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When you’re shopping for a microwave for a college dorm room, there are a variety of factors to consider. Still, most people will agree that dimensions and space compatibility are probably top of mind. Finding a microwave with the functionality that you need that fits in your dorm without sacrificing space is going to be important. Likewise, you’ll want to find a microwave that’s at least 700 watts to properly heat and cook food and with an interior capacity that can accommodate plates for reheating meals. And if you’re interested in more than basic functionality, additional cooking features may also be important to you.
After conducting exhausting research of thousands of reviews from real shoppers, we were able to narrow our selections and nominate the AmazonBasics 700W Microwave as the best microwave for college because it integrates with Alexa voice assistant, has 700 watts of cooking power, and 0.7 cubic feet of interior capacity for a space-saving microwave solution. Keep reading to learn more about our recommendations and the criteria we used to finalize our list for the best microwaves.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: An impressive and affordable smart tech compact microwave oven with integrated Alexa voice assistant, 700 watts of power, and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space makes this the best microwave for a college dorm.
When most of us think of college dorm rooms and microwaves, you’re usually picturing a compact option that has a simple or straightforward touchpad control panel. The AmazonBasic microwave is our Top Pick as well as our Best on a Budget recommendation because it’s an affordable solution that manages to combine cutting edge voice assistant technology with compact dimensions, making this the best microwave for a college dorm.
You’ll love that the AmazonBasics pick is an affordable microwave with Alexa voice assistant for a hands-free experience. While you don’t get a lot of cooking presets — you’re limited to making popcorn and defrosting — we do like that it’s a budget-friendly option with 10 power levels. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space. The external dimensions of this Amazon microwave measure 17.3 inches wide, 14.1 inches deep, and 10.1 inches tall with a turntable that measures 10 inches in diameter. It’s a great option for anyone looking for the best compact microwaves with smart tech features.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: Robust auto-cook presets, a memory function, an eco mode, 700 watts, and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space makes this one of the best dorm microwaves.
If you like the idea of having a microwave in your college dorm room but you want something with more features, the Comfee Countertop Microwave is one of the best dorm microwaves in our opinion. It’s a happy medium between an appliance with more robust features, and one that’s also affordable and compact. It offers 700 watts of cooking power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space. The external dimensions are 17.3 inches wide, 13 inches deep, by 10.2 inches tall with a removable glass turntable that’s 10 inches in diameter that should fit most dinner plates.
Related: See also the best quiet microwave.
You’ll like that this compact microwave oven comes with an LED display, 11 power settings, six auto-cook options, and two defrost settings. You can turn the sound off if those alert noises annoy you while you’re up studying late at night. Activate the eco mode to engage the energy-saving feature that reduces standby power consumption by up to 50 percent. With the express cook buttons, you can instantly set the microwave to cook from one to six minutes with just the touch of a button. You might also like our best countertop microwave buying guide for additional options.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: An intuitive countertop compact microwave oven with one-touch start buttons, 900 watts of power, six quick touch cooking presets, and an eco-mode to reduce power consumption.
Note that this is one of the deeper microwaves, so people with shallow countertops may find that this model isn’t compatible. We liked that this model also features an eco mode to help reduce power consumption in standby mode. You’ll get six preset auto-cook buttons such as frozen vegetables as well as one-touch quick start buttons to cook from one to six minutes, and a 30-second quick start option. The Toshiba microwave comes with 10 power levels and a memory function too. We think it’s one of the best microwaves for seniors as well.
Award: BEST CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A large 1.6-cubic foot inverter microwave with an impressive 1,250 watts of cooking power, and 14 auto-cook preset options that are ideal for off-campus housing.
If you live off-campus or in an on-campus apartment, you might have more space than students living in traditional college dorm rooms. And that means that you also might be ready to upgrade your kitchen and cooking prowess with robust appliances that offer more functionality. This Panasonic countertop microwave is one of the larger options that still technically is considered small — but offers so much more than a traditional college dorm microwave. You’ll get 1,250 watts of cooking power and 1.6 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions of this microwave are 21.88 inches wide, 19.44 inches deep, and 11.94 inches tall with a 13.4-inch diameter turntable. We like that this model comes in a sleek black finish. You’ll get an impressive 14 auto-cook presets and one-touch controls for everything from popcorn to defrosting, and a keep warm setting as well. Note that this is an inverter microwave that offers more consistent heating and reduces the chances of hot or cold spots in your food. For additional options from Panasonic, check out our best Panasonic microwaves guide.
