Up to 13 hours of battery life. Especially affordable. Glare-free 11.6-inch HD display. Lightweight. Reliably solid Wi-Fi connectivity. Comfortable keyboard.
Low field of view.
Affordable. Lightweight. Extremely durable. Lightning-fast Wi-Fi connectivity. Impressive battery life of up to 12.5 hours. Anti-reflective 11.6-inch HD display. Full-size keyboard.
Slim viewing angle.
Inexpensive. Flexible 360-degree hinge. Remarkably rugged construction. Up to 10 hours of battery life. Lightweight. Thin 11.6 HD touchscreen display. Fast Wi-Fi connectivity. Tablet mode.
A backlit keyboard would have been appreciated for many consumers.
Maximum battery life of 13.5 hours. Featherweight. Speedy. Optimized for multitasking. Fingerprint login. Sharp 12.4-inch PixelSense display. Available in 3 stylish colors.
This mini laptop falls on the high-end of the price scale.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Perhaps you’re a businessperson who wants to be able to get work done at the airport. Perhaps you’re a traveler who prefers the feel of a keyboard under your fingers to the flat-screen feel of a tablet keyboard. Regardless of who you are and what you do, a laptop is a handy tool to have in your digital arsenal.
Sometimes, though, a full-size laptop is overkill for what you want to do. Whether it’s the expense, the problems with battery power, or the large size, you may not want a full-size laptop. Instead, consider a mini laptop. These smaller laptops share many features with traditional laptops, but they are smaller and have a bit less power.
Indeed, a mini laptop is not going to give you the processing power, screen size, or overall performance of a full-size laptop. For someone who just needs the basics in a portable computer, however, a mini laptop may be ideal. In this buying guide, we explore various mini laptops and provide advice to help you find the right mini laptop for your needs.
Mini laptop configuration varies a bit from machine to machine. Although mini laptops don’t have much processing power, they do have varying options when it comes to components such as the processor, RAM, and storage.
The processor, or CPU, handles the primary processing tasks of a mini laptop computer. Think of it as the brain of the computer. When it operates at a faster speed, the computer can perform more tasks in a shorter amount of time. You’ll have to spend a bit more money for a powerful CPU in the mini laptop, though.
A lot of mini laptops have low-power Intel Celeron or Intel Atom processors. The Celeron doesn’t quite have the processing power or speed of Core processors from Intel, but Celeron is faster than Atom.
The speed of a CPU is called the clock speed. A faster CPU is able to process commands more quickly than a slower CPU, allowing it to perform more functions in the same amount of time. Manufacturers use GHz to measure a CPU’s processing speed. The slowest mini laptop CPUs run a little better than 1GHz. Some of these CPUs can reach 2GHz or faster.
Random access memory, or RAM, is the temporary storage area where the laptop stores data currently in use. This gives the computer quick access to the data. The more RAM a mini laptop has, the faster it can perform. Notably, having more RAM will increase the price of a mini laptop.
Inexpensive mini laptops may only have 1 or 2GB of RAM. Pricier mini laptops may have 4 to 8GB of RAM.
A mini laptop may use a few different sizes and formats of hard drive storage. The most common storage in a mini laptop is flash storage, either through a memory card or a solid-state drive, also known as SSD.
This type of memory does not require a lot of storage space — at least compared to a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) with spinning platters. However, some mini laptops do use HDD for storage.
Mini laptops are available in several configurations. Once you know the types of components you want in a mini laptop, you can select the configuration and design features you want.
2-in-1: A 2-in-1 mini laptop has a detachable display screen with touch capabilities. You can use the machine as a standalone tablet or a traditional laptop. Other mini laptops do not offer touch screens and work only as traditional laptops.
Operating system: Mini laptops typically use the Windows operating system. Some units use the Chrome OS. Occasionally, you’ll find a mini laptop running Linux or an Android OS.
Color: Mini laptops are available in several different colors, but black and gray are common colors for the case.
Wireless capabilities: The majority of mini laptops have built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity capabilities.
Display screen size: The manufacturer measures the size of the display screen in inches from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner. Mini laptops have screens of 11.6 inches or less.
Display screen resolution: The manufacturer lists screen resolution as horizontal pixels by vertical pixels. A wide variety of resolution options are available, from full HD (1920x1080) to a resolution significantly lower than HD.
The least-expensive mini laptops cost $100 to $200. They have very simple processors and are designed primarily to run web apps. Screen resolution is less than HD.
You could spend $200 to $400 for a mid-range mini laptop. Some of these designs have a 2-in-1 format, meaning they can work like a standard laptop or a touchscreen tablet. These machines provide decent battery life and processing power without breaking the bank. You'll find some solid netbooks in this range.
The priciest mini laptops cost between $400 and $1,000. These machines offer processing power or an amount of RAM that’s much better than the average mini laptop. Some mini laptops in this price range give you an additional special feature, such as a high-resolution display screen or a rugged case that stands up to tough environmental conditions.
If you are wondering whether a full-size laptop would serve your needs better than a mini laptop (or vice versa), here are some tips to help you decide.
Q. What does HD resolution mean?
A. Technically, any screen that has at least 720x1280 pixels has HD resolution. However, the majority of television programming is 1080x1920 pixels, or full HD. If you purchase a mini laptop with HD resolution, that could mean it has anything from 720x1280 pixels to 1080x1920 pixels. Check the product specs for more details.
Q. Why does a mini laptop have such good battery life?
A. There are several reasons. For one thing, the below-average size of the display screen reduces power requirements for the machine. The mini laptop uses processors that conserve power, as they run at a slower speed than the latest top-end processors. The manufacturer tunes the entire system to use as little power as possible, enhancing portability.
Q. Does a mini laptop make a strong gaming machine?
A. Not really. Mini laptops have small display screens, often with less than full-HD resolution, so they do not work well for the complex graphics found in games. Mini laptops have minimal processing power and limited graphics processing power, reducing their ability to work with high-end gaming software. They will work fine for simple gaming needs, though.
Q. How difficult is it to type on a mini laptop keyboard?
A. Some people find the smaller-than-average size of a mini laptop keyboard uncomfortable. Those who are accustomed to a full-size keyboard may find it particularly difficult to adjust. The coverage size of an individual key on a mini laptop keyboard is a bit less than what you’d find on a full-size keyboard key. Mini laptops also have a bit less space between keys, which could lead to typing errors.