There are many thin, light and fast ultraportables out there, but for some users the size matters more than anything else when choosing a laptop.
Thus, if you hate lugging around large and heavy computers and you don’t really ask that much from your portable companion anyway, chances are you’ll be very happy with one of the small and compact options below.
This post is about the best 11-inch and smaller notebooks available these days in stores, and I’ll present you the best available options and the main differences between them, in order to help you pick the right device for your needs and budget. As a side note, you should also check out this post that covers in-depth the available 12-inch laptops and Windows running tablets.
Now, in order to make your quest for the best small laptop easier, I’ve split the post into three sections:
- premium 11-inchers (selling for $500 and above),
- affordable 11-inchers (selling for under $500),
- 10-inch mini laptops and tablets.
I’ll tell you what I like about each option, the negative aspects you need to be aware of as well, and I’ve also added links to our detailed reviews and to our deals website, where you can usually find these devices discounted. Last but not least, you can also get in touch with me in the comments section if you have any questions or anything to add to the article, I’m around and will help out if I can.
The premium 11.6-inch ultraportable laptops
This chapter includes the best 11-inchers you can find these days, although the offer is limited and even outdated, as most manufacturers migrated their premium ultraportables towards the 12-inch segment in recent years.
Apple Macbook Air 11
The Macbook Air is even to this day the 11-incher to get if you need performance in a very small body.
It weighs just 2.38 lbs and is 0.68-inches thick and it’s not just portable, but also sturdy built and nice looking thanks to its aluminum unibody design. The Core U hardware platform takes care of the performance side, with up to 8 GB of RAM and fast PCIe SSD storage. It’s true this is not the latest Core U generation, as the Macbook Air 11 hasn’t been replaced after the 12-inch Macbook was launched, but it’s still capable of handling everyday activities and demanding loads. A 38 Wh battery is part of the whole package as well, enough for around 7 hours of real life use, although Apple claims this computer will last up to 9 hours on a charge.
We also have to mention the excellent backlit keyboard with black chiclet keys and the accurate touchpad, which greatly enhance the experience with this laptop. On the other hand, the 11-inch Macbook Air offers a rather limited IO (2xUSB slots, 1x Thunderbolt 2 slot and no card-reader), but its single major drawback is the poor screen, with a 1366 x 768 px TN glossy panel. If you can look past these, the MBA is an outstanding product, but I admit it’s tough to accept that screen in this day and age.
Apple sells the Macbook Air 11 for around $700 and up at the time of this update, for a Core i5/4GB/128 GB SSD configuration, but you will usually find it discounted online.
Those of you that won’t be able to accept the subpar screen should consider the Apple Macbook instead, just keep in mind it is a different type of laptop, one the focuses on portability and not as much on performance. It offers a miles better 12-inch screen in a smaller and lighter body, but is no match for the MBA 11 when it comes to speed, connectivity and typing-experience. On top of that, the base version of the Macbook 12 starts at $1299, albeit that’s for a higher-end configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Follow this link for my impressions on the Apple Macbook and this one for up-to-date configurations and prices.
An even better alternative for the Macbook Air 11 is the Dell XPS 13, a 13-inch ultraportable with Core U hardware, a good screen, a compact body and a total weight of 2.6 lbs. You’ll find more about it in my detailed review.
HP EliteBook Revolve 810
The Elitebook Revolve 810 is one of the most complete 11-inchers available right now. It gets a beautiful and tough metallic case that weighs 3.1 lbs, an excellent backlit and spill-resistant keyboard, a bright IPS touchscreen, fast Core U hardware and a 44 Wh battery. Potential users might only complain about the screen, as only a 1366 x 768 px option is available, with no digitizer and pen support. The revolve is also a 2-in-1, and its screen rotate around its middle hinge, like on the tablet-pcs of the past.
If you can look past its lacks, the Revolve 810 has almost no rival in the 11-inch segment, as the Macbook Air is not a convertible and only settles for a TN display. However, the Revolve 810 is extremely expensive, with a Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 180 GB M.2 SSD selling for around $1500. And this particular detail will steer most of you towards something else.
