If you’re in the market for a small and affordable laptop, yet punchy enough to deal with your everyday activities, you should have a look at the 11.6 inch devices available in stores these days.
During the last years, I’ve used and tested tens, maybe hundreds of small computers. Right now, my main laptop is a 12.5 incher, but I still own several 11.6 inch machines, which I chose because they packed fast enough hardware for my daily requirements and a decent keyboard/display, while being light enough to get along when traveling and inexpensive enough to not really worry about them breaking when thrown in my backpack.
In the end, I went for the superior size class just because I needed more power for my work (I do a lot of video and photo editing on the go), but most of you won’t probably need that kind of power. That’s why I believe the 11.6 inch notebooks offer the ideal balance between speed, size and price for the average consumer.
In the lines below I’m going to tell you a couple of things about the best 11 inch laptops available these days, based on my experience with most of them. Like all similar posts on the site, this is not a top, it’s a list, as all the devices mentioned in here could be solid picks for some of you, but they are each meant to satisfy different needs and cope with different budgets. So it’s really up to you to pick the one that suits you best.
Anyway, here’s what you’ll find in this post:
- Budget 11.6 inch laptops ($200 – $400)
- Everyday 11.6 inch laptops (best value for the money, under $600)
- Premium options – ultrabooks, convertibles and tablets
Budget 11.6 inch netbooks
If on a budget and consider a 10 inch computer not good enough for your needs, you could go for a cheap 11.6 inch notebook instead. You won’t get the looks, power or the build quality of the more expensive options, but hey, for less than $300, you’re certainly getting a lot.
The 11.6 inch Chromebooks
Chromebooks are light, portable and inexpensive computers. They look and perform like a regular mini-laptop, but there’s a catch, as they don’t run Windows, but ChromeOS, which is built around Google’s web-services. That means you’ll be getting apps based on things you’re already using and are familiar with, like Gmail, Youtube, Drive, Maps, Music, Videos and so on, and you can download these apps from a Store, just like you do on an Androdi or iOS device. You can also get third party apps like Evernote or Facebook etc. , plus many games.
Chromebooks are mainly useful when connected to the Internet, as they rely on Cloud services and they only offer limited storage space, again, like a tablet/smartphone. But they can be used offline as well to watch movies, play games, edit documents and so on.
There are a couple of good 11.6 inch Chromebooks available in stores right now and I’ve compared them all in this detailed post. I also put together a Buying guide that you should read before getting a Chromebook, just to make sure that you’ll understand exactly what such devices can and cannot do, and a shortlist of the most interesting Chromebooks available right now, just below.
|The latest Chromebooks||Price||Screen||Hardware||Weight||Battery|
|Acer Chromebook C720||$199 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.76 lbs||up to 8.5 h|
|Acer Chromebook C720P||$299 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN touchscreen||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 32 GB SSD||2.98 lbs||up to 7.5 h|
|Asus Chromebook C200||$249 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel BayTrail Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.5 lbs||up to 10 h|
|Asus Chromebook C300||$249 – check for discounts||13.3″ HD TN glossy||Intel BayTrail Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16-32 GB SSD||3.1 lbs||up to 10 h|
|Dell Chromebook 11||$279 – mostly unavaialble||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.9 lbs||up to 9 h|
|HP Chromebook 14 2014||$299 – check for discounts||14″ HD TN Glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||4.19 lbs||up to 9.5 h|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 11.6||$319 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Exynos 5420 1.9 GHz / 4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.65 lbs||up to 8 h|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 13.3||$399 – check for discounts||13.3″ FHD TN matte||Exynos 5800 2.0 GHz / 4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||3.06 lbs||up to 8.5 h|
|Toshiba Chromebook CB35||$279 – check for discounts||13.3″ HD TN glossy||Intel Haswell Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 32 GB SSD||3.3 lbs||up to 9 h|
I personally own an Acer C720, the most affordable in this list, which is really fast for the money and lasts for at least 7 hours on a charge. I’ve also used the Asus C200 for a while, one of the few Chromebooks built on a fanless Intel BayTrail hardware platform. This makes it completely quiet in daily use, something you will appreciate if working long hours into the night, in completely silent rooms. But I stuck with the slightly faster Acer in the end.
