The 10 Best Laptops under $400 - 2021 Review

If you click on links in this article, we may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you.

Nowadays, it is easy to find laptops that soar in price. It is not uncommon to find shiny new computers that are going for $1000, $1500 or even $2000 or more. They advertise a whole arm’s length of features with large numbers and words you’ve never heard of.  Not everyone needs such a mammoth computer to fit their day to day needs.

 

Luckily, in 2020, there are no shortages of solid, budget laptops that can do all of the basics very well plus a little more. If you are in the market for a budget laptop that will not exceed the very reasonable price of $400, you are going to want to check out this list. 

 

Here are our ten best laptops under $400 available today.

                     ASUS ImagineBook

                                Best Overall

 

When choosing the best budget laptop on the market, we took into account many different factors. Due to the price constraints, many of these laptops have similar specs so we had to look for the extras that really add value to an already price friendly machine.

In our search, we came across the excellent ASUS ImagineBook which offers everything you could want out of a budget laptop plus a little more. 

In terms of the overall specs, it has the standard processor, standard graphics, excellent screen, great battery life, the usual amount of storage, and so on. So what puts this laptop over the edge? It’s the additional components they added to increase overall functionality.

It is hard to find a laptop in this price range that does everything well but the ImagineBook gives it the best shot and almost succeeds. This is because it has the increased WiFi speed from an upgraded WiFi card. It also has an ethernet port so you don’t have to always rely on WiFi connectivity.

Many laptops do not have an ethernet port these days. Bluetooth is included, also rare at this price point. It has headphone and microphone jacks so you can upgrade your sound peripherals with ease.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C connections are available as well as an HDMI port. Many, many, many laptops, especially at this price, only have one kind of USB port and there is nothing more frustrating than trying to hook in a USB that does not fit your machine. This laptop has one of each kind of USB.

It is these little attentions to detail and additions that really elevate this laptop over the competition while staying under the $400 price range. It even looks great. Some laptops at this price look cheap with a boring black case that is indistinguishable from anything else.

This computer is a beautiful textured white which will instantly stand out and looks far better than the tag suggests. If you are looking for a well rounded laptop that has everything you need to have a great computer experience on a budget, you will be hard pressed to find a computer that does more and does better than the ImagineBook. 

Key Features
  • Intel Dual-Core m3-8100Y Processor
  • Intel UHD Graphics 615
  • 14” (1920 x 1080) Display

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 14-inch
  • RAM: 4GB DDR3
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 3.5lbs
Pros
  • Tons of extra USB ports and ethernet connection ensures your laptop is compatible with all of your devices
  • Great screen size and resolution
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Looks amazing
Cons
  • Could have a faster processor

Chromebooks were primarily built as a cheap option in which to surf the web that gives the user more functionality than say a tablet. That is exactly what you get with the Lenovo Chromebook C330. This versatile 2-in-1 laptop is built to surf the internet and access your online files in a breeze.

 

The touchscreen combined with Google’s excellent arrangement of apps built for their Chromebooks gives you ultimate usability. This computer can use apps that you would normally use on your phone with the same touch compatibility or it can be used as a traditional laptop with the full keyboard and all of the fixings. 

 

If you are looking for a light and airy machine that is fantastic at browsing the internet, this is the laptop for you. We have been conditioned to search the web via our phones and now you get that same feeling in your laptop. 

 

However, the hardware constraints make it so this computer really only is great at web browsing and not much else. It lacks a lot of integrated storage, doesn’t have the fastest processor, and won’t blow you away with the graphics card.

The 11.6” screen with high definition resolution will display all of your favorite websites in crisp detail but if you want to do any heavy lifting or plan on storing things like notes or work material on your machine, you are probably going to want to look elsewhere.

If you want a portable companion that can be used to surf the web at the airport, at Starbucks or at your friend’s place, this one will satisfy you in spades. 

Key Features
  • IPowerVR SGX543 Processor
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 11.6” (1366 x 768) Touchscreen display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 11.6-inch
  • RAM4GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC Flash
  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 2.6lbs
Pros
  • Use apps in touch or traditional mode
  • Chrome OS is fast
  • Lightweight
  • Good display
Cons
  • Lack of meaningful onboard storage
  • Can’t handle complicated tasks or programs

                                Best Value

Everyone likes a deal, and if you are one of those people who really love getting the best bang for your buck, then you are going to want to go out on a limb and try out the CHUWI Herobook.

This is a computer that checks all of the boxes, and then some, but is available at a price that might have you scratching your head. The dollar to spec ratio on this machine is out of this world. 