Award: BEST SMALL INTERIOR
WHY WE LIKE IT: A simple dual-rotary countertop microwave oven that’s perfect for quickly reheating meals or a cup of coffee with just 0.6 cubic feet of interior space.
If you’re not comfortable using a microwave for more than reheating food or a beverage, then the models with expansive control panels might be overwhelming. We’re including the Commercial Chef microwave because it’s a simple compact microwave that’s perfect for a college dorm room. The exterior dimensions measure 17.75 inches wide, 10.25 inches tall, and 12.5 inches deep so it’s a great space-saving design. You’ll get 0.6 cubic feet of interior capacity and a 9.5-inch rotating turntable.
Even though this unit has a lower wattage rating at just 660 watts, we still think this is a great option. The simple dual rotary dial controls make it easy to set your time and the power level. However, someone who’s more experienced with microwaves may feel that this is a little limiting as the only included presets are speed and weight defrost. Still, you can set the timer from as little as one minute to as much as 30 minutes. It’s a great option if you simply want the best small microwave.
Award: BEST COMPACT DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: A straightforward microwave with 700 watts of cooking power, 0.7 cubic feet of space, and a 10-inch turntable that’s perfect for reheating plates of food and beverages.
Anyone who’s visited a college dorm room knows that often enough, those rooms aren’t known for being massive. So, if you’re trying to maximize space but still want a microwave, it’s important to find one with smaller dimensions. We like that this Black & Decker microwave is one of the smallest from our research with external dimensions that measure 17.3 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 10.2 inches tall.
You’ll still get 700 watts of cooking power and an interior capacity of 0.7 cubic feet. The Black & Decker microwave features a fairly standard touchpad control panel that includes six auto-cook presets, express quick start cook buttons for one to six minutes, defrost, and a memory feature. You’ll get 10 power settings as well as a glass turntable that measures 10 inches in diameter. For more versatility and stronger cooking power, check out our best convection microwave ovens buying guide.
Award: BEST CONTROL PANEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: A sleek stainless steel finish 900-watt inverter microwave with nine auto-cook presets, and an easy to use push-button and dials for a low-profile effect.
This pick from Panasonic is another great medium-sized microwave for college. While it’s getting close to the upper limits of the compact microwave category, it’s an excellent choice because you get a wide array of features in a smaller unit. This is one of the smallest inverter options with an 0.8 cubic foot capacity and 950 watts of cooking power. The external dimensions measure 19.2 inches wide, 14.81 inches deep, and 11 inches tall with an 11.2-inch diameter turntable.
If you don’t like touchpad control panels, you’ll like that this model is a little different with push buttons and a dial that is paired with a digital timer display. You’ll also get nine auto-cook presets, 10 power levels, and other intuitive features like Turbo Defrost, Keep Warm, and a Quick Minute for fast reheating, making it one of the best speed cooking microwave options on our list.
Award: BEST FUNCTIONALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable inverter microwave with 1,200 watts of cooking power, 1.2 cubic feet of space, and 15 auto-cook presets which makes this perfect for more than making popcorn.
If you’ve stayed away from inverter microwaves because you heard that they’re pricey, this Panasonic pick will change your mind. While it’s more than some of the truly budget picks in our guide, it’s one of the most affordable inverter models. We like that this model features 1,200 watts of power and a 1.2 cubic foot capacity. The external dimensions measure 20.7 inches wide, 15.8 inches deep, and 12.2 inches tall, with a 13.4-inch diameter turntable. So again, this is a larger option within the compact microwave category.
More importantly, we like that this Panasonic pick offers plenty of intuitive microwave features that will turn this into an essential appliance in your dorm room or off-campus apartment. This microwave comes with Genius Sensor technology, 15 auto-cook settings, 11 power levels, Turbo Defrost, and a Quick 30 option. Choose from three finishes including black, stainless steel, and white. Additionally, you might want to check out our best Samsung microwaves buying guide.
Award: BEST FOR COOKS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A microwave that doubles as a grill with 1,100 watts of power, 1.2 cubic feet of cooking space, and 10 power levels for the serious college cook.
Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested in making gourmet meals. If this sounds familiar, some of the more basic compact microwaves may not appeal to you. So, we’re including this model from Emerson because it offers plenty of power and space along with a standout feature — grilling! The Emerson microwave offers 1,100 watts of power and a 1.2 cubic foot capacity. The external dimensions measure 20.6 inches wide, 17.3 inches deep, and 12.8 inches tall with a 12.4-inch diameter turntable.
