The speed at which the budget laptop segment is innovating is both encouraging and disconcerting at the same time. Although you are never short of options as a buyer, any gadget you purchase quickly becomes obsolete. Therefore, selecting a sub-$400 laptop is tricky as you would want to purchase something functional, powerful, and that stays relevant for a considerable length of time.
These budget devices are a keenly contested arena with manufacturers coaxing users into making purchases by putting across saleable schemes. Therefore, it is necessary to keep an open mind and take every aspect into account before picking the perfect laptop based on requirements.
You can’t expect machines in this price range to come with an Intel Core i5 or other high-power processors (i.e., Intel i7 or Intel i9), but you surely can get a reliable machine with decent RAM + CPU + SSD based storage. It means that you won’t be able to perform graphic or CPU intensive tasks. Still, you surely can use these machines for daily activities such as writing or editing documents, playing mid-range games, watching movies, college use, lightweight web surfing, online learning, etc.
Most importantly, you must know the features/specs you’re looking for beforehand. For instance, if you’re getting a laptop for your seniors, then you might consider getting the one with a DVD drive or easy accessibility options. In case you’re buying one for your child, then you might prefer a durable option.
If you have already restricted your budget to $400, you might have to compromise on a few specs, depending on your preferences and the purchase nature. Devices in this range would never feature a powerful graphics card, long-lasting battery, responsive touchscreen, and portability, all at once. Therefore, you must determine the nature of usage and tasks the gadget would fulfill.
- Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Lenovo IdeaPad 3
- 2. Best Runner Up: Acer Aspire 5
- 3. Best with PCIe SSD: Dell Inspiron 3000
- 4. Best for Kids: Dell Inspiron 3583
- 5. Best ChromeBook: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3
- 6. Best for Home Use: HP 15 DW1081WM
- 7. Best for Students: HP 14-DQ1043CL
- 8. Best for Office Use: Asus VivoBook 15
- 9. Best for Online Classes: Microsoft Surface 3
- 10. Best Battery Life: Asus VivoBook Flip
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars in 2021
|Lenovo IdeaPad 3|
|Acer Aspire 5|
|Dell Inspiron 3000|
|Dell Inspiron 3583|
|Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3|
|HP 15 DW1081WM|
|Asus VivoBook 15|
|Microsoft Surface 3|
|Asus VivoBook Flip|
After searching through an umpteen number of selections, here’s is our list of 10 best laptops that cost less than 400 USD. Also, instead of mentioning only the standard clamshell models, we will also talk about the convertibles and the touch-centric laptops. So shall we begin with the list?
1. Best Overall: Lenovo IdeaPad 3
The Lenovo Ideapad 3 is the most balanced laptop available in this budget range. It has the AMD Ryzen 5 chipset which is faster than the Intel Core i5 (found in laptops around $800). Additionally, it comes with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD based storage, and an AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU. It doesn’t matter what your needs are, if you’re looking for the best laptop for $400, then this is the option you shouldn’t avoid.
If you are interested in a budget device that combines a high-end display, exceptional processing performance, and a powerful battery, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the laptop you might consider looking at.
In terms of processing power, Lenovo features the Ryzen 5 3500U chipset which is one of the best processors from AMD, precisely for budget notebooks. Apart from that, the Radeon Vega graphics card renders additional performance enhancement to the device. The gadget comes with a base clocking frequency of 2.1GHz which amplifies, if and when required.
You get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD unit for faster data rendering. The DDR4 RAM complements the existing SoC and helps achieve better processing speeds.
The Windows operating system allows you to toggle between the performance mode and the power saving mode, via the one-touch Q-control.
However, it is the display that stands out with Lenovo bringing forth a 14-inch 1080p screen. The viewing angles are exemplary and the narrow bezels further enhance the visual quality. The AMD Radeon GPU further complements the display-centric brilliance.
Lenovo features a standard touchpad and an ergonomic keyboard with decent key travel. Other innovative specs include the HD webcam with a physical shutter and built-in speakers with Dolby Audio support making it one of the best options for music listening. This gadget also features a commendable, 180-degree design and weighs a mere 3.30 pounds.
