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.
I feel that 11.6 inchers fall just in the right sweetspot. They are compact and light enough to carry around, include a decent keyboard, battery, display and hardware, plus some useful ports around the edges, and are not very expensive either. The affordable options start at under $199 and they compromise on screen quality or performance, but if the budget allows, there are also a number of premium 11-inchers in stores.
For those of you that would rather get a more compact machine, we also have a list of the available 10-inch convertibles and mini-laptops, while for those of you that would rather get a slightly larger and more powerful machine, we have this detailed analysis on the available 12-inchers. Last but not least, you could also have a look at our detailed guide on the best ultra-portables available right now.
If you’re convinced an 11-incher is what you want though, then this post is a must read and will help you find the best device for your needs and budget. To make your search a bit easier, I’ve structured the article into three main sections:
- Budget 11.6-inch laptops ($150 – $400)
- Everyday 11.6-inch laptops (best value for the money, under $600)
- Premium options – ultrabooks, convertibles and tablets
We’ll talk about the best options in each class further down, with links towards our detailed reviews and videos, but also towards online stores where you might find these devices discounted. So let’s get started.
Budget 11.6-inch netbooks
The notebooks in this section sell for between $150 and $400. They might not get the looks, power or the build quality of the more expensive options, but can do a good job as inexpensive travel companions or laptops for your kids.
11-inchers under $200
These are all Windows laptops able to run the software you’re already familiar with (including Office, Skype, your favorite browser and mini-games, etc), and all sell for under $200. We’ll have a look at the Asus EeeBook X205TA, the HP Stream 11, the Lenovo S21e and the Acer Aspire E 11.
We already reviewed the Asus EeeBook X205TA in this post, if you want to read all the details about it. In fewer words though, this is a compact 11-incher that weighs only 2.1 lbs and has a sleek plastic body, available in a few different colors.
It’s powered by Intel BayTrail Atom hardware, a low-power platform that can only deal with basic everyday activities and little to no multitasking, but is highly efficient, and as a result this mini laptop will last for around 8 hours of daily use on a single charge. You should also know that the storage space on the $199 model is limited and the laptop is only paired with a TN HD non-touch display.
But for $199, I feel this is a great buy. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts.
The HP Stream 11 is another 11-incher with a TN HD non-touch display and a plastic case available in Blue or Pink, but there are a few details that set it apart from the Asus EeeBook.
First of all, it is slightly thicker and heavier, weighing around 2.8 lbs, and these hinder its portability. On the other hand, there’s more room on the edges with such an approach, thus the HP gets full-size ports. Second, the HP is powered by an Intel Celeron BayTrail platform, which is somewhat faster than the hardware on the Asus. It is still a computer I’d only recommend for basic tasks, but it will handle some light multitasking as well. The storage space is also still limited. And third, despite bundling a 37 Wh battery, the Stream 11 will only go for around 6-7 hours on a charge.
The Stream 11 sells for under $200 as well, and more details and potential deals are available via this link. It is a bulkier, but slightly faster and more practical alternative to the EeeBook, better suited for those of you in need of ports and slightly improved performance. HP also offers the Stream in a 13-inch form-factor, stating at $229, in case you want an affordable computer with a larger display.
Then there are the Lenovo S21e and the Acer Aspire E 11. They both sell for around $170, thus are slightly more affordable than the other two options.
Hardware wise, they are built on a BayTrail Celeron platform with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space, just like the EEEBook mentioned above. They also both pack TN non-touch displays. However, the Lenovo is a bit heavy, weighing 2.7 lbs, and despite that it only gets a small 23 Wh battery, which only offers around 4-5 hours of life of a charge. It also gets a finicky trackpad, but on the other hand its keyboard is pretty good for this class. But that battery is a deal breaker.
As for the Acer, it’s even chunkier and heavier, as it weighs 2.84 lbs, but otherwise it’s a pretty decent laptop, as long as you’re OK with the limited performance and minuscule amount of storage space. It even packs a 36 Wh battery, plus, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get this laptop with a 2.5″ HDD, which can be upgraded to an SSD. The SATA connector and the 2.5″ bay are disabled on the base version, so you’ll need to buy the higher-end model to get them, which sells for around $230.
