Consumers who don't have the budget for an over-the-range microwave oven but crave convenient food prep must balance capacity with available counter space. The largest countertop microwaves eat up 3 square feet and a fair amount of money. Cheapism.com has rounded up four highly rated midsize models costing less than $100, each with 1.1 cubic foot of interior space and footprints measuring little more than 2 square feet. We also identified two compact ovens that cover less territory and suit dorm rooms, tiny apartment kitchens, offices, and RVs. All are easy to use and sport 10 power levels and multiple one-touch cooking options.
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The right balance of low price and good performance earns the 1.1-cubic-foot Magic Chef HMD1110 (starting at $70) reviewers' respect. They like the roomy interior, even heating with up to 1,000 watts of power, and ease of operation. A bonus function for adding 30 seconds to the cooking time enhances the appeal.
A solid budget microwave with 1.1 cubic feet of interior space and 1,000 watts of power, the Danby DMW111K (starting at $70) features shortcut buttons for beloved foods like popcorn and pizza. Users appreciate the overall value and performance, although some reviewers groan about noise and flimsy housing.
This model's 0.7 cubic feet of interior space holds great appeal for consumers seeking a space-saving microwave oven. User reviews say the Westinghouse WCM770 (starting at $57) does a commendable job on minor tasks, such as popping corn and heating up ramen noodles. It takes a few hits for a wobbly turntable and lack of express buttons.
Feature-rich and amply praised by users, the 1.1-cubic-foot Frigidaire FFCM1124L (starting at $93) seems to do its job without a glitch. At 1,100 watts, it heats speedily and evenly. It offers a staggering 23 buttons and a multi-stage cooking option. Minor gripes concern noise and no light when the door is open.
Consumers get value for the dollar with the 1.1-cubic-foot Westinghouse WCM11100 (starting at about $78), according to reviews. Up to 1,000 watts of power is more than sufficient for the usual run of microwave oven tasks, and an absence of frills makes the appliance user-friendly. That said, some users miss a "time-add" option and express cook buttons.
Priced right and sized right for a small space, with a 0.7-cubic-foot capacity, the Magic Chef MCM770 (starting at $55) is the right entry-level microwave oven for small jobs. Users admire the peppy performance from its 700 watts and award it an average of just over 4 stars out of 5 in reviews. Some report needing to hold it in place while opening the door to prevent tipping.