The $400 price point is where things start to get interesting. The best laptops in this price range start to offer better performance and the ability to do more than their cheaper counterparts.
Faster CPUs with stronger cores and snappier graphics options mean that productivity can be done easier, faster, and with fewer slowdowns. Even gaming isn’t out of the question.
The choice for a $400 laptop may be a difficult one to make. At this price point, there are many options to choose from, but not all of them are worth your hard-earned cash.
Whether you are a student looking for a budget laptop to study on, a professional who needs a precise tool for work, or looking for a portable gaming laptop on a budget, there’s something for you here.
Our best personal laptops list today removes any confusion, and we give you the best laptops under $400 for your usage, and for your money.
- Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars In a Nutshell
- What to Expect From a Cheap $400 Laptop in 2021
- The Verdict
- A Buyers Guide to Help Pick a Great Laptop at this Price
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Best Laptops Under 400 Dollars In a Nutshell
Best for Students
|Dell Inspiron 14-3080|
Best for Storage
|CHUWI LapBook Pro|
Best for Battery Life
|HP Pavilion 15-dw0083wm|
|HP Chromebook – 11a-nb0013dx|
What to Expect From a Cheap $400 Laptop in 2021
Most laptops in our budget range will be suitable for internet browsing, productivity, video conferencing, photo editing, light to medium video editing workloads, and spreadsheeting/PowerPoint presentations.
Some of our more higher-end laptop models will include more powerful CPUs, fast SSDs, and graphics cards that will make them suitable for light to mid-range gaming, even being capable of running some more graphically demanding games at playable frame rates.
This extra horsepower also means that GPU-accelerated video editing and encoding, or heavier Photoshop workloads are possible.
Most of our choices have the ability to have their RAM, and Hard Drive/SSD storage upgraded to larger capacities as well to suit your storage and multi-tasking needs.
1. Best Laptop Overall – HP 14-DK1003DX
Coming in as our overall best $400 laptop, the HP 14-DK1003DX comes with a snappy, power-efficient dual-core Athlon Silver 3050U processor. It’s Vega 2 graphics offer decent performance for gaming, as well as a nice bump for GPU-accelerated rendering and editing tasks.
A 128GB M.2 SSD (upgradable) provides fast boot times and near-instant opening of applications. Helping all of this along is 4GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable to 32GB), ensuring responsive multitasking.
Design and Display
HP designed the 14-DK to be thin and classy, with subtle, robust-looking aesthetics. Its 14” 1366×768 Anti-Glare, WLED-backlit display takes up almost the entire size of its half of the laptop.
It is designed with thin bezels to minimize its overall size, saving space and making it a more compact laptop overall.
Being just 19.8mm thick when closed, and weighing a mere 3.33 pounds, portability is great. Battery life of up to 8 hours makes sure you’re always ready when on the go.
An expandable 2.5” drive bay for extra storage is also available, though you’ll need this part as well, to connect the drive.
Featuring a Realtek Wi-Fi module, with 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 5 and MU-MIMO compatibility, your wireless internet connectivity experience is guaranteed to be sharp and reliable.
Bluetooth 4.2 comes as standard, for easy pairing with phones, audio devices, and cameras alike. A USB 3.1 gen 1 Type-C port, and 2x USB 3.1 gen 1 Type-A ports are available to handle high-speed data transfers between devices and external storage.
If you want to connect to an external display, there’s an HDMI port. Also included is a Gigabit LAN connector, for when wireless isn’t an option, and a headphone/mic combo jack.
HP’s choice of operating system for the 14-DK1003DX is Windows 10 Home in S Mode. Boasting higher security, faster boot times, increased responsiveness, and added protection against malware exploits.
Though it is a bit restrictive. This can be changed to regular Windows 10 should you choose to opt-out of S Mode.
HP also includes their BIOS Protection, JumpStart, and Support Assistant software for added security and ease of use. Other notable features include a built-in webcam with a digital mic, stereo speakers for music lovers, and an SD card reader.
