These days, you’ll find a multitude of excellent thin, light, and fast ultraportable laptops in stores, but for those of you for whom the size and portability of your computer matter more than anything else, a mini laptop with an 11-inch, 10-inch, or even a smaller display size might be the ideal choice over everything else.
Table of Contents
- What is a mini laptop?
- Affordable 11-inch small laptops & 2-in-1 hybrids
- Premium 11-inch laptops
- The best mini laptops (1o-inch or smaller)
- Microsoft Surface Go 3 and Go 2
- Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- Wrap up – 10-inch and smaller laptops
Our recommendations are based on our 15+ years of experience in reviewing and testing this sort of portable lightweight 10/11 inch laptops.
In order to make it a little easier for you to single out the best small laptops that would suit your needs and your budget, I’ve split this article into several sections:
- inexpensive 11-inch laptops (around $400 or less),
- premium 11-inch options ($400++),
- the best small laptops with 10-inch or smaller displays,
- 12-inch laptops (separated article).
We’ll go over the important details in each class, with the strong points and the quirks that you need to be aware of for each of the recommended options; I’ve also added links to our detailed reviews and to our deals pages, and you can also get in touch with me in the comments section at the end of the article if you have any questions or need my help.
What is a mini laptop?
Before we jump into the core of the article, let’s quickly touch on what you should expect from this kind of small computers.
A mini laptop offers the same functionality and aspect as a regular device, but in a smaller format. Hence, this article goes over ultra-compact small-screen laptops, so I left out the laptops with a 12-inch, 13.3-inch, or larger display sizes (I’ve covered them in this Best Ultrabook buying guide instead, which goes over the Apple MacBook, Dell XPS 13, Microsoft Surface Laptop, HP Envy x360 13 and a multitude of other options built on Intel Core or AMD Ryzen hardware, with the latest traits that money can buy today).
With the small-size options that we’re discussing in this article (which are also known as netbooks on mini-laptops), you’re still getting most of the same features and abilities, but you will have to accept lower-power hardware mostly suitable for basic everyday use and less-so for demanding applications, as well as smaller displays, fewer ports, and more cramped keyboards. Of course, there are exceptions to consider, and at the same time, these computers are portable and easy to carry around, offer long battery life, and are generally quite affordable.
With that out of the way, let’s get to our selection of the best smallest laptops with sub-11-inch displays.
Affordable 11-inch small laptops & 2-in-1 hybrids
The offer for budget 11-inch small laptops is diverse, especially in the $200 to $400 range of compact no-fuss daily computers, travel companions, or inexpensive small laptops for your kids (these are just some of the common use cases for small laptops).
Don’t expect premium features or materials in this class, but you will find here simple and compact computers that can handle basic everyday tasks (browsing, email, video streaming, text editing) and can run for quite a few hours on a charge.
Chromebooks – snappy and with excellent battery life
Chromebooks are by far your best bet in this segment at this point. As long as they meet your requirements, you’re not going to find better value for your money elsewhere.
You must however understand, and I can’t stress it enough, what a Chromebook is and what it can and especially what it cannot do for you. For that reason, I’ve put up a whole detailed article on Chromebooks over here, which you should go through.
In very few words, if you’re connected to the Internet most of the time and your activities mostly involve browsing, streaming content on Youtube or Netflix or Spotify, eMail, text-editing, and other everyday web-related tasks, a Chromebook is going to be a perfect match for you. On the other hand, if you mostly use your laptop offline, or if you want to run specialized software for your work or school, a Windows notebook might be the better choice for you, and we’ll discuss them further down in this article.
For those basic chores, though, Chromebooks are quicker than the Windows computers you’ll find for the same kind of money, especially in the sub $400 price segment, as well as safer and simpler to use.
They’re designed so you don’t have to deal with updates, they’re safer against viruses and harmful exploits, and easier to customize and set up to your needs. Much like with your phone, you install apps from a dedicated web store with pre-vetted applications, and most of the Chromebooks available today also support Android apps from the PlayStore, as well as Linux and even Windows apps to some extent.
Most of the available Chromebooks you can find for less than $400 are built on lower-power processors, with 4-8 GB of RAM memory, 16-64 GB of storage expandable through the included card reader, IPS screens with HD or Full HD resolution, an HDMI port for watching movies on an external display, as well as long battery life and fast charging abilities, in most cases. As a recommendation, stay away from older devices with Intel Atom processors and only 2 GB of RAM, those get sluggish with today’s requirements.
Over here I’ve gathered a detailed selection of the best available small-format Chromebooks at the time of this update, and you’ll also find another updated selection via this link.
That aside, our condensed list of recommendations for affordable ultra-compact mini Chromebooks is down below:
Acer Chromebook Spin 311 2-in-1 small laptop
Starting at around $200 at the time of this update, the Chromebook Spin 311 is our favorite inexpensive compact 2-in-1 Chromebook. It offers an 11.6-inch touchscreen display with an HD IPS panel, it’s built on an Intel Celeron hardware platform with 4 GB of RAM and 32/64 GB of storage space, and gets a 38 Wh battery that delivers 6-10 hours of battery life on a charge.
You’ll have to settle for an all-plastic construction though, with fair, but not excellent build-quality, thicker bezels around the display, and a total weight of around 2.6 lbs, so overall this is not as portable as some of the other options we’ll discuss further down.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 11 2-in-1 mini laptop
This is Lenovo’s alternative to the Spin 311 above, with nearly the same features, traits, and a similar price point of around $200.
This gets the same kind of 11.6-inch touchscreen display and the same convertible format, but slightly different hardware with a Mediatek processor, and a larger 42 Wh battery that allows it to last a little longer on each charge.
The downsides are normal for this price point, with unappealing bezels, a total weight of around 2.6 lbs, and rather tinny audio.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet mini-tablet
While the Duet is a smaller 10-inch laptop computer and I shouldn’t include it in this exact section, I just have to mention it as an excellent choice in the sub $300 segment, as long as you’re OK with its smaller display.
