If you’re in the market for a small and easy to carry around laptop, yet punchy enough to deal with your everyday activities, you should have a look at the 11.6 inch laptops available in stores these days.
During the last years, I’ve seen tens, maybe hundreds of small computers. Right now, my main laptop is a 12.5 incher, but before that I owned several 11.6 inch machines, like the Acer Aspire 1825PT, which at the time was chosen because it packed fast enough hardware for my daily requirements and a decent keyboard/display, while being compact and light enough to get along when traveling.
In the end, I went for the superior size class just because I needed more power for my work, power 90% of you guys won’t really need (I do a lot of video and photo editing on the go). That’s why, for many of you, the 11.6 inch notebooks offer the perfect balance between speed, size and price.
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 are 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:
- Best budget 11.6 inch laptops (under $400)
- Everyday 11.6 inch laptops (best value for the money, under $600)
- Premium options – ultrabooks, tablets, convertible laptops and more
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. 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 very cheap computers built around Google’s webservices. What’s the catch? Well, most of your content is stored online and most of your programs are web-based, which means that these computers do not run Windows, but Chrome OS and a set of proprietary apps based on things you’re already using and are familiar with, like Gmail, Youtube, Drive, Maps, Music, Videos and so on. You can also get apps like Evernote or Facebook on these, plus many games.
Of course, Chromebooks are mainly useful when connected to the Internet, as most of the content is stored online, but they can be used offline as well.
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.
One sells for $199 and up (but you might find it discounted here) and is built by Acer, the Acer C720 Chromebook. It’s good looking, it weighs about 2.8 pounds, it can go for 5-6 hours on a charge and is powered by an Intel Haswell Celeron processor, with 2 or 4 GB of RAM and a 16 GB SSD.
The other is the Samsung Chromebook and this one is slightly more expensive, starting at $249, and again, might be found cheaper online. But it’s actually an entirely different machine.
It’s powered by a Samsung proprietary processor, comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of SSD storage. That allows Samsung to manufacture a far sleeker device, that only weighs 2.4 pounds and is 0.7 inches thick. The Samsung Chromebook is going to be snappy enough in everyday use, as long as you don’t push it too much, but the Haswell processor still has an edge over the one inside this machine when it comes to performances.
However, the Samsung is also more appealing than the Acer Chromebook, packs a better keyboard and trackpad and lasts a bit longer on each charge (around 7 hours). There’s also a 3G version, if you want to be always connected to the Internet.
Asus Transformer Book T100 2-in-1 mini laptop
While this one is not exactly an 11.6 incher, but a smaller 10 inch device, it’s one of the best 2-in-1s on the market, that’s why I decided to include it in here anyway.
In few words, the T100 is a Windows tablet, running on an Intel Atom Bay Trail hardware platform, with 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. It packs a 10.1 inch 1366 x 768 px touchscreen and a docking station, which includes a keyboard and a few ports. Together, the two act as a compact mini laptop, weighing about 2.4 pounds, which will last for 6-8 hours of everyday use on a charge and even longer when watching movies.
That Atom 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.
Especially since the Transformer Book T100 starts at under $400 (you can find some discounts here) these days and scores good reviews and marks with those who already bought it.
The Acer Aspire One family
If you’re after a regular 11.6 inch laptop with Windows and don’t want to spend much on it, the Acer Aspire One 725 (the Windows 8 version of the popular 722) and 756 should be your top priorities right now.
The two are very similar, just built on different hardware platforms. The Intel platform inside the Aspire One 725 is snappier in most tasks, including those graphics related (running FHD videos, playing light games). The 756 is fairly snappy too and can also take two memory modules and up to 8 GB of RAM, while on the 725 there’s only one module (up to 4 GBs). The 725 however tends to last longer on a charge, around 5 hours of everyday use, with the 756 option is going for only about 4.
Other than that, the two are nearly identical, with only slight differences when it comes to their keyboards, trackpads and port layout. The two glossy 11.6 inch screens are similar as well and the two laptops are both running Windows 8.
Not even the prices can set the two apart. The Acer Aspire One 725 with an AMD C70 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 320 GB HDD sells for around $350 these days, with discounts. More details are available via this link.
On the other hand, the Acer Aspire One 756 with an Intel Celeron 847 processor, 2 GB of RAM and 320 GB HDD sells for just under $330 (more details here), but you do get extra RAM with the 725, so price wise, the two are very close.
Everyday 11 inch notebooks
If you’re after an 11 incher that just looks better than the ones above and slightly more powerful, you should look at the laptops we’re going to talk about in this section, with prices ranging from $350 to $600.
Asus VivoBook X202E / X200 /Q200E – mini laptops with a touchscreen
All these models are in fact the same laptop, with a few hardware configuration differences between them, that’s why we’re going to generically reffer them all as the Vivobook X202E. This one is the first ultrabook in this list, but unlike many of the others we’re going to mention in the next section of this post, this one is very affordable. My full review for the X202E is available here, you should definitely have a look.
In fact, you can get a VivoBook X202 (or S200, as it’s called in Europe), for under $500 these days. And that’s only a little bit more expensive than those devices above, but you get a lot more for the money.