The HP 14-DK1003DX gets our rating nod for the overall best laptop under $400 for its all-around flexible performance, solid design, and good features at a reasonable price. For the cost, this really does represent a good deal.
Its Athlon Silver 3050U with Vega 2 graphics and 4GB of DDR4 RAM are enough for multitasking, productivity, and some light gaming.
Esports titles and lighter games should all have no problems running at playable frame rates on this laptop, albeit not at the highest and with the settings turned down.
The 2.5” bay is nice, though we wish HP would have included the necessary ribbon to make it easier to add more storage.
If you feel like you want your laptop to be a little more impressive than this excellent option, you should maybe have a look at the top $500 laptops.
2. Fastest Laptop – HP 14-DK1025WM
Our pick for the fastest $400 laptop is the HP 14-DK1025WM. Featuring a strong Ryzen 3 3250U processor, with 2 cores and 4 threads that boost up to 3.5 GHz.
Vivid Radeon Vega 3 Graphics are paired with the CPU, for solid gaming performance and fast GPU-accelerated rendering and encoding.
RAM comes in the way of 4GB of snappy DDR4 (upgradeable to 32GB), helping you stay on top of multi-tasking. Storage is a spacious 1TB 5400 RPM HDD, along with an empty M.2 slot to add in an SSD, for an even snappier response.
Design and Display
This laptop is modeled with class, the silver-trimmed-in-black aesthetics look professional and tasteful. Its 14” 1366×768 Anti-Glare, WLED-backlit display provides vivid visuals and great color reproduction.
Its thin-bezel design maximizes screen real-estate and helps shed unnecessary bulk. Being just 19.8mm thick, and weighing a measly 3.31 lbs, portability is made easy. With up to 9 hours’ worth of battery life, you can be ready for any task at hand.
An 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 5 and MU-MIMO capable wireless adapter comes standard and ensures quick speeds and reliable connections to any wireless access port.
Included also is full Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, for seamless communications to mobile devices, wireless audio, and other external media alike.
A USB 3.1 Type-C, and 2 USB 3.1 Type-A high-bandwidth connectors, with speeds of up to 5 Gbps are there to handle all your external storage, data transfer, and charging needs.
An HDMI also comes standard for connections to external displays. Also included is a Gigabit LAN connector, and a headphone/mic combo jack.
The HP 14-DK1025WM comes with the full Windows 10 Home, which is less restrictive than its S Mode counterpart. This gives you the freedom to install whichever apps you want, without being limited to the Windows Store like you would in S Mode.
Pre-installed maintenance apps include HP’s Connection Optimizer, BIOS Protection, Audio Switch, JumpStart, and Support Assistant.
For added security, HP also includes McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus, for better protection against unwanted software and threats.
For video conferencing, HP’s TrueVision HD Camera provides a high-quality integrated solution. Other notable features for this laptop computer include an integrated digital microphone, stereo speakers, and an SD card reader.
The HP 14-DK1025WM is the best laptop under 400 dollars from a speed perspective because of its stellar performance at this price.
The Ryzen 3 3250U really packs a punch, and its Radeon Vega 3 graphics are surprisingly good, managing to run even more modern games at playable frame rates.
An expandable M.2 SSD slot is a massive plus as well, to further speed things up.
Its sleek and gorgeous design also gets the nod from us in the laptop aesthetics department. We only wish an SSD was included, but maybe that’s too much to ask for at this price point.
3. Best Laptop for Students – Dell Inspiron 14-3080
Powering the Inspiron 14-3480 is a dual-core with Hyper-threading, Intel Pentium Gold 5405U processor, running at 2.30 GHz, providing efficient but snappy performance.
On the graphics side of things, we have Intel UHD 610 Graphics to keep visuals sharp and accurate, and to accelerate photo and light video editing.
4GB of quick DDR4 RAM provides the multi-tasking power you need, and can be upgraded all the way to 32GB should you need more. Rounding things out is a 128GB NVMe SSD that ensures near-instant opening of apps and programs.