And that’s because the Chromebook Duet offers a superior-quality screen to any of the other alternatives in this class, with a brighter and richer FHD IPS panel and 16:10 aspect ratio. Furthermore, the build quality of the Duet is also second-to-none in its class, with a matte aluminum back and glass on the front.
The form factor is that of a tablet, but Lenovo bundles a keyboard folio for laptop use, and the two make up for around 2 lbs combined. Spec-wise, everything is motorized by a Mediatek platform, paired with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space, which feels alright with daily use and proves to be highly efficient, squeezing 6-12 hours of battery life out of the 28 Wh battery inside.
All these add up to the Chromebook Duet being by far the best-value option in the sub $400 class of mini laptops. Just make sure you’re fine with a 10-inch device and its slightly cramped keyboard, expected at this size.
The best Windows-based 11-inch small notebooks
This section includes 11-inch laptops that run fully functional Windows environments, with either clamshell or 2-in-1 designs, selling for between $150 to $400.
In this segment, my advice would be to aim for a configuration with at least 4 GB of RAM, at least 64 GB of storage, and one of the faster CPU options (newer generation Intel quad-core or later), otherwise the computer is going to struggle even with light multitasking, or you won’t have enough storage space for Windows and your software.
Here are some of the sub-$300 clamshell units that I’d have on my radar:
- Asus VivoBook Laptop L210 – the updated version of the popular Asus E203 and E12, the Asus Laptop L210 is a compact and lightweight laptop (2.2 lbs) with a clamshell form factor and plastic chassis. It’s lighter and smaller than many of the alternatives in the sub-$250 price range, and bundles a fanless Intel Gemini Lake-R Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage on the base model, as well as a 38 Wh battery.
The screen isn’t great, though, with an HD LED panel and no option for IPS. That’s the norm in this class with Windows laptops though, as the software license takes its toll, and the OEMs have to cut some corners in order to meet the low price point.
- Dell Latitude 11 – rugged plastic construction, clamshell, 11-inch HD matte display, more powerful Intel Jasper Lake Pentium hardware and faster SSD storage, 40 Wh battery, weighs 1.33 kg / 3 lbs.
- HP Stream 11 – plastic construction, clamshell, available in a few different colors, 11-inch HD LED TN matte display, Gemini Lake Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB eMMC storage on base model, 38 Wh battery, weighs only 1.1 kg/ 2.4 lbs, around $220 for mid-level Gemini configurations, older Apollo Lake versions also available.
- Lenovo 300e – plastic 2-in-1 format, 11-inch HD IPS touch display + pen, Gemini Lake Celeron 4Core + 4 GB + 64 Gb eMMC, 47 Wh battery, weighs 1.3 kg /2.9 lbs, around $220.
Most of these options are similar in specs, with 11-inch HD screens and Gemini Lake-R hardware. On one hand, I lean towards the Asus L210 for the slightly nicer build, its reduced weight, and low price, but the newer Lenovo 300e is a worthy alternative if you value the nicer IPS panel with touch and the convertible format. Furthermore, the Dell Latitude 11 is an interesting option as well, with more powerful hardware specs than most other 11-inch notebooks available these days, and a good keyboard, making it a proper option for programming and engineering work on the go.
If the options above did not fully convince you, you’ll also find a larger selection of compact Windows mini-laptops via this link, with user reviews and updated prices.
There are a few other older options in this segment, such as the Acer Spin 1, or Asus VivoBook Flip 11, or the rugged Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e. They’re quite expensive, though, and overall not the same value as those recommendations above.
Most manufacturers migrated their premium ultraportables towards the 12 and 13-inch segments in recent years, as those formats can easier accommodate modern more powerful components, better displays, and a larger battery.
Hence, if you’re looking for 2023 specs with either Intel Core + Iris Xe or AMD Ryzen + Vega hardware, those are mostly available in the 12+ inch models mentioned above. For what is worth, many of those models are actually compact and lightweight, as the OEMs were able to improve their designs in recent years, shrink up the bezels and optimize the designs for modern expectations. Not to mention those also get nicer displays and features not available with these smaller-screen models.
Thus, if a premium ultracompact laptop is what you’re after, there’s hardly any compelling option in this 11-inch segment anymore. Perhaps you can still find an HP ProBook x360 11 Education or perhaps a refurbished version of the popular MacBook Air 11, bith available with SSD storage and 8GB of RAM.
The HP Elitebook Revolve 810 is another very interesting older model and most likely difficult to source out, but remains even to this day one of the most complete 11-inch laptops ever made. It gets a sturdy and compact metallic chassis, an excellent backlit and spill-proof keyboard, a bright IPS convertible multi-touch touchscreen, Intel Core i5 U hardware, 8GB of RAM, 128/256 GB SSD storage, and a 44 Wh battery. Once more, this is a good option for university use, programming, light photo/video work, and other more demanding tasks that most other small computers in this niche won’t be able to properly deal with.
Follow this link for more details.
Overall, though, you are sacrificing a fair bit when going with one of these over the modern 12/13-inch ultrabooks available out there, or even some of the smaller options that we’ll cover down below. Even so, though, these premium 11-inchers still make sense if you’re buying used/refreshed in the $300 or lower price range.
Moving towards the other classic, with 12-inchers, you’re mostly getting Windows tablets with 3:2 and 16:10 touchscreens, premium designs, and different kinds of hardware specs, based on your budget. The Microsoft Surface Pros and HP Envy X12 lineups come to mind as recommendations, and all of these are covered in this detailed separate article.
With 13-inch and larger ultrabooks, this is where you’ll find the best-balanced small and lightweight laptops available these days, from popular models such as the Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360, Razer Book 13, or the Microsoft Surface Laptop, but also the newer ultra-compact launches of recent years, such as the M1/M2 MacBooks built on Apple silicon, highly-portable productivity and business laptops such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano or Asus ZenBook S 13, as well the powerful gaming-ultrabooks with dedicated graphics, such as the Asus ROG Flow X13 (AMD) and Flow Z13 (Intel), or the Razer Blade Stealth, all compact 13-inch laptops with dedicated Nvidia graphics.
