7 Best Microwaves for College Student Dorms

chrisAbout the Author: Hi, I’m Chris Drew, a former teacher and university professor, and this is my website! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

For a high quality mid-sized microwave for a dorm room or shared kitchen I’d pick the 1100W Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG. Go to my full review review of this microwave below.

For a single college student who just wants a small microwave, my pick is the 700W Nostalgia RMO7AQ Retro. It’s a very small but great retro-looking microwave for a single person in a small space. Go to my full review review of this microwave below.

Key Selection Criteria for Choosing The Best Microwave for College Students

I came up with 6 criteria that I would assess the microwaves against. All 6 criteria are listed at the end of this article, but here is a brief overview of the most important things to look for in a college microwave:

1. The size. A small 0.7 cubic foot microwave is just enough for a single person who is low on space. A larger 1.2-1.6 cubic foot or larger microwave is best if you have more space.

2. The display interface. Some have options like adding 30 seconds with the click of a button or auto-cooking popcorn, while others are more basic.

3. Price. Obviously this is an important consideration for college students. Your entry level microwave will cost around $80, and it goes up to around $260 for a higher end product.

Here are some options that you could consider.

Best Microwaves for College Students

1. Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG

Quick Review: My top pick for a quality microwave that’s not too big, not too small, and coming in at the right price.

Capacity: 1.2 cubic feet (Medium)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
20.5″ x 17.3″ x 12.8″ (Medium)
1100W (High)

I am impressed by the high quality and affordability of this microwave. This mix of quality and affordability is what made me select this one as my top pick.

It’s small but not the smallest on this list. This means it’s a compact piece of equipment that you could fit on top of a refrigerator or the corner of a kitchen bench. It will be sufficient for one, two or three friends living together.

The high power of this microwave was also very impressive. At 1100W it is toward the top end of microwave power despite its medium size. This means you’ll be able to zap your food fast and won’t be disappointed with cold or lukewarm food.

Lastly, of course, is the price. You’ll be paying less for this one than other microwaves that are smaller and have less impressive specifications – making this one your no brainer for value-for-money. That might explain its very good online ratings and reviews.

2. Nostalgia RMO7AQ Retro

Quick Review: A beautifully designed microwave that turns heads.

Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet (Small)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
17.5″ x 13.5″ x 10.2″ (Small)
700W (Low)

I looked at this microwave and immediately loved it. It’s a modern take on a retro 1950’s look. You can choose between sky blue and red colors (when in stock).

This is a small microwave that’ll fit a single-person plate on the turntable. It also runs on the lowest power of any microwave on this list, meaning you might need to run it a little longer to get your food to cook through.

That said, it’s still a lovely microwave that should be enough for a person on their own.

This microwave would be especially useful if you need to keep your microwave in your dorm room. 

If you love the design but need a bigger microwave, you could also choose the 0.9 cubic feet version in red.

3. Toshiba EM925A5A-SS

Quick Review: A modern looking mid-size microwave with a nice uncomplicated interface.

Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet (Small)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
19.1” x 15” x 11.5” (Small)
900W (Medium)

This small microwave would be useful in a confined space such as a dorm room. It’s got more power and is slightly larger than the ‘retro’ microwave above, meaning you are likely to get a better quality cooking experience overall. But it’s still small enough for a confined space.

As a guide for whether this is the size you want: the largest dinner plate you’ll be able to fit into the microwave is an 11 inch plate. 

The one really nice drawing point for this microwave is the ‘mute’ option. This is great for people who hate the beeping of the microwave or just don’t want to wake up their housemates during their midnight snack.

Overall, I think this is a nice microwave that’s definitely worth consideration – especially if you want a nice small microwave with a little more power than the ‘retro’ option above.

4. Kenmore White 70912 Countertop Microwave

Quick Review: A stylish retro microwave that is both compact and functional.

Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet (Small)
External Dimensions (WxDxH): 17.5″ x 14″ x 9.5″ (Small)
Power: 700W (Low)

The first thing that catches the eye about this microwave is the charming retro design. The red color is striking and sure to add a pop of color to your kitchen.

As for capacity, it’s on the smaller side, with 0.7 cubic feet of space, making it one of the smallest devices on this list. This makes it perfect for smaller kitchens, dorm rooms, or apartments where space is at a premium. Despite its size, it functions well, equipped with auto cook and reheat, defrost, and a quick start function for optimum convenience.

With a power of 700W, it falls on the lower end of the power scale. That might mean you’d need to cook your food for a bit longer, but for the size and price, the trade-off could be worth it.

Cleaning and maintenance are simplified by the removable glass turntable, allowing for easy clean-up. It also sports a pull handle which is both retro and practical for opening and closing the microwave.

Comparing it to the rest, this microwave offers a balance between style, convenience, and functionality, much like the Nostalgia RMO7AQ Retro. However, users looking for more power might find the Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG and the Toshiba EM925A5A-SS more suitable.

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5. Black and Decker EM925AB9 Digital Microwave Oven

Quick Review: A surprisingly affordable microwave, especially given its one year warranty.

Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet (Small)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
19.1″ x 14.8″ x 11.5″ (Small)
900W (Medium)

This is another small microwave that fits in a confined space. It has a nice modern look about it and would fit in well with other kitchen items that have a stainless steel or black finish.

Besides the usual features (the ‘add 30 seconds’, frozen pizza, popcorn and dinner plate settings), it has an awesome ‘memory’ setting. You can set your microwave to remember 3 different settings that you use regularly so you can just cycle to the setting you want and get started straight away. It’s a great time saver once you’ve gotten it set up.

One small quirk is that you can’t use the ‘timer’ and ‘cook’ options simultaneously. If you want to run the microwave as a timer, you can’t cook – and vice versa.

6. Panasonic NN-SN966S Microwave Oven

Quick Review: A really high quality, large microwave for a shared space in your college house.

Capacity: 2.2 cubic feet (Large)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
23.9″ x 19.4″ x 14″ (Large)
1250W (High)

This is one of the top microwaves you can buy. It comes from a very highly respected brand, is large enough for fitting a big caserole dish inside, and runs at high power.

The inverter technology in this one also means your food will be cooked a lot more smoothly and evenly throughout. 

As you can tell, the specifications for this one are much higher than any others on this list. But, it’s also much more expensive, as you’d expect! If you went with this microwave, you’d probably have to split the cost among your housemates. 

Another thing you’ll have to keep in mind is that the microwave will take up a lot of extra space. So think about where you’d place it (see the dimensions above) before you go ahead and make your purchase.

7. Magic Chef MCM1611ST

Quick Review: A very reasonably priced microwave, and I’m a fan of this moderate size for a shared microwave in a college dorm.

Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet (Medium-Large)
External Dimensions (WxDxH):
19.2″ x 21.8″ x 12.8″ (Medium)
1100W (High)

This microwave is very powerful, but comes in at a slightly lower price than the Panasonic above. To be fair, the Panasonic is quite big and a college student probably won’t need to use a microwave that big. So this ‘Magic Chef’ microwave will surely be enough if you want a larger shared microwave for you and your housemates.

I am also a fan of the ‘memory’ function which allows to to pre-set your preferred or most used setting so you only have to press one button to return to that setting whenever needed.

A strange quirk of this microwave is that it never provides reminder beeps if you don’t collect your cooked food, so if you’ve got a bad memory maybe this one isn’t for you!

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What to Look for in a Microwave

But small microwaves are also often less powerful.

1. Size

A microwave for a college dorm usually needs to fit into a small amount of space – especially if you’re trying to squeeze the microwave into your own bedroom.

Here are the common microwave sizes:

  • Extra Small (0.7 Cubic Feet): If you’ve not got much space (or it’s just you who will use the microwave), you could probably get away with a 0.7 cubic foot microwave. This is very small and would fit about a 9 inch plate on the turntable.
  • Small-Medium (0.9 to 1.2 Cubic Feet): These are smaller microwaves still, but are likely to have a slightly higher amount of power (about 900W is what you’d expect in this size range) and should fit a slightly larger plate).
  • Medium-Large (1.6 to 2 Cubic Feet): This is usually plenty big enough for a college microwave. You’ll be able to get one of these at a $110 – $150 price point and with 900W – 1100W, which is great.
  • Large (2.2 Cubic Feet): Here you’re getting a really big microwave that’ll hold a casserole dish for the whole family.

2. Price

Price is quite closely linked to size and power. A small microwave is likely to cost you in the $80 – $110 range. A medium microwave will cost in the $110 – $150 range. For a large microwave, you’re looking at prices anywhere up to $260.

3. Power

Power matters when it comes to how long you’ll be waiting for your food to cook. If your dish comes with instructions for how long to cook your food in the microwave, that will of course depend on the power. The less power, the longer you’ll have to cook it.

Low powered microwaves are 700W. Medium power (which is in the ‘normal’ range) is 900W – 1100W. Anything higher than that really packs a punch and is used for cooking larger dishes for feeding a tribe.

4. Design

Most microwaves come in a modern sleek look. Your main selection will be between black and white. Choose the color that matches the rest of the electronics in the room – such as the fridge. Something to keep in mind though is that the white one may show its stains a lot sooner than a black one.

If you want to make a fashion statement, you could always go with the ‘retro’ microwave (#2 on this list). It’s got a great alternative look that will turn heads.

5. Crowd-Sourced Reviews

It’s always a good idea to select a microwave that has a lot of high ratings from online reviews. Make sure you read the reviews yourself before making a purchase.

I only selected microwaves for this review that were very high rated by big groups of people.

Be aware that one or two vocal negative reviews might give an inconsistent message about whether a microwave is actually high quality or not.

Instead, I usually look at the overall Amazon ‘star’ rating when ascertaining whether or not it is generally a good product. A product with 65% or more 5-star reviews is usually very good for Amazon products. Over 70% is usually pretty exceptional.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, the best microwave for college is the 1100W Farberware Black FMO12AHTBSG. It’s medium sized, powerful, and very affordable within its range. But, I’m also drawn to the 700W Nostalgia RMO7AQ Retro. It’s got such a beautiful look, but is small and not super powerful so it’d be best for a single person who doesn’t have all that much space.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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