There are many thin, light and fast ultraportables out there, but for some of you size matters more than anything else when choosing your laptop.
This post is about the best 11-inch and smaller notebooks available these days in stores. We’ve been reviewing portable laptops for 15 years now, so we can tell you which are the better options and why, in order to help you pick the right device for your needs and budget.
Just to make things a little easier for you, I’ve split the post into several sections:
- affordable 11-inchers (around $400 or less),
- premium 11-inchers (around $500 and above),
- 10-inch mini laptops and tablets,
- 12-inch laptops (separated article).
I’ll tell you what I like about each option, the negative aspects you need to be aware of 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.
Affordable 11-inch laptops and 2-in-1 hybrids
The offer for affordable 11-inch mini laptops is diverse, especially in the $250 to $400 spectrum of inexpensive secondary notebooks, travel companions or laptops for kids. Don’t necessarily expect premium features or materials, but if you want something simple that can handle everyday tasks and run for quite a few hours on a charge, then the options in this section are for you.
My first recommendation when shopping on a tight budget goes towards Chromebooks, as there are many good ones selling for between $150 to $350, and as long as they meet your requirements, you’re not going to find better value for your money elsewhere.
It is however imperative to understand what a Chromebook is and what it can and cannot do, and I’ve put up a whole article on this topic over here, that you should go through.
In very few words though, if you’re on the Internet most of the time and your activities mostly involve browsing, Youtube, Netflix, eMail, text-editing and other web-related chores, a Chromebook is the perfect match, as it’s quicker than the Windows computers you’d find for the same kind of money, as well as safer and simpler to use. Due to their design, you don’t have to deal with updates or viruses, and you install applications through the Google Play/WebOS stores, like on a phone. On the other hand, 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 running alternatives we’ll discuss about in the next sections.
You’ll find more about Chromebooks in this detailed post, where I’ve also gathered a selection of the best available models at the time of this update, as well as via this link.
If you don’t want to go through that, our top recommendations for affordable ultra-compact Chromebooks go to these:
- Samsung ChromeBook 3 – from $189 – compact plastic construction, 2.5 lbs, IPS 11-inch HD matte screen, quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 16/32 GB storage, 30 Wh battery;
- Asus ChromeBook C202 – from $199 – rugged and water-resistant construction, 2.5 lbs, TN 11-inch HD matte screen, quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 16/32 GB storage, 38 Wh battery;
- Acer ChromeBook R11 – from $269 – compact 2-in-1 laptop with convertible 11-inch IPS screen, 2.7 lbs, quad-core processor, 4 GB RAM, 16/32 GB storage, 38 Wh battery;
- Asus ChromeBook Flip C302 – from $450 – slightly more expensive and larger, but a premium 2-in-1 laptop with a metallic 2.65 lbs build, 12.5-inch FHD IPS touchscreen, Core M hardware and 39 Wh battery (our detailed review available over here).
This section includes 11-inch mini laptops with a traditional notebook form-factor (clamshell) and a selling price of under $150 to $400.
There are a few different options out there, but 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, 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). These aside, expect 11-inch non-touch displays in this class, non-backlit keyboards and fairly well made plastic bodies with a thin profile.
Here are some of the sub-$300 units I have on my radar:
- Asus VivoBook E203 – plastic shell, available in a few different colors, 11-inch HD TN matte screen, up to Gemini Lake Celeron/Pentium CPUs, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB eMMC storage, 38 Wh battery, 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs, around $230 for mid configurations with Gemini Lake Celeron;
- Dell Inspiron 11 3000 – plastic shell, available in a few different colors, 11-inch HD TN matte screen, AMD E2 and A6 CPUs, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB eMMC storage, 32 Wh battery, 1.1 kg/ 2.5 lbs, around $200 for mid configurations with AMD A6;
- HP Stream 11 – plastic shell, available in a few different colors, 11-inch HD TN matte screen, up to Apollo Lake Celeron CPUs, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC storage, 37 Wh battery, 1.1 kg/ 2.5 lbs, around $230 for mid configurations with Apollo Lake Celeron;
- Lenovo N22/100e Winbook – plastic shell, available in black, 11-inch HD TN matte screen, up to Braswell Celeron CPUs, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC storage, 45 Wh battery, 1.2 kg/ 2.7 lbs, around $240 for mid configurations with Braswell Celeron;
The VivoBook is my favorite due to the slightly faster hardware, lighter build and larger battery. The HP Stream is a well-balanced product, but comes as a second choice after the VivoBook, unless you can find it discounted, as it’s both heavier and slower. The Lenovo N22 gets a big battery, but is rather pricey and slower than the other options. The Inspiron 11 is affordable and fairly capable with the AMD hardware, but it’s available with just 32 GB of storage and the smaller battery, corroborated with the decreased efficiency of the AMD platform, is another important disadvantage to consider.
We’ve left out devices like the Acer Aspire ES1 (old model), Asus VivoBook X205 (old model, slow hardware) or the Lenovo IdeaPad 120s (just 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage), but you can still consider them for the right price.
There are also a couple of nicer clamshell 11-inchers you can opt for if you’re willing to spend a little more. Lenovo and Dell offer a few interesting options, but they’re charging a premium for the rugged construction and faster hardware, thus the average user might find better value with the more affordable options mentioned above.
The Latitude 11 Education series is Dell’s offer in this class. This one gets a black rubberized plastic case that’s supposed to withstand minor bumps and drops, a matte HD TN screen, a good spill-proof keyboard and proper IO. It’s motorized by Intel Celeron and Pentium Gemini Lake processors with up to 8 GB of RAM and up to 256 GB of SSD storage, and gets a 42 Wh battery. The base models start at around $350, but the higher end versions sell for up to $600. Follow this link for more details and this one for updated prices and configurations.
