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.
- Average price range: $50-$450
- Average size: Compact models are as small as 18 inches wide, 13.5 inches deep, and 11 inches high. Midsize models average 17 inches wide, 20.5 inches high, and 12 inches deep. Large models average 24 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 18.5 inches deep.
- Capacity: Can range from 1.1 cubic feet (small) to more 2 cubic feet (large)
- Who it's best for: The budget shopper who has plenty of counter space
These models mount underneath a cabinet or counter or above a stove range. Often these models are paired with an appliance set.
- Average price range: $200-$1,100; up to $2,000 with convection
- Average size: Same as countertop models
- Capacity: Ranges in capacity up to 2 cubic feet
- Who it's best for: The style-conscious shopper who is short on counter space
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.
- Average price range: $100-$1,000
- Average size: 17 inches high; 30 inches wide; 15.5 inches deep
- Capacity: Ranges up to 2 cubic feet
- Who it's best for: Homeowners who want a stove hood and microwave combo
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.
- Average price range: $250-$2,000
- Average size: 15 inches high; 24.5 inches wide; 19 inches deep
- Capacity: Ranges up to 2 cubic feet
- Who it's best for: The home chef who wants time-saving shortcuts
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.
- Average price range: $800
- Average size: 17 inches high; 24 to 30 inches wide; 15.5 inches deep
- Capacity: Up to 2 cubic feet
- Who it's best for: Homeowners who want a more modern, built-in appliance
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.
- Average price range: $1,300
- Average size: 19 to 21 inches high; 25 to 29 inches wide; 15.5 to 21 inches deep
- Capacity: Most allow turntable rotation of a 9x13 casserole dish
- Who it's best for: Time-pressed cooks who still want that home-cooked feeling
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