For less than $300, well below our threshold for $400, you get a 14” screen, full 1920×1080 resolution, 8GB of fast RAM, 256GB of solid state storage, 12 hours of battery life, and a quad-core processor. Whew, did you catch all of that? On its surface, it seems too good to be true.

Normally laptops with these specs go for twice as much or more than the offered price here. So what’s the deal? 

The company offering this amazing value is CHUWI, an overseas brand that is trying to break into the American market. They have had some quality control issues in the past and they keep costs down by encasing their computers in plastic rather than metal construction. This can lead to some fragility that can lead to potential issues if you ding this laptop too much.

If you really are a deal seeker and are willing to go out on a limb to try and beat the system and get hardware specs that normally cost double this price, then you are going to be in for a real treat.

However, if you find the idea of testing out an off-brand laptop a little too risky, there are other more familiar offerings on this list that come in with less power but might be more comfortable. Or, if you want to try a more tested off-brand item, we have another laptop on this list just for you, keep scrolling to find out more. 

Key Features
  • Intel N4000 Quad-Core Processor
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 14.1” (1920 x 1080) Display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 14.1-inch
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Weight: 3lbs
Pros
  • Out of this world specs
  • Unbelievable price
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Untested brand
  • Poor customer service
  • Potential fragility issues

            Jumper Laptop

                        Best Off-Brand

If you are curious about jumping into an off-brand product but are a little hesitant about names that do not look familiar, the Jumper Laptop will put your mind at ease. This is an off-brand laptop that does everything right and has none of the flaws or risks that other off-brands sometimes present.

If the CHUWI laptop was a little too unfamiliar, this machine gives you similar specs for the same price but comes with a few more assurances built in.

For one, this laptop comes with a 12 month warranty. That means, if anything goes wrong they will fix it, at no charge, for up to a year after purchase. You are hard pressed to find any laptops with a warranty like that nowadays and it shows that Jumper is confident in the product they are offering. 

If you are willing to try new brands, you can find some amazing deals and that is what Jumper is offering here. It is a solid laptop with great specs at a great price. All it’s lacking is the name recognition.

If you want to try out a new brand, this is the best off-brand laptop on the market. What it lacks in specifications compared to the CHUWI model, it makes up for with that little bit of extra confidence that might win some skeptical people over.

If off-brands are not your thing and you’d rather go with an HP, Acer or Samsung, do not worry. There are plenty of those on this list for you as well.

Key Features
  • Intel Celeron N3450 Quad Core Processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 500
  • 13.3” (1920 x 1080) Display

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 13.3-inch
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Battery Life: 6 hours
  • Weight: 2.7lbs
Pros
  • Fantastic specs for the price
  • Super lightweight
  • 12 month warranty included
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • No name recognition

          HP 14 HD SVA

                      Best for School

The HP 14 HD SVA is marketed towards students and for good reason. This laptop has everything a high school or college student needs for their day to day computer use. It has a great screen size that is not too large to be unwieldy in the classroom while still giving you enough space to see all of your notes.

It has fast AMD graphics and processing power. It has a battery life that lasts all day and the laptop does not weigh too much to make it hard to carry around. But the biggest upgrade HP put into this laptop is the WiFi card.

Many people take WiFi components for granted and sometimes slow internet is due to bad hardware and not bad connection. This model comes with an upgraded WiFi suite that ensures fast and secure connections every time. That means whether you are at home, in a coffee shop, or in school, your laptop will be able to handle all of these different WiFi connections with confidence.

And unlike many other laptops in this price range, it also features an ethernet hookup so you can jack into a hardline connection when you need to as well. Whether you are doing research, turning in critical work, or collaborating with peers, you will need a steady and secure internet connection and this laptop delivers that in spades.

It also has an anti-glare screen which is specifically targeted at reducing the harsh glare of fluorescent lights found inside classrooms. Because of these awesome upgrades, there is no better laptop on the market in this price range that is specifically aimed at giving students a fantastic experience at home and in the classroom.

Key Features
  • AMD Athlon Silver 3050U Processor
  • AMD Radeon Graphics
  • 14” (1366 x 768) Display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 14-inch
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 3.33lbs
Pros
  • Upgraded internet connections
  • Anti-glare screen for harsh lighting
  • Additional ports
Cons
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Windows 10 S Mode might not run all required school programs or software

           HP HD Touchscreen

                           Best Touchscreen

Touchscreen laptops are all the rage right now but many of them have a steep price tag that some people just aren’t willing to pay. If you are someone who wants that tactile experience with a quality touchscreen for a low price, then the HP HD Touchscreen Laptop is something you are going to want to look into more. 

