If you are a college student on a somewhat tighter budget, then you can absolutely find some perfect gems in the laptop market if you look hard enough.
To make your life easier, in this article, we have listed the best Laptops for College Students under $400.
Under $400 is a fairly budget range. Therefore, you have to look for a configuration that is well optimized so that you can get the best value for for your money.
By optimized we mean you need a laptop that does not have one powerful component, while the rest are weak.
If the powerful hardware is getting bottlenecked by the weaker hardware, then you will have essentially wasted your money.
For example, if you choose to go for a laptop with an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, It does not make sense to go for 8 GB or more RAM.
The performance advantage of a higher RAM would be restrained by the lack of a powerful processor in this regard.
Therefore, when you look for laptops in the budget range, you have to very careful with the overall hardware configuration.
We have selected the laptops that will maximize your value for money.
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Laptops for College Students under $400 Compared
Intel Core i3-8130U
1 TB HDD
Intel Core i3-8130U
1 TB HDD
1 TB HDD
Intel Pentium N5000
1 TB HDD
Intel Celeron N4000
64 GB eMMC
List of Best Laptops for College Students Under $400
Budget College Laptops Under $400 Reviewed
1. Acer Aspire E5-576-392H – Recommended All Rounder Laptop
- 8th Generation Intel Core i3 8130U Processor...
- 15.6 inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen...
- 6GB Dual Channel Memory, 1TB HDD and 8x DVD
- Up to 13.5 Hours of battery life
This laptop is, hands down, of the best budget laptop of this market generation.
There is absolutely no laptop that can come even remotely close to the overall value that it offers.
As such, this is essentially the best laptop for college students under $400.
For starters, it offers the latest generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor.
This is a dual core processor with hyperthreading enabled. Therefore, it has 4 threads in total. Those applications that support multiple threads will greatly benefit from it.
Essentially, in terms of performance, this processor is on par with Core i5 from the previous generation.
In addition to that, the 6 GB of RAM that it offers as well as 1 TB of HDD makes this a complete package at a budget.
You should be able to run almost all of the required software that a college would demand. From word processing to casual editing, you should be able to perform them all.
This laptop may show its limits if you plan on running it at a professional level. For example, if you are an avid Photoshop user, you may find this laptop lacking.
However for the stipulated price, this is one of the best laptops for college students under $400.
2. Lenovo IdeaPad 330 – Premium Design with 8 GB RAM
- 15.6” HD 1366 x 768 Energy-efficient LED...
- 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U mobile processor,...
- 2 x USB 3.0 Type A Ports, 1 x USB 3.0 Type C...
- Wireless-AC WLAN, 10/100/1000 Ethernet,...
This laptop is more expensive than the Acer Aspire E5-576-392H recommended above, however, it does have a few differentiating features.
For starters, it looks stunning for a budget laptop. It has a thickness of about 0.9 inches which is considerably slim and mobile.
Secondly, while it has the same processor i.e Core i3-8130U as the Acer Aspire E5-576-392H above, it offers 2 GB extra RAM. Therefore, this laptop has a total of 8 GB RAM.
8 GB RAM is considered ideal for casual editing jobs and is also essential for comfortable multitasking experience.
All in all, whether this laptop is worth the extra dollar is up to you to decide.
Our top pick still remains to be the Acer Aspire E5-576-392H. However, if you need a laptop that is easy to carry around has a somewhat better performance, then this is one of the best laptops for college students under $400.
Learn more about Lenovo Laptops for Students
3. Lenovo Ideapad A12 – Affordable and Functional – AMD A12 System
- 15.6" HD display with 1366 x 768 resolution;...
- AMD A12-9720P Quad core processor with 2.70...
- 8GB DDR4 memory; 1TB 5,400rpm HDD hard drive...
- 802.11AC WiFi; Bluetooth 4.1; 10/100/100M...
Whenever you venture around in the budget market of PCs/Laptops, you will almost always come across AMD system.