Finally, if you absolutely have to go the ultra-compact route, I’d rather suggest one of the smallest 10-inch and sub-10-inch options in the next part of this article.
The best mini laptops (1o-inch or smaller)
With old-style clamshell netbooks no longer a reality, there aren’t many 10-inch or smaller laptop-format computers out there, with a few notable exceptions. There are, however, quite a few good 10-inch tablets to consider, paired with keyboard docks or folios for laptop use. And there are also a couple of pico-sized handheld gaming projects such as the GPD Win, Steam Deck, or AYA Neo, that we’ll get to in a bit.
Chuwi MiniBook X, OneMix 4 and GPD Win Max 2
These are the best compact laptops that you can get with fairly modern specs today.
The MiniBook X from Chuwi is a metal 2-in-1 design that weighs about 2 lbs (.92 kg) and offers a 10.8-inch 16:10 IPS touchscreen, a full-size keyboard (non-backlit), and competitive hardware specs. This is built on an Intel Jasper Lake N5000 Celeron processor with 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB of SSD storage. There’s only a small battery inside, though, at 26Wh, so don’t expect long runtimes.
The only way to get the MiniBook X right now is through Chuwi’s website, where it is listed at around 500 EUR/USD, but is currently out of stock. I’d like to give this a proper review – this seems very interesting, but I fear they went a bit too far trying to make it that lightweight and unnecessarily sacrificed battery life in the process.
The One-Netbook OneMix 4 is perhaps the more interesting product here, a 10-inch 2-in-1 with Intel Core U hardware, the same kind available in ultralight laptops such as the ThinkPad X1 Nano.
This is one of the smallest touch screen laptops available at this point, as it weighs 1.7 lbs (.77 grams) and measures roughly 17 mm in thickness. It’s also built well, with an aluminum chassis and a black minimalist design, and offers more ports than you’d expect from a computer of this size, with USB-A, 2x USB-C, a microSD card reader, and an audio jack.
The keyboard is backlit and occupies the entire length of this design, allowing it to compromise less than the older netbooks used to. As shown in Brad’s review over at Liliputing, the keycaps are nearly the same size as on an 11-inch laptop, but with still narrow spacing that makes it feel rather cramped. The clickpad is pretty short as well, but that’s surely no surprise on this sort of laptop.
The touchscreen is a nice touch here as well, alongside the convertible 2-in-1 form factor. There are small bezels around the panel, which is actually a pretty good IPS option with 16:10 aspect ratio, 2560 x 1600 px resolution, 300+ nits of brightness, and 100% sRGB color coverage. This also supports an N-trig pen. There’s no webcam at the top, though.
The hardware inside this mini-laptop is an efficient Intel Core i7-1130G7 platform running at 7-15 W, paired with up to 16 GB of LPDDR4x memory and SSD storage. There’s room inside for an M.2 2280 drive, so the storage can be upgraded if you want to. There’s also a fan on this laptop, and a 38.5 Wh battery. That’s not bad for a 10-inch design, but don’t expect more than 4-6 hours of multitasking and 7+ of video here.
Overall, this sure is a compelling 10-inch machine that can run Windows or Linux, and most of the applications you’d be able to run on an ultrabook. It’s not cheap, though, starting at $1200 and up, as shown via this link.
The GPD P2 Max is a slightly more affordable 8.9-inch laptop, but perhaps not as practical or as powerful as the two above, as it’s built on an Intel Jasper Lake Pentium platform (or Core m in the previous generation) and only offers a smaller keyboard with tiny keys, fewer ports, and a 35Wh battery.
This is also not a convertible, but at the same time, it is a lighter pico-laptop at only 1.43 lbs, it’s fanless and completely silent, and can still handle basic everyday tasks reasonably well, while allowing for longer runtimes than the One Mix 4 thanks to the more efficient hardware inside. If you can live with a laptop this small, this should be on your list.
You’ll find it on Amazon for around $900 or so at the time of this update. Not cheap, either!
And then there’s the newer GPD Win Max 2, a powerful 10-inch mini laptop dubbed a “handheld gaming PC”.
This is surprisingly powerful for its size, available in either Intel Core i7-1260P or AMD Ryzen 7 6800U variants, with up to 32 GB of LPPDR5 memory and fast SSD gen4 storage. Add in a metal chassis, a 1600p IPS display with pen support, a QWERTY keyboard, a 67 Wh battery, and a good selection of full-size ports, and there’s no surprise this catches a lot of attention in this niche.
Furthermore, what makes this a handheld gaming PC, on top of everything else, are the implemented joysticks and triggers that offer the functionality available with a game controller. You’ll want to go through some detailed reviews on how these feel with actual gameplay, though.
All these combined make the Win Max 2 a complete mini laptop, and the best such device available in a 10-inch format as of early 2023. It’s pricey, though, as expected given the offered specs and features…
Follow this link for the latest configurations and prices at the time you’re reading this article.
Microsoft Surface Go 3 and Go 2
When it comes to 10-inch tablet laptops, the Microsoft Surface Go is still my go-to recommendation in this class as one of the few 10-inch Windows devices with modern specs and features. You’ll still find both the Go 2 and the newer Surface Go 3 in stores right now, and the two are identical, but with slightly faster specs on the Go 3 update, especially in the base-level configurations.
This is Microsoft’s smaller and less powerful alternative for their Surface Pro lineup, as well as their most inexpensive model. It’s not necessarily cheap, though, starting at $399 MSRP for the tablet alone, with the keyboard folio and the Surface pen coming as extras.