Still, when considering how sleek and light the EeeBook X205 is compared to the Acer or the Lenovo notebooks, while not sacrificing battery size, it’s tough to recommend any of these two over the Asus.
The 11.6-inch affordable 2-in-1s
There are a few of these.
For starters, there’s the HP Stream Convertible, which is pretty much the Stream 11 mentioned above, but comes with a 360-degress convertible touchscreen. It’s listed at $269 in most stores, and yet you can find it cheaper online. Follow this link for more details.
Then there are two interesting Asus devices, a convertible, the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA, and a detachable, the Transformer Book T200TA.
The latter is actually a bit outside this class’s budget, as it sells for around $450 at the time of this update, but some configurations sell for less. For that king of money you’re getting however a tablet with an IPS display and Atom BayTrail hardware, plus 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC storage. There’s also a keyboard dock in the pack, which adds more ports and can take a 2.5″ HDD/SSD inside if you need more space for your files and content.
You should keep in mind that the Asus T200TA is rather bulky and heavy (3.6 lbs for the tablet and the dock together) and is still motorized by a low-power platform, so it’s only recommended for basic activities and little multitasking, although the 4GB of RAM make it more potent that the options mentioned before. On the other hand, it will last for 6-10 hours on a charge.
Anyway, you should check out my detailed review of this TP200TA available over here, or follow this link for the latest configurations and potential discounts.
The Transformer Book Flip TP200SA on the other hand is a convertible and a newer model, powered by the Intel Braswell hardware platform.That makes if more powerful than the options above, while still running efficiently, as it is able to squeeze around 7-8 hours of life from its 38 Wh battery.
The biggest selling points of this laptop are however its price and its reduced weight. It tips the scales at only 2.6 lbs, which is splendid for an inexpensive convertible, and a configuration with an IPS touchscreen, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage space sells for around $350. Follow this link for more details and potential discounts at the time you’re reading this post.
Then there’s the Acer Aspire R 11, another Braswell powered 11-incher, which we reviewed here a while ago. Its base version sells for under $300, but only includes 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space, both non-upgradeable. The higher end versions with a faster processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 2.5″ HDD sell for around $350, and the good news is the HDD can be replaced for an SSD if you want a faster and quieter machine. You’ll find all about that in the review.
The Aspire R11 also gets an 11-inch IPS touchscreen, decent keyboard and a large 50 Wh battery, which enables it to go for up to 10 hours of use on a charge. On the other hand, it is bulky and heavy, weighing 3.5 lbs, so it’s not going to be as portable as the Asus TP200SA. But it is overall more affordable and longer lasting.
Follow this link for more details and up-to-date prices at time you’re reading this post.
Other options you could consider at are the Lenovo Flex 3 11 (light, nicely built, small battery – 30Wh, TN display), which we reviewed here, or the Toshiba Satellite Radius L15W (light, affordable, small battery – 29Wh, TN display), but these wouldn’t be my first picks, especially due to their poor displays and small batteries.
The 11.6 inch Chromebooks
Chromebooks are light, portable and inexpensive computers. They look and perform like regular mini-laptops, but there’s a catch: they don’t run Windows, but ChromeOS, which is an operating system built around Google’s web-services. That means the programs you’re familiar with on Windows won’t work with this laptop. Instead, you’ll have to rely heavily on Web-based apps like Gmail, Youtube, Maps, Music, Videos and so on. You can download these apps from a Store, just like you do on an Android or iOS device. You can also get third party apps like Evernote, Netflix or Facebook etc. , plus a few casual games.
You should also keep in mind that Chromebooks are mainly useful when connected to the Internet, as they rely on Cloud services and they only offer limited storage space. 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 you’ll understand exactly what such devices can and cannot do.