If you do want a larger device, the Acer C300, the HP Chromebook 14 2014 and the Toshiba Chromebook CB35 are the ones to consider, all starting below $300. Samsung’s Chromebook 2 13.3 is another interesting option, the only one in this list with a 1920 x 1080 px IPS panel, but it does sell for $399 and is somewhat underpowered when compared to the Intel based machines.
Manufacturers are launching new Chromebooks as we speak, so the offer for such small and affordable devices is getting more and more diverse, which means there’s a greater chance to find something that you will enjoy among these. Make sure to check out the extended post on Chromebooks for the updated list of the latest entries.
The Acer Aspire E3/V3 families
If you’re after a regular 11.6 inch laptop with Windows and don’t want to spend much on it, the Acer Aspire E3 should be towards the top of your list.
Acer advertises it as a good laptop for study and travel, and it actually is. The 11.6 inch E3 looks and feels fine for a computer in this case, with a silver plastic shell, a full-size keyboard and a decent HD screen. It also packs 3 USB ports around the sides and HDMI, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
It’s powered by either a fanless Intel BayTrail-M N2830 processor, or a faster Pentium N3520 CPU, paired with 2 or 4 GB of RAM (but can take up to 8 GB) and either a 320 or a 500 GB HDD, which can be replaced with SSDs if you want these laptop to get faster. Out of the box though, these Acers will handle daily activities fine, just don’t push them or they’ll choke fast.
The battery is rather small and these things will only last for 4, maybe 5 hours on each charge, so if you do need something that will last longer, you’ll have to look at the other devices in this post. Or the Aspire V3s mentioned a bit further down.
Even so, for the money, the Acer Aspire E3 are great 11.6 inch mini-laptops for the go. The N2830 / 2GB RAM / 320 GB HDD version sells for around $250, while the N3520 / 4 GB RAM / 500 GB HDD sells for a little over $300. See this link for more details, latest prices and potential discounts.
Acer also have the Acer Aspire V3-111Ps in stores, very similar to the E3s above, but with a larger battery (will last for around 6 hours on a charge) and a touchscreen. They start at about $330, as you can find-out by following this link.
This is Asus’s competitor for the Acer E3 above, another good 11.6 inch mini laptop that sells for under $300.
It is available in a bunch of different colors (black, blue, red and white) and is also made of plastic. The build quality is similar to the one of the Acers above, but aesthetically, I find those more appealing. If you do want a colored laptop though, you’ll end up leaning towards these. The K200MAs also pack full-size keyboard, a large trackpad and the standard ports around the sides (3USBs, HDMI, card-reader).
Unlike the Acers, the Asus K200MA is only available with Intel BayTrail-M processors, either a N2815 or a higher clocked N2830, paired with 4 GB of RAM and 500 GB hard-drive. And also unlike the E3s, these machines come with a touchscreen by default, on TN 1366 x 768 px panels.
Daily use battery life is close to 6 hours, which is somewhat better than the Acers offer.
However, the Asus K200MA starts at around $300 (see this link for more details and discounts), which makes it more expensive than the basic version of the Acer Aspire E3. Given what it offers though, the K200MA is more of a match for the Aspire V3-111P, which is actually more expensive, so if you do need the touchscreen and the extra RAM/Storage space, the Asus K200MA is the best 11.6 inch mini laptop you can get for the money right now.
Asus Transformer Book T200/T100 2-in-1 mini laptops
This is a slightly different device than the ones listed above.
In few words, the T200 is a Windows tablet, running on an Intel Atom Bay Trail-T hardware platform, with 2 GB of RAM and 32/64 GB of storage. It packs a 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px touchscreen and a docking station, which includes a keyboard, trackpad, a few ports and room for a HDD. Together, the two act as a mini laptop, albeit a rather heavy one, weighing about 3.6 pounds, which will last for 7-9 hours of everyday use on a charge and even longer when used lightly.