 

This is not a small tablet sized laptop either, this computer features a large 15” screen which features their responsive touch action. That makes it perfect for anyone who wants that touch experience but also wants a laptop. Many phones and tablets have decent sized screens but none of them can compare to the 15” offered here.

 

HP is a well trusted and time tested brand that continues to provide quality components and features in their machines. This one is no different. In addition to the excellent, large, and responsive touchscreen, you also get a full 12 hours of battery life, 128GB of solid state storage, and an Intel processor. This elevates this laptop far above any tablet experience while offering you the same user friendly usage. 

 

Despite being a touchscreen laptop, this is not a 2-in-1. If you want a laptop that folds over on itself to behave exactly like a tablet, this model does not do that. We do have a great 2-in-1 machine on this list that has the full range of motion for the screen for a similar price. However, this screen is larger and more responsive but it is a traditional laptop configuration.

Key Features
  • Intel i3-1005G1 Processor
  • Intel Integrated UHD Graphics
  • 15.6” (1366 x 768) Touchscreen Display

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 14-inch
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Weight: 3.75lbs
Pros
  • Large touchscreen Display
  • Super long battery life
  • Affordable price for the features
Cons
  • Not the highest available resolution
  • On the heavier side
  • Not a full 2-in-1 Laptop

          Acer Aspire 5 Slim

                       Best for Streaming

Get ready to curl up in bed with a snack, your favorite person, or your pet and settle in for a long marathon binge session of your favorite movies or TV show. The Acer Aspire 5 Slim is the perfect machine for those who want a great streaming device on a budget.

If you love binging in bed or on the futon with a laptop, you won’t find a better option at this price anywhere. This laptop makes for an excellent streaming companion due to the fantastic display quality that it ships with. At a full 15.6” in size and crisp high definition 1920×1080 resolution, the images on this screen look amazing.

This screen is big, it’s sharp and it comes in under budget. Many other computers in this price range have inferior resolutions or smaller screen sizes to keep the costs low. This computer does neither. You get the full sized screen and modern resolution without having to compromise on the price.

The downside is that this computer is heavier than most of the computers on this list and the battery life is shorter than most. That screen takes a lot of juice to keep running! That is why we pegged it as an excellent at home streaming device.

Ideally, you will be near an outlet and have it resting on your pillow or desk so the weight won’t matter much during use. If you are looking for a more portable computer, there are many other machines on this list that have similar specs but come in lighter and with longer battery life but you won’t get the excellent video quality that this laptop has.

If you think this screen would be good for gaming, you will still probably want to look check out Gaming Laptops under $500 because despite the resolution quality, the processing hardware is still fairly low so it will not be able to run the most modern and updated games. 

 

That being said, there is no other computer I would rather cozy up with in bed on a rainy day than the Acer Aspire 5 Slim. 

Key Features
  • AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor
  • AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • 15.6” (1920 x 1080) High Definition Display

Specifications
  • Screen Size: 15.6-inch
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Battery Life: 7.5 hours
  • Weight: 4lbs
Pros
  • Excellent screen size & resolution
  • Perfect for streaming and binging your favorite media
Cons
  • Relatively short battery life
  • 4lbs - not the lightest laptop

                       Best Chromebook

Some people do not like Chromebooks for a variety of reasons, and for some Chromebook iterations, I get the frustrations. This one is different. This Chromebook marries two of the greatest companies in the tech space today, Samsung and Google, to create an excellent pairing that you will love.

The aim of the Samsung Chromebook is to provide a fast, small, and affordable laptop platform that is able to do all of the basics well. It is great for surfing the web, video calls, instant messaging, word processing, and similar tasks. It is not going to blow your socks off in terms of power or performance and that’s okay. 

Previously, Google kept the cost of their Chromebooks down by using cheap and inferior parts and pieces to construct them and the first iterations turned some people off. Now the same designers who make excellent Galaxy phones, tablets, and Ultra-HD televisions are the same people designing and making this Chromebook.

This computer barely weighs two pounds and can easily go anywhere with you. It will need a decent internet connection to run all of its functions properly. This model has very little onboard storage and relies on cloud services to keep all of your information up to date.

Samsung has added a ton of connections and ports so you can hook up any auxiliary devices you need to augment this system. This helps cover for some of its shortcomings. With Bluetooth, HDMI output, and USB ports, you will not be short of the connection you need to get the most out of this computer.