Lenovo offers USB Type-A and USB 3.0 ports with the device, followed by decent Bluetooth and Wireless connectivity standards. The existing battery offers a steady backup of 8 hours despite the Full HD display at the helm.
Overall, the new Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is the perfect device to purchase if you are looking for an all-rounder in this budget segment.
That said, if you are looking for a gadget from Lenovo that flaunts Intel Core i3-8145U chipset with similar base clock speeds, you shall also consider the IdeaPad S340. While the allotted RAM support is the same, you only get a 128GB SSD followed by an underpowered 15.6-inch HD display. However, the USP of this model is the Intel UHD 620 GPU and the anti-glare panel.
- Excellent display
- Decent enough processing conglomerate
- Exceptional speakers
- Decent collection of ports
- Powerful battery
- No USB Type-C with charging support
2. Best Runner Up: Acer Aspire 5
Acer has always been willing to manufacture powerful budget notebooks with revolutionary specifications and the Acer Aspire 5 is no different.
This device brings forth the AMD Ryzen 3 3200U chipset with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz. The existing SoC is perfectly supported by the AMD Radeon Vega 3 GPU which enhances the overall performance and even the visual quality.
Besides the exceptional mobile graphics processing unit, you get access to 4 gigs of RAM. This gadget also features a 128GB solid-state storage unit, best suited for faster data rendering and quick OS loading. Coming to the operating platform, Acer features Windows 10 in S mode, precisely for enhancing the power saving quality.
It is the display that stands out courtesy of the 15.6-inch Full HD screen with an overall resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The Widescreen IPS panel is extremely vibrant and boasts of sharper viewing angles.
Another standout feature is the availability of a backlit keyboard and responsive touchpad at the sub-$400 price tag. Other innovative specs include powerful speakers flaunting the TrueHarmony audio technology.
In terms of physicality, this notebook looks exceedingly high-end, courtesy of the aluminum chassis, narrow screen bezels, and a sleek structure. The device weighs slightly less than 4 pounds and is quite easy to carry around. You can pair external storage units and other peripherals via the USB 3.1, USB 2.0, and other functional ports. Acer also packs in an HD webcam and exceptional Wireless connectivity standards.
You also get a powerful battery offering up to 8 hours of extended support. Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is typically a budget laptop, distinguishable courtesy of the brilliant display.
- Enthralling display
- Decent processing conglomerate
- Premium chassis
- An exceptional collection of ports
- Backlit keyboard
- Underwhelming RAM
- Inadequate storage capacity for professionals
3. Best with PCIe SSD: Dell Inspiron 3000
Although it’s quite hard to get hold of a featured-packed notebook under the sub-$400 price tag, the Dell Inspiron 3000 clearly fits the bill.
In terms of performance, this laptop flaunts the moderate powerful Intel Celeron 4205U processor that works in tandem with an integrated Intel UHD graphics card. What stands out is the availability of 4MB of cache memory that amplifies the processing speeds! The turbo clocking speed of up to 3.4GHz makes sure that the device can handle demanding tasks with ease.
The 4GB of RAM is a decent addition for the price point followed by 128GB SSD. While the former speeds up data rendering and boot-ups, the latter allows you to store every document, file, and video in plain sight. In terms of OS, you get the interactive Windows 10 Home edition.
The 15.6-inch HD display is a pretty standard addition. However, Dell takes innovation a notch higher with the multi-touch panel, featuring a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The HD screen quality is further enhanced by the slimmer bezels.
Dell brings in a resourceful keyboard which misses out on the backlit support. The touchpad on offer is equally responsive. This gadget brings forth a decent HD webcam and a powerful microphone, allowing you to handle video calls and professional commitments, even during the era of social distancing.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 is a durable device that is still quite sleek and weighs almost 6 pounds. Moreover, you get a host of USB Type-A ports on this gadget followed by other functional slots. The otherwise powerful battery offers at least 8 hours of backup if you use the touchscreen continually.
