Laptops

7 Best Laptops Under $400: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

Laptop computers are a near necessity in today’s age. With everything from our appliances to schooling being dictated by online and wireless communications, the laptop is an excellent control medium.

Laptops help with school, home and office use, and daily browsing. The best laptops under $400 may not be able to run the high-end games or run a Bitcoin mining operation, but they can help you in your typical day to day lives.

Note: Some of the products reviewed vary in price and sometimes go over the $400 price point. All products reviewed are close to the $400 price point.

Image

Product Name

Screen Size

Processor

Battery Life

Check Price

2020 HP Pavilion 14' HD LED Laptop Computer,...

14.3 Inches

AMD Athelon Silver 3050U

Up to 6 Hours

ASUS F512JA-AS34 VivoBook 15 Thin And Light...

15.6 Inches

Intel i3-1005G1

Up to 8 Hours

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full...

15.6 Inches

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

Up to 8 Hours

Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop,...

11.6 Inches

Intel Celeron

Up to 10 Hours

Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible...

11.6 Inches

MediaTek MT8173C

Up to 10 Hours

Lenovo Chromebook C340 2-in-1 Laptop, 15.6'...

15.6 Inches

Intel Pentium Gold 4417U

Up to 10 Hours

Dell Latitude E7470 14in Laptop, Core...

14.1 Inches

Intel Core i5-6300U

Up to 7 Hours


What to Expect at this Price Point

At the $400 price point, you shouldn’t expect the top-end models or their capabilities. A lot of these laptops are designed as second computers, or for students needing basic computing needs.

The speeds, memory, and storage are going to be minimal but will be enough for some streaming, multiple application usage, and internet browsing. You can also use these laptops for office work, writing documents, doing artistic or creative projects, and light gaming.

At this price range, the laptops are ideal for first computers for teenagers, college students who don't need a lot of processing power, or in the office as a backup or portable computing solution.


Buying Guide: What to Look for in Laptops Under $400

What exactly should you be looking for when shopping for an inexpensive laptop? Following are features and factors that should help you identify the best laptops in the $400 price range.

Screen Size & Display

The screen size won’t be highly impressive. You most likely won’t find any 15 or 17-inch screens in this range. What you can expect is 12, 13, or 14-inch screens with standard or HD resolution.

You won’t generally find ultra high definition or 4k screens, but you can still get high definition with resolutions up to 1920×1200.

RAM & Storage Space

RAM is what runs your computer, and the more you have, the faster the computer can go. Programs and applications load faster, and you can run more at a time. However, RAM will be limited in the sub-$500 range on laptops, and you can expect about 4GB worth. This isn’t an inadequate amount, but some high-end programs will require more.

Storage space will usually be limited, too. If your chosen model uses a solid state drive (SSD), you can expect to see 128GB and a few select models with 256GB. For standard hard drives (HDD), you might see capacities rise to 512GB.

Processor

Processors are among the more expensive parts of laptops, and with the lower price range, you can expect to see a reduction in the performance and speeds of the CPU. For the most part, you will find Intel i3 and i5 processors. Most of these will be 7th or 8th generation, which just means they are a couple of years old.

In a world of multi-core processors, where high-end models have 6, 8 or more cores, you can expect to find 2 or 4 cores in these laptops.

Battery Type & Life

Typically, cheaper laptops will have smaller batteries. You can expect 4 or 6-cell batteries that will usually last up to 6 hours. Recharging is more of a near-constant thing with these models when using them regularly.

You can expect a 3 to 4 hour recharge time, but a faster battery drain during use than higher-end models that utilize 8, 9 or 12-celled batteries.

Design

When it comes to the design of these models, you shouldn’t have high expectations. RGB lighting, backlit keyboards, and impressive bezels are usually found in more expensive laptops. The cases are simple and generally molded plastic and not aluminum or higher grade materials.

While some brands spend a little more time and care on their budget models' overall appearance, it isn’t the norm.

Portability/Weight

Another area where the cheaper laptops will lack is in lightweight builds. High-end models will weigh less than a couple of pounds. Cheaper laptops can be light, but you will find these computers with weights ranging from 4 to 9 pounds.

