The process of buying a cheap laptop is trickier than you may imagine. First off, there is a ton of different models in this subset of the laptop market, many of which are relatively similar in terms of characteristics. Next, you’ll discover a lot of products from unrecognized brands that, at this price point, seem too good to be true. User reviews frequently support these concerns. And even if you locate a few devices that meet all your requirements, they can have unnoticed flaws like a subpar screen or a limited battery life.
This is the reason Techpotamus has put together this list of the top laptops under $400. Continue reading to learn about our top picks if you’re searching for a budget laptop. The majority of them run Windows 10, but we also added a few Chromebooks and one Apple laptop. Although the Apple product is refurbished, it’s still worth a look for around $400.
Read our guide to the best laptops under $300 if your budget isn’t up to $400. Check out our listings of the best laptops under $600 and the best laptops under $700 if you have a little extra room.
List of best laptops under $400 Available in the market
ASUS Vivo- Book 15: Best laptop under $400 overall
Let’s start with the VivoBook 15 from ASUS, which is the best laptop overall in the sub-$400 market. This model has a 15.6″ 1080p monitor, an Intel i3-1005G1 processor, and eight gigabytes of RAM, which are excellent specifications for the price. We also appreciate the use of a 128GB SSD as opposed to the significantly slower eMMC storage.
The nicest feature of this convertible is its superior build quality and design, which makes it appear twice as expensive as it actually is. Excellent build quality and a variety of ports were combined by ASUS. You get a combo audio jack, full-size HDMI port, three USB ports (one of which is USB 3.1), one USB-C port, and a microSD card slot.
The CPU is a dual-core type that is rather sluggish. Web browsing and using the Office suite operate flawlessly, as we mentioned in the introduction, but any attempt at complicated multithreaded workloads will result in the Vivo Book 15 churning along at a snail’s pace. The picture quality is poor and the colours are washed out. As should be expected, the speakers lack punch and are wimpy.
Although this keyboard is a little squishy, overall it’s not too bad. The presence of the number pad ensures that you at least get a complete experience. The touchpad is accurate and a good size, but because of excessive flex and mushy clicks, the entire experience is subpar. Last but not least, the battery is underneath.
Even though it might sound depressing, the Vivo Book 15 is a great option in the sub-$400 range. First off, the build quality is incredible for the price. Then, a 128GB SSD and eight gigs of RAM are excellent additions. The CPU is also slower than the top mobile processors, but it is still quick enough for everyday use and some light tasks. You’ll be alright if your routine consists of 20 Chrome tabs plus a Word or Excel document that is open.
Be aware that this specific model is quite popular and that since it frequently sells out at that price, it may be difficult to get it for less than $400. Therefore, you must be patient and wait for restocks if you want to purchase it for less than $400. If you’re impatient, you can purchase it for around 15% more than $400.
Acer Aspire 5: Best bang for the buck laptop under $400
The most recent Acer Aspire 5 model from 2021 costs the same as the ASUS VivoBook 15, but it features Wi-Fi 6 and a newer, 11th generation Core i3 CPU instead of a 10 generation Core i3, which should enable you to experience higher internet speed if your router supports Wi-Fi 6. Another benefit of the Aspire 5 is its swift (for this price point) 128GB NVMe SSD. Our dislike is that there are just four gigabytes of memory instead of eight.
Once more, this CPU is more than sufficient for routine use and a few light workloads. Get the ASUS Vivo Book 15 instead if you frequently have dozens of Chrome tabs open because four GB of RAM might not be enough for this.
The Aspire 5 has a good build quality, a great keyboard and touchpad for the money, and a wide range of ports, among other advantages and disadvantages. The ASUS model lacks an Ethernet port, but you have two full-size USB 3.2 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one USB-C port, a full-size HDMI port, and other ports. On the other hand, there isn’t a card reader present. A fingerprint reader is also present on the Aspire 5, as well as on the Vivo Book 15.
The list of drawbacks is what you would anticipate at this price range. You have a 1080p monitor that is very dark, has washed-out colours, and has mediocre speakers. Considering its budget, the Aspire 5’s battery life is likewise below average. Overall, having the newest Core i3 CPU with Wi-Fi 6 is a positive, but the poor screen is a startling drawback—especially considering that the model from last year has a much nicer screen and a CPU that is fairly comparable.
If this model doesn’t meet your needs, you have the Ryzen-equipped alternative, which costs just 5% more than the Core i3 Aspire 5 from 2021. You get a much, much better CPU and a faster GPU for the money.
ASUS Vivo Book Flip 14: Best 2-in-1 under $400
You don’t have to settle with the typical form factor if you’re looking for a cheap convertible. A few 2-in-1s are available with good specs for the money. The ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 is the ideal option.
