These days the offer for thin, light, and fast ultraportable laptops is vast, but for those of you for whom the size and portability matter more than other aspects, a mini laptop with an 11-inch, 10-inch, or smaller display size might be the ideal choice.
In order to make it a little easier for you to single out the best small laptops that best 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).
I’ll tell you 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, and I’ve also added links to our detailed reviews and to our today’s best deals pages, where you can usually find these devices for sale at discounted prices. Last but not least, you can also get in touch with me in the comments section at the end of the article if you have any questions or any feedback on this post, I’m around and will help out if I can.
As a side note before we jump into the core of the article, this primarily touches on ultra-compact small-screen laptops, so I left out those laptops with a 12-inch, 13.3-inch display size, or larger. If you’re looking for that sort of a notebook that offers perhaps a better balance between features, performance, and design in still a fairly small format, then you should check out our Best Ultrabook buying guide instead, which covers popular titles such as the Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, Dell XPS 13, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Microsoft Surface Laptop, HP Envy x360 13 and a multitude of other options built on Intel Core or AMD Ryzen hardware, and with the latest features and traits that money can buy today.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to our selection of the best small laptops with sub-11-inch displays.
Affordable small laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids
The offer for budget 11-inch small laptops is diverse, especially in the $200 to $400 spectrum of side notebooks, compact travel companions, or perhaps inexpensive laptops for your kids.
Don’t expect premium features or materials in this class, but you will find in here simple and compact computers that can smoothly handle basic everyday tasks (browsing, email, video streaming, text editing), as well as 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 just not going to find better value for your money elsewhere.
You must however understand, and I can’t stress this 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 article on this topic over here, that 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, watching movies and clips on Youtube or Netflix, listening to music on Spotify, eMail, text-editing, and other everyday web-related activities, a Chromebook is going to be a perfect match for you. Instead, if you’ll mostly use your laptop offline, or if you want to run specialized software for your work or school, a Windows notebook might still be the better choice in your case.
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 at the same time much simpler to customize and set up to your needs. Much like with your phone, you install apps from a dedicated web store (ChromeOS 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. Nonetheless, if you need to run specific Windows software, games, or plan to use your computer offline for long periods of time, you’ll better go for one of the Windows alternatives we’ll discuss in the next sections.
Now, most of the available Chromebooks you can find for less than $400 are built on Intel or Mediatek dual-core or quad-core 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 some 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 a more ample updated selection via this link.
That aside, our condensed list of recommendations for affordable ultra-compact mini Chromebooks is down below:
Acer Chromebook Spin 11 2-in-1 small laptop
Starting at around $260 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 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, thick 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 C340 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 $250 for the base configuration.
This gets the same kind of 11.6-inch touchscreen display, the same convertible format, the same Intel Gemini Lake hardware platform inside, and a slightly larger 42 Wh battery, which 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 tiny 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 the much better alternative for you to get in the sub $300 segment, as long as you’re OK with its smaller display.
And that’s because the Chromebook Duet offers a much nicer display than any of the other alternatives, 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. This might not matter that much, though, as the basic is hidden by the included fabric sleeve with kickstand.
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 prooves to be highly efficient, squeezing 10+ 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, against, as long as you’re fine with a 10-inch device and its slightly cramped keyboard, expected at this size.
The best Windows-based small notebooks
This section includes 11-inch laptops that run Windows, 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 Gemini quad-core or later), otherwise the computer is going to struggle even with daily browsing and light multitasking, or you won’t have enough storage space for Windows and programs (especially on the 16 GB versions, but you’re at a limit with 32 GB as well).
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, the Asus Laptop L210 is a compact and lightweight laptop (2.2 lbs) with plastic construction and clamshell form-factor. It’s lighter and smaller than many of the alternatives in the sub-$250 price range, and bundles an 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 TN 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 points.
- HP Stream 11 – plastic construction, clamshell, available in a few different colors, 11-inch HD TN matte display, Gemini Lake Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC storage on base model, 38 Wh battery, weighs only 1.1 kg/ 2.4 lbs, around $270 for mid-level Gemini configurations, older Apollo Lake versions also available.
- Lenovo IdeaPad 1 – plastic construction, clamshell, 11-inch HD TN matte display, Gemini 4Core or AMD 2Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage on base model, 35 Wh battery, weighs only 1.2 kg/ 2.6 lbs, around $240 for mid-level configurations;
Most of these options are similar in specs, with 11-inch HD TN screens and Gemini Lake hardware. I lean towards the Asus L210 for the slightly nicer build and its reduced weight, but the HP Steam and IdeaPad are but that much different. You do get that AMD hardware in the IdeaPad 1, and that alone might justify a better look at it. We haven’t tested it yet, so can’t give you any insights for now.