Extra Features

Because of the cost of these computers, you will find a lot more “bloatware” pre-installed. These programs come on the computer and generally ask you to pay to use them. It is just a way to offset the manufacturing costs for the company.

You won’t find a lot of extra features, for the most part, either. Things like multi-mode or offline mode are possible but will be using outdated software to handle it.

Warranty

Warranties will vary by company, but you should look into extending them when you can. Most vendors will offer a 1 or 2-year warranty period with upgrade options to increase them up to 5-years.

The warranty coverage doesn’t change, but you can find alternative options like insurance to protect against user-caused damages that aren't covered by standard warranties.


7 Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars Reviewed

1. HP Pavilion 14”

2020 HP Pavilion 14" HD LED Laptop Computer,...
  • 【Upgraded】Seal is opened for upgrade...
  • AMD Athlon Silver 3050U Processor,...
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM, plenty of high-bandwidth to...
  • Standard Keyboard, allows you to enjoy...

Best laptop Under $400

Screen Size

14.3 Inches

Processor

AMD Athelon Silver 3050U

Resolution

1366 x 768 pixels

Storage

128 GB

Battery Life

Up to 6 Hours

Hewlett-Packard has been making computers since the beginning. Their company has gone through ups and downs, but their brand recognition, reliability, and pricing have kept them near the top the entire time.

The 14-inch HP Pavilion is arguably the best laptop at any price point when it comes to value for the dollar. You get a full 14-inch screen with a max resolution of 1366 x 768, which offers impressive color and clarity at any viewing angle.

The AMD Athelon Silver CPU is a dual-core chipset that allows you to run multiple applications at once. Internet browsing, office work, and light gaming are no issue for this computer. You also get 8 GB of RAM, which will run just about anything you can put on the laptop.

If you are an intense gamer, this isn’t the laptop for you. It doesn’t have the refresh rates or storage space for modern games with high spec requirements. The 3-cell battery is less than impressive, holding a charge for up to 6 hours with only light workload.

However, it does recharge quickly, and you can easily go from home to office without missing or losing any work. The SSD is 128 GB, which is enough space for most storage options. If you have a lot of images or videos, you may want to invest in an external drive, though.

As a bonus, this offer comes with a Snow Bell 32GB USB card and a 1-year warranty. You can also upgrade to laptop insurance for extra coverage if you need more protection.

Good
  • 128 GB SSD
  • 4 USB ports
  • Full-sized keyboard
  • Bonus USB drive included
  • High-resolution display
Bad
  • 1-year warranty
  • 3-cell battery dies out quickly

2. ASUS VivoBook 15

ASUS F512JA-AS34 VivoBook 15 Thin And Light...
  • 15.6 inch Full HD (1920x1080) 4-way NanoEdge...
  • Compatible with Google Classroom; run Google...
  • Latest 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU (4M...
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD

Best Cheap Gaming Laptop Under $400

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel i3-1005G1

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

128GB

Battery Life

Up to 8 Hours

If you are into gaming and want a decent laptop to handle most of your games, Asus has you covered. While not their top end model, the VivoBook 15 has everything you need to game and perform anywhere, at home or on the go.

The 15.6-inch monitor has HD resolution with up to 1920x180 pixels and a wide-angle 178-degree view. You can also use the screen in almost any light for great visibility day or night. It also comes with the Intel i3 (10th gen) for a surprising upgrade with minimal added cost.

The i3 is the lowest of the i-series CPUs, but it still combines power and performance with up to 3.4Ghz and 4MB cache capabilities. You may notice a slight lag when running multiple programs, but it will catch up.

When it comes to storage, the VivoBook is a tad lacking, and the 128GB SSD is enough for most menial tasks. However, for installing games and game saves, you may need more space. For this, you can pay more and upgrade to a 512GB or 1TB hard drive, or purchase an external drive later.

The battery itself is decent. It can last up to 8 hours, but you should expect closer to 5 or 6 on a single charge. However, the quick charge setting will boost charging speeds and get the battery to about 50% in less than 45 minutes when it comes to crunch time. A full charge will still take about 3 hours.