To sum it up, this gadget from Dell is a decently loaded device in terms of specifications but steals the show when multi-touch functionality is concerned.
- PCIe SSD storage module
- Decent collection of functional ports
- Good processor
- Commendable battery backup
- Not touchscreen
- Not a full HD display
4. Best for Kids: Dell Inspiron 3583
Working within a budget comes with a lot of compromises. Dell Inspiron 3583 is not going to surprise you with its outstanding performance, but it certainly covers a fair lot of ends in terms of cost, basic features, and the overall utility; well within your budget.
A dual-core processor Intel Celeron clocking at 1.6GHz and integrated Intel UHD Graphics 610 processor is sufficient for handling the processing requirement of basic activities like surfing, media downloads, and editing documents.
The dell system comes with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD, which keeps the data transfers and processing at a decent pace. The laptop comes with a Windows 10 Home edition in Secure mode. The secure mode of the operating system brings a similar windows experience, despite being limited by a low hardware configuration.
The laptop comes with a recent display configuration, capable of keeping your video viewing experience pleasant. The Anti-glare, 15.6-inch High Definition display has a resolution capability of 1366 x 768 pixels capable of delivering 720p videos with ease. The backlit LED reduces energy consumption.
The dell laptop sports a full-sized keyboard with a dedicated numeric pad. The trackpad comes at its standard size, placed aesthetically to keep it away from the palm. The laptop also features a webcam that enables video conferencing with ease.
The 3583 from Dell has the typical textured black body weighing close to 4.5 pounds. It has two USB Type-A ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port and an audio jack. The laptop also comes with 802.11 ac and Bluetooth connectivity.
With optimized usage, the battery backup of Dell Inspiron 3583 can be extended up to 5 hours. Despite being limited, it would offer mobility while using a laptop on regular day-to-day activities. The budget-friendly laptop from Dell comes with a 15.6-inch screen, 4GB RAM with Wi-Fi 5, and Bluetooth connectivity that would easily take you through most of the daily operations.
- 15.6 HD Anti-glare Display
- Windows 10 in Secure mode
- 802.11 ac
- 4 GB RAM
- Limited battery life
5. Best ChromeBook: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3
Chrome OS is the only other choice of operating platform that you can get for the sub-$400 price tag. Therefore, if you are looking to let go of the Windows 10 operating platform, Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 is a perfect choice.
This gadget features the Intel Core i3-10110U processor with a base clock speed of 2.1GHz. Besides that, you also get Intel UHD integrated graphics for better visuals and amplified performances. Lenovo also brings forth 4MB of cache memory for increasing processing speeds.
Lenovo offers 4 gigs of RAM followed by a restricted yet ultra-fast storage space of 64GB. The built-in SSD unit results in the quickest possible boot-ups and faster data rendering. Moreover, you get Chrome OS as the built-in operating platform with a host of handy features, including unhindered access to Google accounts and cloud support.
It is the display that stands out with Lenovo featuring an innovative 13-Inch 1080p panel. The smaller screen size increases the pixel density and makes the touch screen look more vibrant. This device also supports an external pen that is sold separately by the company.
The backlit keyboard is quite aesthetic and complements the exceptional chassis with the 1.4mm key travel. Despite the responsive screen, Lenovo doesn’t compromise on the quality of the touchpad. Other specs include a built-in HD webcam and utilitarian speakers for seamless video conferencing.
The physical layout is a distinguishable characteristic of this device. The 360-degree, convertible layout allows you to use the same in laptop, tent, tablet, and the stand mode. Besides that, this is an enviously slim device that weighs a mere 2.97 pounds. Other productive features include a decent collection of ports in USB Type-C, Type-A, and other productive slots. Lenovo also boasts of excellent Bluetooth and Wireless connectivity standards.
The existing battery offers up to 10 hours of continued support. Therefore, it is possible to use this Chromebook for hardcore productivity tasks despite frequent electrical outages. Overall, the Chromebook Flex 5 from Lenovo is probably the most portable and efficient device in the list, provided you are looking to try an operating platform other than Windows.
