There’s no avoiding the fact that computers have become a necessity in everyday life. Work and school often require one to be purchased out of pocket with little to no guidance on what sort of laptop is best for the job and whether or laptops can handle other activities like gaming.
It's entirely possible for those on a strict budget to get a great gaming laptop for under $400.
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What To Expect At This Price Point
While there are many fantastic gaming laptops for under $400, the fact is that they will not be nearly as powerful as a specialized gaming laptop in the $1000+ range.
However, for under $400, you will get great power with a decent amount of storage. They won’t be great for heavy gaming on high-intensity settings, but for a light-medium gaming experience, then these will be more than enough for you.
Gaming Laptops Under $400 Compared
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Intel Celeron N4000
Intel Core m3-8100Y
Intel Celeron N3350
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
Buying Guide: What To Look For In Gaming Laptops Under $400
Screen Size and Display
Screen size and display quality should be your first concern when looking for a gaming laptop.
Most laptops in the $300-$400 price range come standard with a 14” screen and 1366 x 768 resolution display. This is of medium quality, not bad but definitely not top-notch.
RAM & Storage Space
RAM is the short-term memory of your computer. It supports all of the internal processes by helping them run smoothly and efficiently. Storage space refers to the long-term memory of your laptop. All of your files and applications will be installed using storage space, which is finite and will be depleted over time.
Most laptops in this price range come with 4GB DDR4 RAM, a fair amount that will help keep your computer running smoothly for most multiple processing requirements. Most on this list will come with 128GB SSD storage, a good amount that can be supplemented with external storage like flash drives or external hard drives if you find it necessary.
A processor is the central component of any laptop. Think of it as the brain of your machine, directing all the other processes that may be occurring, both overt like the applications you use and covert like the OS background systems that keep your computer running.
You won’t get the best processors on the market for under $400, but you can get some that are great competitors for higher-priced laptops. Intel and AMD have excellent reputations for making budget processors that are speedy and worthy of more.
Your GPU, or graphics processing unit, is what allows your computer to render the graphics of games.
For under $400, you’ll receive an integrated GPU with no dedicated memory for games. However, all of the ones included on this list are great additions and will let you run many top titles at medium to low settings quite easily.
Dedicated graphics cards will give you way more power, but they aren’t available in this price range.
Battery Type & Life
Laptops have come a long way in regards to battery life. Many budget laptops can run continuously for up to 8 hours, and some up to 10. Most have Lithium-ion batteries that charge quickly and don’t heat up too fast.
You may be able to upgrade your battery with an extendable component that will lengthen the time your battery lasts. However, this will add to your product's final price tag, so consider your options before committing to an upgrade.
Design & Portability
Laptops in this price range are usually lighter and more compact than their more expensive counterparts. You can travel with them easily and without a hassle. Most will have a professional look to them, indicative of their multipurpose design.
Even though they’re considered great gaming laptops, they don’t have the signature red or neon green that lets other people spot a gamer from a mile away.
Some laptops under $400 have specific features unique to the brand or the model. These can make or break a purchase between two similar computers, so be aware of these in every model you consider. For example, one might have a great webcam while another has a fast-charging battery.
Warranties protect your computer against malfunctioning parts and dissatisfactory performance. Some laptops come with outstanding warranties, while others may not. If you’re on a budget, having a good warranty is extremely important.
Spending money in the future to repair your laptop for something that could have been covered by the warranty on another model is very frustrating.
5 Best Gaming Laptops Under $400 Reviewed
1. HP Silver/Ryzen 3/128GB
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 2.6GHz up to...
- Display: 14.0-inch diagonal HD SVA Bright...
- Memory: 4 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM (1 x 4 GB) ,...
- Camera: HP True Vision HD Camera with...
Best Gaming Laptop Under $400
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
1366 x 768
AMD Radeon Vega 3
The top pick on our list of best gaming laptops under $400 goes to a surprisingly exceptional HP product.
The notebook? The HP Silver/Ryzen 3. Featuring excellent internal parts, a professional exterior, and multiple unique features, the HP Silver is the best option for gamers on a budget. Several qualities made this model stand out from the crowded budget gaming space for our reviewers.