Lenovo Yoga 710 11
Lenovo’s 11-inch Yoga 710 is a 4-in-1 hybrid with a 360-degrees convertible display and a thin-and-light body, made out of good quality plastic. It weighs just 2.3 lbs and is .49″ thick. The laptop gets decent IO, a FHD IPS touchscreen and a fairly nice keyboard, which isn’t backlit though.
On the inside there’s Core M hardware, paired with up to 8 GB of RAM, SSD storage and a 40 WH battery. The Core M platform handles everyday activities well, as long as you keep multitasking at bay, but is not as fast as a Core U processor. It’s fanless though, and as a result this computer is very quiet.
Long story short, the Yoga 710 11 is a nice and compact 2-in-1 11-incher. It starts at around $750, but there’s a fair chance you’ll find it discounted online. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations and prices.
Some of the older options
There are a few older 11-inchers you might still find here and there, probably for pretty good prices.
- Lenovo ThinkPad Helix series – more details – another Core M powered 11-incher, this time with a detachable form-factor. The Helix is a stand-alone Windows tablet that weighs 1.75 lbs and is 0.35″ thick, with an IPS FHD touchscreen, active digitizer and pen support. The hardware is tucked behind the display, with up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage, as well as a 35 Wh battery. Lenovo pairs the slate with either a slim Keyboard Folio or a Keyboard Pro Dock, which includes a nice chiclet keyboard, a trackpad with Trackpoint and mechanical click buttons, extra ports and an extra 26 Wh battery. The latter accessory will transform the Helix into a versatile mini laptop, albeit a rather large and heavy one at 3.75 lbs.
The Helix was expensive at launch, selling for around $1000 with the Keyboard Folio, while the model with the Keyboard Pro Dock and the Thinkpad Pen was available for around $1250. These days you can find it for much less though. Follow this link for more details and the latest configurations and prices.
- Dell XPS 11 – more details – Dell’s XPS 11 is still one of the best looking 11-inch convertibles ever launched. It sports an 11.6 inch IPS QHD touchscreen and Haswell Core Y processors inside a sturdy 2.5 lbs body. The awkward and flat touch-keyboard design will kill it for heavy typists, but everyone else might like this one, for the right price.
Affordable 11-inch laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids
The offer for affordable 11-inch mini laptops is quite vast, especially in the sub $300 spectrum of inexpensive secondary notebooks, travel companions or laptops for kids. Don’t expect premium features or materials, but if you want something simple, able to deal with basic tasks and capable of going for a few hours on a charge, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something right below.
We have to start this section with Chromebooks, cause there are many good ones selling for between $150 and $250, and if your needs are accommodated by one of these, you’re not going to find better value for your money anywhere else.
Just make sure you understand exactly what a Chromebook can and cannot do, I’ve put up a whole article on this topic over here. In few words though, if you’re always on the Internet and your activities involve browsing, Youtube, eMail and other web-related tasks, you’ll be just fine with a Chromebook. If on the other hand you need to run specific software, games or plan to use your computer offline often, you’d better go for one of the Windows options down below.
I’ve also gathered a list of the best available Chromebooks over here, and I encourage you to check it out if you consider that a Chromebook is what you need.
Affordable traditional options
This section includes the Windows 11-inchers with a traditional notebook form-factor (clamshell) and a selling price of under $250.
There are a few of these, but my advice is not to buy a model that doesn’t offer at least 4 GB of RAM and to aim for one of the faster CPU options, otherwise you’ll struggle even with daily browsing and light multitasking. That aside, expect 11-inch non-touch displays in this class, non-backlit keyboards and fairly well made plastic bodies with a thin profile. With that in mind, I suggest having a look at the HP Stream 11, the Asus Vivobook E200 series and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000.
The HP Stream 11 is powered by an Intel Celeron platform and includes 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Yes, the storage space is very limited, the but CPU and RAM should ensure decent performance with daily use and the 38 Wh battery offers enough juice for about 6-10 hours each charge. The Stream 11 is also light (2.6 lbs), well built and available in a few lively colors, all in a package that sells for under $200. Follow this link for more details.