The gadget has a low-power Pentium Silver N5030 CPU with four cores that should be sufficient for everyday use with websites like YouTube, Netflix, Reddit, and light work (Microsoft Office, emails, video conferencing over Skype or Zoom).
The 14-inch 1080p display isn’t particularly impressive. The colours aren’t spectacular and it’s a little dark, but the touch sensitivity is decent. We appreciate that the device includes a fingerprint sensor and 128GB of storage. Even though the eMMC storage is slower, you do get 128GB as opposed to 64GB. The keyboard and touchpad are adequate for the price but nothing special.
We appreciate that this inexpensive 2-in-1 has a USB-C port, a tiny HDMI port, and a full-sized SD card slot. Also included is one micro-USB port. It’s outdated, and we would prefer another USB-C in its place, but at this price, it won’t be possible. The overall construction is good. The body is reasonably flexible, although the screen is a little shaky. Overall, this is a desirable low-cost option for browsing, using Office, and watching media. This is the greatest 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid under $400 that you can find.
Acer Aspire 1: Best budget laptop under $400
The Acer Aspire 1 is a highly affordable laptop that anyone seeking for should consider. The 2020 model has a 15.6-inch 1080p screen, 64GB of eMMC storage, four gigabytes of RAM, and an incredibly clean appearance for such a low-cost gadget.
Let’s begin with the advantages. In addition to its outstanding look, the Aspire 1 has a decent keyboard with a number pad and a responsive, if slightly smaller, touchpad. Nearly 10 hours of battery life is also excellent. Although the CPU isn’t strong, it can easily manage Office tasks, media consumption, and browsing.
Aside from its dull display and limited viewing angles, this laptop’s major drawback is its eMMC storage. It can’t be expanded, and the pre-installed softwares and Windows installation consume roughly 42GB of space. Only roughly 20 gigabytes of storage are left, which is a very small amount even for a cheap notebook.
The device has three USB connections, one full-size HDMI port, a combo audio jack, and an Ethernet port for expansion. Excellent expansion possibilities; the only thing needed to make it a complete kit is an SD card reader.
Overall, this is a great option for anyone looking for a low-cost gadget to view movies and TV episodes, browse the web and social media, and perform some simple tasks. The Aspire 1 is perhaps the finest Windows laptop for students under $400.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5: Best Chromebook 2-in-1 under $400
There are many Chromebooks under $400, but the Lenovo Flex is the finest. Additionally, it is the finest 2-in-1 Chromebook under $400 because to its 2-in-1 form factor. Lenovo supplied the Flex 5 with a Core i3-10110U CPU, unlike other manufacturers that chose to use Celerons, low-power Pentiums, or mobile chipsets in their Chromebooks. Although not a monster, this processor is a great option in the $400 price range.
It’s excellent for frequent use. Additionally, it’s fantastic for movie consumption, multitasking with numerous Chrome tabs while using Word or Google Docs, and both casual and tab-intensive browsing. Although 4 gigabytes of RAM is not ideal, it is more than sufficient for Chrome OS. The 64GB of eMMC storage is the last.
The fantastic keyboard, above-average audio, and 7.5-hour battery life are other pluses. The aluminium body offers excellent build quality as well. One USB-A port, two USB-C ports, a combination audio jack, and a microSD card reader are among the expansion ports.
The dim display, which only covers 66 percent of the sRGB colour gamut, is the only significant drawback, but you should expect that from a notebook that costs less than $400. Overall, for less than $400, the Lenovo Flex 5 is a great purchase. It has plenty of power for a Chromebook, and the Flex 5’s construction is comparable to products that cost twice as much.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet: Best budget chrome book under $400
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is the greatest low-cost Chromebook available for less than $400. The screen size of this gadget is 10.1 inches, 16:10, and has a 1920 x 1200 resolution. This increases your useful space, and we prefer to see a convertible with a 16:10 screen. For the (miniscule) price you’ll pay for this tablet, the screen is more than adequate despite not being spectacular.
The chipset in question is the MediaTek Helio P60T. It isn’t particularly powerful, but it’s adequate for everyday tasks and light work (Google Docs, simple photo editing, etc.). Chrome OS just requires 4 gigabytes of RAM, and 64GB of storage should be adequate unless you install a lot of apps.
Although the aforementioned keyboard is excellent to use, some of the smaller keys can be challenging to press. The detachable keyboard’s lack of a sophisticated magnetic lock mechanism is its sole drawback, and the little touchpad is more than acceptable. The webcam is superior than those on much more expensive devices, and the speakers are shockingly loud.
On the back is a second 8MP camera that can be used for daytime photography. The Chromebook Duet is an excellent product all around. Despite being quite affordable, it has a lot of advantages. There is only one USB-C connector without a headphone jack, and the keyboard is a little claustrophobic. For the money, everything else is great.