With a 1-year warranty, you aren’t going to get much time to test the computer thoroughly. However, insurance is still an option, and depending on where you make your purchase, customer service is quite helpful.

Good
  • Large screen with HD resolution
  • Quick charge battery settings
  • CPU speeds enough for most modern games
  • Backlit keyboard with fingerprint ID
Bad
  • 1-year warranty
  • Smaller HD for a gaming computer

3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full...
  • 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...

Best Laptop For Music Production Under $400

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

128GB

Battery Life

Up to 8 Hours

Acer is another brand that started with budget-friendly only computers. Their success came from the Aspire line, and that continues to this day. The New Aspire 5 Slim is an excellent laptop for those looking for music production and sound quality.

The basic specs are impressive for the price point, with a full 15.6-inch display, HD resolution, and a 60Hz refresh rate. You also get 128 GB of SSD storage, though more may be required, depending on your usage.

For those with musical talent, the Aspire has simple music controls on the keyboard, and it comes with innovative TrueHarmony speaker design. You get rich, true audio with dynamic bass and more volume from the speaker placement.

The backlit keyboard allows you to see what you are typing in any light and has a battery-saving auto-shutoff when you aren’t using the keyboard. This is ideal when you are streaming a show or playing a game and don’t want the light to be a distraction.

With the AMD Ryzen 3 CPU, you can reach speeds up to 3.1Ghz, but the laptop lacks with the 4GB RAM. The laptop itself can support up to 32GB of RAM, and it is easy to install. However, with the dual-core processor, anything more than 8GB might be a waste of money.

You will also find, as with most other budget-friendly laptops, the 1-year warranty is a little slim. Acer is a bit harder to get a hold of than some other brands, so mind where you purchase and make sure you know the steps to making a claim, should the time come.

Good
  • Great audio sound with added bass
  • Long battery life with quick recharge
  • Backlit keyboard with auto-shutoff
  • Thin and light design
Bad
  • 1-year warranty
  • RAM should be upgraded

4. Acer Chromebook Spin 311 

Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop,...
  • Chromebook runs on Chrome OS - An operating...
  • All the Google apps you know and love come...
  • Get access to more than 2 million Android...
  • Chromebooks come with built-in storage for...

Best 2 In 1 Laptop Under $400

Screen Size

11.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Celeron

Resolution

1366x768 pixels

Storage

32GB

Battery Life

Up to 10 Hours

Convertible laptops, also known as 2-in-1 laptops, are becoming more and more popular. They offer the convenience of a table with the computing ability of a laptop. With touch screen displays and fast book times, Chromebook 2-in-1’s are more popular than ever.

The Acer Spin 311 is an 11-inch convertible that gives you everything you need for school, work, or play. Like all Chromebooks, the Chrome OS is the auto-updating system with built-in antivirus protection.

You also get the Google docs, sheets, and slides pre-installed along with access to the over 2 million Google Play Store apps. What you don’t get is a lot of bulk.

There isn’t a hard drive in a Chromebook. Instead, you get 32GB flash drive memory and 100GB online storage for files, pictures, or videos. The Intel Celeron CPU is more than enough dual-core power to run the laptop and all the apps. You won’t get much use from running multiple apps together, though.

Because there isn’t much hardware or software needing power, the battery can power the laptop up to 10 full hours. It also recharges pretty fast with a max plug-in time of about 4 hours.

Good
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Touch screen HD display
  • Built-in antivirus
Bad
  • 1-year warranty
  • No physical hard drive

5. Lenovo Chromebook C330

Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible...
  • Get high performance when you need it – The...
  • Sleek, stylish, and secure, this 360⁰...
  • The Lenovo Chromebook C330 is easy to use,...
  • Built to connect, this notebook computer...

Best Chromebook For The Money

Screen Size

11.6 Inches

Processor

MediaTek MT8173C

Resolution

1366x768 pixels

Storage

64 GB

Battery Life

Up to 10 Hours

The Lenovo Chromebook is easily the best Chromebook for the money. It is a durable, reliable, and fast convertible laptop with a larger internal flash storage than most and a high-resolution touch display.