- Exceptional design
- Powerful processor with decent cache memory
- Powerful battery
- Enthralling display with touch support
- Supports multiple form factors
- Minimal storage space
6. Best for Home Use: HP 15 DW1081WM
If you are interested in an HDD based device without having to spend more than 400 dollars, you must immediately opt for the HP 15 DW1081WM.
The Pentium Gold 6405U is a decent addition with 2.4GHz base frequency. The performances are perfectly amplified by the Intel UHD 605 graphics card.
If you are looking for additional processing support, the 4GB with a drive speed of 2666MHz is a decent addition. Besides offering decent data processing speeds, the existing RAM is also capable of handling demanding data-intensive tasks with minimal hiccups. In terms of storage, you get a whopping 500GB HDD unit. However, remember that HDDs are slower compared to SSDs. Windows 10 Home edition is the pre-existing OS but the device also supports the S mode for saving additional power.
In terms of display, the 15.6-inch LED panel is a standard addition. The cumulative screen resolution on offer is 1366 x 768 pixels. The narrow bezels measuring a mere 6.5mm are standout performers followed by the micro-edge panel.
HP also boasts of an ergonomic keyboard followed by a responsive touchpad that supports gestures. Other specs include the integrated HD webcam and an array of microphones. This gadget also boasts of excellent acoustic output.
The HP 15 DW1081WM flaunts a metallic chassis and weighs slightly less than 6 pounds. Despite the durable exterior, this is still a pretty slim device. In terms of port management, HP generously stacks in the USB 3.1 Type-A, Type-C, and a host of other productive slots.
The powerful battery offers up to 10 hours of backup. Most importantly, HP brings forth the Fast Charge technology, capable of boosting the battery by up to 50 percent in less than 45 minutes. To sum things up, this gadget from HP is best suited for a professional who is always on the move and on the lookout for decent battery backup.
- Premium looking design
- Dependable battery unit
- 15.-6 inch wide LED screen
- Handles basic programs
- Inadequate storage configuration
7. Best for Students: HP 14-DQ1043CL
8GB RAM + 256GB SSD-based storage makes this machine capable enough to run Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft Office programs. However, the CPU isn’t very powerful. In case you’re looking for a balanced laptop, then consider going for the first option.
Provided you are looking to spend below 400 dollars for your new machine; the HP 14-DQ1043CL is the premium device to look at. While the feature sets readily justify the budget tag, it is the processing conglomerate that makes it a powerful performer.
To start with, this laptop features the 10th Gen Intel Core i3 chipset that comes with a decent turbo clocking speed of up to 3.4GHz. You also get 4MB of cache memory that perfectly complements the chipset and helps minimize the application access time. HP also features integrated Intel UHD graphics for improved visuals and casual gaming.
You get access to 8 gigs of RAM on this device which is quite high-end for the mentioned price. Therefore, this laptop allows you to indulge in demanding productive, and data processing jobs without lags. Data rendering and boot-up speeds are also remarkable with the 256GB Solid-state storage unit in place. HP also features an interactive, power-saving operating platform in the Windows 10 S edition.
In terms of display, you get the 14-inch full HD IPS panel with a display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. Although the viewing angles aren’t the sharpest, the anti-glare screen allows relentless visual and productive indulgences without straining the eye. The micro-edge WLED panel makes sure that the display-to-body ratio is on the higher side.
In terms of port management, HP flaunts a USB Type-C and Type-A port in addition to the functional HDMI and RJ-45 slots. The 41Wh battery unit is slightly underwhelming and only offers 4 hours of backup. HP also boasts of decent Bluetooth and wireless connectivity standards. You also get a standard combination of an HD webcam and a decent microphone on this budget laptop.
Overall, the HP 14-inch is a decent enough gadget for the students who are slightly more inclined towards faster data processing and rendering. This gadget is still pretty sleek, with a thickness of less than an inch. Last but not least, the laptop weighs a mere 3.24 pounds, making it easier to carry along on travel trips.