This computer comes in under $300 at most retailers which means you will come in comfortably under budget with this choice. If you do not like Chromebook, this version is not going to change your mind completely, but if you had a bad experience with Chromebook in the past and you want to give them another chance, this is the model to do that with.

Key Features
  • Intel N3060 Processor
  • Intel Integrated HD Graphics 400
  • 11.6” (1366 x 768) Display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 11.6-inch
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 16GB eMMC flash memory
  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Battery Life: 11 hours
  • Weight: 2.4lbs
Pros
  • Shockingly small and lightweight
  • Runs quickly with a long battery life
  • perfect grab and go internet device
Cons
  • Hardly any onboard storage
  • Runs Chrome OS

                   Best AMD Components

There are many great debates in the technology space nowadays. You have PC versus Apple. Then there is Xbox versus Playstation. Android versus iOS.

Then you also have AMD versus Intel. Like any good debate, there are camps on both sides and ardent supporters who claim their preference is the best and everyone else is simply wrong.

For those of you out there who love AMD, this is the budget laptop for you. Many of the machines on this list come with integrated Intel parts and that is going to instantly turn off a portion of the PC buying public. That is why we have sought out the best laptop that includes native AMD hardware the HP 14-inch HD.

This laptop comes with AMD Athlon Silver processing power and an integrated Radeon graphics card which, for some, surely outstrips equivalent Intel hardware. If the AMD vs. Intel debate means nothing to you, don’t worry. This is still a solid machine for a great price.

Everything you are looking for in a traditional laptop on a budget can be found here. It has a large screen at 14” with a solid display. Ten hours of battery life is more than enough to keep you going all day, whether you are working or playing.

You have a large 128GB solid state hard drive and 4GB of fast RAM. All of this comes in handily under $400 and a tick over three pounds. This computer will start in a flash, last all day, and won’t strain your back if you have to carry it around.

This makes it a perfect laptop for a student or a professional who wants to take a budget laptop with them on their journeys into busy downtown city centers. This laptop will cover all of the bases allowing you to get your work done without worrying.

Key Features
  • AMD Athlon Silver 3050U Processor
  • AMD Radeon Integrated
  • 14” (1366 x 768) Display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 14-inch
  • RAM: 4GB DDR4
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Operating System: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 3.25lbs
Pros
  • Ultralight and ultrathin
  • Long battery life
  • Integrated AMD components
Cons
  • Computer locks up if pushed too hard
  • Screen resolution not as high as some models, especially for the size

                                  Best 2-in-1

The ASUS VivoBook Flip 2-in-1 Laptop is by far one of the best budget two in ones available today. It features all of the things you want out of a 2-in-1 laptop at a super low price and with few real downsides. If you are on a budget and always thought that those fancy flip laptops were always going to be out of reach, you are in luck.

 

The best part about this laptop is its size and weight. This thing is super slim, super sleek, and super light. Coming in at less than three pounds, this machine is not going to weigh you down.

Even at this slimmed down size, you still get all of the great features a 2-in-1 computer has to offer. You get the full range of motion for folding the screen back on itself. You get a responsive touchscreen. You get a full eight hours of battery life. 

 

This ASUS VivoBook laptop works great on the go. Fold it out and use it as a traditional laptop on a table or flat surface, or you can fold it back and use it as a light and fast tablet. The downside is, this laptop has very little usable storage. With only 64GB of native onboard eMMC storage, you are going to fill this machine up quickly.

If you are someone who needs to store a lot of things on their computer, you are promptly going to be frustrated. But, if you are someone who wants to use their laptop more in a tablet capacity but still want that full keyboard experience, then this will suit you just fine.

 

When you get a 2-in-1 laptop that has the foldable screen, the responsive touch features, and comes in such a slender and lightweight frame, there are going to be trade-offs and in this case, it was storage and connection ports that got left on the cutting room floor.

Despite those flaws, this is still a fantastic foldable laptop at a stunning price for the budget conscious buyer. 

Key Features
  • Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3350 Processor
  • Intel HD Graphics 500
  • 11.6” (1366 x 768) Touchscreen Display
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 11.6-inch
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 64GB eMMC Flash
  • Operating System: Windows 10 S Mode
  • Battery Life: 11 hours
  • Weight: 2.8lbs
Pros
  • Super affordable 2-in-1 laptop
  • Good battery life
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Hard drive is small and slow
  • Limited number of ports and connections

What is Windows 10 S Mode?