The 64GB flash drive isn’t going to impress you with storage space. However, it will hold quick access files and help you boot in less than 3 seconds. The 100GB storage offered by Google is included, but you can always subscribe for more.

The processor is the weak spot here. The MediaTek CPU isn’t bad, but it is virtually unknown. Long term bench tests haven’t been completed. However, it is a quad-core processor, and for Chromebook needs, it is speedy and performs well. It also allows you to run two or three applications at the same time.

The convertible design allows you to use the computer as a laptop, tablet, or upright to watch videos or movies. It also comes with the Lenovo 4-year warranty, among the best in the industry.

Good
  • 4-year warranty
  • Quad-core processor
  • 64GB flash memory
  • Easy to set up and use
Bad
  • Viewing angle is small
  • Cumbersome side volume controls

6. Lenovo Chromebook C340

Lenovo Chromebook C340 2-in-1 Laptop, 15.6"...
  • Speed and power: This Chromebook includes an...
  • Stay synced: no setup needed with this Lenovo...
  • Connect instantly: this convertible laptop...
  • Maximize versatility: with a 2-in-1 chassis...

Best laptop Under $400 For Students

Screen Size

15.6 Inches

Processor

Intel Pentium Gold 4417U

Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

Storage

32GB

Battery Life

Up to 10 Hours

If you want to take the next step up, the Lenovo C340 gives you a larger display with the same reliability, durability, and performance as the previously listed model. There are a couple of downsides, though, but this model still ranks as the best laptop under $400 for students.

First, the CPU is upgraded to the quad-core Intel Gold, which offers excellent speed and service for multiple apps, including internet browsing and Google Docs (online or offline).

However, you only get 4GB of RAM and a 32GB flash drive for storage, so you will rely a lot on the cloud storage offers from Google.

For student’s though, the 6-second boot time, responsive applications and sleek, slim, and lightweight design make it easy to carry from class to class. It will also run all day with a 10-hour battery life that recharges in less than 4 hours.

The viewing angle is slightly lower (about 150 degrees), but for streaming movies, writing reports, and researching homework assignments, it is a cost effective solution for students on the go.

Good
  • 4-year warranty
  • Large 15-inch display
  • Super fast Pentium Gold
  • Online storage options
Bad
  • Low viewing angle
  • No accessories included

7. Dell Latitude E7470

Dell Latitude E7470 14in Laptop, Core...
  • PORTABLE POWERHOUSE - Dell Latitude E7470...
  • SMOOTH VISUALS - With the 14. 1-inch diagonal...
  • EXPERIENCE GREAT PERFORMANCE - With a 256GB...
  • KISS DONGLES GOODBYE - With 3 USB 3. 0 ports,...

Best Dell Laptop Under $400

Screen Size

14.1 Inches

Processor

Intel Core i5-6300U

Resolution

1366x768 pixels

Storage

256GB

Battery Life

Up to 7 Hours

You won’t often find a Dell laptop in the under $400 category. However, thanks to the Amazon refurbished and renewed program, you can get an excellent laptop for an unbeatable price. The Dell Latitude has long been the benchmark for office and student laptops for years.

The Intel Core i5 CPU has enough speed to run any modern program or game, and you can run simultaneous apps for work or school-related tasks. With this model, though, you get the 256GB  hard drive, which will be plenty for most people.

If you have many videos or images to store, you may want to upgrade to a larger hard drive. For documents and files, though, 256GB will last you quite a while.

The 14-inch display has a clear and crisp resolution that can be viewed from up to 170 degrees.  It is ideal for browsing, apps, games, and streaming. The 8GB RAM will also power the computer programs to capacity and keep your whole system running fast and reliable.

Because this particular model is refurbished, you only get a 90-day warranty. However, that is enough time to test the computer, find anything that may be wrong, and get a replacement sent out. In most cases, though, you won't find anything wrong and the laptop will be near-mint when you open it.