Firstly, the graphics card is provided by the legendary AMD Radeon series, and for an entry-level gaming laptop, you can’t really hope for much better at this price point. The integrated Vega 3 card lets you run best-selling game titles at medium graphics settings with little to no lag.
If you bump them up to high-settings, you may have a drop in the refresh rate, but nothing that will dramatically impact your gaming experience. Console users don’t even have that quality for their games.
Pairing nicely with the graphics card is the powerful AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 3.5GHz dual-core processor. This compares nicely with the Intel Core i3 series in quality tests, an impressive feat considering the price.
This is a great processor if you like gaming but also need the laptop for work, allowing you to utilize multiple applications at once with high memory requirements without much of a hassle.
Supporting both of these is 4GB of RAM. This is pretty standard for this price range, and you won't be able to find much more without committing to an upgrade.
With 128GB of storage, the laptop can handle a few smaller games plus all of the applications you need. However, if you want to download high-memory titles like Assassin’s Creed: Origins, you will have a slight bit of trouble fitting any other games on there.
Moving onto the exterior, the HP Silver is just that, a sleek and professional silver. From the outside, you would ever be able to tell that this laptop is great for gaming. The screen itself is solid, a good 14" with a thinner side bezel than most, giving the illusion of a larger screen.
The resolution sits at 1366 x 768 and can make most games look nice and vibrant, letting colors pop without blending the deep blacks necessary to set the tone in many single-player games these days.
Finally, the HP Silver has some of the best battery life for entry-level gaming laptops, nearly 8 hours at high processor consumption. This beats out almost every single other model on this list, some by a longshot. Couple this with only being 3.2lbs, the Silver is winning in terms of portability.
2. Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA
- Intel Celeron N4000 Dual-Core Processor (Up...
- 14" Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen...
- 4GB DDR4 SDRAM Onboard Memory & 64GB eMMC
- Microsoft 365 Personal 1-Year Subscription &...
Intel Celeron N4000
1920 x 1080
Intel UHD 600
The runner-up on our list is the Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA, a worthy competitor for most other entry-level gaming laptops. While you may look at the specs of the Aspire 1 and wonder why it isn’t at the top of our list, this review will illuminate some of the key differences that let the HP Silver beat this notebook out, if only by a hair.
Under the hood, you’ll find the great Intel Celeron N4000 dual-core processor with up to 2.6GHz of speed. While not quite as fast as some other models, it will wholeheartedly support most casual gaming and basic day-to-day activities for work, play, and everything in between.
What makes this processor unique is cutting edge thermal technology that enables the Aspire 1 to come with no fans, allowing quiet and cool gameplay. This is practically unheard of for gaming laptops, especially in the under $400 range.
Along with the processor, the Intel UHD 600 GPU is up to the task for medium-quality graphics if you’re willing to sacrifice some speed. Although not great for online gaming, it is well equipped to handle many of the top 100 single-player games of the last few years.
This model also comes with 4GB DDR4 RAM that easily supports the processor and GPU for all basic activities. The storage capacity leaves a little to be desired with only 64GB, but you’ll have plenty of room for a couple of games and then some. Also, it is upgradable, meaning you can bump that number up with a little extra investment.
The screen for the Aspire 1 is noteworthy for the cheap laptops under $400 market. Full HD 1920 x 1080p display gives you fantastic resolution and a good refresh rate. Colors and blacks are especially crisp and clean, so if you’re into Netflix and chilling, you couldn't ask for much more.
It’s evident that Acer had aesthetic appeal in mind when crafting this beautiful specimen of a cheap laptop. The model sports a classy all-black chassis that is at home in the office or the gaming den.
No fans mean the body is smooth and slim, weighing in at a low 3.64lbs that’s great for work and travel. However, the battery isn't the best on this list, clocking in at around 6 hours on a full-charge at low processor consumption. If you’re multitasking or gaming, it shaves a couple of hours off that time easily.
3. Asus ImagineBook MJ401TA
Best Asus Gaming Laptop Under $400
Intel Core m3-8100Y
1920 x 1080
Intel UHD Graphics 615
Taking the third slot on our list is an awesome addition to the budget gaming laptops under $400 market and our pick for the best Asus gaming laptop under $400, the Asus ImagineBook MJ401TA.
The internal hardware of the ImagineBook MJ401TA is nothing to joke about. The commanding Intel Core m3-8100Y processor can handle almost anything thrown at it, from casual gaming titles to work applications, with relative ease.