That’s for the base model with an Intel Pentium processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of storage, and higher-tier options go up to $700 for faster specs and LTE connectivity. I’d primarily consider those budget versions, though, and keep in mind that Microsoft offers discounts for students/parents/teachers/ military personnel all year long, as well as various bundles and periodical discounts for everyone else, so you should keep an eye on their site for updates.
Despite its price, the Surface Go is a worthy portable and affordable travel companion or computer for kids. Don’t expect to run demanding tasks or games on this thing, but it will handle basic everyday browsing, content streaming, text editing, and the likes just fine.
The Go is also built from a durable and lightweight magnesium alloy with Gorilla Glass on top of the screen, it’s extremely lightweight at only 1.15 lbs (for the tablet, and 1.7 lbs with the keyboard folio), gets an excellent-quality 10-inch IPS touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and pen support, as well as two cameras, one of the front and another on the back.
All these are powered by Intel fanless hardware, paired with 4-8 GB of memory, 64-128 GB of eMMC or SSD storage, and a 27 Wh battery that offers 4-8 hours of tested daily-use battery life and 10+ hours of video on a charge. The battery charges via USB-C and supports quick charging.
The Surface Go is usable as a stand-alone device, with the cleverly integrated stand on the back, but much more versatile when hooked up to its backlit keyboard cover. Given this is a 10-inch device, expect the keys to feel rather cramped for those of you with larger hands, but the layout should be fine for kids and users with smaller hands.
You’ll find more about the Surface Go in this article, and you can also check out the latest configurations and prices via this link.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
What if you don’t necessarily have to run Windows on your compact laptop? What if you’re activities are mostly Internet-based and there’s no need to run any Windows-specific software?
In this case, an iPad or perhaps an Android tablet might be options to consider, especially since these are backed up by solid ecosystems and a wide range of compatible accessories such as stands, keyboards, or pens. At the same time, these could end up fairly expensive, but there’s one more option that sells for less: the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
Yep, I started this article by suggesting a couple of Chromebooks and will finish it with another one. I’m not going to go over what a Chromebook can and cannot do all over again, I’ve explained it in this article, so let’s discuss the Duet.
Much like the Surface Go, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is made out of metal and feels premium and sturdy. It comes with a canvas back cover that includes a built-in kickstand, and a keyboard folio, both bundled with the tablet by default, and all these start at sub $300.
The screen is a 16:10 aspect ratio, FHD IPS, and touch, so a bit smaller than the 3:2 available on the Go. It’s bright and punchy and colorful though, which is awesome for a budget device that normally compromises at this level. Not this one, though.
As for the keyboard, it’s cramped, as you’d expect from a 10-inch implementation, it’s not backlit and can’t be angled like on the Surface Go, but it’s otherwise fine, and the same can be said about the integrated clickpad. A USB-C port handles the connectivity, and there’s a camera on the front, above the screen, but no 3.5 mm jack, so you’ll have to use wireless headphones with this one.
Specs-wise, the Chromebook Duet runs on an ARM-based MediaTek 8Core platform with 4 GB of RAM and 64/128 GB of storage. That’s fine for a lightweight and optimized environment such as ChromeOS, and the everyday user experience is snappy and smooth in both tablet and laptop modes. Not as smooth as on an iPad or some of the higher-tier Chromebooks out there, but fine for daily use, and this can also run Android apps/games well since it’s an ARM platform. Finally, battery life is where this nails it, with 10+ hours of real-life daily use and 12+ hours of video on a charge. That’s better than on the Surface Go.
Bottom point, the Chromebook Duet is a game-changer and an excellent buy for under $300. Lenovo nailed it with this product, so if a ChromeOS device would work for you, this would be my budget go-to in this niche even over the Surface Go. As long as you can actually find it in stock, since this is in very high demand.
Follow this link for more details and updated prices and configurations.
The Lenovo Tablet 10 could also be an alternative to consider if you’re after a 10-incher that can last for longer on each charge, offers more ports, and is overall more ergonomic in laptop mode, as this one gets a keyboard dock, not a keyboard folio.
It starts at around $400 as well, or $500 with the keyboard, but Lenovo offers occasional discounts for as low as $350. As the name suggests, this Tablet 10 gets a 16:10 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen with pen support, and Intel Gemini Lake hardware with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, so it’s not as speedy as the Surface Go. It will outlast it on a charge, though, thanks to the 39 Wh battery inside. You should also consider that the keyboard is not backlit.
All in all the Surface Go is still my favorite, but the Tablet 10 from Lenovo can be a good alternative if you’re on a tighter budget and can find it for cheap. Follow this link for a more detailed comparison between the two, and this one for updated prices and configurations at the time you’re reading this post.
Other affordable Windows tablets include the rather unique Lenovo Yoga Book or some of the older Asus Transformer Pad Minis and Acer Aspire Switch tablets, if you can still find them in stock.
Finally, you’ll also find some lesser-known products that sell for under $200, like the CHUWI Hi10 Air or the Fusion5 Tablet PC (more details via this link), but our first-hand experience with these is limited, and I’d only recommend them if none of the other models are within your budget, and if you can get these from stores that allow easy returns and replacements. Oh, and adjust your expectations according to their price, you’re getting what you’re paying for with these cheap small tablets.
Ultra-compact hand-held micro computers
We must also touch on this class of tiny personal computers represented by the GPD Win, Valve Steam Deck or the AYA Neo projects, all designed and marketed primarily as hand-held gaming devices.
The GPD Win (in its most recent 3rd generation) offers a 5.5-inch 720p display, which slides up to unveil a touch QWERTY keyboard tucked underneath. The screen is flanked by controllers and the whole thing weighs around .55 kg (1.2 lbs).
Inside, the Win 3 is powered by Intel Tiger Lake Core U hardware, with options for either an i5-1135G7 (with 80 EUs Iris XE graphics) or i7-1165G7 (with 96 EUs Iris XE graphics), 16 GB of LPDDR4x memory, 1 TB of SSD storage, and a 45 Wh battery, the kind of hardware you’d normally get in some of the most powerful 13+ inch ultraportables. With the 720p screen and Iris Xe graphics, the Win 3 is designed to handle a multitude of games, including modern AAA titles.