Lenovo offers a very similar alternative, the ThinkPad 11E, with the same kind of rugged build, matte TN screen, hardware specs and 42 Wh battery. Some versions of the ThinkPad 11E are available with an older generation Core i3 processor though, and Lenovo’s offer is also a bit more accesible when specked up. Follow this link for updated configurations and prices.
2-in-1 mini laptops
This section covers convertible mini-laptops with a touchscreen. There are a few options to consider, just keep in mind you’re still getting plastic bodies, non-backlit keyboards and mostly TN displays with these, for around $230 to $350.
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 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, the latest configurations and their updated prices via this link.
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 specs though, from Intel Celeron up to Intel Core M CPUs, 2-8 GB of RAM 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.
The premium 11.6-inch ultraportable laptops
While many manufacturers migrated their premium ultraportables towards the 12-inch segment in recent years, you’ll still find good value with the few premium 11-inchers listed below, especially since these are normally more affordable. Some of them are rather old though, and you should make sure you understand and can accept their quirks.
HP ProBook X360 11 Education
This is one of the very few options with modern hardware, a sturdily built 11-inch convertible that meets MIL-STD-810G standards, thus is an ideal computer for kids, that can survive the daily hassle and occasional bumps.
The specs list includes either an Apollo Lake Celeron/Pentium or a Intel Core m3 processor, up to 8 GB of RAM and SSD storage, alongside a 41 Wh battery and a spill-proof keyboard, all tucked inside a 3.2 lbs plastic shell. It only comes with a TN HD screen though, and I would have expected an IPS panel in this price-range.
The ProBook x360 11 starts at under $400 at the time of this update, but the higher end configurations sell for around $800. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations/prices.
HP EliteBook Revolve 810
The Elitebook Revolve 810 is an older model, but still one of the most complete 11-inchers you can find in stores. It gets a nice metallic outershell, an excellent backlit and spill-proof keyboard, a bright IPS convertible touchscreen, Core U (5th gen) hardware and a 44 Wh battery.
Potential buyers might complain about the screen’s HD-only resolution and the dated hardware inside, but both should be good-enough for everyday use.
If you can look past these quirks, the Revolve 810 might be what you want, especially as it’s greatly discounted 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 also an older model, but a slimmer and lighter convertible that only weighs 2.3 lbs, so much easier to carry around. It’s made out of plastic, so is not as sturdy as the HP options, but is still nicely built and good looking. It also gets a FHD IPS touchscreen, something the other options lack, and a fairly good non-backlit keyboard.
The Yoga is powered by Intel Pentium or 5th gen 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 its built on fanless hardware.
The 11-inch Yoga 710 was pricey at launch and has still retain 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. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations and prices.
Apple Macbook Air 11
We’ll still mention the 11-inch MacBook Air in here, although it’s no longer something we’d recommend, due to its dated hardware, the poor-quality TN glossy screen and still high price-tag.
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 good buy for some of you looking to get a cheap MacBook, even with these significant quirks, but only if you can find it greatly discounted, maybe for around $600 or less. Follow this link for updated prices.
Just keep in mind that a discounted or a Certified Refurbished 12-inch MacBook could be a much nicer alternative, and you’ll also find better-value devices in the Windows camp.
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 and can be used as both notebooks or slates.
Among them, the Microsoft Surface Go is the go-to as one of the few 10-inch devices with modern specs and features, but it’s also rather expensive and you’ll have to pay at least $400 for the tablet, or more for extra RAM and storage space, with accessories like the keyboard folio and Surface pen being extra. Microsoft does offer discounts for student/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 and deals.
Even if not cheap, the Surface Go is actually worth every penny. It’s built out of a durable magnesium alloy with Gorilla Glass on top of the screen, it’s extremely light at only 1.15 lbs, and gets a good-quality 10-inch touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio and pen support. All these are motorized by a low-power, yet still fairly capable Pentium Gold Y platform, with 4-8 GB of RAM and 64-128 GB of storage, while the 28 Wh battery inside offers around 5-6 hours of everyday use and 6-8 hours of video. The battery charges via USB-C, btw.
All in all, the Surface Go is perfectly usable as a stand-alone device, but even more versatile when hooked up to the small-sized, yet otherwise fairly good and backlit keyboard cover.
The Lenovo Tablet 10 is the alternative to consider if you’re after a 10-incher that can last for longer on each charge, includes optional LTE connectivity, 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 and will sell for as low as $350. It gets a 16:10 10.1-inch IPS touchscreen, with pen support, and is a tad slower than the Surface Go, as it’s motorized by Intel Apollo Lake Pentium processors and only 4 GB of RAM. It can last for 6-7 hours of daily use, thanks to the 39 Wh battery inside, but that does bump the weight to 1.45 lbs, and 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 need some of its particularities. 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.
These are the 11.6 and 10 inch small laptops and tablets I’d look at right now if I’d be in the market for an ultracompact computer. 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 companions and inexpensive machines for your kids, as the options for high-end 11 and 10-inchers is rather limited now that most OEMs have migrated their higher-tier options towards the 12-inch segment.
If you need more power in a small form-factor though, you should also check out my general list of recommended ultrabooks and thin-and-lights as well, where you’ll find marginally larger and heavier options than those mentioned in this article, 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 as new qualifying devices are launched and take out the old and obsolete models, so do save the link and come back when you’ll need help again. And if you spot any mistake, care to suggest a device that’s missing from the list or just want to say add anything to the article, leave a comment below, I’m around to help out.