- 10th Gen i3 processor
- Decent RAM support
- SSD unit is fast and offers decent storage capacity
- Full HD panel with IPS technology
- Has backlit keyboard
- Light-weighted and easy to carry
- Unimpressive battery backup
8. Best for Office Use: Asus VivoBook 15
The PCIe-based SSD storage is generally found in high-end gaming laptops that cost around $2000 and in some cases even such premium devices would come with a normal SATA3 based SSD. What we mean to say is, if you’re looking for an affordable laptop with the fastest SSD, then the ASUS VivoBook 15 is meant for you!
Here is a new-age budget laptop from Asus that would cost you 400 dollars to be exact. Most importantly, the Asus VivoBook 15 is not a conventional sub-$400 device but boasts of some excellent, mid-range specifications.
To start with, you get the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor based on the 10nm architecture which can clock at speeds of up to 3.4GHz. Besides that, ASUS also packs in 4MB of built-in cache memory to further amplify the processing performances. You also get the Intel UHD integrated graphics card which Asus provides to make way for casual gaming.
The VivoBook 15 boasts of 8GB RAM and 128GB of SSD storage support. The PCIe SSD unit is faster as compared to the SATA3 counterpart. The company features Windows 10 S Mode as the existing operating platform.
Although 128GB PCIe SSD might seem a little less to many, but it’s more than enough for working professionals, digital nomads, stock traders, business managers, accountants, etc. However, you might need to buy an external HDD if you need more storage.
In terms of display, Asus features a sizeable 15.6-inch screen with an overall display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. What stands out is the NanoEdge display that makes sure you get almost 88 percent of display-to-body ratio, clubbed with exceptional viewing angles.
Asus features an ergonomic, backlit keyboard and an exceptional touchpad with an integrated fingerprint scanner. In terms of physicality, Asus brings forth the ErgoLift Hinge enhancement and a 1.4mm key travel for an optimal typing experience. Other specs include built-in speakers, featuring the Asus SonicMaster technology.
This is an extremely sleek device that weighs a mere 3.75 pounds. In terms of port management, you get USB Type-C, USB Type-A, and a host of other functional slots. Asus also brings forth exceptional wireless connectivity and Bluetooth support for enhanced productivity. In terms of battery support, the existing unit offers at least 10 hours, upon moderate to heavy usage.
Overall, the Asus VivoBook 15 is an exceptional device that doesn’t look like a budget laptop from any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it is a commendable performer, best suited for unhindered media consumption and academic indulgence.
- Powerful processor based on 10nm architecture
- Excellent display
- Powerful battery
- Excellent physical attributes
- Underwhelming storage capacity
9. Best for Online Classes: Microsoft Surface 3
Light-weighted budget laptops are easy to carry and the Microsoft Surface 3 is probably the best exponent of this flexibility. This innovative piece of hardware is nifty and aesthetically desirable.
In terms of processing power, the Intel Atom x7-Z8700 chipset performs satisfactorily courtesy of 2MB of built-in cache memory. This SoC brings forth a base clock speed of 1.6GHz but misses out on Turbo Boost. The integrated Intel HD graphics card is also a powerful processing component.
Microsoft adds to the processing repertoire with the 4GB built-in RAM and the 64GB SSD storage unit. This laptop is extremely portable, with Windows 10 Pro as the featured OS. However, it misses out on the complimentary Microsoft 365 office suite that you get on the other Microsoft Surface Books.
The almost 11-inch full HD panel offers a cumulative display resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels. The touch panel is extremely vibrant and boasts of sharper viewing angles. This gadget also supports the inclusion of an external pen that needs to be purchased separately.
Microsoft features an aesthetic keyboard and a responsive touchpad followed by the inclusion of a Windows Hello powered front cam and a powerful 8MP rear shooter. Microsoft also brings forth integrated stereo speakers, further bolstered by Dolby Audio technology.