Design and Display
HP took a minimalistic approach to the Inspiron 14-3480’s design. Its Satin Black color is subtle, but tasteful, even if it is a little basic.
The laptop’s display comes in the way of a 14” 1366×768 LED-backlit, anti-glare HD panel. It’s big enough for a detailed display of text and images without compromising on portability.
This laptop maybe a little heavier than its competition, coming in at 3.68 lbs, and a little bit thicker at 21mm; but that’s to fit a larger battery which, by the way, is rated at up to 9 hours of use.
To keep you connected on the go, an 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 wireless card is included, for quick and reliable connections to any access point.
Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity ensures easy pairing to phones, audio-devices, or cameras. 2 USB 3.1 ports capable of speeds of up to 5 Gbps are available for fast data transfer between drives, along with 1 regular USB 2.0 port. 1 HDMI 1.4b port covers connectivity to external displays, should you need to do a presentation.
Also included are a headphone/mic combo jack, and a Gigabit LAN port.
Dell has opted to go with Windows 10 Home in S Mode for the Inspiron 14-3480. While slightly more restrictive than the full version of Windows, it offers faster and more streamlined performance and higher security.
Included in the software bundle is Dell’s Mobile Connect, which helps greatly with smartphone integration and connectivity.
Dell’s premium support is there should you encounter a problem with your device. For video calls and conferencing, a 720p HD webcam is integrated above the display, along with a digital microphone. Last but not least, we have an SD Card reader.
The Dell Inspiron 14-3480 wins our best laptop under $400 for students category. It is a great option for school and college students who need a reliable, inexpensive laptop, with long battery life, and solid performance.
Its 14-inch design is a nice mix of screen real estate and portability and its snappy Pentium Gold CPUs is quite up to the task of productivity and college work.
Should you want to add more storage to the laptop, there is a free 2.5” bay inside for an added hard disk or SSD.
4. Best Storage – CHUWI LapBook Pro
Featuring the latest Gemini-Lake Intel Celeron N4100 CPU, with 4 cores and 4 threads, the CHUWI LapBook Pro laptop is a solid performer. Backing up the processor and providing the visuals is Intel’s UHD 600 graphics, good enough for photo and light video editing.
A whopping 8GB of DDR4 RAM makes multi-tasking an absolute breeze and gives you the freedom to open many, many Chrome tabs, among other uses. For storage, we have a 256GB M.2 SSD, which can be upgraded up to 2TB of size.
Design and Display
The LapBook Pro’s body is designed out of an Aluminum and Magnesium alloy that looks premium and robust and provides sturdiness and stability to the whole laptop.
Its 1920×1080 Full HD, IPS panel display boasts a 100% color gamut for accurate color reproduction and a 90% screen-to-body ratio with super-thin bezels.
Coming in razer-thin at only 13.4mm thick, and weighing just 3.15 lbs, the LapBook Pro’s portability is outstanding. Battery life is rated up to 8-hours, which we think is amazing for a budget laptop that’s so thin.
CHUWI has managed to stuff a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 card inside, for reliable connections and fast browsing speeds. Bluetooth connectivity comes in the form of Bluetooth 4.0, an older, but still perfectly adequate for pairing with smartphones and audio devices alike.
1 USB 3.0 Type-C, and 1 USB 3.0 Type-A cover your data transfer needs. Also available is a mini-HDMI 2.0 port, for connecting to external displays, and a headphone/mic combo jack.
CHUWI’s choice of operating system is the full Windows 10 Home, which gives you great freedom of choice when it comes to installing applications. The LapBook Pro comes free of any other pre-installed software to give you the choice of what you want.
A backlit keyboard is one of its most stand-out features, and greatly helps when typing in low light scenarios.
Despite having razor-thin bezels, the LapBook Pro comes with a webcam for video conferencing needs, as well as 2 digital microphones for stereo recording. An SD Card reader is also included.
