Budget Guide: The Best Laptop Under 400 Dollars

After researching and testing dozens of laptops, we have decided that the best laptop under 400 dollars is the Acer Aspire 15 E5-576-392H. We chose this laptop model due to the powerful specs for the price, variety of relevant ports (USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI) and sleek design.

However, if you prefer a sleeker, thinner form-factor then the Lenovo Ideapad 330s might be the better choice. It packs internal hardware that closely matches our Editor's Choice laptop from Acer. The biggest difference is the drop in battery life coming in at 7 hours (still good) instead of the Acer laptop's13.5 hours.

For some, an ultra-portable size is the most important attribute to consider. That's where the Dell's Inspiron 13 5000 Series is the best $400 option. This 2-in-1 laptop offers a smaller, compact display with a convenient touchscreen and excellent battery life.

Editor's Choice

Our top laptop from Acer under $400 with a 1080P display and good battery life.

While remaining affordable, Acer has designed this laptop to offer good value on the dollar. You get a high-resolution display, newer processor, 6GB of RAM and plenty of storage space. This laptop's expected 13.5 hours of battery life is perfect for college students or travelers who want to work remotely.

Runner-Up

One of Lenovo's entry-level laptops offering a sleek, thin build and good internal hardware.

This version of Lenovo's IdeaPad laptops offers solid specifications. These include a 1080P IPS display, a 2.2Ghz dual-core processor, Intel Graphics and a 1TB of hard disk storage . This is a great business laptop, but also suitable for most students priced well under $400.

*Pricing as of 4/22/19

Best Portability & Compact Design

A 2-in-1 laptop offering decent specs and a compact design suitable for traveling consumers.

This is the only laptop offering a 2-in-1 design to make the list. With a smaller display, the portability of this model is unmatched to any of the competing laptops on this list. Despite its compact design, the technical specifications are good with 4GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and a 1080P IPS touchscreen display.

*Pricing as of 4/22/19

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

If you still have a question or need clarification then feel free to use the the comments section below this guide. One of our staff members will do our best to provide an answer or offer helpful advice.

What To Expect When Buying A Laptop Under $400

Shopping for a good laptop with a $400 budget will give you plenty of options, but many of these models will be similar. It is likely that $400 is a lot of money to many of you. However, in the world of technology staying under $400 is a low price for a good laptop. Due to this, be aware there will be trade-offs in style, features and functionality.

Don't worry, we didn't add this section to tell you not to buy a 400 dollar laptop or to make you feel bad for having a low budget. It is just important to not set yourself up for disappointment by setting too high of standards for the type of laptop that you can buy for under $400.

Laptop Design & Build Quality

In this price-point, you shouldn't expect the best for the laptop's design or build quality. These laptops will often feature larger bezels around the screen and a heftier size when compared to premium, top of the line laptop models.

The craftsmanship of a good 400 laptop will not be all that good. Most of the build will consist of cheap plastic so you'll want to be careful when storing or transporting these laptops. The keyboards and trackpads won't have the best feel to them. Due to this, you may find yourself wanting to invest in an aftermarket keyboard or mouse to achieve better usability.

Hardware & Performance

Here's another area where you will have to make some sacrifices to stay under $400 budget. You can still get a laptop more than powerful enough for everyday tasks. These are what most consumers need like web browsing, email, social media, watching movies or word processing.

More advanced tasks like gaming and multimedia editing (audio, video, photo) won't be good for cheap laptops. If your sole purpose for buying a gaming laptop or one for video editing, then you'll likely be disappointed with a $400 laptop.

In this case, you will want to lower your expectations or save up a for a more powerful video editing or gaming laptop. Advanced features like a fingerprint reader and backlit keyboard likely won't be found on $400 laptops, but there are some exceptions to this.

Things To Consider When Buying A Good Budget Laptop

When choosing a laptop under 400 dollars, determining the best model for your needs isn't always the most straightforward task. This is especially the case when you aren't sure precisely what laptop features or components to look for.