This microwave features a somewhat unique built-in griller element at the top of the interior space. This special feature is ideal if you like the idea of grilling meats and vegetables but aren’t able to use a grill on campus. You’ll also get 11 power levels, nine auto-cook presets, a time and weight defrost option, and express cook buttons for one to six minutes. For built-in options, you can check out our best built-in microwaves buying guide.
Award: BEST AESTHETICS
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you feel like your appliances should reflect your personality, and you have a thing for vintage-inspired styles, then this pick from Nostalgia is right up your alley. This retro-themed microwave is perfect for people who only need it for simple reheating functions. The classic red and chrome-accented exterior definitely makes a statement. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions measure 18 inches wide, 14.17 inches deep, and 10.25 inches tall. While this model combines a classic knob and button control panel with a digital timer, keep in mind that the timer displays in military time. This means that you’ll see hours written from zero to 24. Still, this microwave features 12 auto-cook presets, five power levels, as well as a defrost function.
If you feel like your appliances should reflect your personality, and you have a thing for vintage-inspired styles, then this pick from Nostalgia is right up your alley. This retro-themed microwave is perfect for people who only need it for simple reheating functions. The classic red and chrome-accented exterior definitely makes a statement. You’ll get 700 watts of power and 0.7 cubic feet of interior space.
The external dimensions measure 18 inches wide, 14.17 inches deep, and 10.25 inches tall. While this model combines a classic knob and button control panel with a digital timer, keep in mind that the timer displays in military time. This means that you’ll see hours written from zero to 24. Still, this microwave features 12 auto-cook presets, five power levels, as well as a defrost function. It’s great for popping a bag of the best microwave popcorn.
Microwaves are almost a must-have for college dorm rooms these days. To create our guide for the best microwaves for college students, we focused on the following key features — wattage, size and style, heating methods, and the controls. All of our recommendations are countertop models that range between the categories of compact and small. Given the limitations most students will receive from their respective universities, over-the-range models didn’t make sense to include in our guide.
Wattage is a feature that’s going to matter especially if you’re looking to use a microwave for more than simply reheating food. In our guide, wattages ranged from 600 watts to as high as 1,250 watts. The higher wattage models also usually came with larger interior capacities and enhanced functionality.
And this takes us to size. If space is at a premium, a smaller interior capacity is going to make more sense. So, we included several options that were less than one cubic foot of interior space. Still, we also recognize that not everyone lives in a dorm, or even if they do, they may not have a roommate. To that end, we did include options larger than a cubic foot but didn’t go beyond 1.6 cubic feet of interior space.
You’ll find that in our guide we’ve included affordable inverter models as well as pulse heat options. Because inverter technology is focused on providing even and consistent heat, you’ll note that the inverter models also include more robust cooking options.
Finally, we focused on the control panel. While almost every microwave we reviewed came with a child safety lock, this wasn’t a feature we highlighted given the audience we’re addressing. You’ll see an array of options in our guide from rotary dial options to models that included an Alexa voice assistant, or even had enhanced cooking controls such as including a grill element in the interior space. You’ll need to consider which functions are most important to you and whether you prefer a touchpad, tactile buttons, and knobs, or a hands-free smart appliance interface.
A Microwave for college dorms should be compact — especially if you’re only using it to reheat food or a cup of coffee. You can find models as small as 19 inches wide, which is ideal if you have limited countertop space to store a microwave. In terms of cubic feet, anything that lists 0.9 cubic feet or less of interior space will also be a compact option for your dorm room.
That’s a question that’s best left for your RA to answer! But we recommend investing in a microwave for your room. Even if your dorm has a communal kitchen, who wants to trek down to the kitchen every time you want to heat something? And if there’s a line, who wants to wait their turn to use the microwave? Having a microwave in your room is a convenience you’ll appreciate during those late-night study sessions.
The best small microwave for college dorms is going to depend on a few factors — size and feature compatibility. You’ll want to make sure that the microwave you pick fits within the dimensions of where you plan on storing it. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure that your microwave is powerful enough to cook your food, and potentially has other features like auto-cook presets for reheating food or making popcorn.
A good microwave for college should last longer than your undergraduate experience. On average, a microwave can last roughly seven years with normal use. While you can try to hold onto it longer than this, most experts agree that upgrading to a new model around the seven-year mark is a good idea as there will be more energy-efficient models with enhanced features on the market by then.