When they say they want to buy a laptop, what some people mean is that they want something that can fit into a handbag or a smaller pocket of a backpack, yet still be usable for the occasional Internet shopping and so on. As such, the 11.6” type was developed, the second smallest laptop after the tiny 10-inch models which are more like palmtops, in our honest opinion, than proper laptops.
What can you expect from such a model? Well, high performance, to begin with, is out of the question. If you want to play Far Cry Primal on Ultra, get a 17-inch gaming model and get it over with. Not to mention that an 11-inch laptop doesn’t have ultra settings, to begin with – there’s no 11-incher with a UHD screen, as far as we know. It’s not just gaming either – you can’t do the job of a proper workstation on such a tiny laptop because of sheer physical limitations. A discrete graphics card cannot be fitted in such a small space, and neither can be a more powerful CPU, due to the lack of space for a bigger power supply unit and appropriate coolers.
To make your search easier, we’ve made a list of the best 11-inch laptop models we could find. You may pick one of these or go and search on your own, starting from these suggestions. Here it is:
1. Apple MacBook Air MJVP2LL/A
We’re starting the list with probably the prettiest and the most expensive model here, the 11-inch version of MacBook Air. It’s a beautiful, silver design which emphasizes its slimness – only 0.68”, at 2.38lbs. It has an HD screen which is not bad at all, even though it’s not the famous Retina, and the battery is pretty good too: 9 hours of wireless Internet browsing, 10 hours of iTunes play, or one whole month of standby time.
The performance is the best around as well. The processor of this little beauty is a Broadwell-generation Intel i5-5200U, dual-core, 2.2GHz and overclocked up to 2.7GHz, which comes with the Intel HD 6000 integrated graphics chip. It has 4GB LPDDR3 RAM @1600MHz, as well as a great 256GB SSD, which is the unquestionable best regarding speed and also pretty big for an 11” laptop.
2. Lenovo Yoga 700
Another non-budget item, this model displays the whole beauty of the Yoga design. While other Lenovo laptops (we’re looking at you, ThinkPads) seem rather old-fashioned, the Yoga series is entirely modern-looking. What’s more, this 11-inch laptop is, in fact, a 2-in-1, being usable in tablet form as well. To that extent, it has a beautiful FHD IPS 10-finger multitouch display, incorporated into a black-and-silver design with sharp lines.
The Yoga 700 doesn’t have as good a CPU as the MacBook Air, featuring an Intel Core m3-6Y30, 900MHz instead and up to 2.2GHz overclocked, with Intel HD Graphics 515. It has the same amount and type of RAM and a 128GB SSD, which is enough for everything you need. Amazingly enough, even though it’s a 2-in-1, it’s also slimmer than the MacBook Air, at only 0.62”, and only 0.04lbs heavier.
3. Acer Aspire Switch 11 V SW5-173P-61RD
This model is, just like the Yoga 700, a convertible model. It’s rather a tablet with a keyboard dock than a full-fledged laptop but, at any rate, it can and will function perfectly as a laptop. It’s not a particularly great design, just a simple tablet, which is rather disappointing – especially considering there’s quite the price tag stuck to it. It is, however, the slimmest among our 11-inch models, at only 0.4”, and thus will fit a lot better in your backpack or handbag.
The Switch 11 is powered by a Core m-5Y10c, 2GHz, with HD Graphics 5300, as well as 4GB DDR3L SDRAM. It also has a 128GB SSD, which is enough, and the FHD Capacitive touchscreen makes us forgive it for its rather unimpressive appearance.
4. Samsung Chromebook 3 XE500C13-K02US
The first Chromebook on our list is also the first budget model. Then again, in spite of its low price tag, don’t expect it to be plain-looking or underperforming. It is, after all, a Samsung, and they’re not known for lacking in quality. This beautiful piece of engineering is about the same weight and thickness as the MacBook, at 0.7” and 2.53lbs, and its sleek, black lines make it stand out in the crowd.
There’s an Intel Celeron N3050 powering this one, 1.6GHz and up to 2.16GHz with Intel Burst. The same 4GB DDR3L are present, and a little unpleasant surprise: a 16GB eMMC storage. Then again, that much is to be expected from a Chromebook and this model has a microSD card slot anyway, which can be used to extend its storage a couple of times over. What’s best about this is the battery life: up to 11 hours of Internet browsing or movie watching, which is really good for a long international flight.
5. Lenovo S21e 80M4002DUS
This Lenovo model is not a flipbook or anything of the kind. It is, on the other hand, extremely pretty, or at least that’s what we think, with the same black-silver combination we’ve seen on the Yoga model and half the price tag. This, too, is a very slim and light model, albeit a bit bulkier than the others at 0.74” and 2.7lbs. The pièce de resistance is the keyboard, a slightly downsized Lenovo AccuType, the best keyboard we’ve seen on an 11-inch laptop (some seem to prefer the MacBook keyboard, but that’s much more expensive).
