After conducting in-depth research and testing on dozens of computers, we have decided that the best 14 laptop under 400 dollars is the Acer 15.6" Aspire e5-553-11PT. We chose this model due to the powerful specs for the price, variety of relevant ports (USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI)  and a sleek design. 

For our readers who don't need as powerful of a computer, want to save a bit more cash or want a thinner or smaller design then continue on to the remainder of the article to learn more about cheap, budget laptops and see further model recommendations which all fall under the $400 price-point.


Editor's Choice & Best For Gaming

A front-facing view of the E5-553-11PT Notebook from Acer.

The best specs for the price with a quad-core processor, strong integrated graphics, and plenty of RAM/storage.

Acer was able to utilize AMD's more budget-friendly components to create this model that offers a solid design with decent specifications while remaining within budget for many consumers. Light to medium gaming/multimedia editing is possible with this model, but don't expect top performance.

*Pricing as of 11/28/17


Runner-Up

A head on view of budget-friendly Aspire E 15 Laptop by Acer.

Another good option from Acer, exchanging the better graphics and specs for a higher-resolution display and better battery life.

If you aren't going to be gaming or doing any multimedia editing, then this Aspire model might be a better fit for you. You'll have weaker specs with half the RAM, a dual-core processor, and integrated graphics yet gain the benefits of a full 1080P HD display and 12-hours of expected battery life.


Best Portability & Compact Design

A front look at the ThinkPad Yoga E 3rd Generation Chromebook from Lenovo.

A 2-in-1 Chromebook offering decent specs and a highly compact design suitable for many consumers.

This is the only Chromebook that made the list, but its portability and feature-set make it one to consider if you value a compact footprint. Do consider the limitations of a Chromebook before buying as you can't do many of the same things (such as installing Microsoft Office) as a Windows machine.


Ultimately, we write content like this for your benefit to help educate consumers who aren't quite sure what to buy with their hard-earned money.

We do earn a small commission if you were to click through and purchase one of these laptops through our links (this helps us keep producing more beneficial content like this without charging for access). This will aspect never affect our recommendations. Integrity is our focus as we are consumers, too.

RELATED - Q&A: What Is The Best 14 Inch Laptop?

When shopping for a laptop under $400, there are likely many questions that you may have. We recommend reading this article in its entirety as we will cover the most common concerns that you may have.

If you still have a question or need clarification on something then feel free to ask in the comments section below. One of our staff will provide an answer or advice as soon as possible.


What To Expect With A Sub-$400 Budget?

Shopping for a cheap laptop with a $400 budget will give you plenty of options, but many of these models will be the same. I understand that $400 is a lot of money to many of you, but in the world of technology that is not a substantial amount of money for a laptop so, there will be trade-offs.

Don't worry, we didn't add this section to tell you not to buy a laptop this cheap or to make you feel bad for having a small budget. It is just important to not set yourself up for failure or disappointment by having too high of standards for the type of laptops that you can purchase in the $250-$400 range.

Design & Build Quality

In this price-point, you can't expect much as for the laptop's design or build quality. The design will follow a traditional suite that will typically feature large bezels around the screen and a bulky profile except for cases where you are getting a Chromebook which sacrifices overall specs for portability.

From a craftsmanship perspective, you'll again be settling for the bottom of the barrel. Most of the build quality will be cheap plastic so you'll want to be careful when transporting or storing these notebooks. The keyboards and trackpads won't be top-notch, so you may find yourself wanting to invest in an aftermarket keyboard or mouse to achieve better usability.

Technical Specifications & Features

Here's another area where you will have to make some sacrifices to stay within a limited budget. However, you can still get a computer more than powerful enough for everyday tasks that most consumers need like web browsing, email, accessing streaming services or word processing.

However, more advanced tasks like gaming and multimedia editing (audio, video, photo) can become too cumbersome for many of these machines. Everything will depend on moderation. If your sole purpose for buying a laptop is for gaming or media editing, then you'll likely be disappointed at this price-point. In this case, you will want to lower your expectations or save up a couple hundred more to get a better model.


Things To Consider When Buying A Cheap Laptop

Choosing the right laptop for your needs isn't always the easiest especially when you aren't sure exactly what types of components are best for your desired needs.

If you are performing basic tasks like word processing, email or simply looking to browse the web than any of the models listed in this article will be of value to you. 

For those that need extra power for heavy multitasking or even looking to dabble in multimedia editing or PC gaming then you'll want to choose the cream of the crop models with more powerful processors, more RAM or a dedicated graphics card.