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. 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 4-5 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 VivoBook Q200E, which also packs a Core I3 processor, with 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB HDD< but is slightly thicker and bulkier than the X202 (by 0.1″ and 0.2 of a pound) sells for as low as $380, with a massive discount.
All in all, these Vivobooks offer great value for the money, and if you’re interested in more details about them, see my Asus X202 Video review embedded below.
Acer Aspire V5 – power for money
If you’re after a powerful, but yet affordable 11.6 inch mini laptop, you should definitely check out the 11.6 inch version of the Acer Aspire V5. Design wise, the V5 isn’t impressive. It’s thicker than that VivoBook above, but is still portable, weighing about 3 pounds. A mix of plastic and aluminum is used for the exterior and the result looks and feels alright, but that’s about it.
However, the hardware your getting for the money you’ll be paying is definitely noteworthy. An Aspire V5 packing an Intel Core i5 processor, 6 GB of RAM, 500 GB HDD and running Windows 8 sells for just under 500 bucks, while an Intel Core i3 configuration goes for under $450 and if you something even more affordable, you can go for an Intel Celeron cofiguration for under $350.
Yes, there’s only a regular 11.6 inch display, no touchscreen, but like I said, the V5 is more about delivering excellent features as cheap as possible, while cutting off the fanciness. And it does a great job at that. Thus, there’s no wonder the Acer Aspire V5 is appreciated, as you can see from this link, where you’ll find more details about this unit, pictures, user reviews and up-to-date prices. Go ahead and have a look.
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 2013 version is fast, solid and lasts longer than ever on a charge, up to 7 hours in real-life use, thanks to the Intel Haswell platform inside. On top of that, the 2013 version keeps that awesome chiclet keyboard, plus the large and accurate trackpad. Unfortunately, it also keeps the same screen, a decent one, but subpar by today’s standards, with a TN panel and 1366 x 768 px resolution. And that, plus the lack of an SD card-reader, might steer you away from the new 11 inch Macbook Air.
Even so, the MBA remains one of the best in this class. It’s beautiful and solid, it’s great for typing and fairly priced, as it starts at $999 for a Corei5/4GB RAM/128 GB SSD configuration. See Apple’s website for details, but Amazon usually offers solid discounts on Apple laptops, so you should check out this link too if you’re after the MBA.
Bottom point, the 11 inch Macbook Air might lack some of the things offered by Windows laptops these days, like touchscreens or high-density panels. But ticks all the other boxes, has a good price and lasts longer than its rivals on a charge, and that might be just enough for many of you.
Sony Vaio Pro 11
If you’re after a highly portable 11 incher, the Sony Vaio Pro, with its 0.6 inch thick and 1.9 pounds heavy body should be towards 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 might find it discounted online.
Of course, the Pro 11 is not without flaws. 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.
Dell XPS 11 – the convertible ultrabook
The XPS 11 is not like all the ultra-portables in this list. It’s a 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, gets the appreciations for all of these modes, but that’s not necessarily a new form factor, as Lenovo made this approach 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 two things: the touch-keyboard, with potential poor feedback and little travel, and the price, as the XPS 11 starts at $999 and can quickly go up. However, considering what you’re actually getting with this device, I find the price fair and I’m looking forward to get my hands it and post a detailed review somewhere in the future.
Asus Zenbook UX21A – a top 11.6 inch ultrabook
The Asus Zenbook UX21A is one of the sleekest and most powerful 11.6 inchers you can find these days. It offers and aggressive look, slender body (weighs 2.4 pounds), a decent keyboard and an improved trackpad. And there’s an IPS Full HD display on this one as well, with a non-glare coating, so definitely an awesome option in this class.
Inside, the Zenbook UX21 houses Intel Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors, 4-8 GB of RAM and 128-256 GB SSD storage, thus in other words: it’s a beast.
Packing all these in a thin body has some repercussions: the battery life expectations aren’t amazing (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 fine though.
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 should see this link on Amazon for up to date prices and discounts.
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, 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. You should see this website for more details about the prices and the available configurations.
Lenovo Yoga 11S Convertible mini laptop
The 11 inch Lenovo Yoga 11S is a fully convertible Windows 8 laptop, with a touchscreen. The display flips around the hinge, thus you can use this device in several ways: as a tent, as a tablet or as a regular notebook.
The 11S starts at around 750 bucks on Lenovo’s website, but the higher specked configurations can easily get beyond one grand. Hardware aside, all the versions are the same. They are fairly sleek, slim and light, pack an awesome keyboard, a decent keyboard, an 11.6 inch HD screen with 1366 x 768 px resolution and can run for about 5 hours on a charge, which is not impressive, but not that bad either.
Some Windows 8 tablets
There are a few other 11 inch Windows tablets on the market, and most of them are quite good.
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. More details are available via this link.
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.
Anyway, the tablet alone sells for under 400 bucks, like I mentioned above, and you’ll find more details about it, including some user review, via this link.
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, but if you’re interested in more details, you will find them over here.
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 Pro 2, but since both feature 10 inch displays, 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 as mainstream options 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, well suited for children or as a secondary travel device.
If you want something more powerful or something fancier, you should 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.
Anyway, 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 hopefully you can share it to your friends as well, if they need any help deciding what to pick. And as always, if you have any questions or just something to add to this post, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, I’ll be around to reply and help you out.