The Aya Neo is different in a couple of crucial ways: it gets a 7-inch 800p multitouch screen, a slightly larger chassis (weighs .65 kg – 1.44 lbs), and AMD hardware. This also lacks a physical keyboard, so is more of a gaming handheld with a large screen and integrated gaming controllers, and less of a potential all-purpose mini laptop than the GPD model.
At the same time, with only a Ryzen 5 4500U platform and Vega graphics inside, this is not going to match the gaming performance of the Win 3 either, further impacted by the slightly increased resolution. The Neo does get 16 GB of memory and up to 1 TB of storage as well, plus a 47 Wh battery. You’ll find more about it from our detailed review.
Finally, the Steam Deck is probably the best-value option in this niche, that if you can get your hands on it. It’s the better polished of the three in terms of hardware and software combined, and also comes as the most affordable. You’ll find more about it from our detailed review.
All these ship now as of the first part of 2023.
I’ll finish this up with some quick answers to some of the most asked questions about these sorts of mini laptops. Here we go.
What is the difference between a regular laptop and mini laptop?
Size, of course, as well as everything that derives out of trying to create a fully-functional computer in a tiny chassis: lower power hardware, smaller batteries, fewer ports, more cramped inputs, but also highly portable designs.
What size (how small) is a mini laptop?
Any laptop with a screen-size of 12-inch or less should be included in this segment.
What makes a good mini laptop?
You’ll have to compromise here and there with a mini laptop, but for the most part, you’ll want a good price, fair build quality, and a combo of specs/battery life that can handle your demands. It’s a balance game with these devices, and there are options for most expectations.
What are the advantages of a mini laptop?
You’ll want one of these for the compact portable format and lightweight construction. As a secondary, many of these options are also inexpensive, so excellent as no-fuss travel companions or laptops for your kids.
What are the disadvantages of a mini laptop?
Based on your budget, you’ll have to make do with plastic builds, rather cramped keyboards, potentially lackluster display quality, and not much in terms of performance or even battery life with some units.
Wrap up – 10-inch and smaller laptops
These are the 11.6-inch and 10-inch small laptops and mini tablets I’d look at right now if I’d be in the market for an ultra-compact computer, either Chromebooks, MacBooks, or Windows options.
Most of them cater to those of you on limited budgets, those looking for devices for primarily tablet use, or those looking for secondary travel notebooks or inexpensive notebooks for your kids. The options for high-end 11 and 10-inchers are limited nowadays when most OEMs have migrated their higher-tier options towards the 12-inch and 13-inch classes, which offer an increased screen area and more space inside for components and battery cells, as well as a multitude of modern features that you won’t get on these smaller computers.
Thus, if you do need more power in a small form factor, you should also check out our list of recommended 1 2 and 13-inch ultrabooks and thin-and-light laptops, where you’ll find marginally larger, but significantly more competent options.
With that in mind, we’ll wrap this up here. I’m constantly updating this list of the best mini laptops out there as new qualifying devices are launched, so do save the link and come back in the future. Furthermore, if you have any questions, spot any mistake, care to suggest a device that’s missing from the list or just want to add anything to the article, leave a comment below, I’m around to reply and help out.
March 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm
Thank you for your helpful website. I have been browsing a lot and found your website the most helpful. Am happy to click via your site when I make my purchase.
May I pick your brain for a small question… but one that puzzles a non-IT person like me.
I am looking for the best and lightest 11″ laptop with touchscreen (best for me means: fast, quiet, durable, using it for microsoft suite applications, watching movies and online research). It will be my only computer and I tend to carry it everywhere with me (hence light and durable). I am likely to choose the Acer Aspire.
I looked at amazon, walmart etc for prices and found 2 ACER aspire models on Walmart site that seem similar but have different pricing…. I don’t understand the differences, do you? Which one is best choice?
1) Acer Silver 11.6″ Touchscreen S7-191-6447 Ultrabook PC with Intel Core i5-3337U Processor and Windows 8 Operating System
2) Acer Aluminum 11.6″ S7-191-6859 Ultrabook PC with Intel Core i5-3317U Processor and Windows 8 Operating System
Thank you for any help you can provide!!
March 14, 2013 at 7:16 pm
Looking at the specs on us.acer.com, the processor on the 6447 is a tiny bit faster than the one on the other version. It’s basically the same processor, but one is clocked at 1.7 Ghz (3317U) and one at 1.8 Ghz (3337). In practice the difference between them is abysmal, so you shouldn’t care much about that.
ON the other hand, looks like the 6859 version comes with two batteries in the pack, the included 4 Cell one and an extra 3 Cell on. It also has a multitouch trackpad, while the specs for the 6447 fails to mention that (although i believe both have multitouch trackpads).
Same thing seems to happen with the products on Walmart’s website. So i’d go for the 6859; it only costs 40$ extra and comes with that extra battery that’s going to prove very useful, since the S7 has quite poor battery life with everyday use (under 4 hours in real life)
March 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm
December 7, 2013 at 8:35 am
Thanks for the helpful article. Just exactly what I need to read to make up my minds. I like the fact that you include battery life in different Intel processors (Ivy vs Haswell). Thanks much!
April 1, 2014 at 3:43 am
Thank you for the very useful reviews! I am trying to find an option that will provide good work productivity (word, excel), serve as a tablet, and be good for taking notes (real note-taking, not just side comments). Ideally weigh 2.5 pounds or less, and like you, much prefer 12.5 or smaller. Looking at Surface 2 Pro, maybe Dell XPS 11 (though have not seen any reviews for note-taking on latter). What would you suggest? Greatly appreciate your insights.