Hyperthreading technology allows it to execute up to four threads at once, meaning you can run various platforms without compromising speed. The hardware also comes with Intel Turbo Boost 2.0. You can run beyond the rated specifications for speed and performance if the laptop operates under the heat and power threshold.
4GB of LPDDR4 RAM bolsters the processing power of this baby. LPDDR (the LP standing for "low power") targets mobile computers, reducing the power cost for high-memory processes that may drain the battery of a lower standard memory capacity.
You’ll be able to cart this notebook around from the classroom or office to home with enough battery power left over after continuous usage. The ImagineBook lasted nearly 10 hours off charge and at high memory consumption in our playtests, better than most expensive laptops by a significant amount.
Distinguishing itself, the ImagineBook shows off a pearly-white chassis, fully encased by the heavenly plastic material. The notebook truly lets you imagine whatever you want onto it, allowing for a lot of customization of the exterior with plenty of room for stickers and other emblems of your gaming persona.
In terms of display, this model comes standard equipped with a 14” screen with an exceptional 1920 x 1080p HD resolution, much higher than some of the best budget gaming laptops under $400. Its 60Hz refresh rate means any game will be smooth as butter, and the Anti-Glare coating prevents light from mucking up the depth of color and blacks.
All in all, the ImagineBook MJ401TA is the best gaming notebook Asus offers in this price range.
4. 2021 HP Chromebook
- 【11.6 Inch Laptop】11.6 inch HD (1366 x...
- 【Dual-Core Celeron N3350】Intel Celeron...
- 【High Speed】RAM is upgraded to 4GB LPDDR2...
- 【Enormous Space】Hard Drive is upgraded to...
Best Chromebook For Gaming Under $400
Intel Celeron N3350
1920 x 1080
Intel HD Graphics 500
If you’re particularly budget-conscious and looking for something that can satisfy your competitive itch for light gaming, you’ve found the best pick of the litter.
Coming in at number four on our ranking is the 2021 HP Chromebook, an above-standard Chromebook that offers a few unique features that set it apart from similar models. Chromebooks are known for their budget-friendly pricing, and this model is no exception. At $300, it’s well below the under $400 range touted by this list.
For that price, you get more than you would think. It comes with a 720p HD webcam perfect for skyping and even some streaming if you’re into that sort of thing. The battery life knocks most similar laptops out of the park, allowing you to work and game off charge for up to 9 hours.
The internal hardware of the 2021 HP Chromebook is as mighty as it is small. An Intel Celeron N3350 has multithreading technology that hits speeds of up to 2.4GHz. You’re more than able to keep multiple tabs open at once, spreadsheets, and then a light gaming application running without much lag time.
While the RAM isn’t as good as the other laptops listed here, you'll find that the 4GB LPDDR2 is above what other Chromebooks are capable of.
When it comes to gaming, what you all want to hear about anyway, the Intel HD Graphics 500 GPU is perfectly suitable for arcade classics and some newer, low-res games like Among Us. However, you’re not going to be able to run AAA titles by any means, so if you’re looking for an affordable gaming laptop under $400 that can, this might not be your best option.
The screen itself is common stock for most HP Chromebooks, 11.6" with 1366 x 768 resolution. The bezels are wide, but the 2021 HP makes up for that with a wide screen that gives a more cinematic feel despite its size.
Storage is above-average for Chromebooks. 32GD eMMC capacity is great for larger files but not great for housing multiple games. However, the 2021 HP Chromebook comes bundled with a 126GB SD card, giving you an unprecedented amount of external storage to keep the games you love off the hard drive and keep the computer running smoothly.
In summary, the 2021 HP Chromebook is an outstanding laptop for those who need to complete simple tasks related to the internet while also having the ability to outperform other Chromebooks in terms of low-res gaming.
5. Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L
- AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual Core Processor (Up to...
- 15.6 inches full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen...
- 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports & 1...
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Backlit Keyboard; Up to 7.5...
AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
1920 x 1080
128GB PCIe NVMe SSD
AMD Radeon Vega 3
Although this laptop comes slightly over the $400 budget mark, we thought it deserved a spot on this list based on its popularity amongst budget gamers and reviewers alike.