Many of the computers on this list are shipping with Windows 10 in S Mode. What is S Mode and is it a downgrade from regular Windows 10?

S Mode is billed as a more streamlined version of Windows that they are shipping out of the box to try and simplify the user experience. S Mode, as far as I can tell, does not have a direct translation for the S. I see it as Simple Mode or School Mode or Slim Mode. Any of those will work as good descriptors.

S Mode is similar to Apple’s iOS systems in that it is designed to function with Windows apps only. In S Mode, you can only run apps and programs downloaded or purchased from the Microsoft Store. This encourages a more uniform experience on hardware that might not be able to handle everything the entire market has to offer.

If this sounds like a turn off for you, don’t worry, you can easily switch your computer out of S Mode and into regular Windows 10 with very little hassle. Simply go to the Windows Store and search Switch Out of S Mode and it will guide you through the steps to return you to normal Windows 10.

If you switch out of S Mode, for some reason, you can never switch it back to S Mode again so make sure that is a choice you really want to make. At the end of the day, try out S Mode since most of these computers will boot into S Mode. If you like the sleek and simplified presentation that Windows is offering, then you can keep it. If not, switch back no trouble. 

What to Look for in a Laptop under $400

While all of these computers are functional choices, especially for the price, they do have their limitations in terms of power and usability. These computers won’t be able to do anything and everything like some computers can. Here are three things these computers can do in a flash, and three that they can’t.

 

1. CAN SURF THE WEB

All of these computers are great for surfing the web. Whether you want to scroll through Instagram, catch up on Twitter, or do serious research for work or school, these computers all have powerful internet connections. This will allow for strenuous internet usage without breaking a sweat. Every one of these computers can flawlessly play YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and more. Stream to your heart’s content. 

 

2. CAN STORE YOUR FILES, PICTURES, DATA

Most of the laptops on this list all have hefty and valuable hard drives that are capable of storing large amounts of data. If you are looking for an easy and portable place to store your pictures, writing, presentations, budgets, music and more. Best of all, many of these laptops include the newest and fastest versions of Solid State Drive (SSD)  technology which means your computer will not bog down when filled with your files. 

 

3. CAN MANAGE WORD PROCESSING

And other similar programs. If you are looking to do work via Microsoft Office, WordPress, or Google Docs, these computers can handle those things without any issues. Document editing, spreadsheets, slideshows, and note taking are all things that these computers can manage. If you are looking for a computer to do your schoolwork or be able to write and edit word documents on the fly, all of these will fit the bill handily. 

4. CANNOT HANDLE HEAVY GAMING

If you are looking for a budget gaming laptop, check out our article Best Gaming Laptops under $500. The computers on this list are not outfitted with powerful enough equipment to handle most modern games. Modern games are strenuous to run and require powerful graphics cards, beefy processors, and specialized optimization in order to run properly. There are simple games and low impact games that you can get to run on these computers but their primary goals and functions are not geared towards gaming. 

 

5. CANNOT DO COMPLEX EDITING

If you need a computer for editing, you aren’t going to find a good option on this list. Today, many people are looking for computers that can do a lot of video editing, photoshop editing, or other similar graphically intensive work and for that, you are going to need a more powerful machine. If you are looking for something like that, check out our list of our favorite Laptops for AutoCAD and Best Laptops for Drawing.

The same reasons why modern games do not run well on these computers are the same reasons why these editing programs will struggle too. They are not equipped to render and edit large files or intricate files such as videos, photos, and similar kinds of files.

 

6. CANNOT DO IT ALL

Many of the laptops on this list are great at a few things and are great portable computers but none of them can do everything well. If you are looking for an end all be all machine that is able to do it all, you are going to have to raise your budget substantially. There are great all-around computers out there that can game, edit, conference call, and more but you won’t find it on this list. You are going to have to have reasonable expectations for the limitations of the computers on this list and understand that while these options are a great value they won’t be able to do everything. 

 

VERDICT

As long as you go into purchasing a budget laptop with realistic expectations, you are sure to find a quality machine that can do the tasks you need it to do. Know before you go, or so the saying goes. Doing your due diligence will prevent unpleasant surprises and misconceptions at the time of purchase.

Whether you are looking for a great laptop for school, a touchscreen machine that gives you that tactile touch experience, a new offbrand laptop to try or a computer to stream your favorite movies, this list has it all.

Whatever your goal for a laptop may be, there is a computer on this list that is sure to fit your needs and your budget.

Related Articles