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 instead of the Acer model's 13.5 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.
Our top laptop is from Acer with decent specs including 1080P display and great 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.
A decent entry-level laptop by Lenovo 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 model 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 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 when buying a 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 give 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.
Design & Build Quality
In this price-point, you shouldn't expect much 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 laptop models.
The craftsmanship of a 400 dollar 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.
Technical Specifications & 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 a $400 laptop, but there are some exceptions to this.
Things To Consider When Buying A Good Laptop
When choosing a laptop under 400 dollars, determining the best model for your needs isn't always the easiest task. This is especially the case when you aren't sure exactly what features or components to look out 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 – 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 – 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.
- 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.
- Touchscreen – some users prefer a touchscreen experience much like their smartphone. Many touchscreen 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 machine 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, you will often see Chromebooks will be running Chrome OS. These laptops run a lightweight operating system from Google that has some heavy restrictions. We don't recommend them unless you are fully aware and accept the 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.
Comparing The Best Laptop Models Under $400
|Model||Aspire 15 E5-576-392H||IdeaPad 330||Inspiron 13 500 Series 2-in-1||Aspire 3 Series||X540BA||IdeaPad 330s|
|Resolution||1080P 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)|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHz||Intel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHz||Intel Core i3-7100U Dual-Core 2.4 GHz||Intel Core i5-8250U Quad-Core 1.6 GHz||AMD A9-9425 Dual-Core 3.1 GHz||Intel Core i3-8130U Dual-Core 2.2 GHz|
|RAM||6GB DDR4||4GB DDR4||4GB DDR4||4GB DDR4||8GB DDR4||6GB DDR4|
|Video Card||Intel 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 Drive||1TB 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)|
|Operating System||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Battery Life||13.5 hours||7 hours||8 hours||7 hours||6 hours||7 hours|
|Designed For||Everyday Use||Everyday Use||Portability/Tablet Use||Everyday Use||Everyday Use||Everyday Use|
Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars For 2019
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.
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 the 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.
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 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.
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.
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).
At this point, we have shared all the essential 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. We recommend bookmarking or saving this guide to revisit for future reference.
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 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!
As a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and our Managing Editor, Colt loves testing out the newest tech products/services. His goal is to help better educate other consumers to ensure the most satisfying purchases decisions on consumer electronics and services. When he is not working on creating new content, Colt enjoys spending time with his two Australian Shepherds, Mia and Zoey.