5 Best Laptops Under $400 2019 (With 2 in 1, Gaming & Student Picks)

Portable laptop computers are available in a dizzying array of configurations and price points. In many cases, you don’t actually need to spend very much to get a great machine.

By staying on the lower end of the price range, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars and still find excellent hardware specs.

But what exactly should you be looking for? We’ve rounded up five contenders for the best laptop under $400 that will work for anyone’s needs — whether you are a college student, gamer, or casual web surfer!

In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From 20 Hours Of Research

Editor’s Choice

Out Of Stock Soon
Dell Latitude E7250

7.6

Best Refurb: Dell Latitude E7250

Why is it better?

  • Fastest speeds with solid state drive
  • Excellent performance with i5 CPU
  • Very light weight

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Editor’s Runner Up

ASUS X555DA

7.4

Best New: ASUS X555DA

Why is it better?

  • Great specs for the price point
  • Hybrid drive for faster data speeds
  • Thin, sleek, and lightweight

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30

Sources Researched

450

Reviews Considered

20

Hours researched

55

Products Considered

5

Products Reviewed

Latest Updates & News

Jan 15th, 2019 by Ty Arthur : As with all things in the tech world, since our last update most of our favorite picks have become obsolete! We’ve scoured the web for three brand new choices that offer great specs at budget pricing and switched over to our new criteria scoring model.

Note that the scores below show our three contenders compared to each other, rather than compared to the overall laptop market.

The Lineup At A Glance

Review of the best laptop under $400

1. ASUS X555DA – Best Gaming Laptop Under $400

ASUS X555DA

7.4

  • Lightweight
  • Optical drive and tons of ports
  • Best overall specs
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • No keyboard backlighting or gaming aesthetics

8

Graphical Power

8

Overall Performance

6

Display Quality

8

Storage

7

Extra Features

Just need a solid budget laptop for light gaming but don’t want to drop the money on a unit with a dedicated graphics card? This should be your top pick for the best inexpensive gaming laptop under $400.

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Key features & details

Sleek Style

When staying under $400, you won’t often find anything with gamer-focused bells and whistles like LED bars or RGB keyboards.

That being said, the ASUS X555DA is easily the sleekest, lightest of our contenders with a matte brushed metal design that will be attractive to the gaming crowd.

With HDMI, VGA, and USB ports, you aren’t lacking in options for external gaming displays, either.

Low Price Performance

With 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a newer quad core processor, this ASUS model will play most games at low settings.

This particular unit also features a hybrid storage drive, which is a huge plus over other models.

Why does that matter?

A hybrid drive offers better speed and quieter operation than a standard HDD, but you don’t give up any storage capacity.

Specification
Hardware specifications for ASUS X555DA
ProcessorAMD Quad Core A12-9700P 2.5GHz (Turbo up to 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4
Storage1TB Hybrid HDD (FireCuda)
GraphicsAMD Radeon R7 Integrated Graphics
Display15.6 inch matte display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life8 hours
Weight4.5 lbs
Other FeaturesOptical drive

2. Acer Aspire 3 – College Student Pick

Acer 15.6 Laptop

6.8

  • Excellent Specs
  • High end display
  • Heavier model
  • No optical drive

6

Graphical Power

7

Overall Performance

6

Display Quality

7

Storage

7

Extra Features

Want to save as much money as possible while laptop shopping? When you’ve got a tight budget, this should be your top pick when looking for the best cheap but powerful laptop under $400.

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Key features & details

Low Cost Reliability

Want reliability and performance at a low cost? Acer is frequently the way to go, whether you are looking for an office notebook or a mobile solution for casual gaming.

This version of Acer’s 15.6” laptop line runs cool even when you have multiple programs open, so you can keep it on your lap for hours without discomfort.

While you won’t find any extras like RGB backlighting, this model does include one notable feature missing from many other models —  an RJ-45 jack.