Bellow you’ll also find a shortlist of the most interesting 11-inch Chromebooks available right now.
|The latest Chromebooks||Price||Screen||Hardware||Weight||Battery|
|Acer Chromebook C720
||$229 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Intel Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.76 lbs||up to 8.5 h|
|Acer Chromebook CB3
||$169 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN touchscreen||Intel Celeron / 2 GB RAM / 32 GB SSD||2.43 lbs||up to 8 h|
|Asus Chromebook C200||$199 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel BayTrail / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.5 lbs||up to 10 h|
|Asus Chromebook C201||$169 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Rockchip / 2 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.00 lbs||up to 8 h|
|Dell Chromebook 11||$249 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN glossy||Intel Celeron / 2-4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.7 lbs||up to 9 h|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 11.6||$249 – check for discounts||11.6″ HD TN matte||Exynos / 4 GB RAM / 16 GB SSD||2.65 lbs||up to 8 h|
I personally own an Acer C720, a slightly older Chromebook, which is still 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.
Most buyers consider the Dell Chromebook 11 the overall best option in this class, as it is sturdily built, bundles a nice keyboard and a large battery. If you want something cheaper though and only plan to use the computer lightly, you should however consider the Acer Chromebook CB3 and the Asus Chromebook C201. Both are light an inexpensive.
On the other hand, if you do want a larger device, the HP Chromebook 14 and the Toshiba Chromebook CB35 are the most appreciated options, both starting below $300. Samsung’s Chromebook 13.3 is another interesting option, as it is one of the few models with a 1920 x 1080 px display, 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. Make sure to check out the extended post on Chromebooks for the updated list of the latest entries.
To wrap up this section, if you want an inexpensive 11-incher, you get to choose between fast and long-lasting Chromebooks, or basic Windows machines with limited storage space. However, if you’re willing to stretch your budget above $300 and closer to $400, you will get some better devices to choose from, with faster hardware, larger batteries and IPS screens.
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, selling for between $400 and $600.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series
The Inspiron 11 3000 series is a very appreciated 2-in-1 laptop with a Yoga-like form factor (the screen leans back to 360-degrees), thus you can use it as a regular mini laptop, as an 11.6-inch tablet, as a stand or as a tent.
This machine is made from plastic, but looks and feels solid, weighs about 3.1 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick. So it’s not as light or as portable as some of the options mentioned above, but it does offer a full set of ports around the sides (3USBs, HDMI, card-reader), more powerful hardware and a 43 Wh battery inside. On top of these, the Inspiron 11 3000 gets an IPS HD touchscreen.
Hardware wise, you can get this laptop with either Intel Celeron, Pentium or an Intel Core i3 processor, plus 4-8 GB of RAM and various amount of storage. Most configurations get a 500 GB HDD, but you can replace it with a 2.5″ SSD if you want a faster and quieter computer. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the Inspiron 11 3000 is not available with either Braswell or Skylake hardware at the time of this update, while some of the competitors are. This will change in the future, but it’s an aspect that might steer you towards something else right now.
Otherwise though, the Inspiron 11 3000 is tough to beat. The Celeron and Pentium versions sell for around $350 to $400, while the Core i3 model sells for roughly $450. Follow this link for more details, updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading this post, plus potential discounts.
HP Pavilion X360 11
This is HP’s alternative to the Dell mentioned above. It’s a 2-in-1 with a 360-degrees convertible IPS touchscreen, but the form-factor and the screen are pretty much the only similarities between the two.
Th Pavilion x360 is thicker and heavier than the Inspiron 11 3000 (3.2 lbs, 0.9-inches in its thickest point). Despite these, it actually packs a smaller 32 Wh battery. That aside, the case is made entirely out of plastic, but it is available in a bunch of lively colors (including red and lime-green), which will probably appeal to the younger audience, and the keyboard is pretty good, but lacks illumination, like all the other options in this price-range.
Hardware wise you can get the Pavilion x360 in a multitude of configurations, with BayTrail Pentium, Braswell Pentium or a Broadwell Core i3 processor, at the time of this update. These are paired with 4-8 GB of RAM and a 2.5″ storage bay, usually filled in with a HDD, that you can replace with an SSD if you want to.
Price wise, the cheaper Pavilion options sell for around $350, while the higher end models go up to around $450. Follow this link for more details and updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading this post.
Acer Aspire Switch 11V
The Switch 11V is an 11.6 inch detachable built on Core M hardware that sells for $499 and up. We reviewed it on Ultrabookreview.com a while ago, in case you want to know exactly what we think about it.