That Atom BayTrail-T platform is surely not a beast, but is fairly capable of handling casual everyday activities, like browsing, editing documents, watching videos, listening to music etc. It can also run fine the games and the apps in the Windows store. Of course, this is not something made for heavy multitasking or complex pieces of software, but as long as you’re perfectly aware of what it can and cannot do, you’ll be happy with it. See my detailed review of the Asus T200 series for more details.
The Transformer Book T200 starts at under $400 (you might find discounts here) these days and scores good reviews and marks with those who already bought it.
Asus also offers a more compact version of this device, the Transformer Book T100TA (reviewed over here), with pretty much he same features, but a smaller 10.1 inch screen and of course, a more compact and lighter body. Thine one sells for under $400 as well, as you can see via this link
Toshiba Satellite NB15T – similar to the ASUS K200MA and the Acer Aspire V3, the Satellite NB15T is another compact machine with a touchscreen and BayTrail-M hardware. However, it does pack a rather small battery (4 hours of daily use), is heavier than its competitors (3.3 lbs) and more expensive as well, as it sells for between $350 and $400. And these are enough reasons to place this one in the “Others” section.
HP Pavilion Touchsmart 11 – this is powered by AMD hardware, with a few different options to choose from. Unlike the Intel platforms, these AMD ones are not as efficient, but they do pack more powerful graphics, so if you need something light and cheap for occasional gaming on the go, you could consider them. The cheapest models start at around $360.
Lenovo IdeaPad S210 – another 11.6 incher with a touchscreen and this time a slightly superior typing experience, but the S210 is built on an Intel Celeron Ivy Bridge processor, which is going to be faster than those BayTrail-M configurations available on most of the devices mentioned above, but not as efficient (so don’t expect more than 3-4 hours of life from this one). On top of these, the IdeaPad S210 is rather expensive, selling for just under $400 these days, but if you can find it cheaper, it would be worth considering.
To wrap this up, you get to choose between fast and long-lasting Chromebooks in this price-range, or basic Windows machines. If you can stretch your budget above $300 and closer to $400, you will get a few decent options to choose from, although Windows 8 on low-power computers like these is only meant for light everyday activities and not more. If you only have $200 to $250 to spend though, go with a Chromebook, you’ll end up happier.
Everyday 11 inch notebooks
If you need a better looking and faster 11 incher, with more premium features, you should look at the laptops included in this section, with price tags ranging from $400 to $600.
Asus VivoBook X200LA and X202E / S200
The X202E/S200 models are in fact the same laptop, with a few configuration differences between them, that’s why we’re going to generically refer them all as the Vivobook X202E. This one is the first ultrabooks in this list, but unlike many of the others we’re going to mention in the next section of this post, it is affordable. My full review for the X202E is available overe here and you should definitely check it out.
The laptop’s body is made from a mix of matte plastic and aluminum, it comes with an 11.6 inch touchscreen and is powered by a few different Intel processors, either Celerons, Pentiums or a Core i3 (all IvyBridge CPUs). Even the Core i3 is not going to be very fast, but is perfectly capable of handling everyday tasks and some multimedia content. The Celeron/Pentium CPUs are better suited for light activities: office use, browsing and watching some videos.
Besides these, the X202E also has a decent keyboard and a fairly accurate trackpad, plus can go for about 4 hours of average use each charge (The Celeron/Pentium options will actually last a bit longer).
Are those good enough? I’d say yes, especially for less than $500. In fact, the Core i3 version sells these days for about $470, while the others go for under $400. Up-to-date prices and some extra details are available here.
The Asus Vivobook X200LA on the other hand is the updated version of the X202/S200, with Intel Haswell hardware inside. It’s available with a Core i3-4010U processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD, plus a slightly larger battery than before, which combined will allow it to last for about 5 hours on each charge. Still not much, but an improvement over the older models.
The X200LA however was also slightly redesigned. It is made entirely out of plastic and is marginally thicker and heavier (0.1 lbs) than the X202E. In fact, it shares the design with the K200MA mentioned before.