That’s an excellent feature to keep in mind if you prefer to plug in for faster wired Internet at home or the library.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Acer 15.6″ Laptop
ProcessorAMD A-Series Dual-Core Processor A9-9420 (3.0GHz – 3.60GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4
Storage1TB SATA HDD
GraphicsAMD Radeon R5 graphics
Display15.6 inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life5 hours
Weight5.0 lbs

3. Lenovo IdeaPad 320 – Best Optical Drive Choice

Lenovo 130

7.0

  • Great cost to specs ratio
  • Comfortable design
  • Optical drive
  • Slightly less powerful CPU than the ASUS model
  • Lower battery life

7

Graphical Power

7

Overall Performance

6

Display Quality

7

Storage

8

Extra Features

Looking for a solid low cost laptop that can work well as your basic home or work device and can burn CDs or install physical media? For those on a budget, the Lenovo 130 is one of the best budget laptops with a DVD-RW drive.

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Key features & details

Dual Usage On A Budget

With 8GB of DDR4 RAM, you’ll get good performance on most applications by going with the Lenovo 130.

With an optical drive, you can install disc-based programs, burn CDs, or play any physical media games you may have that still require a DVD.

In terms of price to specs, this option sits midway between the other models. With a low overall weight and comfortable design, this is a great option if you need something for work or light gaming.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Lenovo 320
ProcessorIntel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor (1.10GHz – 2.20 GHz)
RAM8GB DDR3
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 500
Display15.6-inch widescreen display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life4.5 hours
Weight4.84 lbs
Other FeaturesDVD-RW Drive

4. ASUS VivoBook 2 in 1 Flip – Best 2-in-1 Laptop under $400

Out Of Stock Soon
ASUS VivoBook 2 in 1 Flip

6.8

  • Hybrid dual use design
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Best screen quality
  • Less RAM than other models
  • Smaller storage capacity

6

Graphical Power

7

Overall Performance

9

Display Quality

4

Storage

8

Extra Features

Want a sleek, light machine that can double as a tablet but won’t break your bank account? The Asus VivoBook 2 is one of the best low cost 2-in-1 laptops available under $400, and it has the best screen quality out of all our picks as well.

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Key features & details

Hybrid Performance

These days, mobile devices frequently overlap with each other, as tablets and laptops start to become interchangeable.

If you want a lightweight device that can swivel 360 degrees to operate as a tablet, the VivoBook should be your pick.

With the Windows 10 OS in a tiny, 2-in-1 package, you get the best of both worlds here for a very reasonable price.

To get those extra features at this low a cost you do have to make a few trade offs, however.

Most notably, you get half the RAM here than with our other contenders, which means less speed when using multiple programs.

There’s also only 64GB of storage space, so you’ll need to save your data online or get an external USB hard drive.

One major element that makes this a better pick than some of our other choices — it has a full HD screen with 1920 resolution.

If you want to stream high resolution 1080p video, this should be your top pick.

Specification
Hardware specifications for ASUS VivoBook 2 in 1 Flip
ProcessorPentium Silver Quad Core N5000 (1.10 GHz to 2.70 GHz)
RAM4GB DDR4
Storage64GB eMMC
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 605
Display14-inch full HD  touchscreen display, 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 S
Battery Life10 hours
Weight2.87 lbs
Other FeaturesHybrid 2-in-1 design

5. Dell Latitude E7250 (Refurbished) – Best Overall

Out Of Stock Soon
Dell Latitude E7250

7.6

  • Very low price
  • Solid state drive for fast data speeds
  • Intel i5 processor
  • Previously owned
  • Smaller screen size

8

Graphical Power

9

Overall Performance

6

Display Quality

8

Storage

7

Extra Features

Hoping to grab a high end machine without dropping a ton of money? If you don’t mind picking a refurbished unit, Dell’s Latitude E7250 offers a fabulous combination of high specs and low price to be the best overall laptop under $400.

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Key features & details

Low Weight, High Performance

To get high end performance and fast responsiveness at this price, you need to get a little creative.

This Latitude model has significantly better specs than anything else in the price range — because it has been refurbished.

While these units have been previously used, they are restored to factory specs, wiped of all former data, and have faulty parts repaired or replaced.

