One would think that with the minituarization of devices over the past decade and the incredible things our smartphones can do, all 11 inch laptops out should be awesome and powerful right?
Even in 2020 most 11 inch laptops still suck…
Most of them have a “mobile processor” to run the heavy and power eating Windows 10 Home version!
So they’ll feel like you’re running Windows 95 in 1995.
They can get so slow you might as well use your smartphone to surf the web or type a document.
Why are they so bad?
It’s difficult ( or expensive) for manufacturers to fit in a “powerful” processor and enough disk/RAM size into a thin & small compartment without sacrifying free space (which is needed for those circuits to get some air before they melt).
The good news….
is that some 11 inch laptops will still run OK despite their limitations.
The market is full of 11 inch laptops. You name it: chromebooks, touchscreens, convertibles, ultrabooks from every brand out there and with chips made 5 or 10 years ago….
So you will have to spend several days if not a week to get a good grasp of what’s out here and what’s a good deal.
Fortunately for you…
I have done all of that work already and . I’ve comed up with a list of 25 (although I’m only posting 11 for now).
In fact I bought three of these puppies myself andwrote the first version of this post with one of them.
Top 11 Best 11 inch Laptops 2020
Top 11 Best 11 inch Laptops 2020
For those poor souls who can’t find the following models around their area (UK, India, Philippines,Canada, Singapore). Try to type their names on the search bar of the site you use to buy stuff.
If you still can’t find them or they’re out of stock, check out the laptop buying guide in the last section. I put a lot of useful stuff there so you can land the perfect 11 inch laptop.
Here are some pointers though, again more details are at the end.
Operating System & CPU (Processor)
The CPU/Operating system combination will be the biggest factor behind your computer’s speed. Most 11 inch laptops don’t have a processor or “chip” faster enough to handle the “weight” of the operating system so they will run painfully slow. Here are a few tips:
For the full blown version of Windows 10: You want a Intel Core m3/m5/Y processor. Ex:M3-8100Y or M5Y31. You can use a Celeron/Pentium processor sometimes though!For Windows 10S: Pentium/Celeron is okay. Ex: N4000,N3550. Atom/ARM chips . So areAMD E2-6110, AMD 9 9420e,AMD A6-9220e. Atom/ARM chips like theMediaTek MT8173C &Atom x5 E8000 are okay too they’re just a lot slower.For Chrome OS: Pretty much anything will do. EvenMediaTek MT8173C &Atom x5 E8000 chips.
Here’s a breakdown from fastest to slowest.
Core i3>Core m3/m5/y5>AMD A9=AMD A6=Celeron>Pentium>Atom/ARM
RAMWindows 10/Windows 10S take 2GB! So4GB at the very least. If you see 2GB, that may be okay for Windows 10S! ChromeBooks: 2GB is okay for Chrome OS, 4GB jwill let you run a lot more apps simultanously but with 2GB you can run dozens already.
StorageAvoid HDDs(Hard Disk Drives).Get either an SSD*(though this is almost impossible to find) or a Flash storage (eMMC) which is universal in this market. Don’t worry about capacity unless you plan on installing a new OS like Linux or the full version of Windows 10 yourself.
*You can upgrade to an SSD later. They are expensive but worth it, they’ll make any 11 inch laptop fly.
DisplayMost 11 inch laptops have low resolutions: HD. Not much you can do about it.Full HD will give you tons of extra space despite the limited screen size but they’re rare & ultra expensive.HD+ is very acceptable. Also rare though.
I’ll start with the best 3 11 inch laptops (I own these myself and bought them around 5 months ago or so, I’ll post the latest modelsthough)
1. MacBook Air
Best 11 inch Laptop Under 500
Dual Core i5 Up To 2.7GHz
128 GB SSD
11” HD Glossy
The best out of the three and in fact the best 11 inch laptop in 2020 is still the 11” MacBook Air .
Although the 11” version has been discontinued several years ago, you can still find hundreds of ’em online. Some of ’em new some of ’em refurbished.
If you don’t believe me, check all the reviews on Amazon or check the specs yourself and compare them side by side to the silly processors/storage drives other companies put on their laptops.
And no this one is not “MacBook expensive”, that’s the best part out of this model, it’s as good as new but way cheaper.
If they are refurbished they work as good as new.In fact, mine is, and I bought mine back in August 2018, 2 years later still running like a champ. (The charger blew up after I dropped it though, cost me only 50 bucks to replace)
Before I go onto describing what this little monster can do(or what I can do with it), let me tell you why you should really consider buying the 11” MacBook Air.
The 11” MacBook Air was hailed and touted as the best lightweight 11 inch laptop back in 2015. Writers, programmers and students loved it. It was the thinnest, lightest laptop with the longest battery life that has ever been produced(also w/ the best keyboard).
Unfortunately, Apple tried to get a new player in the market: The New MacBook which had all the qualities of the 11” Air but no ports & just better looks really (and a retina display). Apple knew the New MacBook would not be able to compete with the 11” Air which was cheaper and had just as much power so it had to go. They did keep the 13” version of this MacBook Air though because the battery keyboard trackpad still seems unbeatable and sold like hot cakes until this year (they’re trying to replace it with the New MacBook Air with a retina display again let’s see how that goes).
Anyways so people bought several hundreds of 11” MacBook Airs back then. Some of them to just use or resell. Being the great laptop that it was, you’ll still find them all over the net.
I’d advice you to stick with the MacBooks from Amazon, you’ll get the best warranty (which sometimes will give completely replace your MacBook if your neighboor steps on the shipping box).
If you don’t happen to get a bad model (which does happen sometimes and you can just ask for another one), your Model will last you for 8 years on average, enough time to resell it.
Let’s briefly go over hardware performance now. I’ll attach some screenshots to see what you can do with this puppy.
The MacBook Air is in fact one of the few, (if not the only), “non convertible laptop” with an Intel Core processor and a real Solid State Drive. No pentiums, celerons or even worse: atoms/arm chips. This is a full blown Intel Core i5 processor, yes a few generations old, but still far more powerful than any processor you’ll find from 11 inch laptops.
What do you mean by Real Solid State Drive?
This is not a flash “SSD” storage or an “eMMC” storage (whatever word manufacturers use to disguise this fact) which you’ll find on almost every chromebook and 99.9% of 11 inch laptops online. This is a real Solid State Drive.
Despite being old SSD technology (made by Apple), it is fast as any modern SSD, this is because this technology is propietary of apple and has been tweaked around to make it faster than the standard SSD of those days.
You can do pretty much any type of work with the MacBook Air:
Dozens of tabs open with the RAM-eating Chrome web browserLarge spreadsheets with pluginsStream videos with zero issues, Programing with heavy IDEsHeck, I’ve used mine to play some AAA games (with all settings set to low) and throw some serious computational physics. Here I am using a simulation to backtrack a particle (find the change in direction of a particle traveling from the outer edge of the galaxy to earth), running facebook, playing music with no lag, etc.
I’ll add a very graphical demanding like WoW in the coming days and post the screenshot(I had to format my MacBook Air to have a clean install of python and stuff with terminal).
By the way, if you are a programmer It’s important to install python correctly on the MacBook Air, check my post on it otherwise you’re going to have compatibility issues when installing packages).