Good
  • Intel Core i5 up to 3.4Ghz
  • 256GB hard drive included
  • 64-bit operating system and 8GB RAM
Bad
  • 90-days (refurbished warranty)
  • Battery life may be diminished

Popular Laptop Brands Under $400

When it comes to budget-friendly laptop brands, you can find off-brands that may or may not be what you expect. However, it is important to note that major brands also provide laptops in all price ranges.

Major brands like HP and Dell have a few models in the $400 or less range using older parts or lowers specs. Everything is still new when assembled, but may be from a year or more back. Asus, Lenovo, and Aspire are companies that started with only budget models and continue to produce them today.


Laptop Care, Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Laptop care is relatively simple and follows the basic care regimen of any electronic device. You want to keep foods and liquids away from the laptop to prevent electrical damage from possible shorting. You also want to avoid dropping the laptop, yanking on the charging cable, and when you do transport it, using a carrier, bag, or protective case is recommended.

Maintenance is also straightforward. Keep the keyboard and track pads clean, wiping down the keyboard, screen and outer shell to remove dust and debris build-up.

Sometimes, things will go wrong. Basic troubleshooting will need to be carried out. The following issues are common with all laptops and usually have simple solutions.

Laptop Won’t Turn On/Stay On

If your laptop doesn’t turn on, it is most likely because the battery is dead. Make sure the battery is charging when you plug the laptop in and give it time to recharge completely before attempting to power it on again. Sometimes the battery can be bad. If the laptop powers on when plugged in but shuts off when you unplug it, the battery may need to be replaced.

Laptop Doesn’t Boot to Log In Screen

When common boot files are read over and over again, they can become corrupt. There isn’t anything you can do to prevent this, but you can fix it when it happens.

Most modern laptops will have a small section of the hard drive used as a backup drive. You can boot into this drive (or use the software that comes with the laptop) to run diagnostics to repair or replace any damaged files.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

What’s a good processor speed for laptops under $400?

When looking at the CPU, the best you can hope for with laptops under $400 are the Intel i-series 8th gen processors. The i3 and i5 will give you core speeds up to 2.2Ghz, which is enough speed to run most of your applications without any worries. AMD Athelon processors (dual-core) are also common and decent for the computing power provided.

Is it OK to charge a laptop overnight?

When laptops and other rechargeable devices first came out, there wasn't any over-charge protection, and people found their batteries overheating, failing sooner or worse. Today, though, even the cheapest laptops have protective measures and will stop the charging when the battery if full, even if you leave it plugged in overnight.

What is the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

The difference between a Chromebook and a standard laptop could be an article in itself. However, the best way to understand it is that a Chromebook runs on Google operating systems and works more like a large smartphone.

You can download apps from the Google Play store, but you won’t be able to install much software at all. Google Docs for office work and the Google Drive for storage is where the magic happens. Chromebooks are good for students or office work when you don’t need a lot of software or extras to get the job done.

If I spend around $600, what extra features will get?

For a couple hundred more dollars, you can expect to get a little bit more for your purchase. Usually, this will include a larger screen (up to 15-inches) and a better CPU. In most cases, a larger hard drive, or an SSD + HDD combination for added storage.

Most of the other essentials will remain the same, though some models may include a better video card for higher resolution instead of an additional hard drive.

Where is the best place to find good laptops under $400?

When shopping for the best deals on laptops, Amazon is easily the best place to shop. They have a lot of stock on models a year or two old that sell for cheaper than when they were brand new. You can also check out the Amazon Refurbished and Renewed program for great laptops at a discount.

What does Amazon refurbished & renewed and mean?

Amazon has trusted vendors and stores that perform refurbishments and repairs on returned items. Laptops, for example, may be returned because it wasn’t what the buyer wanted, a bad battery, a cracked screen, etc. The laptops are repaired, inspected, and tested and then resold with a renew/refurbish warranty (usually 90 days) and at a deep discount.


Conclusion

The best laptop under $400 can be challenging to find. Hopefully, this article showed you what to look for and gave you ideas to start your search.

If you are still undecided, take a look again at the HP Pavilion, our top pick. It has the best screen, fast processor, and enough RAM to run all of your essential programs and applications.