Even so, you should get the new model over its predecessors, as it also sells for under $500 (see this link for more details and potential discounts) and the slight bump in performance and battery life is worth having. But you could also consider some refurbished X202/S200 Core i3 versions which should sell for between $300-$400.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series
The new Inspiron 11 3000 series (2014 edition) is a very appreciated 2-in-1 laptop with a Yoga-like form factor (the screen leans 360 degrees around the hinge). Thus you can use it as a regular mini laptop or as an 11.6 inch tablet. The whole thing is made from plastic, but looks and feels really solid, weighs about 3.1 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick, which is not bad for such a device, especially since it offers all the needed ports around the sides (3USBs, HDMI, card-reader), plus a 43 Wh battery inside.
There is however only an HD touchscreen on this Inspiron, with a rather mediocre TN panel, but that helps keep the price low. That and the hardware, an Intel BayTrail-M N3520 quad-core processor, which paired with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD is going to prove fast enough for daily activities. Of course, the slow 5400 rpm HDD is the bottleneck here and if you’ll replace it with an SSD you will make this machine much snappier.
Long story short, this is a nice 2-in-1 laptop fit for light use. However, with a list price of $499, it is more expensive than the Intel Core i3 powered Asus X200LA. But you can find it discounted online and unless you really need the extra power, I believe this Dell does offer a more complete experience (fanless use, convertible form-factor, longer battery life and better looking case).
Lenovo Yoga 2 11
Last but not least there’s the popular Yoga, the 2nd generation launched in 2014, another 2-in-1 11 incher that you should consider.
It features the same convertible form-factor, a nicely build body made of plastic, with a smooth rubbery finishing, plus a good keyboard and trackpad, all these inside a 0.7 inch 3.2 lbs body (thus thinner, but heavier than the Inspiron 11 3000). It also shares the same Intel BayTrail hardware platform, but is also available in a few more powerful configurations, with Intel Core Y Haswell processors and SSD storage.
However, the Lenovo Yoga 2 trails the Dell when it comes to battery life, mainly because it packs a smaller 34 Wh battery, or connectivity, as it only offers 2 USB slots, a card-reader and a micro-HDMI port.
At the end of the day though, the Lenovo Yoga 2 could be the right 11 incher for you, although choosing between it and the Dell is not an easy task. The Intel N3520 / 4 GB RAM / 500 GB HDD configuration sells for under $500, while the more powerful Intel Core i5-4202Y / 4 GB RAM / 128 GB SSD variant can be found for under $800. But if you do need the power in this form factor, it’s well worth the money. See this link for more configuration options and potential discounts.
Premium 11 inchers – mini laptops, ultrabooks, tablets and more
If money are not a concern, you’ll be interested in the devices in this category. They offer the best in terms of features, hardware, build quality and looks. So have a look at the options below, but also check out my other post about the best 11.6 inch ultrabooks available these days.
11.6 inch Apple MacBook Air
The MBA is one of the sleekest 11.6 inchers out there. The 2014 version is fast, solid and lasts longer than ever on a charge, up to 9 hours in real-life use, thanks to the Intel Haswell platform inside. On top of that, it is cheaper than even before, starting at $899. That kind of money will get you the aluminum unibody, the backlit chiclet keyboard, the larger and accurate trackpad and all the other standard features.
However, the 11 inch MBA still does not offer a card-reader and only has enough room around its slime edges for two USBs and a Thunderbolt port. On top of that, it still features an HD screen with a TN panel, which is subpar by today’s standards for a premium ultraportable.
Even so, the Macbook Air remains one of the best in this class. It’s beautiful and solid, it’s light (2.4 lbs) and lasts longer than any rivals on battery. It’s also fast, packing either Intel Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors with Iris HD 5000 graphics, 4-8 GB of RAM and 128 – 512 GB SSD storage. The base configuration starts at $899 as mentioned before and gets you a Core i5 CPU / 4GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD. See Apple’s website for details, but Amazon usually offers solid discounts on Macbooks, so you should definitely check out this link as well.
