TL;DR – These are the Best 2-in-1 Detachable Laptops:
1. Surface Pro 7
Best 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
Microsoft’s Surface line is arguably the pioneer for the 2-in-1 detachable design, and the Pro 7 is the culmination of year’s worth of design tweaks and improvements. From the display to the TypeCover to the optional Surface Pen, the Pro 7 is a compelling piece of kit.
The i5 and i7 configurations come with Intel’s Iris Plus graphics that should be more than enough for light gaming and photo or video editing. You’ll also get Microsoft’s Type Cover keyboard for the Pro 7. The 12.3-inch PixelSense display is clear and crisp thanks to its 2,736 x 1,824 resolution.
2. Surface Go 2
Best Budget 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
The Surface Go 2 (see our review) isn’t just a miniature version of the Surface Pro line. It offers a lot of the same overall features thanks to its similar design, however it’s far more portable thanks to its smaller size. It’s also less powerful.
The two base models come with the Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y processor, with the higher-end offerings taking advantage of the Intel Core m3 processor. Either one is going to be fast enough for the most basic of tasks, but we can’t recommend picking up the $399 64GB model. The combination of an eMMC drive and the Pentium Gold processor is going to be slow and frustrating to use.
Instead, opt for 128GB NVMe SSD and either the Pentium Gold or Core m3 models. They’re a little more expensive, but you’ll be glad you spent the extra cash. The Go 2 ships with Windows 10 S Mode enabled, which is a security feature that prevents you from installing apps outside of the Microsoft Store. With just a couple of clicks, however, you can disable S Mode and have a full-fledged version of Windows 10 Home.
3. Asus ROG Mothership
Best 2-in-1 Detachable Gaming Laptop
If you really want to get crazy, the ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700 gaming laptop is the only answer. This massive gaming laptop has a 17.3-inch Full HD 144Hz display that detaches from the keyboard. You can then use the keyboard wirelessly, or via a USB-C cable. It’s basically an all-in-one gaming PC that looks and works like a laptop when the keyboard is docked, and we’re so into it.
Tucked behind the screen is an overclocked Intel Core i9-9980HK, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, 1.5TB SSD and 64GB DDR4 RAM. Included with the Mothership is a ROG Ranger laptop backpack and a Gladius II gaming mouse, the former of which you’ll need to tote around all 10.58 pounds.
4. Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Best Budget 2-in-1 Detachable Chromebook
Don’t necessarily need Windows 10? Look no further than the recently released Lenovo Chromebook Duet. This small 2-in-1 is exactly what Google was hoping the Pixel Slate would be. As of Chrome OS 81, which is installed by default, there’s a dedicated tablet interface, complete with gesture navigation.
Included in the box is a back cover and a keyboard, all for under $300. You can quickly go from pseudo Android tablet thanks to Play Store access, to a full-fledged Chromebook just by attaching the keyboard. And with access to Google Docs or the Microsoft’s Office suite of apps, the Duet is an affordable and capable 2-in-1 detachable.
5. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet
Best 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop for Work
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 isn’t the prettiest detachable on our list, but it’ll get the job done nonetheless. The familiar ThinkPad design should feel familiar, at the very least.
The default bundle comes with the 12-inch 2-in-1, Lenovo’s keyboard and an Active Stylus Pen.
Inside is an Intel Core m7 processor, 256GB of storage, and 8GB of memory that should be more than enough for office and school work, and even casual gaming in Roblox or Minecraft (something the Go 2 accomplished with a slower processor). Sold separately are accessories you can attach to the tablet to add things like a portable projector, extra battery, or additional ports. It’s a versatile offering, no doubt.
Surface Book 3
Best High-End 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
The Surface Book 3 combines the power and resources of a more traditional laptop with the appeal of a 2-in-1 detachable. The unique hinge is back, allowing the display to disconnect from the base and be used as a tablet.
You can opt for a 13.5-inch model or the larger 15-inch model we’re featuring here. The bigger of the two comes standard with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti Max-Q or Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor.
The GTX 1660Ti is more than capable of powering through lengthy video editing sessions, or a weekend’s worth of AAA games without any issues. This is the detachable you want if you expect performance from your computer, even if the screen can be removed.
What to Look For in a 2-in-1 Detachable Laptop
One of the most important factors to take into consideration when shopping for a device that pulls double duty as a laptop and a tablet is what you’re going to be using it for. For someone who only needs a method to check email, watch some videos, and shop on Amazon, you’re not going to need the latest Intel i-series processor and a ton of storage. Something like the Surface Go 2 with an Intel Core m3 and the base storage will be more than enough.
That said, if you plan on using your 2-in-1 detachable to do more resource-intensive tasks like editing the occasional photo or video, then you’ll ideally want to look for an Intel Core i5 or i7 that comes with Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics.
When it comes to memory, the more the better, especially for Windows 10 2-in-1’s, but again, this is a factor that’s driven by how you intend to use your new laptop and tablet combo. 8GB for a Windows 10 device is good enough for most casual use, but you’ll want to bump it up to 16GB when possible if you plan on doing more than just online shopping and social media — and even more so if you want to game.
Another aspect to keep in mind is that most 2-in-1 detachable don’t come with a keyboard. Meaning, you’ll need to factor an extra $150 or so into the overall cost.
Jason Cipriani has covered technology full-time for the past 8 years. During that time he has freelanced for the likes of CNET, Fortune, Time, ZDNet, Macworld, Wired, and TechRadar.