April 23, 2014 at 7:14 pm
Thank you – very useful reviews. I am looking for a small and light laptop that I can do work productivity on (powerpoint, excel, etc. – I work on these for 4-5 hours per day). I am not sure what size screen I should go for – 11.6/ 12.5/ 13.3? I would like to go as small as possible while not severely compromising my ability to work directly on the laptop (I do not use an external monitor or keyboard since I am very mobile when I am working). What minimum screen size do you suggest?
April 28, 2014 at 8:44 am
Thanks for the best article. i really find the best Laptop for along time but now i just see it on this site. Now i still don’t know which one is the best for work? Hey ! every body please guide me, now i need a laptop to design graphic. Thanks for your best guide!!!
September 7, 2015 at 5:00 am
I think Mac is suitable for designer.
June 20, 2014 at 7:46 pm
Thank you for this very informative article.
I am struggling to find a suitable solution. Currently it seems that a surface pro 3 is the only option.
I require at least a haswell i5, 11.6/12 inch screen and 512GB ssd.
Do you have an alternate?
August 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm
Dear Sir, I have been using an Alienware M11x R2 for 4 years and really like the machine. Never a problem. It has a i7 chip (2617) 8 GB ram and I just put a 1 TB Samsung solid state drive. I would like to get a faster machine and have been watching the Alienware M11x R3 version on Ebay. what is your opinion of the Alienware and do you think anyone will be coming out with a faster 11.6 laptop. It is my only computer, and have used the facial recognition from the start and am hooked on it.Thank you for any suggestions. Sincerely, Bill Frenette
August 25, 2014 at 8:07 am
There are little differences between the M11X R2 and R3, i don’t think it’s worth the upgrade. Dell haven’t updated this series since 2011 and I don’t think they will anymore. Still, if any new powerful 11 inchers are going to appear, that won’t happen sooner than Q4 2014, Q1-2015, when then new Intel Broadwell devices will start shipping. So if you can wait till then, you should. If not, maybe you can turn your attention to some of the available 13 inchers..
August 26, 2014 at 8:34 am
Magic’s Zlate 11 is definetely a contender , in terms of lightness ( at 800 gram ) and power packed with Intel’s N3530 – New Pentium as it’s engine . Try it out yourself and you will see what i mean .
August 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm
hmmm, do you own this thing? I wasn’t aware of it and can’t seem to find any good reviews
November 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm
That 64 gigs of eMMC will definitely be a hold back though, that's why I went with the Acer Aspire R11 with the pentium n3700, but for people who only want to use the web, the Zlate 11 is definitely a viable option
January 29, 2023 at 9:30 am
What? N3530 is based on Apollo Lake/Braswell that came out in 2015. You want Gemini Lake at the minimum. That's N4000/5000 series.
August 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm
I have an Alienware M11X Version R2, purchased July 2010. Has worked flawless, i7 chip 8 GB ram 1 TB SSD. Would like to upgrade to the R3 model, but need your input and advice. My machine still works great, I just want more speed, and no I do not use it for gaming, at all and never will.
thank you for any advice. Sincerely, Bill F.
August 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm
Hi Bill. I think I already replied to one of your previous comments about the R3, didn’t i?
August 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm
Love your reviews…wish you would review the lenovo miix 2 11.6″ with i-5 4202Y and 8gb and 256 ssd. Keyboard–small with magnetic connection, not folio. Cost currently $800 – 900 US.
January 4, 2015 at 6:59 am
I am looking to buy an ultra book for my wife. She will use it to surf the internet, watch movies, listen to some music and use MS Office. I am confused between
Lenova IDEAPAD FLEX 10 (CQC – N2807, 2 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, 10.1″ display)
New Inspiron 11 3137 (Intel® Celeron® processor 2955U, 2 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, 11.6″ display)
What would you recommend? Both are available in the respective online stores for India.
January 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm
I haven’t tested the Flex 10 so can’t comment on it. For daily use, I feel that an 11 incher is a better pick over a 10 incher, which might feel too slow.
you should also check out the Asus EEEBook X205TA and the HP Stream 11, if they are available in your country. They are very inexpensive and quite good for the money.
January 6, 2015 at 11:11 am
Thanks for the information.
June 6, 2015 at 2:12 pm
I need a small light slim powerful second hand machine preferably core i3 and above ram 4gig plus memory 500gig plus etc
June 13, 2015 at 9:53 am
pls I want a cheap laptop for about $110, it should have 4GB ram, ssd, i7 chip, Bluetooth, webcam and also fast…also slim and about 13 inch…tell me the one I should go for.
December 21, 2015 at 7:01 pm
You arent gonna find anything with those specs anywhere. thats more the $600 price point
August 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm
Hi, daughter’s college requires i5, 8GB. She will be getting all textbooks put on it. She’s special needs and can’t carry much weight so we’re looking for lightest weight possible (under 2.5lbs). A touch screen would be really helpful for her.
Only one I can find is the surface pro 3, the price tag hurts. Do you know of any other that would work? Thanks.
August 25, 2015 at 5:30 pm
Hi Susan. It would help if you’d tell me your max budget and a screen-size you have in mind. Would something with a 10-11 inch display work, or does it have to be bigger?
September 14, 2015 at 8:59 am
It’s such a shame that there are no proper 10 inch laptops. I don’t want a top heavy artificially heavy transformer. If they made a regular laptop with the same internals they could get down to like 650 grams. Instead we have a top heavy, >1kg tease and I am still sitting on my old acer netbook with a C50, a dying fan, and a screen with connection issues because in like five years nobody has made any progress despite huge advances in mobile CPUs.
I swear I am going to have to learn how to smith so I can make my own laptop.
November 14, 2015 at 6:22 am
What do you think about Magiz Zlate 11? It was magnetic detachable keyboard.
Is there any other computer can detach the keyboard and as a tablet mobility?
December 30, 2019 at 10:17 pm
Try the asus zenbook 13 it uses nvme ssd which is almost like using ram as a hdd this makes it really snappy. It ha a very thin frame so a 13 inch laptop is the size if a 10 inch laptop..