If you want to carry out basic tasks like word processing, email, social media, watching videos or web browsing, then any of these laptops will work.

For those that wish to carry out heavy multitasking or dabble in multimedia editing or PC gaming, then you'll want a laptop with a powerful processor, plenty of RAM or good graphics.

Here are a few aspects to keep in mind while shopping for a $400 laptop:

  • Brand of laptop – you'll see a lot of foreign brands sold for low prices, but choosing a reputable brand can save you a lot of headaches. By choosing a reputable laptop manufacturer, you'll get piece of mind when it comes to the quality and warranty if you run into any problems.
  • Price of laptop –  the more money that you are willing to dish out then the more power you'll get. Keep in mind, laptop prices fluctuate and some models may rise above or drop under 400 dollars over time.
  • Laptop Screen Size – refers to the actual size of the display refers to the actual size of the display measured diagonally. This measurement is completely independent of the screen's pixel density and resolution. Lightweight laptops will often have smaller screen sizes. Most often, you'll find 15-inch models for under $400.
  • Resolution – the larger the screen resolution, the better the image clarity. For under $400, expect a 720P screen although some of the laptops offer an upgraded 1080P screen which will offer the best viewing experience for the price.
  • Touch screen – some users prefer a touch screen experience much like their smartphone. Many touch screen laptops will also also be 2-in-1 or convertible laptops. This means you can fold or remove the keyboard to turn the laptop into a tablet experience.
  • Processor – the “brains” of the laptop and a big determining factor of the speed of the laptop. For under 400 dollars, you'll want to look for an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, but some laptops may offer an AMD version that is close or equal to.
  • RAM – (stands for random access memory) this laptop component stores temporary data for quicker response. The more RAM, the better although you'll get 8GB or less for under $400. On most laptops, you can upgrade and add more RAM at a later point. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend choosing a laptop that offers at least 4GB of RAM.
  • Video Card – the graphical processing unit that allows the laptop to process 3D content at high resolutions without stutters or loss of frames. Most laptops won't offer a dedicated video card within a $400 budget, but many offer good integrated graphic solutions.
  • Storage Drive – a hard disk or solid state drive where all your data is stored including your operating system, applications, and personal files. The drive speed and size are important factors. A larger drive can hold more files and a faster drive can access them quicker. Some models will offer more than one hard drive to help improve performance.
  • Webcam – this may not be important to some consumers. If you plan to use Skype or another audio or video communication software, then you'll want a laptop with an integrated webcam and microphone.
  • Operating System – most new laptops at this price-point will be running Windows 10 Home. For under $400, some laptops may be a Chromebook will be running Chrome OS. This means these are cheaper models that run a lightweight operating system from Google that has some heavy restrictions. We don't recommend them unless you are fully aware of these limitations.
  • DVD/Blu-ray Drive – while most of the tech world has moved away from physical CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives, some of you may still need one. If laptop you choose doesn't have an integrated optical drive, you do have the option to buy an external one.
  • Battery Life – if you are doing a lot of traveling or use such as in a library, airplane or coffee shop then you'll likely need a laptop with a decent battery. While under $400, you won't see the best battery life on most laptops, but several can surpass 7 hours during regular use.lap

Comparing Our Recommended Laptop Models Under $400

CompanyAcerLenovoDellAcerASUSLenovo
ModelAspire 15 E5-576-392HIdeaPad 330Inspiron 13 500 Series 2-in-1Aspire 3 SeriesX540BAIdeaPad 330s
Price$307.25$319.00*$389.00*$399.99*$399.99*$379.00*
Screen Size15.6"15.6"13.3"15.6"15.6"15.6"
Resolution1080P FHD (1920 x 1080)720P (1366 x 768)720P (1366 x 768)720P (1366 x 768)720P (1366 x 768)1080P FHD (1920 x 1080)
Touchscreen
ProcessorIntel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHzIntel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHzIntel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core 2.4 GHzIntel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core 1.6 GHzAMD A9-9425 Dual-Core 3.1 GHzIntel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHz
RAM6GB DDR44GB DDR44GB DDR44GB DDR48GB DDR46GB DDR4
Video CardIntel UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)Intel UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)Intel UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)Intel UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)AMD Radeon R5 Graphics (integrated)Intel UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)
Storage Drive1TB HDD (5400 RPM)16 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)16 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)1 TB HDD (5400 RPM)
Webcam/Mic
Operating SystemWindows 10Windows 10Windows 10Windows 10Windows 10Windows 10
DVD/Blu-Ray Drive
Battery Life13.5 hours7 hours8 hours7 hours6 hours7 hours
Designed ForEveryday UseEveryday UsePortability/Tablet UseEveryday UseEveryday UseEveryday Use

Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars For 2019

The $400 Acer Aspire E15 Laptop

Pros

  • 15.6" Full 1080P HD display
  • Up to 13.5 hours of battery life (one of the best laptops in this list)
  • Native support for USB 3.0, 3.1 Type C, and HDMI

Cons

  • Not as much RAM as some of the other $400 laptops (but a better display)
  • Far from the thinnest or most portable of the $400 laptops in this guide

Our top laptop, the Aspire 15 E5-576-392H is geared for the average user. It should be more than adequate for most needs while remaining well under $400.

This laptop packs a punch with competitive specifications. You've got an Intel Core i3 8130U dual-core processor running at 2.2GHz, 6GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard drive (5400 RPM) and Windows 10 Home.

You'll note that despite some competing $400 laptops offering 8GB of RAM, the Aspire 15 still remains our recommended choice. This is because the $400 laptops offering 8GB of RAM have to cut corners with a 720P display. In Acer's case they decided to provide lesser the ram in exchange for a full 1080P HD offered which is more important to most.

This laptop has Intel's UHD Graphics 620 which is on the lower-end for graphical performance. It is still suitable for everything except for video editing and gaming (light of either might work). The battery life is very good offering up to 13.5 hours.

Lenovo IdeaPad 330s - Runner-up Best $400 Laptop

Pros

  • Cosmetically one of the best looking $400 laptops
  • Smaller battery keeps the form-factor slim
  • Nearly identical specs to our top laptop choice from Acer

Cons

  • Price may rise above the $400 mark over time as MSRP is $549
  • Exclusively sold through B&H (a reputable retailer of laptops)
  • Battery life is just 7 hours (compared to the Acer's 13.5 life)

One of two Lenovo laptops that we included in this buyer's guide. The IdeaPad 330s is a B&H exclusive offering excellent value on the dollar for basic needs as well as light gaming/media editing. At the time we wrote this, the 330s had an MSRP of $549, but was discounted $170.99 to fall in line within a budget under $400.

Internally, the IdeaPad 330s offers excellent specifications for laptops within this price. This includes a 15.6″ IPS display (1080P FHD resolution), 6GB of DDR4 memory, a 2.2GHz Intel Core I3-8130U Dual-Core processor, 1TB HDD (5400 RPM) and Intel's newer UHD Graphics 620 (integrated).

This laptop offers a sleek design that is thin for the specifications and price. With ample storage and power the IdeaPad 330s offers excellent value and remains a good choice for most readers.

Best 2-in-1 Laptop Under 400 Dollars

Pros

  • 13.3" screen results in a smaller form-factor
  • Display folds backwards into a touchscreen tablet
  • Decent specifications despite the portability

Cons

  • Lacks support for USB-C
  • Smaller battery limited to around 7 hours of battery life

The Inspiron 13 500 Series by Dell is the only 2-in-1 laptop included within this buyer's guide. This means the laptop is meant to act as a hybrid. It utilizes the functionality of a full QWERTY keyboard and mouse while offering the portability of a touchscreen tablet.

This laptop runs Windows 10 like the other competing $400 laptops listed here although with the lower specs, it isn't best suited for heavy tasks. If you are looking to browse the web and use basic apps like Microsoft Office, Excel, etc, you'll be able to do so without any issues.

