Microwave Buying Guide

Looking for the best microwave on the market? CNET helps you choose between microwaves, convection microwaves, and compact microwaves to meet your specific needs.

What types of microwaves are available?

Microwaves are no longer just for heating up last night's leftovers. Those who are energy-efficiency minded now even use the microwave as a main cooking appliance and not just for frozen TV dinners either. Here are the types of microwaves you'll find on the market.

From whiteware to stainless steel, countertop models come in compact, midsize, and large sizes.

These models mount underneath a cabinet or counter or above a stove range. Often these models are paired with an appliance set.

Over the range
These models provide ventilation for your stove range and also save on counter space. They are often paired with an appliance set for a consistent look and feel for the whole kitchen.

The convection models are advanced versions of the standard microwave. They cook quicker than a regular microwave--a convection oven has internal fans that circulate air, thereby cooking food quicker and more evenly. You can even use these models for roasting a bird, baking, or browning. However, they are often more expensive.

A new option is the microwave drawer. It's also built-in, but it is at an easy-to-reach height. Drawer microwaves can also keep food warm up to 30 minutes if you don't pull it out and serve right away.

Using both microwave and light technology, speedcook microwaves cook food in traditional methods but faster--four to eight times faster, according to some manufactures. Speedcookers not only microwave but also bake, broil, brown, roast, and grill quickly with no preheating. For example, a speedcook microwave cooks a whole chicken in 20 minutes versus a conventional oven time of 120 minutes in most cases. Or a frozen pizza can take 5.5 minutes versus 23 minutes. Most advanced models are also a convection and warming oven and can be built-in. They are also more energy efficient than conventional ovens.

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