January 16, 2016 at 3:31 pm
Hello Andrei, I want to buy a budget range laptop (notebook), within $500. I prefer 11.6-12.5 inch display, sufficiently powered processor i.e. core 2 duo, i3, Touch and Hinge is not mandatory.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is my choice but touch and hinge added extra cost.Would you mind to suggest alternatives??
I don’t use for gaming, I just need for my regular heavy use and multitasking. Thanks in advance! :)
March 7, 2016 at 5:33 pm
Many thanks for the useful information about the mini laptops but I am a bit confused. I am going to buy a mini lap top (11 inches or smaller) and my budget is about 650$. It will be sued for only browsing the net, office affairs (working with the Office software and Power point presentations – need appropriate port for this) and read the Ebooks and also watching the movies.
Which model you recommend me.
Thank you very much.
March 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm
You’ll find many good units within your budget, I’d look at the Lenovo Yoga 3 11 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000.
April 23, 2016 at 9:33 am
looking for a 11.6 inches sleek laptop in aluminium body within the range of rupees 40000/- to 50000/-. My uses are limited to web, mail, PPT and other office jobs.
September 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm
can you update the article?
September 19, 2016 at 7:40 am
It’s the on the to-do-list. I can’t give an estimate though, should hopefully happen in the next few weeks, but there’s no promise.
October 25, 2016 at 7:15 am
Could you comment on the need for (Intel) hardware security features eg. vPro Technology and Trusted Execution Technology ?
It is not clear to me if it is worth paying for this if I am running Linux, or I could reframe the question and ask, does a MS Windows OS on hardware with vPro Technology and Trusted Execution Technology offer more security than Linux on some less costly processor?
October 25, 2016 at 7:26 am
I'd say no, for the regular consumer.
vPro is in few words a technology that allows IT guys to control and update a computer remotely.
TPM can be useful, there's an article here: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/tpm-chip-faq , but I'm not so sure it's worth paying extra for unless you're in a big company and have someone who can actually manage your software and set up the encription. Also, I don't really know how TPM works on Linux, I don't have any experience with this.
Just my 2 cents though, others might feel differently.
October 25, 2016 at 3:36 pm
Thanks for the reply and the link. Surprisingly, some chromebooks come with TPM, who would have guessed. Btw, I appreciate the ultrabookreview 'relational database' approach.
December 3, 2016 at 11:42 pm
Love the review, one thing though, HP Pavillion X360s are strange, One I just bought was the 11.6 inch Purple model HP Pavilion 11-K137CL, it comes with 4gb thats sodered on the board (2 2gb DDR3) and a 500gb WD. I upgraded the HD to SSD and breaking in the battery on win 10 1607, battery life is about 4.5 hours currently surfing and posting on forums, but it still in break in mode. This model also a Core M3 processor.
I have no idea why the battery life is not better like 6 hours.
December 4, 2016 at 7:45 am
The battery is still small on this thing, especially for a Core M3 that needs more energy than a Pentium or Celeron. around 5 hours of daily use life sounds about right to me. COuld try playing with the screen's brightness and Power Modes in Windows, maybe you can squeeze a little more.
December 4, 2016 at 10:47 am
Yes, I'm trying a screen brightness of 43% and lowering the max processor to 90% on battery, it still has turbo bursts above 1300 during battery and performance for surfing and msword is fine. I usually have no less than 5 chrome browser tabs open at a time while on Word. I bought this for work so I could leave my 13 inch at home, pleased pretty much.
January 29, 2023 at 9:33 am
That's not necessarily true. Core M's are pretty efficient.
December 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm
thank you for this article and for other great reviews as well!
i was a silent reader until but i have until the end of the calendar year to make a purchase of a 11,6 inch laptop (i am open for suggestions but it has to be smaller and light)
could you please tell me if i could run CS3 Adobe Photoshop on any of the 11,6 inch laptops under 400 euros? i am currently using very old Dell (13inch) with Pentium Dual core 2ghz and 4 RAM and CS3 works decent (for what i use it).
important – i will be buying a main working machine in 2017. for now i just need something small and light for travel,surfing, watching films, no games just MAYBE some very light photoshop editing on the go, if needed.
so i need a good/decent screen and light weight laptop that can run CS3
would new Dell 11 3000 be an option? they are selling it here in Germany for about 220euros.. it looks a bit like a toy O.o
thank you so much for your time
and any comment/recommendation is helpful
all the best
December 29, 2016 at 7:06 am
ideally, I'd look at the Dell 11 3000, HP x360 or Lenovo Flex 11 with a Core i3 processor (not necessarily latest generation) and at least 4 GB of RAM for your needs. I think you should find some within your budget.
What's the CPU in that 220 euro Dell? I'd reckon a Celeron? That's rather slow for Photoshop imo.
December 29, 2016 at 9:26 am
Thank you so much for your answer, I really appreciate it!
One question – Lenovo flex 11 comes with i3 1,4Ghz. And Pentium has if i remember 2,16Ghz. Aren't more Ghz better? O.o Pardon my ignorance..
And i gave up on that new Dell… saw some reviews on youtube…
December 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm
A higher frequency helps, but only when comparing similar processors. A Core i3 is a faster option compared to a Pentium, so the GHz difference is not important here.
March 28, 2017 at 3:31 am
There are some bits of information I would like to see made more visible. I care about the build quaility, so I would like to know if it is plastic or otherwise, if there's a fan or not, and if the screen is matte. Usually, it's a long search to dig up this information. In tables, this info could fit in under "type", so it is available at a glance.
March 28, 2017 at 6:50 am
Hi, noted. I'll see if I can incorporate these in a future update.