In exchange, you get blazing fast boot up and data speeds thanks to the SSD and Core I5 CPU.

Simply put, you can’t find better performance than what you’ll get with this model without spending a lot more money.

Specification
Hardware specifications for Dell Latitude E7250 (Refurbished)
ProcessorIntel Core i5-5300U (3MB Cache, 2.30GHz to 2.90GHz)
RAM8GB DDR3 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsIntel HD 5500 graphics
Display12.5″ Anti-Glare display, 1366 x 768 pixels resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery Life10 hours
Weight2.76 lbs

Criteria Used For Choosing the best laptop under $400

1. Graphical Power

Even when buying a cheap laptop, it’s still possible to get acceptable frame rates at decent graphics settings if you shop smart and know what you are looking for ahead of time.

In order to stay under the $400 price tag, a dedicated GeForce graphics card normally won’t be a feasible option. That can severely curtail your gaming experience, unfortunately, and prevent you from running anything on high settings.

At this price range, we recommend the AMD Radeon R7 or Intel UHD 620. They won’t compare to something like the GTX 1050 card, but they will get the job done better than older technology.

Keep in mind that both the Radeon and Intel integrated chips are still utilizing shared graphics memory. This means that if you have more RAM, you can expect a better graphical experience.

2. Overall Performance

If you have to save money by getting a lower end graphics chipset, always aim for the most RAM and fastest processor available.

At this price, you can officially ditch anything that only comes with 4GB of RAM out of the box. That just simply won’t work for most games and is too big a corner to cut for saving money.

In the vast majority of cases, we highly recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM with any notebook. The only exception to that rule is if there’s a compelling trade off, like finding a faster 8th gen processor.

In terms of processing speed, it’s usually better to avoid the slower Celeron processors. When you go that low, you can expect Windows 10 updates to take several hours to complete.

3. Display Quality

When it comes to work or gaming, many buyers overlook the resolution of the screen and end up with sub-par viewing performance.

While the graphics card, RAM, and CPU will have the biggest impact on your performance, don’t forget to take into account a laptop’s ability to display crisp and clear visuals!

At this price point, a 1366 resolution will likely be your only option most of the time.

For the best viewing experience (whether playing an FPS or streaming Netflix movies) we recommend shooting for HD 1920 resolutions whenever possible.

Unfortunately, if you want full HD video at 1080p with a 1920 resolution, you’ll have to bump up the price.

4. Storage

With budget model laptops, you need to balance quality and speed versus overall capacity with your disk drive choice.

At this price range, you won’t normally find an a solid state drive unless there is a big trade off — like going refurbished or getting less RAM.

If you intend to stay under $400, we recommend looking for anything with a hybrid drive or a secondary Optane drive for better data retrieval speeds.

5. Extra Features

Processor speed, hard drive style, and RAM shouldn’t be the only features you consider — don’t forget the extras that make or a break a machine at this price range!

Everything from number of ports to overall battery life can radically change whether a computer meets your needs.

To figure out what you need, we recommend you start by asking yourself a few questions. For instance, do you need a card reader for transfering photos off your camera’s SD card?

Do you still need an optical drive for burning DVDs or transfering data off old CD installation discs?

How many USB ports will you need for external devices like a mouse, optical drive, or external monitor? Will you need to buy a USB hub to make sure you have enough ports?

For the best experience, make sure to answer these questions before looking for your top contenders!

Still Can’t Find What You Are Looking For?

A: Check out these awesome resources:

  1. How Often Should You Replace Your Laptop? (And Signs That You Need A New One)
  2. How To Buy A Laptop With Confidence? (A Laptop Buying Guide)
  3. What To Look For When Buying A Gaming Laptop?  (A Trusted Buying Guide)
  4. Cheapest Laptops To Run Every Major Game (Including Fortnite, Fallout..)

Or Let us know on the comment section below/send us a message here.

Resources

  1. Gamerz, ASUS X555DA Review, Gaming Gizmo
  2. Matthew Elliot, Asus VivoBook Flip Overview, PC Mag
Categories Reviews

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