Here are a few aspects to keep in mind while shopping for a cheap laptop:

  • Brand - you'll see a lot of knock-off brands sold for low prices, but choosing a reputable brand can save you a lot of headaches.
  • Price -  as you'd expect, the more you are willing to dish out then the more power you'll get, don't expect much at this price-point.
  • Screen Resolution - the larger the screen resolution, the better the image performance. At this price-point, expect a 720P screen and in some cases a 1080P screen with weaker overall specs.
  • Touchscreen - some users prefer a touchscreen experience much like their smartphone, a few of the Chromebooks at this price-point offer this.
  • Processor - the "brains" of the computer and a big determining factor of the overall speed of the computer. 
  • RAM - aka "random access memory" this component stores temporary data for quicker response, ultimately the RAM, the better although you'll get 8GB or less for this budget. On most models, can upgrade and add more down the line. 
  • Video Card - the graphical processing unit that allows the machine to process 3D content at high resolutions without stuttering or frame drops. Most models won't offer a dedicated video card at this price-point, but many offer higher powered integrated solutions.
  • Storage Drive- a hard disk or solid state drive which is where all your data is stored including your operating system, programs, and personal files. The drive speed is important as well as the overall size of the drive. A larger drive can hold more files and a faster drive can process them more efficiently.
  • Webcam - this may or may not be something you'll use, but if you plan to use Skype or an equivalent software then you'll want an integrated webcam and microphone.
  • Operating System - most new PCs at this price-point will be running Windows 10 Home, but Chromebooks will be running Chrome OS which is a lightweight operating system that has some heavy restrictions. 
  • DVD/Blu-ray Drive - is there any reason you still need a CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive? If so, make sure the model you choose has one. Half of the models that we included on this round-up will offer one while the other half won't.
  • Battery Life - if you are doing a lot of traveling or use remotely such as in a library, airplane or coffee shop then you'll likely need a model with a decent battery. At this price-point, you won't see amazing battery life on most models, but several surpass the 7-hour mark during regular use.

Comparing The Best Laptop Models Under $400 


A head on view of budget-friendly Aspire E 15 Laptop by Acer.
A front-facing view of the E5-553-11PT Notebook from Acer.
A front look at the ThinkPad Yoga E 3rd Generation Chromebook from Lenovo.
A frontal look at HP's 255 G6 budget laptop.
A head-on view of the VivoBook E403NA-US21 Laptop by ASUS.
A heads-up look at the Inspiron 15 1500 Series Notebook from Dell.

Company

Acer

Acer

Lenovo

HP

ASUS

Dell

Model

Aspire E5-575-33BM

Aspire E5-553-11PT

ThinkPad Yoga 11e

255 G6 Series

E403NA-US21 VivoBook

Inspiron 15 5000 Series Notebook

Price

Screen Resolution

1080P FHD

720P (1366 x 768)

720P (1366 x 768)

720P (1366 x 768)

1080P FHD

720P (1366 x 768)

Touchscreen

times-circle
times-circle
check-circle
times-circle
times-circle
times-circle

Processor

Intel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core 2.5GHz

AMD A12-9700P Quad-Core 2.5 GHz

Intel N3150 Quad-Core 1.6GHz

AMD A6-9220 Dual Core 2.5GHz

Intel Pentium N4200 Quad-Core 1.1GHz

Intel Core i3-7100 U Dual Core 2.4GHz

RAM

4GB DDR4

8GB DDR4

4GB DDR3

4GB DDR4

8GB DDR4 (2133MHz)

8GB DDR4

Video Card

Intel HD Graphics 620 (integrated)

AMD Radeon R7 Graphics (integrated)

Intel  Graphics

(integrated)

AMD Radeon R4 Graphics

(integrated)

Intel HD Graphics 505 (integrated)

Intel HD Graphics 620 (integrated)

Storage Drive

1TB HDD (5400 RPM)

1TB HDD (5400 RPM)

128GB SSD 

500GB HDD (7200 RPM)

128GB SSD  (eMMC Flash)

1TB HDD

Webcam

HD

HD

HD

HD

HD

HD

Operating System

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home

Windows 10 Home 

Windows 10 Home 

Windows 10 Home 

Windows 10 Home 

DVD/Blu-Ray Drive

check-circle
check-circle
times-circle
check-circle
times-circle
times-circle

Battery Life

Up to 12 hours

N/A

Over 7 hours

Over 7 hours

Up to 12 hours

Over 4 hours

Designed For

Standard use

Gaming & Media Editing (Light)

Portability/Tablet Use

 Gaming & Media Editing (Light)

Standard Use

Standard Use

* Pricing as of 11/28/2017


Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars (2017)

A front-facing view of the E5-553-11PT Notebook from Acer.

There are two Acer models which made the list on this round-up, but their E5-553-11PT is our top choice for consumers at this budget. Priced under $400 at the time of this article, this notebook model packs a lot of specs for the price thanks to the use of AMD components over Intel equivalents which perform relatively closely at a far cheaper price-point.

Beyond the sleek design and look, the E5-553-11PT offers a powerful quad-core processor running at 2.5GHz, 8GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable to 32GB) and a beefed up integrated AMD Radeon R7 Graphics. The screen's panel comes in at just over 720P, and there are plenty of modern ports to utilize including an HDMI and USB 3.1 Type C option. 