Without a doubt, Microsoft Surface Go is the slimmest and lightest gadget on our list. This gadget weighs a mere 2.6 pounds and even flaunts the Corning Gorilla Glass panel as a potent structural element. In terms of port management, you get access to a USB Type-C, surface connect, and other essential and utilitarian slots.
The powerful battery offers up to 10 hours of extended backup. Overall, this is a slim, portable, and innovative gadget that is best known for the aesthetic prowess.
- Excellent display
- Brilliant aesthetics
- Light-weighted chassis
- Performance-oriented processor
- Restricted storage space
10. Best Battery Life: Asus VivoBook Flip
Here is yet another convertible laptop on our list, boasting of an exceptional display, host of form factors, and dependable processing components. The Asus VivoBook Flip feels more like a mid-range device and not a typical budget notebook.
In terms of performance, this device is pretty nifty courtesy of the Intel Celeron N4000 CPU, capable of attaining turbo clock speeds of 2.6GHz. The Intel UHD 600 GPU also performs as per expectations.
You also get access to 4 gigs of LPDDR4 RAM and an ultra-fast 64GB eMMC storage module. In terms of operating platform, Asus features the power-saving Windows 10 S mode. The company also features Microsoft Office 365 Suite as a complementary addition.
The 14-inch touch screen is optimized and extremely responsive. The Full HD panel offers a display resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and the narrow bezels further enhance the screen-to-chassis ratio. Asus also boasts of the 178-degree, wide-view technology.
The precision touch support is well-complemented by the excellent ergonomic keyboard and an efficient touchpad. Besides that, the device features a VGA webcam followed by a standard microphone and integrated speakers, powered by SonicMaster acoustic technology.
The Asus VivoBook Flip weighs a mere 3.3 pounds and flaunts an extremely slim chassis and an extremely durable metallic hinge supporting 360-degree convertibility. Moreover, the existing form factor allows you to use the same in the stand, tent, tablet, and even laptop mode. The company also brings forth the Type-C, Micro HDMI, and other functional ports for enhanced productivity.
Asus boasts of an excellent battery and offers up to 14 hours of backup, despite moderate to heavier usage. SuperBattery Technology makes the battery last almost three times more as compared to any other device in the same category. Overall, the VivoBook Flip is one of the more well-balanced gadgets on our list, characterized by brilliant aesthetics.
- Excellent battery module
- Vibrant display
- Brilliant structural design
- Decent processor
- Underwhelming eMMC storage unit
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are willing to spend a meager 400 dollars for a new machine, you must have realistic expectations. Expected features must include a decent chunk of RAM, long-lasting battery, portability, decent display, and a generous array of ports.
A budget notebook can only support casual games and isn’t powerful enough to play graphic-intensive games due to the lack of a dedicated graphics card. An integrated graphics card cannot process frame rates fast enough and almost every device on our list is unfit for hardcore and professional gaming.
A $400 laptop is a decent choice for handling video calls, spreadsheet processing, and basic productivity tasks that require minimal levels of professional indulgence. However, if you are looking for a device that can handle more demanding tasks like applications, editing, and more, the one with a decent chunk of RAM needs to be considered.
For professional editors who use intricate software sets like Lightroom, Camtasia, and more, $400 laptops aren’t powerful enough, despite the RAM upgradeability. However, online photo and video editing are well-supported.
Most budget notebooks have underpowered or mid-range processing components that are power-efficient. Moreover, these gadgets are only used for basic productivity and academic tasks which puts minimal stress on the battery unlike the gadgets dedicated towards high-end gaming.
It isn’t easy to select the best sub-$400 laptops as there are several laptop brands and devices in the market to choose from. However, the final selection is at your discretion and based on personal and professional preferences.
For instance, if you’re looking for an overall best option, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a good choice. However, if you seek a good-looking thin and light laptop, it is advisable to go with the Acer Aspire 5.
Lastly, if you are looking for a unique device that can handle intricate online schooling requirements without exceeding the budget, the Microsoft Surface 3 is the best choice for students who are looking for a good sub-$400 laptop.