Budget Guide: The Best Laptop Under 400 Dollars

After conducting in-depth research and testing on dozens of computers, we have decided that the best laptop under 400 dollars is the Lenovo Ideapad 110. 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. 

However, if you prefer a higher-resolution screen and longer battery life over processing power then the Acer Aspire E5-575-33BM might be the better choice. Packing a full 1080P display and touting up to 14 hours of battery life, this model will allow you to work comfortably on the go for long periods.

For some, portability and a compact size is the most important attribute to consider and that's where a Chromebook like Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga 11E shines. The 2-in-1 design offers a smaller display with a convenient touchscreen and excellent battery life.


Editor's Choice & Best For Gaming/Media Editing

Ideapad 110 - best gaming laptop under 400 dollars

An entry-level laptop that offers ample power and portability without breaking the bank

This version of Lenovo's Ideapad line-up offers solid specifications including a quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, Radeon R5 graphics and a terabyte of hard disk storage while remaining under $400.


Runner-Up

Acer Aspire - best laptop under $400

A solid option from Acer offering decent specs like a Full HD display and solid battery life.

While remaining affordable, Acer has designed this laptop to offer great "bang for your buck". You get a full high-resolution display, a relatively new processor, plenty of RAM and adequate storage space. Plus the expected 12-hours of battery life is perfect for a student or traveler who often wants to work remotely.


Best Portability & Compact Design

Yoga 11E - touchscreen business laptop under $400

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

This is the only laptop offering a 2-in-1 design to make the list. With a significantly smaller display, the portability of this model is unparalleled to any of its competitors on this list. Despite its highly compact design, the technical specifications are surprisingly good with a 128GB solid state drive, 4GB of RAM and an Intel Quad-Core processor (though clocked at only 1.6GHz).


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.

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 may 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). Rest assured, 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 open up your potential to more powerful media or gaming-centric laptops.


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. By choosing a well-known manufacturer of laptops, you get more piece of mind when it comes to quality and warranty if you run into any problems. 
  • 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 in this price range you will sometimes see 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 


Aspire - laptops under 400
ideapad 110 - best 400 dollar laptop for gaming
Yoga 11e - best $400 laptop
HP 255 G6 - best laptops under 400 dollars
VivoBook - best budget laptop
Inspiron 15 5000 - best laptop under $400 2017

Company

Acer

Lenovo

Lenovo

HP

ASUS

Dell

Model

Aspire E5-575-33BM

IdeaPad 110

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 A8 Quad-Core 2.2GHz

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 DDR3

4GB DDR3

4GB DDR4

8GB DDR4 (2133MHz)

8GB DDR4

Video Card

Intel HD Graphics 620 (integrated)

AMD Radeon R5 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

Over 4 hours

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 3/12/2017


Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars (2018)

Ideapad 110 - best gaming laptops under 400 dollars

There are two Lenovo models which made the list, but their IdeaPad 110 is our top choice for consumers who are trying to stay within this budget. Priced under $400 when we wrote this article, this notebook packs some hefty specs for the price thanks to the use of AMD components over Intel equivalents which perform relatively closely for a significantly cheaper price-point.

Beyond the sleek design and look, the IdeaPad 110 offers a powerful quad-core processor running at 2.2GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and relatively decent integrated AMD Radeon R5 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 R5 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 on the slow side and could benefit down the road from a faster drive upgrade to increase load and boot efficiency.


Aspire E15 - best laptops under 400

The Aspire E5-575-33BM is Acer's only current model to make this list. They previous held editor's choice with another discontinued model which had heftier specs, but this model is geared more for a standard user with decent specifications that should be more than adequate for most users needs at this price-point.

For most people, the bump up to a full 1080P HD display make it a worthwhile trade-off compared to 8GB of RAM for regular use. In regards to the rest of the internal hardware, 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 on the lower-end for integrated components, but still suitable for everything except for media editing and gaming (light of either might work). Just like with the VivoBook below, the drop in specs makes for improved battery life up to 12 hours.


VivoBook E403NA - best laptops for college students

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.


HP 255 G6 - best budget laptops under 400

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.


Inspiron 15 5000 - best laptops under $400 2018

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.


thinkpad yoga 11e - best touch screen laptops under $400

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 Lenovo Ideapad 110) will help aid you to success in your future purchase decision!

>