We present our evaluation of a compact laser system made of a 795 nm VCSEL locked to the Rubidium absorption line of a micro-fabricated absorption cell. The spectrum of the VCSEL was characterised, including its RIN, FM noise andline-width. We optimised the signal-to-noise ratio and determined the frequency shifts versus the cell temperature and the incident optical power. The frequency stability of the laser (Allan deviation) was measured using a high-resolution wavemeter and an ECDL-based reference. Our results show that a fractional instability of ≤ 10 -9 may be reached at any timescale between 1 and 100’000 s. The MEMS cell was realised by dispensing the Rubidium in a glass-Silicon preform which was then, sealed by anodic bonding. The overall thickness of the reference cell is 1.5 mm. No buffer gas was added. The potential applications of this compact and low-consumption system range from optical interferometers to basic laser spectroscopy. It is particularly attractive for mobile and space instruments where stable and accurate wavelength references are needed.