The best 11-inch laptops are great if you want to travel light - and are perfect to give you computing power without adding bulk to your backpack or camera bag. But due to their small form factor, there’s not much room to accommodate and support powerful components. It also doesn't help that manufacturers seem to generally make them to just serve as budget alternatives to the more popular 13-inch and 14-inch laptops, which lessens their chances of getting more robust specs even more.
Don't forget we have separate guides to the best laptops for photo editing and the best laptops for video editing if you need something beefier. And if the screen size is an issue, we also have guides to the best monitors for photo editing and the best monitors for video editing.
There are a few exceptions to this small is weak rule. Some mini notebooks are beating the odds, proving that just because a device is small, it doesn’t mean that it cannot handle the more intricate tasks.
Of course, that also doesn’t mean that the best 11-inch and mini laptops won’t come with disadvantages. That small form factor, after all, means small everything else, including the display, keyboard, and trackpad, which could feel a bit cramped for some workflows like video editing. They also tend to be very limited in terms of ports – you’d be lucky to get an SD card reader, for example – and we all know how important ports are to creative professionals.
On the plus side, these devices make for excellent travel companions due to their size and weight. Even with the best Ultrabooks gunning for the thinnest and lightest record, these mini laptops remain unbeatable. Some of them, you can even conveniently slip in a purse or small camera bag, which makes travelling with gear even easier. They’re also a little less obnoxious to use in public spaces like a train or an aeroplane when there’s not a lot of space.
But, again, not all 11-inch and mini laptops can be an ideal addition to a photographer, filmmaker, or graphic designer’s arsenal. If you want to pick one up for yours, you have to be just a bit more discerning, keeping in mind that the screen resolution, availability of ports, and components inside should match what you’ll be using it for. Also pay close attention to the amount of storage it comes with, even if there are plenty of excellent portable SSDs out there that will make it a non-issue.
Assuming that you expect to be able to do some level of creative tasks on whichever you pick, whether it’s just the occasional quick, on-the-fly editing of a couple of photos you’ve taken a few minutes earlier or it’s full-on trimming, re-sequencing, and colour grading entire videos, we found the best 11-inch and mini laptops for every creative need.
The best 11-inch mini laptops in 2022(opens in new tab)
Although not technically classified as a laptop, the iPad Pro 11 is so powerful that it might as well be. This excellent laptop replacement is designed specifically with creative pros in mind. It’s powered by Apple’s superb M1 chip that’s capable of tackling complex video editing workflows, a 600-nit Liquid Retina display with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and P3 colour gamut, and all the tools you need for actually shooting the footage you need, from its Pro system camera and studio-quality microphones to its impeccable image stabilization technology.
When it serves as both your camera and your laptop, you’re not only able to travel extremely light, but you’re sure to save money as well. Though do bear in mind that to turn it into a traditional laptop of sorts, you’ll have to buy the Magic Keyboard separately.(opens in new tab)
Maybe you don’t need a device to do all your heavy editing on, but something that can handle all your productivity needs in the field? The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 is that device. Not only is it rugged enough to go with you on shoots, but it’s more than capable of handling the business side of things, whether that’s keeping up with emails, taking notes, or even backing up files to the cloud via its included microSD reader. It can even tackle the occasional photo editing task if you need to do it on the fly.
You won’t want to do any serious editing as the screen is too dim for accurate colours. However, if you need something to take care of your productivity needs while on a shoot, the Acer is a surprisingly comfortable device to use.(opens in new tab)
If you’re looking for a tough mini laptop to take in the field, then the Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Yoga Gen 6 is for you. From the scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass to the rubber bumpers and mechanically anchored keys, this is one tough device. In fact, it’s rated to MIL-STD 810G military standards. If that’s not enough, it comes with a smorgasbord of ports including a USB-C, HDMI, and microSD reader.
There’s even a pen loop for securing a stylus, though that has to be purchased separately. Don’t worry, though, if you didn’t budget for a stylus pen. You can use a number 2 pencil on the screen without scratching it.(opens in new tab)
The iPad Air might not be the flagship model in Apple’s tablet lineup, but it is plenty powerful in its own right, not to mention cheaper than the iPad Pro. Packing an A14 bionic chip and Apple 4-Core GPU, it is more than capable of handling just about any photo editing or graphic design work you can throw at it. And, the end result will look stunning and, more importantly, accurate thanks to the bright liquid retina display sporting 500 nits of brightness and 264 pixels per inch density.
The storage capacity could be better, and it only has a single port. But, its shortcomings end there. This powerful, sleek machine is a surprisingly capable asset to any photographer or graphic designer, especially when paired with a Magic Keyboard (sold separately). And, it’s the only model in Apple’s lineup of iPads to come in 5 different colorways.(opens in new tab)
Samsung set out to create an iPad Pro killer with the Galaxy Tab S7. Whether or not the company succeeded, it at the very least created a viable alternative for users who would rather stick with the Android ecosystem. And, though there are fewer worthy apps for your creative work, the S7 is more than able when it comes to editing photos and videos thanks to the powerful 8-Core Qualcomm processor.
Of course, that performance doesn’t matter if the screen isn’t up to the task. But, thankfully it is. Not only does the touch display have a high enough resolution to go head-to-head with the iPad Pro, but it also has a 120Hz refresh rate for a smooth viewing experience. For the traditional laptop experience, the Samsung Keyboard cover is worth the additional purchase.(opens in new tab)
No other notebook can last as long in the field as the impressive, energy-efficient Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 Chromebook. In fact, there’s enough battery life to last a full day and then some. If you do happen to use up all the battery, 15 minutes of charging will provide another 2 hours of use. And, though its design is a bit dated aesthetically, including some unfortunately large bezels, it’s a well-built machine that can take a tumble or two and keep on ticking.
It might not be ideal for editing purposes – its screen offers only 250 nits of brightness – but it’s a valuable tool for getting through your daily emails, writing up proposals, and putting together contracts, thanks to its touchscreen and its 2-in-1 form factor.
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