You may recognize the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L from your search for a cheap gaming laptop under $400. It’s been at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list many times and is recommended by several reviewers and consumers on many websites.
The reason is that this model gives you the most bang for your buck, affording users incredible power for an affordable price.
Pairing the seminal AMD Ryzen 3 processor with the integrated AMD Radeon Vega 3 GPU is a winning combination. While you won’t have the dedicated graphics memory that a separate chipset might provide, you will have the ability to play top titles at medium settings, an impressive feat for any laptop in this price range.
The Aspire has a standard 4GB DDR4 RAM bolstering the effectiveness of the CPU and GPU. While specialized gaming laptops often have upwards of 12GB of RAM, 4GB will be plenty to handle your game and then some. You can’t run fifteen tabs and four applications at once, but not many laptops under $400 can.
Display-wise, this has the best screen on this ranking. 15.6” is a thing of beauty when it comes to cheap laptops. It has thin bezels on the side that compliments the 1920 x 1080 resolution nicely. You won’t feel like you’re looking at a big phone screen, but a full-blown computer monitor, perfect for your game and some Netflix.
Aesthetically the Aspire 5 is something to aspire to. While many budget laptops have a bulky appearance, this model is surprisingly thin and light, weighing just under 4lbs. For the amount of processing power, this is an impressive feat. A classic brushed silver encasement is as professional as it is futuristic, alluding to this product's multifaceted nature.
The only drawback of the Aspire 5 is its battery life. While it is advertised to have 7.5 hours of battery, running a game and the internet in the background will drain the power quickly. The maximum you will get is around 5 hours. It may be worth investing in an extended battery pack if you plan to use this laptop to game often.
Solid on all fronts, this is a worthwhile purchase if you’re willing to shell out a few more bucks for it.
How To Care For Your Budget Gaming Laptop
If you’re looking at budget gaming laptops under $400, you most likely aren’t a rich person. Like most of us, you want to make sure your laptop lasts as long as possible. If it craps out on you after a year, what’s the point?
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your laptop running smoothly for years. Firstly, invest in computer cleaner spray. This is extremely important. Not many people do and then start wondering why their laptop starts running slower and slower every year.
The answer, of course, is dust! Dust and other contaminants will build on your hard drive, increasing the amount of heat and decreasing your computer’s ability to disperse it. Use computer cleaner every month or so to keep dust from gunking up your cooling system.
Also, wipe down the screen and keyboard using an approved cleaning product. You’ll notice the difference immediately!
Next, and we can’t stress this enough, is do not eat or drink at your computer! We all think we won’t spill anything on the keyboard or into the vents, but if (more like when) it happens, either your computer is done for, or you're facing hundreds in repair costs. That kind of defeats the purpose of buying a cheap laptop in the first place, right?
Lastly, try not to overcharge the battery. Short battery life is frustrating for everyone, and if you leave your laptop plugged in overnight, you will start to notice the battery draining quicker and quicker. Set a time to charge it before you sleep, then turn it off and unplug it overnight. You’ll thank us later!
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Is it OK to charge a gaming laptop overnight?
Occasionally, this is fine. But making a habit out of it will drastically reduce your battery life. Try not to if you can avoid it.
What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?
A laptop will typically have Windows 10, a dedicated OS that does not rely on the internet to provide much of its utility. Chromebooks will need to be connected to the internet to work properly and won’t have the ability to download many programs for offline use.
Which laptop brand is best for the $400 gamer’s budget?
While each brand has its benefits and drawbacks, our team’s opinion is that HP has the best option for a laptop under $400 (HP Silver/Ryzen 3).
Are refurbished gaming laptops under $400 good enough?
Refurbished gaming laptops under $400 can be fine or even great, but you should know what retailer you purchase from and what kind of warranty they provide.
Where is the best place to buy a good gaming laptop under 400?
Undoubtedly, the best place to hunt for a good gaming laptop under $400 is Amazon.com. They have the widest selection and offer many of the best replacement warranties on the market. All of the laptops on this list are available there now.
We hope this ranking has been helpful for your search for a good gaming laptop under $400. Every product listed here is available on Amazon.com and well worth every dollar spent.
However, our team thoroughly recommends the HP Silver/Ryzen 3 as the best option in this price range. Good luck, gamers!
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.