Samsung Chromebook 4: Best value Chromebook under $400
The Samsung Chromebook 4 appears to be the ideal option if you don’t need the most affordable Chromebook available but don’t have the funds for the Chromebook Duet. Even though it lacks touchscreen functionality and other 2-in-1 capabilities, this product is good for the price. You receive a reasonably nice keyboard, a thin body with sturdy construction, and more than consistent battery life (about 11 hours).
On the other hand, the TN screen is not very good. It features 720p resolution and incredibly small viewing angles. The CPU is enough for routine use and mild tasks. Six GB of RAM is also included, which is more than plenty for Chrome OS.
Additionally, the Chromebook 4 has a decent range of ports on the sides (one USB-A, one USB-C, MicroSD card reader, and a headphone jack). 64 gigabytes of eMMC storage are also included. Although an SSD would speed up the system, eMMC is quick enough to make Chrome OS responsive and snappy. It is essentially a browser-based operating system, after all.
Overall, while not the most affordable Chromebook, this one is still affordable and great for light work and daily use. It’s one among the top Chromebooks for academic use. It has sufficient power for online learning, YouTube viewing, and web browsing. If six gigs of memory are too much for you, you may purchase the 4GB version, which is around 20% less expensive than the 6GB version.
MacBook Air (Refurbished): Best Apple laptop under $400
The MacBook Air that we have left over is in no way the least. As a result, you only receive a 90-day Amazon Warranty in addition to a MacBook Air that costs less than $400. For the price, the specifications are excellent. The CPU (dual-core Core i5-4250U) is excellent for general use and light work but is too slow for demanding workloads. The laptop has more features than any other laptop on this list, including four gigs of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
The screen on this older model of the MacBook Air has a resolution of 1440 x 900, but it is taller than those seen on most other gadgets. This results in more usable space and an improved working environment in word processing software.
And last, the design continues to look good today. The Air boasts a high-quality metal chassis and is incredibly thin and light. In other words, it appears to be much, much more expensive. The great touchpad and keyboard, as well as the speakers, are further pluses.
Consider that this is a reconditioned device right now. There may be minor scrapes on the body and some wear and tear on the battery. In other words, the battery won’t last as long as it does on brand-new MacBook Air computers, and it might even eventually need to be replaced. But for the money, this is an incredible deal and the only way to obtain a reasonably up-to-date Apple laptop for less than $400.
Curb your expectations when shopping for a budget laptop
More money equates to greater specifications and an overall better user experience in the world of laptops. And even while low-cost mobile PCs are far superior today than they were five years ago, you shouldn’t anticipate miracles from either the inside or the outside.
First of all, the CPUs in these notebooks are somewhat underpowered and not designed for demanding multithreaded applications. They function just great for working in Word, G-Suite, or Excel as well as for browsing the web, watching YouTube or other video streaming services, etc.
But when compared to a challenging Blender render, a high definition film in Premiere, or an extensive video encoding in Handbrake, they will fall short. The shortage of RAM (you should anticipate 4GB to 8GB in this price range) won’t assist either when dealing with demanding jobs.
Next, disregard AAA video games. You’ll be OK if you enjoy playing independent 2D games like those Metroidvanias or games like Slay the Spire, Grindstone, or Celeste. These convertibles will sweat their souls and cough it up in about ten frames per second while trying to run 3D games, even 2D games like Rim World that can tax the CPU or integrated graphics chip.
It’s preferable if you avoid utilising these notebooks for any type of significant photo or video editing. To begin with, their gear is too basic to handle challenging editing tasks.
The screens of cheap notebooks aren’t designed for work that requires precise colour reproduction. Additionally, especially when compared to flagship devices or standalone monitors, they frequently lack brightness and sharpness. Additionally, don’t anticipate a high-definition audio experience. These computers’ speakers are not designed to sound well, but rather to function while costing as little as feasible to produce.
Last but not least, a lot of cheap notebooks ship with Windows 10 pre-installed in S mode. S mode users are only permitted to use Microsoft Edge and apps from the Windows Store. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to switch back to the standard Windows 10 experience. And while most laptops have lousy webcams, the less expensive models have worse webcams.
We’ve put up a list of the best laptops in their class for under $400 that you shouldn’t pass up in order to assist you with your budget and the greatest outcomes.
Choosing a good gadget might be difficult because there are so many manufacturers and types available. The final decision is ultimately up to you, and it will be based on both your professional and personal objectives. The Acer Aspire 5 is the best option if you’re looking for a laptop that is exceptionally thin and portable. My recommendation is the Microsoft Surface Go if flexibility is your top priority.