And here are some of the sub-$400 best convertible laptops that I’d consider:
- Acer Spin 1 – mostly metal construction, convertible, 11-inch HD IPS touchscreen, Gemini Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage on base model, 36 Wh battery, weighs 1.2 kg/ 2.6 lbs, around $400 for mid-level configurations.
- Asus VivoBook Flip 11 – plastic construction, convertible, 11-inch HD TN touchscreen, Apollo Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage on base model, 42 Wh battery, weighs 1.25 kg/ 2.8 lbs, around $300 for mid-level configurations.
- Lenovo Flex 6 11 – plastic construction, convertible, 11-inch HD TN touchscreen, Gemini Celeron/Pentium 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB eMMC storage on base model, 38 Wh battery, weighs 1.22 kg/ 2.7 lbs, around $400 for mid-level configurations.
- Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e – rugged plastic construction, convertible, 11-inch HD IPS touchscreen, Braswell Celeron 4Core processor, 4 GB RAM and 128 GB eMMC storage on base model, 35 Wh battery, weighs 1.4 kg/ 3.1 lbs, around $280 for mid-level configurations.
These options are more expensive than the clamshell offers listed in the previous section, for pretty much the same hardware specs, but they do get nicer IPS panels, touchscreens, and the convertible form-factor. The VivoBook Flip 11 is the fairly inexpensive exception here, but that’s because it’s a plastic-built laptop with slower Apollo hardware, and not the more recent Gemini CPU available with the other options. Finally, the ThinkPad Yoga offers the ruggedized Thinkpad build and an IPS display, but even older hardware and a heavier chassis.
Premium 11.6-inch ultraportable laptops
While many manufacturers migrated their premium ultraportables towards the 12 and 13-inch segments in recent years, as these can easier accommodate the required components and a larger battery, you might still find good value with the few premium 11-inchers listed below. Most of them are old though, and you should make sure to understand and accept their quirks before getting one of these.
If you’re looking for 2021 specs with up to Intel 10th gen and 11th gen Core i5 and i7 processors and Intel Iris Xe or UHD graphics, or the excellent AMD Ryzen hardware with Vega graphics, those are not available in sub-11-inch formats at the time of this update, but mostly in the 13+ 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.
Nonetheless, if you still prefer an 11-inch computer instead, here are some options to consider.
HP ProBook X360 11 Education
This is one of the very few options in this class with still modern hardware, a sturdily built 11-inch convertible laptop that meets MIL-STD-810G standards, thus is ideal for traveling and for kids, thanks to its ability to survive the daily hassle and occasional bumps.
The specs list includes a wide range of processor such as Gemini Lake Celeron, Jasper Lake Pentium Silver/Gold, or 10th generation Intel Core Y i3/i5, up to 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of fast NVMe SSD storage, alongside a 48 Wh battery and a spill-proof keyboard, all tucked inside a 3.2 lbs plastic shell. Unfortunately, HP still decided to skimp on the screen with this product, only offering a low-gamut and dim TN panel option, and I would have expected an IPS panel in this kind of product.
The ProBook x360 11 starts at a little over $400 at the time of this update, but the higher-end configurations sell for around $700 to $800. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations/prices.
HP EliteBook Revolve 810
The Elitebook Revolve 810 is an older model and might be difficult to source out, but remains even to this day one of the most complete 11-inch laptops out there. 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, and a 44 Wh battery.
Potential buyers might complain about the screen’s HD-only resolution and the dated hardware inside, but both are still good enough for basic everyday use.
If you can look past these quirks, the Revolve 810 might be worth getting at the greatly discounted prices it goes for these days, as a Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD storage sells for a little over $500. Follow this link for more details.
Lenovo Yoga 710 11
This is another older model, but a slimmer and lighter convertible laptop that only weighs 2.3 lbs, so much easier to carry around. It’s made out of plastic, but is still nicely built and good-looking. It also gets an FHD IPS touchscreen display, and a fairly good non-backlit keyboard.
The Yoga is powered by Intel Pentium or 5th gen Intel Core M hardware, with up to 8 GB of RAM, SSD storage and a 40 Wh battery, so is not as fast as the EliteBook, but will handle everyday chores well and it’s much quieter, as it’s built on fanless hardware.
The 11-inch Yoga 710 was pricey at launch and has still retained a fair chunk of its value. These days you can find the Pentium versions for under $500, but the Core models still sell for over $600, if you can track them somewhere. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations and prices.