While this model offers a lot of "bang for your buck", it still is a budget model and some areas show this. The R7 graphics aren't overly powerful, but it should handle light to medium gaming and photo editing especially since the native resolution is only 720P (it would struggle at 1080P FHD). Additionally, the 1TB internal hard disk runs at 5400 RPM which is rather slow and could benefit down the road from an upgrade to increase load and boot efficiency.


A head-on view of the VivoBook E403NA-US21 Laptop by ASUS.

The VivoBook line from ASUS has been very successful for the company. We chose to include their E403NA-US21 model in this roundup due to its overall design and specifications while maintaining a sub-$400 price.

You've got a 14-inch full 1080P HD display coupled with a sleek design of which ASUS has decided to put their primary focus on form over function. That is not to say the specs aren't good, but this isn't a high powered rig that should be used beyond traditional use like web browsing, email or word processing.

Internally, this VivoBook is running an Intel Premium Quad Core N4200 processor at 1.1GHz, a 128GB eMMA flash storage drive and 4GB of DDR3 RAM.

While the processor is a bit underwhelming, it helps to prolong the battery life. This model tops the rest (matching one other) reaching up to 12 hours of battery life under standard use.


A head on view of budget-friendly Aspire E 15 Laptop by Acer.

The Aspire E5-575-33BM is Acer's second model to make this list. Unlike the editor's choice, this model is geared more for a standard user with weaker integrated graphics, half the RAM, and a dual-core processor. 

For most people, the specs are more than enough for you needs, and the bump up to a full 1080P HD display make it a worthwhile trade-off for regular use. Internally, you've got an Intel Core i3-7100U dual-core processor running at 2.5GHz, 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard disk running at 5400 RPM and Windows 10 Home. 

This model runs Intel's HD Graphics 620 which is an lower-end integrated component, but still suitable for everything except for media editing and gaming. Just like with the VivoBook, the drop in specs makes for improved battery life up to 12 hours.


A frontal look at HP's 255 G6 budget laptop.

The 255 G6 Series one of their best budget models offering solid specs and a sleek design. HP has been one of the top manufacturers of PC models (both desktops and laptops) for the greater part of the last decade.

Internally, you've got an AMD A69220 dual-core processor running at 2.5GHz, 4GB of DDR4 RAM, a 500GB hard disk running at 7200 RPM (most budget models have an HDD that runs at a slower 5400 RPM), and offers integrated AMD Radeon R4 Graphics. 

What we liked about the HP 255 G6, in particular, was the inclusion of a wide variety of ports including USB 3, USB 2, HDMI 1.4, VGA, Ethernet, MicroSD, and a 3.5mm combo jack. The only things really missing are support for Thunderbolt or USB-C which frankly isn't common at this price-point.


A heads-up look at the Inspiron 15 1500 Series Notebook from Dell.

As you'd expect, we included a model from Dell on this list as like HP they have been an absolute powerhouse in the PC market since it went mainstream. Their Inspiron 15 5000 Series budget model offers decent specs in its signature Dell form-factor. 

Internally, you've got an Intel Core i3-7100U dual-core processor running at 2.4GHz, a hefty 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB hard disk drive. Like many other models here, it utilizes integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 for powering its visuals. 

The port selection is relatively decent with a USB-2, USB-3, SD, 3.5mm audio and HDMI ports although there aren't any other display outputs or USB-C. Dell did opt to keep the SuperMulti DVD Burner for those who require an optical disk drive.


A front look at the ThinkPad Yoga E 3rd Generation Chromebook from Lenovo.

Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga 11E is the only Chromebook and 2-in-1 on this list. For those of you who don't know what this means, this model is meant to act as a laptop/tablet hybrid offering the functionality and portability of a tablet with a touchscreen while still offering a full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad. 

This model does not run Windows 10 and instead offers Google's Chrome OS which is lightweight and fast though suffers from some significant restrictions. You can only browse the web and use supported Chrome-related apps without any ability to install native Windows software like Microsoft Office, Excel, etc.

Internal components include an Intel N3150 Quad-Core 1.6GHz processor, an 11.6" HD touchscreen display, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive which offer enough storage while taking advantage of the speed benefits of an SSD.


Final Thoughts

At this point, we have shared all the essential knowledge you need to know to buy a budget or cheap laptop in the current market. As with any modern technology, there is a lot of information to take in especially if you don't fall under the tech-savvy category. We recommend bookmarking or saving this guide to revisit for future reference.

RELATED: Q&A: What Is The Best VPN For Mac?

If you've consumed all of the content above and are still unsure or have questions relating to the subject of budget-friendly laptops then use the comments section to voice your concerns. We will do our best to respond to you individually to better assist you as soon as possible.

All of us from The Tech Reviewer hope that this article was valuable in your search for the best laptop under 400 dollars and believe our recommendations (like our top choice, the Acer Aspire E5-553-11PT) will help aid you to success in your future purchase decision!

Featured Image Courtesy: Flickr