There is a Celeron N2840 inside the S21e, 2.16GHz base frequency and Burst up to 2.58GHz. Unfortunately, this is one of the 2GB DDR3 models, but the reviewers say it’s plenty. Add 32GB flash storage, and you’ll get the perfect tool for those who like to write their travel impressions in real time.
6. Asus Chromebook C202SA-YS01
Another great budget model, this is exactly what we recommend you to buy if you’re a kindergarten teacher or simply the clumsiest person in the history of ever. It has reinforced rubber guards for excellent grip, 180o hinges for the display, and it’s both shock-resistant and splash-proof, just in case your children or your 4-year-old pupils decide to have a little childish fun with it. The most resilient 11-inch laptop we could find, and we’re proud of it.
It’s not exactly overpowered, but it still has a neat Celeron N3060, 1.6 and up to 2.48GHz, with 2GB DDR3L and 16GB storage. Pretty much all you need for a Chromebook, especially since it also has great battery life (10-hour rating).
7. Dell Inspiron 11 3000 i3148-8840sLV
At 3.1lbs, this laptop is the heaviest around, though it’s pretty hard to call an 11.6” laptop “heavy”. Its design is not particularly amazing, maybe some would call it “boring”, but we think it simply looks like a good classic model, with its light grey color and a rectangular shape. Surprisingly enough, it’s a 2-in-1 laptop, which you wouldn’t guess from its appearance.
Instead of the usual Celeron, this model has an Intel i3-4030U, dual-core, clocked at 1.9GHz, with Intel HD Graphics 4400. It has 4GB DDR3, and it’s the only laptop on our 11-inch list with a 500GB HDD, probably because it’s the only one with enough room inside to accommodate it. As such, it’s great if you want to keep a bit more files than you usually would on a mini-laptop.
8. Acer Chromebook R 11 CB5-132T-C1LK
We’ve had Chromebooks, we’ve had 2-in-1 laptops, now it’s time to combine them and present you the R11 model from Acer. Under the tagline “The Chromebook that bends over backwards”, Acer has produced an 11-inch convertible as well, which we think is pretty great. It’s white, and it’s pretty, and it has an HD LED 10-point multitouch widescreen display which you will certainly find satisfying.
The R11 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3150, 1.6GHz and up to 2.08GHz with Intel Burst and 4GB DDR3L SDRAM. It has 32GB flash storage, more than our other Chromebook models, and it also features an SD card reader which allows for significant expansion.
Who can benefit from such a small laptop? Of course, those who need portability above all else, but still want the comfort of a proper keyboard instead of a touchscreen one, and a monitor that can stand upright without requiring extra inventiveness. In other words, those who often go on long trips and want to take their work or a bit of road entertainment with them. An 11-inch laptop will not incommode you on a bus trip, and you can still watch your favorite YouTube clips or even movies on it quite a lot better than you would on a smartphone. What’s more, it has the added battery advantage: generally, tiny laptops have a much longer battery life than their bigger counterparts. It’s not unusual to get 10 or 12 hours of battery life from such a laptop.
There are a few things to consider when you’re buying an 11-inch laptop. The budget is not one of them – there are no super-expensive models, although the MacBook Air 11 is around $1000. Most models run for less than $300, and many are even less than $200, which is pretty cheap by any standards. And this doesn’t mean they lack performance – a $200 mini-laptop can be perfectly good for any day-to-day and office tasks. If you’re buying a more expensive model, you do it because 1) you can afford it and 2) because it probably looks and feels a lot better than a very cheap one.
The first point to take into account is the OS. You have three alternatives with modern 11-inch laptops. There are Windows models, currently with Windows 10, which offer you the same interface as the computer you probably have at home. You may want these if you use a lot of apps and maybe also do some very light gaming. There are MacOS models, which are almost 100% virus-free, and you’d want one of these if you use it for your important documents and pics. Finally, there are Chrome OS versions, which are lightning-fast and they are probably the best for reading, Internet browsing, and movie watching, although they may take a bit to get accustomed to.
The second point is the overall performance. As said earlier, don’t expect an excellent processor (although the same MacBook Air 11 has an i5, which is fantastic), nor a discrete graphics card. You can expect either 2GB or 4GB RAM, the latter being, obviously, preferable. This is probably all you need regarding power; if you want something more, just get a bigger laptop. Also, 11” laptops most often come with 16, 32, or 64GB eMMC storage. It’s faster than an HDD but also smaller in capacity, which can be annoying. If you need more storage, get a model with an SD or microSD card slot. You can purchase a 128GB card for a very good price on Amazon, and that’ll help a lot.
Finally, there’s the question of design. This doesn’t only mean the way it looks – it’s also about dimensions, as you may need it to fit in a certain limited space. It’s also about its ports and where they are located. It’s quite normal that an 11-inch laptop doesn’t have as many ports as a full-size one, but try to find something with at least two or three USBs and maybe an HDMI or something like that.