In fewer words, since it is a detachable, it can be used as a stand alone tablet or as a laptop when connected to the included dock. Latched together, the two parts make for a rather chunky and heavy device (3.45 lbs), but actually not as bulky or as heavy as some of the other options in this class.
The tablet can work as a stand-alone device, since all the hardware and the battery are placed behind its IPS HD screen. The dock only adds a keyboard and a 2.5″ HDD slot inside, in case you’ll need more storage space.
Performance wise, the Core M processor is decent for everyday tasks and some light multitasking. It is more powerful than a Celeron/Pentium configuration, but trails behind any of the Core i models. The platform is fanless though, which is a plus, but is not as efficient as advertised, thus the Switch 11V will only squeeze around 5 hours of use from its 34 Wh battery.
Overall though, I think this device is a good buy. The base configuration is available in stores for between $499 and $599, and includes a Core M processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD. The same model sell for around 600 Eur across the pond. Follow this link for more details.
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, with its 0.7″ thick body that only weighs 2.4 lbs . The latest version is fast, solid-built and lasts longer than ever on a charge, offering up to 9 hours of real-life use. On top of that, it is more affordable than it used to be a few years ago, starting at $899. That kind of money will get you a sleek aluminum unibody, a backlit chiclet keyboard, an accurate trackpad and a powerful hardware configuration (the latest Intel Core U processors with Iris graphics, 4-8 GB of RAM and 128-512 GB PCIe SSDs)
The 11-inch MBA still lacks a card-reader though and is only paired with a TN HD non-touch screen, which is poor by today’s standards for a computer in this price segment.
The base Macbook Air configuration starts at $899 as mentioned before and includes a Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM and a 128 GB SSD. See Apple’s website for details, but other stores usually offer solid discounts on Macbooks, so you should check out this link as well for potential deals.
Bottom point, the 11-inch Macbook Air lacks some of the things available on other premium Windows laptops these days, like a card-reader, a high-quality panel or even a touchscreen, and it gets expensive once you start specking it up. But it ticks many of the right boxes and still outmatches all its rivals when it comes performance, build-quality, keyboard/trackpad or battery life, that’s why I still believe this device is the best premium 11-incher you can buy these days.
Lenovo Yoga 3 11
The Yoga 3 11 is another top-tier 11-incher that you should consider. It’s a 2-in-1 though, with a convertible IPS FHD touchscreen.
Its plastic design doesn’t exactly scream premium, but it’s nice looking nonetheless, well built and very light (weighs 2.54 lbs). It’s also not as powerful as the MacBook, as it is only built on an Intel Core M platform, but it’s going to be fast enough for everyday use and multimedia, especially since it’s paired with 4-8 GB of RAM and SSD storage. And since it’s a Core M computer, it’s fanless, thus always quiet.
These aside, the Yoga 3 11 gets a full-selection of ports around the sides, a fairly nice keyboard (which is not backlit though) and a 34 Wh battery, which isn’t as big as on some of the other 11-inchers, but is still capable of delivering around 6 hours of daily use on a charge.
Last but not least, the Yoga 3 11 is fairly priced. $700 can get you a configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 180 GB SSD, on top of all the other goodies. That’s still a significant amount of money for an 11-incher, but I feel it’s a correct price for what you’re getting. Follow this link for more configuration options and potential discounts.
You’ll find more premium options in this post, but the truth is that most of the high-end ultraportables are bundled in a 12 or 13-inch body, since there’s just more room in those for the hardware and a large enough battery. That’s why this list of available 12-inchers is also a must read.
Wrapping up this post, there are quite a few good options for 11.6-inch mini laptops and ultrabooks available in stores these days.
The machines listed in the first sections of this post are best picks for budget users, with decent features and excellent value for the money. The Chromebooks are great inexpensive machines as well, well suited for children or as a secondary travel devices. Those of you that require a more powerful computer or a convertible can instead choose one of the premium options mentioned above.
On the other hand, if you feel none of the devices in this post are the right picks for you, don’t despair, you can also check out:
- our list of the affordable and compact 10-inch mini laptops,
- our list of 12-inch ultraportables
- or our detailed guide on the best 13-inch and larger ultrabooks available these days.
You can also get in touch with me in the comments section below if you need help picking up your next compact notebook, I’m around and eager to help if I can.