Bottom point, the 11 inch Macbook Air might lack some of the things offered by premium Windows laptops these days, like a card-reader, a touchscreen or a higher-quality panel. But it ticks all the other boxes and even outmatches all its rivals when it comes to a few important aspects (performance, keyboard/trackpad, battery life), that’s why I consider it probably the best 11 incher you can get for the money these days.
Sony Vaio Pro 11
If you’re after a highly portable 11 incher capable of running Windows, the Sony Vaio Pro, with its 0.6 inch thick and 1.9 pounds heavy body should be at the top of your list, as the sleekest laptop in this class.
It’s also one of the best equipped, as it packs a Full HD IPS touchscreen, a nice backlit keyboard, a good selection of ports (2xUSBs and a card-reader, among them) and Haswell hardware. The base version of the Pro 11 comes with an Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD, but you can spec it up to an i7-4500U CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB HDD.
All these don’t come cheap, as the Sony Vaio Pro 11 starts at around $1150 , for the base version, but you can find the various configurations discounted online.
The Pro 11 is not without flaws though. The highly flexible carbon-fiber body, the average battery life (around 4-5 hours of daily use), the sharp edges and some potential wireless module issues are among the worst ones. If you can’t live with them, don’t worry, you’ve got other options to choose from. If you can though, the Pro 11 is going to be an awesome travel companion. See the clip below for more details.
Dell XPS 11 – the convertible ultrabook
The XPS 11 is another 2-in-1 hybrid, which means that it can be used in a few different modes: as a laptop, as a tablet and as something in between. The special hinge, which allows to screen to flip completely on the back, is similar to the one Lenovo made popular with their Yoga series.
Form factor aside, the XPS 11 is a true gem. Dell put a high density QHD 11.6 inch screen on this one, with 2560 x 1440 px resolution and an IPS panel. As a result, everything is going to look incredibly sharp, but you’ll also have to face those pesky Windows 8 scaling issues. The laptop is motorized by an Intel Haswell Core Y hardware platform, which is not as fast as the U series processors, but is still more than capable do deal with casual activities and movies. You can spec the little laptop up to a Core i5 CPU, 4 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD.
All these fit inside a 0.6 inch thick body, made from metal and carbon-fiber, which weighs around 2.5 pounds. Or in other words, a highly portable device, with actually enough room on the sides for a decent selection of ports (2USBs and a card-reader are included) and enough room inside for a 40Wh battery.
All in all, there’s little you might not like about the XPS 11. Except for one thing: the touch-keyboard, with potential poor feedback and little travel. Even so, the XPS 11 remains an interesting machine worthy of your attention and one of the lightest 2-in-1s available today. It starts at $999, but all the available configurations can be found discounted online.
Asus Zenbook UX21A – a top 11.6 inch ultrabook
The Asus Zenbook UX21A is one of the older IvyBridge ultrabooks, but still one of the sleekest and most powerful 11.6 inchers you could buy these days. It offers and aggressive look, slender body (weighs 2.4 pounds), a decent keyboard and trackpad. And there’s an IPS Full HD display on this one as well, with a non-glare coating.
Inside, the Zenbook UX21 houses Intel Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors, 4-8 GB of RAM and 128-256 GB SSD storage. Packing all these in a thin body has some repercussions though: the battery life expectations aren’t great (about 4 hours on average) and the laptop is going to run very hot when really pushed. For standard daily use, it’s going to be alright.
The Zebook UX21A starts at around $999 in the US, for a Core i5 configuration, with 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. More powerful versions with Core i7 processors are a bit more expensive, but you might be able to find these discounted or even refurbished today.
As a side note, there’s no 11 inch Haswell Zenbook available for now, but I’ll update the post if Asus decide to launch one.
