Microwaves have been around for many decades at this point, yet somehow, they still seem futuristic, don’t they? There’s something magical about popping a frozen brick of a burrito in there and in two minutes it’s filled with hot lava. Basically, microwaves are safe, fast, and they really work. But there are tons of options out there when you’re looking at getting a microwave, and eventually all of these space-age-looking rectangular boxes start looking exactly the same. Here are a few things to consider to help you narrow your search.


This 1,250-watt microwave isn’t messing around, with its stainless steel finishing, and smart inverter to heat food more evenly. Panasonic

Generally speaking, a microwave’s power is measured in watts. You can basically think of it as how much electricity it can pull out of the wall and use to zap your food. Microwaves with higher wattage are good for large-sized ovens and large-meals, and also for cooking things faster. For average-sized microwaves, 1000-watts is a pretty good place to start.

Ease of Use

This 1.2 cubic foot 1,100-watt microwave is a great size for most, and it packs in the smart features with a number of pre-programmed buttons. Toshiba

A lot of microwaves feature some presets that enable you to take the guess work out of cooking. Just toss the food in, hit the right button, and move on with your life. It might be a dedicated popcorn button, or even customizable defrost by the pound options. Personally, I love a good +30 seconds button.


This 0.7 cubic foot 700-watt microwave is the perfect size for small spaces such as a college dorm room, but it also packs in great features. Black and Decker

There are two things we’ve got to look at here: Interior size and exterior. For exterior, basically, you just want to make sure it will fit on your counter in the place where you want it to go. For interior, look at the manufacturers examples of what you’ll be able to cook in it and see if that works for you. Generally speaking, a college student will be able to go much smaller than a family of four, and they’ll save a lot of money that way, too.