One of the most important things to look for when deciding which microwave to buy is how much power it uses, with most falling between 600 and 1200 watts. Microwaves with a higher wattage will cook and reheat food faster, though that does not mean that a low-wattage unit will be any less efficient; it simply takes longer. With that said, some microwaves do feature improved cooking technology that will yield better results, and depending on what you plan on using it for, this can often be worth the extra cost.
While it is guaranteed that every microwave on this list will cook food, some units come with extra bells and whistles that are either designed for a better cooking experience or sheer convenience. These features include things like preset power levels, more intuitive controls and the ability to defrost frozen meat without the typical browning effect.
A microwave’s size will not only determine what you can place inside of the oven, but whether it will even fit in your kitchen. While some larger microwaves are big enough to accommodate large casserole dishes, people who live in small apartments or college dorms do not have the room to put it anywhere. Conversely, smaller microwaves may fit much easier on most countertops, but they limit the size of the plate or container that can be reheated.
Most countertop models designed for home use fall into a very similar price range (around $70 to $150), but there are more expensive commercial units that cost as much as $500. Generally, the larger and more powerful the microwave, the higher the price tag, but you can also get a lot more for a few more dollars if you shop smartly.
Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius
Boasting 1250 watts of high cooking power, the Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius is in a class of its own. Many users we surveyed said that the increase in power can take some getting used to due to how much faster it cooks food, but there is no actual downside to the higher wattage. Panasonic ups the ante even further by including Inverter Technology in its Genius models, consistently delivering microwave energy throughout the cook time and preventing common issues like burnt edges and overcooking.
The Kenmore 73092 falls in the middle of the power range at 900 watts, although most users claim that it actually cooks faster than other microwaves of comparable wattage. The general consensus among reviewers is that the Kenmore is quick and efficient. It is also the only microwave of the four contenders to consistently earn praise for how quiet the unit is while running.
The Whirlpool WMC20005YD does not pack much of a punch at 750 watts, but then again, it was intentionally designed that way. Because of its size and wattage, this microwave is not very efficient at lengthy cooking times; rather, it is better suited for reheating coffee, tea, and other 30-second jobs. That may seem like a major negative, but it actually fulfills a certain target demographic that only requires a microwave for this purpose.
At only 700 watts, the Frigidaire FFCM0724LB is the least powerful of the contenders, but many users agree that it features adequate power for its size. It is also a lot more durable than its output suggests, with one particular reviewer detailing how well this particular model has performed: it stood the test of constant use and abuse in an office of 60-plus workers.
The Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius comes with a host of features, including preprogrammed power levels under the One-Touch Sensor Cook button for items like baked potatoes, frozen pizza, fresh vegetables, and three different bag sizes of popcorn. Several owners we surveyed were impressed by how incredibly easy it was to use, as well as its accuracy when adjusting cooking or defrosting times. Other notable extras include a Keep Warm feature that utilizes a pulsing delivery of low microwave power to keep food temperatures at a constant level – without overcooking them – for up to 30 minutes, as well as a multi-lingual menu screen that is available in English, Spanish, and French.
The Kenmore 73092 features 10 power levels and six Smart Touch settings that make using a microwave even easier than usual. Owners of this microwave note that it is very intuitive and boasts user-friendly controls, but its biggest strength is the addition of a memory feature that saves your favorite cook time and power level combinations for items that aren’t already preset in the machine. It is a feature that is unique among the other contenders and is perfect for those who want to save even more time in the kitchen.
A fairly barebones microwave compared to the other three, the Whirlpool WMC20005YD claims to have 10 different power levels, although as pointed out by one user, it’s actually only four (25%, 50%, 75% and 100%), because some of the “levels” are either duplicates or functions like “Cancel.” There’s also a handy 30-second start button timer that replaces the traditional keypad. Though some users admit that having to repeatedly press the 30-second button to add time can be annoying, it is a worthy trade-off for some of the other benefits of owning the appliance.
There are not many extras on the Frigidaire FFCM0724LB, but it does include handy settings like Auto Cook, Auto Reheat and Effortless Defrost, as well as an Easy-Set button that allows you to add anywhere from 1-6 minutes to your cooking time. Though it lacks a truly standout feature, it has all the basics that most microwave owners expect.
Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.
Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius
At nearly twice the size of the other contenders, the Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius offers a 1.6 cu ft. capacity for cooking, making it possible to reheat large casserole dishes and other items that do not fit in average-sized microwave ovens. The unit itself is not much larger, measuring 21 7/8 x 19 7/16 x 12 inches and weighing an impressive 29.8 lbs. Many reviewers say that the Panasonic’s roominess was one of the key reasons for their purchase, with one user even going so far as to suggest that it could fit an entire turkey inside.
The Kenmore 73092 measures 19 x 14 x 12 inches wide and features 0.9 cu feet capacity. Though it is a little heavier at 33 lbs compared to the other microwaves, some owners like how that extra weight made it feel more durable and prevented it from accidentally moving around the countertop too easily.
The Whirlpool WMC20005YD is the ultimate space saver, and that is also the number one reason why people decide to purchase it. Measuring 13.8 x 15.4 x 14.1 inches and weighing 32.6 lbs, the microwave offers a scant 0.5 cu ft capacity. Though still large enough to fit a regular-sized dinner plate, the Whirlpool is ideal for homes without much countertop or kitchen space like college dorm rooms. One user commends the company for acknowledging this demographic, stating that he was specifically searching for a really small compact microwave and could not be happier with his purchase.
Fairly standard in size, the Frigidaire FFCM0724LB measures 10 x 17 x 13 inches and offers 0.7 cu ft capacity inside. It is the lightest microwave of the bunch at 22 lbs, but surprisingly, very few owners were concerned about its sturdiness. Though its light weight makes it much more likely to move around the countertop, it holds up to constant use.
Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius
Though it falls a little higher on the price scale at $390, the Panasonic NN-H765BF Genius provides incredibly good value for your money. There is no other microwave at this price point that delivers the same level of performance, capacity or extra features, and its ease of use has made it a popular choice among consumers.
You get what you pay for with the Kenmore 73092, but for only $153, you won’t find a more dependable microwave on the market. It does not have much in the way of extras, but the memory feature is an added bonus for people that don’t expect their microwave to do anything other than cook and reheat food.
The Whirlpool WMC20005YD is about as barebones as microwaves get, which is why the $152 price tag may be a little surprising to some. With that said, it is the only microwave oven of its kind – capable of fitting on the smallest countertops and in the tightest corners. Most reviewers are so happy that they finally found a unit small enough for their kitchen that they did not mind paying a little extra.
The Frigidaire FFCM0724LB comes in at just under $89, and though it is a good option for price-conscious buyers, the Kenmore offers very similar performance and features for less. If you are loyal to the Frigidaire brand, however, this unit has exceptional durability that will reward you with a very long lifespan.
Consumers that want a microwave for basic, everyday functions cannot go wrong with either the Frigidaire or Whirlpool models, but based purely on the value that you get for your dollar, the Kenmore 73092 is beyond comparison. For about $100, this machine delivers incredible power and performance that is in line with its much more expensive counterparts. The unit even stands out from its rivals in terms of its quietness and ease of use.
There is simply no other microwave on the market that delivers as much value for the dollar as the Kenmore 73092, and it earns our highest recommendation as the Best Bang for Your Buck.