The Asus Vivobook E200 is a thinner and lighter device (2.2 lbs), also made of plastic, but available in either Gold or Silver. It looks and feels surprisingly good for a computer in this price-range and despite the lower weight, it still packs a 38 Wh battery. However, it is motorized by Intel Atom hardware, with 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage, so it’s going to be a little more sluggish than the HP in daily use, but it will also last a little longer, since the Atom platform is built primarily with efficiency in mind.
The Asus E200 starts at $200 as well, and you can find more about it via this link.
There’s also a more recent entry in this class, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 with a traditional form-factor and matte screen.
It’s a 2.6 lbs plastic built device built on Intel Pentium hardware, with 2-4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage and a 32 Wh battery. However, it is more expensive than then the options HP and Asus offer, as $199 will only get you a configuration with 2 GB of RAM and you’ll have to pay $50 extra for 4 GB of RAM and a slightly faster processor. You’ll find more about this series from this link.
Other options you will probably find for even less are the Asus EeeBook X205, the Lenovo IdeaPad 100s or the Acer Aspire E11, however these are built on even slower Atom processors and only include 2 GB of non-upgradeable RAM, that’s why I personally advice against them, especially if you plan to keep them around for a while. However, I’ve seen some of them going for as low as $100 though and they are steals at that price, but make sure you don’t have over-expectations from these little fellows.
If you’re still on a small budget but want a convertible mini-laptop with a touchscreen, slightly faster hardware and more storage space, the HP Pavilion x360 11, the Lenovo Flex 3 11 (also known as the Yoga 300 11 in some regions) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series are some of your better options. Just keep in mind you’re still getting plastic bodies, non-backlit keyboards and TN displays with these ones, for around $300 to $500.
The HP Pavilion x360 11 2-in-1 is built on Intel Pentium or even Core i3 processors, with up to 8 GB of RAM and usually a 500 GB HDD, which means there’s a 2.5″ bay inside where you can stick whatever storage solution you might want. There’s also a 34 or a 41 Wh battery (on the Core i3 config), so overall this notebook will handle daily chores well and will last for quite a few hours on a charge.
Specs aside, the Pavilion x360 11 is a convertible, with an HD TN touchscreen, is made out of plastic, is available in a few different colors and it weighs around 3.1 lbs.
HP ask between $350 (for the Pentium model) and $550 (for the Core i3 model) and you can find more about them via this link.
Lenovo’s Flex 3 11 series on the other hand comes with a cheaper price tag, slower hardware (Intel Celeron and Pentium) and a 30 Wh battery. It still gets up to 8 GB of RAM and a 2.5″ storage bay, so it can be a decent mini laptop, but it’s not going to last as long on a charge. You’ll find out more about this device from our detailed review, and details on the latest configurations and their updated prices are available here.
Dell’s Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is a solid alternative for the HPs, a similarly sized computer with the same form-factor.
Dell’s option is available with a larger selection of hardware options though, from Intel Celeron up to Intel Core M CPUs, 2-4 GB of RAM based on the configurations available at the time of this post and eMMC to SSD storage. It also gets a 32 Wh battery, but the screen still uses a TN panel. These aside, the Inspiron 11 3000 is also made out of plastic, available in a bunch of different colors and weighs 3.1 lbs.
Dell asks between $250 and $550 for the models in this series, and you can find more about them via this link. Keep in mind there are also some older Inspiron 11 3000 versions, with larger 43 Wh batteries and a more rugged design. Those were available in silver and you should easily recognize them by this aspect.
Mid-range traditional 11-inchers
In case you’re after a more strongly built machine with sober aesthetics, a great keyboard, proper IO and decently fast hardware, Lenovo and Dell offer a few interesting options. However, they’re charging premium for the rugged construction and the supposed reliability, so unless you need these your money are probably better spent on the options mentioned above.