Apple Macbook Air
I’ll still mention the 11-inch Apple MacBook Air in here, although it’s no longer something I’d recommend, due to its dated hardware and poor-quality TN glossy screen.
The build quality, typing experience, the long battery life, and even the performance to handle everyday tasks are still here though, so this might still be a decent option for some of you looking to get a very cheap MacBook, even with these significant quirks, but only if you can find it greatly discounted, for $400 or less. Follow this link for updated prices. Otherwise, a used MacBook Pro from a couple of generations ago is a smarter choice.
A discounted or a Certified Refurbished 12-inch MacBook would also be a better alternative, and if your budget allows, the new 13-inch MacBook Air M1 from 2021 smokes all the competition out of the water, with excellent performance, 15+ hours of battery life, a vivid high-quality display and the standard Mac build-quality and design. Too bad the serviceability has gone down the drain, though. Nonetheless, the M1 MacBooks are among the best laptops out there, and for many good reasons.
You might have reached this conclusion by now, but if a premium ultracompact laptop is what you’re after, there’s hardly any compelling option in this 11-inch segment anymore.
That’s why my advice is to jump up to the 12-inch and 13-inch classes for a wider pool of modern options. 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, your options vary greatly, but as already mentioned, that’s 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, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Razer Book 13 or the Microsoft Surface Laptop, but also with the newer ultra-compact launches of recent years, such as the M1 MacBooks built on Apple silicon, highly-portable productivity and business laptops with 3:2 displays such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano or Asus ZenBook S13, as well the powerful-ultrabooks with dedicated graphics, such as the Razer Blade Stealth or the Asus ROG Flow X13, both 13-inchers with dedicated Nvidia graphics. In fact, we’ve discussed in depth this latter class of products in our Gaming Ultrabooks buying guide., as well as in many of our reviews (use the search from in the top-right corner of the site)
With all these options you’ll be getting slightly larger products, but most of the time in lighter models, with better quality displays, modern specs, and a lot of features that are no longer available in 11-inchers.
And if you absolutely have to go the ultra-compact route, I’d rather suggest one of the few 10-inch and sub-10-inch options in the next part of this article. These are still meant for daily use and not much in terms of performance, but they’re highly portable, inexpensive, and at least offer updated specs and good-quality displays.
How about the best 10-inch mini laptops?
With netbooks no longer a reality, you can hardly find a 10-inch laptop in stores anymore these days, with some exceptions only available Asia. There are however quite a few good 10-inch tablets to consider, and these are usually paired with keyboard docks or folios, so can be used as notebooks as well. Plus a couple of handheld projects such as the GPD Win or AYA Neo, that we’ll get to in a bit.
Microsoft Surface Go 2
Back to the 10-inch tablet laptops, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is my go-to recommendation in this class as one of the few 10-inch Windows devices with modern specs and features.
This is Microsoft’s smaller and less powerful alternative for their Surface Pro lineup, as well as their more inexpensive model. It’s not necessarily cheap, though, starting at $399 for the tablet alone, and the keyboard folio and the Surface pen come 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. Microsoft offer 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.
Now, despite its price, the Surface Go is still 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 everyday browsing, content streaming, text-editing, and the likes just fine.
It’s also built from a durable and lightweight magnesium alloy with Gorilla Glass on top of the screen, it’s extremely light at only 1.15 lbs (for the tablet, and 1.7 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 storage space, and a 28 Wh battery that offers around 5-8 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 it’s perfectly fine for kids and smaller hands.
You’ll find more about the Surface Go from this review (of the previous generation), and you can 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 computer? 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 even less: the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
Yep, we started this article by suggesting a couple of Chromebooks and finish it with another one of these. I’m not going to go over what a ChromeBook can and cannot do all over again, I’ve covered the topic in this and this article, so let’s look at 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 piece that includes a built-in kickstand, and a keyboard folio, both bundled with the tablet by default, and all these starting at sub $300.
The screen is 16:10 aspect-ratio, FHD IPS, and touch, so not 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. An 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 a 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.
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.
The Lenovo Tablet 10 could 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 a more ergonomic laptop, as this one gets a keyboard dock, not a keyboard folio (see the pictures for details).
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 fo 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.
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 pico computers
We must also touch on this class of tiny personal computers represented by the GPD Win or the AYA Neo projects, both 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.
Both the Win 3 and the Neo are scheduled to ship around the summer of 2021, and start at around $799. Look into further reviews and updates for more details on how they perform, how they feel in everyday use, and the kind of battery life you should expect from these things. We’ll further cover these in future articles.
These are the 11.6 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 running 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 the smaller computers.
Thus, if you do need more power in a small form-factor, you should also check out our list of recommended 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.