May 25, 2018 at 11:04 pm
Good to hear someone comment on small computers. Looking for something rugged for rough travel. 10 to 12 inch screen; Linux friendly. I write professionally and need a solid keyboard and touchpad combo without the cursor jumping around all over the place. Price no object but I need a professional tool that works. Have not had good experiences with Lenovo or Dell. Acer, so-so…
Thanks in advance..,
September 15, 2018 at 4:45 am
Hey man plz tell which laptop should I buy I Nedd 2 in 1 detachable laptop With 4gb ram i3 or i5 chip and 128gb sand all this should be under $420
December 21, 2019 at 11:52 pm
I am looking for a 11 inch or smaller laptop. It has to run windows 10 I would like lots of memory and preferably a removable keyboard or one that flips over. I would like to also find something with 8-10 hours of battery life. Can you recommend something for me as the more I research the more confused I get. Also the lighter the better.
December 22, 2019 at 11:11 am
I'd get a Surface Go. But 8-10 hours of battery life is unrealistic at this size, there's not enough room for a big enough battery.
January 29, 2023 at 9:42 am
Sorry but the HP Revolve's hinge design is flawed. Companies can claim whatever but the failure points will be that particular hinge. It would be fine if it was metal but it's not.
You'll see most laptop cracks happen where the hinges are. The actual hinges don't fail, but because vast majority of design use about 2-inch plastic on each side to hold the hinge, it's a weakness. And when it fails you gotta replace the whole plastic casing. For me it fails on the left, so now when I close my laptop I grab the whole screen, trying to support the back using the palm of my hand.
The hinges you want are the ones that are across the entire length.
Also relying on WHr for battery life alone is too simple. Efficiency matters. What you do and how you use it matters.
My Lenovo Yoga 710 11 has a 39WHr battery but the actual charge capacity is about 33WHr. I can get 6-8 hours on general usage scenarios. You kill all the unnecessary background processes/applications, and have only 1-2 applications open at the same time. And you dim the brightness to the minimum you find acceptable.
Actually proper managing of the background processes and having latest system driver installed and behaving can be the difference between 4 and 6 hours.
January 30, 2023 at 10:53 am
Fair point. There's a reason that particular design has been phased out with most modern laptop.
February 23, 2020 at 8:52 pm
I want to write on the bus during my daily commute (2 hrs a day), only need a USB port and Microsoft Word (or similar writing program). Looking for something small, easy to hold on my lap and cheap. I would use my 8" kindle with an attachable keyboard, but it doesn't have a USB port and not sure how to get a word program on it. I prefer not using a Dell. I have a 15" Acer that I use at home but it's too bulky to take on the bus. Do you have any suggestions?
February 25, 2020 at 12:43 pm
Hi, Do you have a budget in mind? The offer for small Windows laptops is rather limited, but I'd go with something from this list and try to narrow down the ones with the best keyboard designs since that's crucial for you: https://tlbhd.com/best-12-inch-mini-laptops-2839/ .
March 12, 2020 at 1:32 am
Apple discontinued the MacBook line and replaced it with the updated MacBook Air earlier in the year. That said, the MacBook is still a good laptop for those who want something ridiculously light from the macOS ecosystem.
November 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm
One Netbook OneMix 4 has an 11th generation i7, 16gb of ram and a 10.1" screen.
GPD also has an 8.9" laptop with an i7 and 16gb of ram.
December 2, 2021 at 7:29 pm
thank you, updating!
June 6, 2022 at 1:32 am
yup, this laptop is almost perfect for me. Sadly, it does not have webcam 🤦♂️🤦♀️. Nowadays, webcam is very critical. We can not rely on our phone to be the webcam because we need phone to call someone while attending an online meeting.
Should we always bring portable webcam? &#$a1￠.. no way
December 19, 2021 at 9:22 pm
I am looking for a small mini laptop with the following capabilities
A) Has to have printing capabilities
B) Has to have USB port
December 20, 2021 at 10:07 am
Most option have those
March 3, 2022 at 12:56 pm
Macbook Air with TN screen?!
Doesn't look like an updated article.
March 3, 2022 at 1:41 pm
this article is about 11-inch or smaller devices. The updated MacBook air is 13-inch
October 11, 2022 at 5:22 am
I'm looking for a small, lightweight computer to use while traveling to internation locations, where luggage weight restrictions are tight. Would use for email, basic internet use, and most importantly to transfer photos from an sd card to an external portable hard drive, and view the images.
October 14, 2022 at 3:32 pm
The recommendations for Surface Go or Lenovo 10 (if you can find one) are very good. Surface Go should outperform the Lenovo 10, but port selection and Micro SD slot location are better on the Lenovo 10. The Lenovo will also work better as a literal laptop option, since kickstand-style 2-in-1 devices can get a little unwieldy. A similar alternative that splits the difference is the Lenovo Duet 3 (Windows – not the Chromebook model), but it's back to the same problem as the Surface Go – kickstand-style and limited ports (you would want to buy a USB-C hub to gain more ports for either the Go or the Duet 3). The Surface Go and the Duet 3 will be lighter weight than the Lenovo10. The Duet 3 screen is nice and bright, though, and the keyboard can function while detached (it has bluetooth on-board). If you can find it in the Pentium Silver model, it can have up to 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage.
October 14, 2022 at 6:33 pm
Thanks so much for your detailed suggestions!
October 17, 2022 at 9:55 am
I just need a mini convertible windows 10 laptop that doesn't use an Intel chip
November 13, 2022 at 1:31 am
I just picked up an aspire one from Value Village for $30,and to my surprise it has a few hours of battery life. A quick update to XFCE and debian and I have a small working laptop again. My HP NC8000 stopped and the cf wifi card on my Zaurus stopped working.
December 12, 2022 at 3:34 am
The GPD Win Max 2 is missing from this list
January 8, 2023 at 11:49 am
GPD Win Max 2 needs to be on this list but also compared against those ridiculous 13" thin books that have zero I/O since it is easily 4 times more powerful than any thing on this list, but also in the price range of other 6800U laptops.