Internal components include an Intel Core i3-71300U Dual-Core 2.4GHz processor, a 13.3″ FHD touchscreen display, 4GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1 TB mechanical hard drive

This laptop offers a built-in SD card slot of expanding your storage or importing data off an SD card. While it isn't the best quality, the webcam is 720P HD and offers an embedded microphone.

Asus X540BA $400 Laptop

Pros

  • Includes 8GB of DDR4 RAM (best out of this list)
  • Best clock speed that we've seen for a dual-core processor on any $400 laptop
  • Offers AMD's Radeon R5 integrated graphics

Cons

  • Only a 720P display

ASUS is a best brands in the PC market offering laptops with good performance at reasonable prices. The X540BA is a solid $400 laptop packing a 3.1 GHz AMD A9-9424 Dual-Core processor as well as 8GB of DDR4 RAM.

There is no SSD drive for the price. You do have plenty of storage space with the internal 1TB HDD (5400 RPM) which can house tens of thousands of photos of hefty media files. With a 15.6″ display, the screen meets the traditional size benchmark yet it lacks the higher resolution of competing laptops with only a 720P display (1366 x 768 pixels).

This $400 laptop offers an integrated graphics by way of AMD's Radeon R5. While it won't be incredible for gaming or intensive media editing, but it should be good enough for light to medium efforts of either.

Acer Aspire 3 Series $400 Laptop

Pros

  • Quad-core processor offers more cores for resource-extensive applications
  • Combination of Intel Optane and traditional mechanical hard drives boost load times

Cons

  • Only a 720P display
  • Only 4GB DDR4 RAM

A younger sibling to our top laptop under $400, the Acer Aspire 3 Series offers a similar look and feel. Where the 3 Series differs from the Aspire 15 comes into the internal components which makes it ideal for a different type of user.

The processor in this laptop is Intel's Core 15-8250U which is a quad-core, but each core is clocked at 1.6GHz. You've got 4GB of DDR4 RAM which is not the best as it is lower than the 8GB of some competing $400 laptops.

The Aspire 3 is the only one of two laptops on this list utilizing a 16GB Intel Optane hard drive. This is a caching drive that is designed for running critical applications like your operating system to help achieve the best performance. For non-critical data and applications, there is a 1 TB mechanical HDD.

Measuring at 15.6″, the display is NOT full HD like our top laptop choice from Acer and only has a 720P resolution. There is no dedicated graphics card within the 3 Series and Acer chose to use integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 like their Aspire 15 laptop.

Pros

  • In-line microphone and 3-button controls
  • Earbud tips are ergonomic with adjustable angles

Cons

  • No design features to keep earbuds from falling out (besides different sized tips)

The younger sibling to our second best choice, the base Lenovo 330 laptop offers a similar look and feel. Beyond the cosmetic similarities, there are a lot of differences when it comes to the internal hardware.

For example, this laptop runs a 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-8130U Dual Core processor and offers 4GB of DDR4 memory. Like the Acer laptop listed above, the IdeaPad 330 harnesses the same combination of a 16GB Intel Optane SSD alongside a terabyte mechanical HDD for storage.

Intel's UHD Graphics 620 power the visuals and there are native ports for USB 3.1 (Gen 1), USB Type-C and HDMI. Keep in mind, the 15.6″ display does NOT support full HD and has a resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. This laptop ships running Windows 10 Home (64-bit).

Final Verdict

At this point, we have shared all the top knowledge you'd need to know to buy a laptop under $400 in the current market. As with any modern technology, there is a lot of info to take in especially if you aren't the best with technology.

If you've read the entire guide and are still unsure or have questions relating to the subject of laptops under $400, use the comments section below. We will do our best to assist you as soon as possible.

We hope this buying guide on the best laptop under 400 dollars has been valuable in your search and our recommendations (like our top choice, the Acer Aspire 15 E5-576-392H) will help you find success in your future laptop decision!

We hope you found this article helpful in your search for a new laptop!

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