AMD systems, arguably, provide better budget specs as compared to their Intel counterparts.
The processors by AMD have a special name. Instead of calling them Central Processing Units, AMD terms them as Accelerated Processing Unit.
This is mostly due to the fact that the integrated graphics card with the AMD CPUs is generally considered to be superior to the Intel integrated graphics of the same price bracket.
This laptop boasts the AMD A12-9720P Quad Core processor. In terms of performance, it is similar to Core i3 processors from Intel.
The thing worth looking into is that it manages to fit 8 GB of DDR 4 RAM as well as 1 TB of HDD for a price that is far under the $400 price tag.
On top of that, it manages to fit the latest connectivity ports like the USB Type-C port. This is important for connecting some of the newer devices and gadgets around.
As mentioned earlier, the integrated graphics card is excellent in an AMD systems. This system has an AMD Radeon R7 graphics card. It is comparable to some of the entry level graphics card of the Nvidia 600 and 700 series.
This is actually quite significant considering the fact that the Intel HD integrated graphics are nowhere in the gaming radar.
All in all, if you are okay with having an AMD system, then this is certainly one of the best laptops for college students under $400.
4. HP 15.6 4ND16UA – Best for Word Processing – Intel Pentium
- 15.6" HD SVA WLED Back-lit Touch-screen 1366...
- Quad Core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 (upto...
- WiFi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 5, Multi-format...
- 2 x USB 3.1 | 1 x USB 2.0 | 1 x HDMI, No DVD...
This is one of the best laptops for menial tasks.
If you think that your work at College will only comprise of typing or researching, then this is one of the best laptops for college students under $400.
It costs well within the $400 range. Therefore, you should be able to save up quite a lot for something else on your wishlist.
This laptop offers an Intel Pentium processor. In terms of performance, this processor lies somewhere in between Intel Core i3 and an Intel Celeron processor.
Basically, it is great for word processing and will ensure a fairly smooth experience for menial tasks.
However, do not even think of running heavier editing and designing software on this. Neither the processor nor its 4 GB of RAM would be able to cope with running high demanding software.
One delightful feature of this notebook is that it offers a touchscreen.
Although the use of touchscreen on a 15.6 inch laptop is limited, it is still a good functionality to have.
Furthermore, this has the same 1 TB of HDD capacity that most laptops even in pricier range offer. 1 TB is sufficient for storing up a lot of media which you definitely will in your college life.
Learn more about HP Laptops for Students
5. Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA – Cheapest Possible – Intel Celeron
- 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 &...
If you want to go even cheaper than HP 15.6 4ND16UA above, then you may want to look into this Acer Aspire 1 A114-32-C1YA.
Note that while this is the cheapest laptop in this list, it is also the weakest.
It offers a weak Intel Celeron N4000 processor. This is a processor that is good only for limited work and for a limited multitasking experience.
With that said, if you imagine that you will not have a lot of background apps running and you will only be working with a few windows open, then this is definitely worth it.
One great aspect of this laptop is that it offers an FHD display instead of an HD display that most budget laptops.
FHD means it has higher resolution. Which in turn means that you would be able to fit two A4 size documents side by side and view them rather comfortably. A higher resolution also means sharper and clearer images.
While this offers a standard 4 GB of DDR4 RAM, it lacks significantly with its storage.
Instead of offering a normal HDD, it offers only a 64 GB eMMC drive. This is faster than an HDD, but its capacity is highly lacking. We would thus recommend that you either get cloud storage or an external hard disk along with it.
In case if you are wondering what an eMMC is, watch the following video.
Here we had a look at the best laptops for college students under $400.
We looked at laptops that were close to the $400 range as well as laptops that were well below this range.
Generally, the laptops featured here are entry level laptops that are suitable for word processing, researching, casual entertainment etc. The Acer Aspire E5- 576-392H can even be used for casual editing jobs.
However, they are not to be used for professional tasks.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.