Sony Vaio Duo 11 – the 11.6 inch business ultrabook
The Vaio Duo 11 is a hybrid built on Intel IvyBridge hardware, a device that can be used as a laptop, or as a tablet. It runs Windows 8, it offers an awesome touchscreen with a Full HD IPS panel and is powerful enough to cope with all of your requirements. On top of that, it comes with an included pen and digitizer, so you can use it to take notes, sketches, drawings and so on.
Those being said, in a few words, there are plenty of things you’ll like on this Sony. But there are at least a couple you won’t. For starters, there’s the rather cramped and uncomfortable keyboard. Then, there are the issues involved with the entire screen’s sliding mechanism, which feels flimsy and does not allow you to easily adjust the vertical viewing angles. And last but not least, you’re only getting up to 4 hours of battery life with this one.
But if you really want an unique looking hybrid ultrabook (BTW, check out this post if you’re after a hybrid ultrabook with a touchscreen), I guess you could live with those. And perhaps you won’t mind paying $1000 or more for a Vaio Duo 11 either, although these days you will probably find it cheaper, if you can still find it at all, of course.
Some Windows 8 tablets
Laptops aside, there are also a few 11 inch Windows tablets on the market and most of them are quite good. Note that you won’t find many units sporting Intel Haswell hardware.
The Acer Aspire P3 , a Windows 8 Intel powered 11.6 inch tablet, with a solid and beautiful case and a decent 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 px touchscreen. Can be equiped with either Intel Celeron, Pentium or Core i3/i5 Y Series processors, based on your needs, alongside 2-4 GB of RAM and 60-120 GB SSDs. The entire thing is only 0.4 inches thick, weighs around 1.7 pounds and start at under $400 for the basic configuration, while the more powerful versions go for $700-$800, all of them with some discounts.
The Lenovo IdeaPad K3 sells for less than $400, weighs under 1.5 pounds and can deal with all your Windows software just fine. It’s not incredibly powerful, but it’s snappy enough for everyday use. It comes with an IPS screen, so everything is going to look nice on it and 64 GB of storage space for your content. And if you want to, you can also buy a docking station, that will transform this tablet into a laptop, when having these two latched.
The HP Envy X2 is a sleeker and better polished device, although it’s built on a similar platform as the Lenovo above. Still, you get more ports on that docking station, a more comfortable keyboard and a device that feels much better in hand. All these for around $600, including the docking unit, might seem a bit much.
There’s also Acer’s Iconia W700 tablet. It’s more expensive than these other two listed above, mainly because it’s a lot more powerful, as it is motorized by Intel Core i3/i5 processors, and not an Intel Atom Z Chip. That makes the W700 better suited even for heavier activities, including photo or video editing, serious multitasking or even some games.
At the same time, the W700 is just as pricey, if not pricier, than a similar specked regular mini laptop and using an 11.6 inch tablet PC with such kind of hardware might not be very comfortable. Still, if you’re interested in this one, you’ll find more details about it, including pics, pricing details and user reviews, via this link.
Last but not least we have the Dell Venue Pro 11 or the Microsoft Surface Pros, but we’ll talk more about them in this other post.
As you’ve seen in the rows above, there are still a couple of good options for 11.6 inch mini laptops and ultrabooks these days.
Those machines listed in the first sections of this post are probably going to be the best picks for the average user, with good features and excellent value for money. The Chromebooks are great inexpensive machines as well, well suited for children or as a secondary travel devices.
If you want something more powerful or something fancier, you can choose between the premium 11 inchers mentioned above. You’ll get to pick between ultrabooks, convertible laptops and even tablets with latchable docking stations. There aren’t that many such devices out there these days, but more and more are being released every month, with different features, hardware and form factors so they can satisfy each and everyone of you.
Of course, if you still haven’t find a proper ultra-portable for your needs and budget, you should also check out my lists of 10 inch devices or 12 inch mini laptops. Or have a look at my massive list of recommended ultrabooks.
Either way, that’s about it for now. This list is being constantly updated, so make sure to come back whenever you might need a new 11 inch laptop and share it to your friends as well, if they need any help deciding what to pick for themselves.
Last but not least, if you have any questions or just something to add to this post, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, I’ll be around to reply and help you out.