Dell’s offer is the Latitude 11 Education series. It gets a black plastic case, weighs about 3 lbs and is a traditional laptop with a clamshell form-factor, a matte screen, a good keyboard and proper IO. It’s motorized by Intel Celeron and Pentium processors with up to 4 GB of RAM and a 7200 rpm HDD, and gets a 38 Wh battery and a TH HD screen. The prices are pretty high though, as Dell charges between $350 and $550 for these models.
Lenovo’s offers on the other hand are a little better priced for what you’re getting. They have the clamshell ThinkPad 11E in stores, as well as the convertile Yoga 11E. Both are 11-inchers with TN HD displays, matte on the former and glossy and touch capable on the latter. They also get pretty much the same build, keyboard, ports and hardware inside, but with Pentium or Core i3 processor, up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage included with most options, as well as a 42 WH battery.
The ThinkPad 11E starts at around $400, for a pretty decent configuration with 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, while the Yoga 11E is about $100 more expensive for similar specs. Follow this link for more details on the traditional 11E and this one for extras on the convertible Yoga 11E.
How about 10 inchers?
You can hardly find 10-inch mini laptops in stores anymore these days, with some exceptions like the Panasonic Let’s Note Z6 for instance, which is only available in Japan. There are however quite a few good Windows tablets with 10-inch screens to consider, and these are usually paired with keyboard docks or folios so can be used as both notebooks or as slates.
And there’s also the unusual Lenovo Yoga Book, which we’ll address first in this section.
Lenovo Yoga Book
Mid-range tablets with digitizer and pen support
We’re currently updating this section.
Core M options – dell latitude 11, Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S, Lenovo Thinkad X1 tablet
Dell Latitude 11 5000 series
The Latitude 5000s are Windows tablets with an 10.8-inch screen, that can be paired with a matching keyboard dock for laptop use, and Dell is one of the few OEMs that still offer one of these in a package that could spark interest from regular consumers (HP and Fujitsu also have similar devices in stores, but they are really expensive).
The Latitude 5000s are built on Intel Core M hardware, so they are fanless and can handle most standard tasks well, but they’re not meant for heavy multitasking or demanding loads. The CPUs are paired with up to 8 GB of RAM, SSD storage and a 35 Wh battery, tucked inside a fairly thick and heavy slate (1.6 lbs). The 10.8-inch touchscreen gets an IPS panel, FHD resolution and is compatible with Dell’s Active Pen. In order to meet business requirements, these devices also feature TPM, fingerprint-readers and integrated 4G connectivity on some configurations.
Affordable 10-inch tablets
Asus T100 series
Acer Switch 10
Among them, we have the Asus Transformer Book T100 series, a $300 dollar 2-in-1 convertible (or even cheaper these days) with a keyboard dock, which acts like a compact mini laptops and offers a complete Windows 10 experience on a compact 10 inch device. It’s powered by the latest Intel Atom Bay Trail hardware platform, which means that it’s not very punchy, but can deal fine with casual activities or movies. And because this is a low power platform, the T100 will run for 6-7 hours on a charge.
There’s also its metal made successor, the Transformer Book T100TAM that I reviewed here, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 or the slightly larger but more powerful Dell Venue Pro 11 .
These are the 11.6 and 10 inch options I’d look at right now if I’d be in the market for an ultracompact laptop. Most of them cater to those of you on limited budget, those looking for devices for primarily tablet use, or those looking for secondary travel companions and inexpensive machines for your kids, as the options for high-end 11 and 10-inchers is limited.
So if you need power in a small form-factor, check out my general list of recommended ultrabooks as well, where you’ll find options marginally larger and heavier than those mentioned here, but able to meet most requirements in terms of performance, keyboard experience, screen-quality, ports or battery life.
With that in mind, we’ll wrap this up here. I’m constantly updating this list with new ones and take out the old and obsolete ones, so do save the link and come back when you’ll need the recommendations again. And if you spot any mistake, care to suggest a device that’s missing from the list or just want to say hi, leave a comment below, I’m around to help out.