made of whatever best quality components Dell could get their hands on. You can see that on the outside, at first glance: a beautiful 12.5” 4K UHD IPS 10-finger multitouch widescreen display, with sharp lines and only slightly rounded edges, paired with a solid, satin black keyboard module. It has an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front one, which will make both your pictures and your Skype conversations fantastic.
The beauty on the inside starts with a 6th generation (Skylake) Intel Core M5-6Y54, dual-core, 1.1GHz and up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost, 4MB cache. It’s a very power-efficient CPU and delivers quite good performance, also coming with the integrated graphics chip Intel HD 515 which supports 4K no problem. Add 8GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and a 256GB SSD, and you get something powerful enough to handle visual applications and even some video editing, yet light enough to take with you anywhere and pretty enough to be envied by those who see you.
2. Microsoft Surface Pro 4 CQ9-0001
If you want some hardcore performance and you don’t mind paying a bit (more than a bit, actually) extra for it, then Surface Pro is the way to go. Microsoft’s attempt at the detachable laptop market seems to be quite the success, although these products only cater to the higher-end consumer. It looks and feels premium in every way and we can guarantee, from personal experience, that these devices are totally worth the money if you can afford them.
This particular model is powered by an i7-6650U, 2.2GHz and up to 3.4GHz overclocked. It comes with a neat Intel Iris Pro 540, which can handle the QHD+ IPS touchscreen to the extent it can be used as a mobile workstation for video editing without a worry. Just like the XPS 12, it has 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD.
3. Acer Switch Alpha 12 SA5-271-57QF
The third high-performance detachable laptop in the list and much more of a laptop than the Surface Pro (which is more on the tablet side), this Switch Alpha is a really neat design on behalf of Acer, who are not usually renowned for prettiness. It features a QHD IPS 3:2 display, slightly different in shape from the 16:9 widescreens we can see on most laptops, and also a bit smaller, at exactly 12”. It’s also pretty thin and light, at only 0.6” and 2.76lbs.
The Switch Alpha 12 is equipped with an i5-6200U, 2.3GHz and up to 2.8GHz overclocked, 3MB cache, which comes with the Intel HD 540 integrated graphics chip. The RAM and the storage are exactly as with the others – 8GB LPDDR3 and 256GB SSD.
4. HP Spectre X2 12 A010NR
In spite of preferring to address the flip-type convertible laptop market instead of the one for detachable laptops, HP also provides us with an excellent alternative to the high-performance devices put forward by Microsoft, Dell, and Acer. It’s worth noting that, instead of the usual satin black or dark gray we’re used to seeing on these laptops, HP used instead of a natural metallic silver which underlines the high-quality build of the device – a one-piece aluminum frame and a stainless steel kickstand for the FHD IPS WLED-backlit display.
This model uses a Core M CPU a bit more powerful than that of the XPS 12, an M-6Y75, 1.2GHz and up to 3.1 with Turbo Boost, which also comes with Intel HD 515. It has the same 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, but only 128GB SSD, which is not exactly as much as we’d expect for this price.
5. Asus Transformer Mini T102HA-D4-GR
A budget item rather than the pricey and overpowered devices around, this Asus detachable laptop is less than half the price of the Spectre and a quarter of what you’d pay for the Surface Pro 4. Does this mean it looks bad? Not at all. Just like the Spectre X2, it relies on the natural color of aluminum, with satin finish, and sharp edges combined with rounded corners to a quite good effect. Apart from the 178o wide-angle display, this Transformer Mini offers us a little surprise: a fingerprint reader, convenient for those who tend to keep their secrets on such a device.
The processor on this one is an Intel Atom X5-Z8350, 1.44GHz and up to 2.24GHz with Intel Burst, belonging to the Cherry Trail generation of CPUs. It’s accompanied by 4GB DDR3 RAM, as well as 128GB eMMC storage, which, while admittedly not as fast as an SSD, is still faster than the best HDDs around.
6. ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi
Our second model from Asus is a bit more expensive as the first one. For this design, Asus has given up its traditional metallic gray color, the natural color of brushed aluminum, opting instead for a classy satin black finish which underlines its sharp lines – at only 0.3”, it is REALLY thin. It has an FHD IPS display with Corning Concore Glass, which offers the same level of protection as the renowned Gorilla Glass from the same company, and has a magnetic hinge which allows for a safer connection between the main body and the keyboard.
This laptop is powered by an Intel Core M-5Y10, dual-core, 800MHz and up to 2GHz overclocked, 4MB cache. It has 4GB DDR3, a neat 128GB SSD, and an 8-hour rated battery.
These were our recommendations in terms of detachable laptops. Of course, their qualities also come with a couple of drawbacks, mostly those associated with the fact that detachable laptops are more on the tablet side. They won’t have as much power as flip laptops, let alone classic models; in fact, detachable equipped with an i5 or i7 processor are extremely rare, while those with a discrete video card are almost non-existent. Battery life will likely not be as good either, though there are exceptions to this rule.
Who should get a detachable laptop? Mostly, those who have too much free time and enjoy playing on their tablet. But also visual artists who enjoy drawing on their tablet without the hassle of a non-removable keyboard, and also uploading their drawings and writing descriptions on Instagram without the hassle of an on-screen keyboard. Those who often have to show someone what they’re working on. Those who can’t be bothered carrying a full-fledged laptop on a trip. Those who only want a proper tablet, but also a decent laptop, and they can’t afford both.
It is a bit difficult to choose a proper detachable laptop, mostly because it’s still a developing industry and there are many models that look OK at first glance but don’t perform quite as expected. However, if you want to find something suitable for you, do not despair: there are also plenty of detachables that will do their job for you even if you are, as said above, a visual artist. Then again, you must be prepared to pay for such a device a bit more than what you’d pay for a regular laptop. At the end of the day, it’s still harder to squeeze all the performance inside such a small space.