The CHUWI LapBook Pro wins our top laptop storage pick due to its ability to fit up to a 2TB SSD, but that’s not its only highlight. Its Aluminum and Magnesium alloy body is stylish and smart.
Coming with a gorgeous 1080p Full HD IPS display, ultra-slim design, and backlit keyboard make this laptop stand out from other options on the market.
5. Best Battery Life – HP Pavilion 15-dw0083wm
Powering our winner for the best battery life is the power-efficient Intel Pentium Silver N5000. Boasting 4 cores, with burst speeds up to 2.7 GHz, it’s a fitting balance between performance and efficiency.
Driving the laptop’s display is Intel’s UHD 605 Graphics, for sharp visuals and quicker editing exports. The 4GB of DDR4 RAM makes switching between tasks near-instant, and 128GB of quick SSD storage ensures snappy application response and lightning-fast boot times.
Design and Display
HP’s Red and Silver color scheme really stands out, and certainly makes a cool first impression. Aesthetics are fairly minimalistic but still stylish. The spacious 15.6” 1366×768 HD WLED-backlit display provides a great amount of workspace and improves visibility when working on smaller fonts and texts.
While not the thinnest laptop on our list, 22.8mm thick is still respectable, given the larger battery that enables a longer 10-hour battery life. Weight comes in at just under 2 Kg, not bad for a laptop of this size.
Wireless connectivity is robustly provided via a Realtek 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 5 capable wireless card. This is paired with Bluetooth 4.2 and makes smartphone, wireless audio, and camera connectivity quick and hassle-free.
For USB ports, we have a Gen 3.1 Type-C connector (data only), and 2 Gen 3.1 Type-A connectors that are capable of up to 5 Gbps transfer speeds.
An HDMI port is also located on the upper left side of the laptop, for external display connectivity. A Gigabit LAN port is also available, should you want a more stable, or faster connection than wireless can give. Last, but not least, is the headphone/mic combo jack.
The HP Pavilion 15-dw0083wm comes standard with Windows 10 Home in S mode as the operating system, giving you a more streamlined and secure experience.
Though should you want to opt-out of S mode for more freedom, the process is fairly easy. Included in the software bundle are; McAfee Livesafe antivirus, for more secure browsing, and a 1 month trial to Microsoft Office 365.
For your video conferencing needs an HP TrueVision HD Camera with an integrated dual array digital microphone gets the job done with ease. Other notable features include stereo speakers, and an SD card reader.
The HP Pavilion 15-dw0083wm is the clear winner of our best battery life category for budget laptops under 400 bucks, with its long battery life rate 0f up to 10 hours of use. HP’s approach to styling certainly caught our eye, but may not be for everyone.
This laptop’s processor packs a good punch for productivity and light editing, but its graphics may not run games that well.
While a bit larger and bulkier than our other picks, we think some sacrifices are worth it for extra longevity and recommend this to those who need just that.
6. Best Chromebook Under $400 – HP Chromebook – 11a-nb0013dx
The HP Chromebook 11 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core, with speeds of up to 2.4 GHz, giving it adequate performance. 4GB of DDR3L ensures that you can multitask with ease and that apps are responsive and quick.
Intel’s HD 500 Graphics helps expedite photo editing and light video encoding. Storage is only 32GB of eMMC flash storage, so you’ll need an external drive for larger files.
Design and Display
The HP Chromebook 11’s design is pretty basic. It’s minimalistic, small, and compact. It’s 11.6” 1366×768 WLED-backlit screen is designed to be energy-efficient for longer battery life.
This everyday laptop may be small, but that helps with portability. Being just 12 by 8 inches square, and weighing in at a measly 3 lbs, you can take it anywhere with ease. With battery life rated for up to 10 hours, longevity isn’t an issue.
For internet connectivity, an 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi 5 wireless card provides fast and stable performance when connecting to wireless access points. Bluetooth 4.2 also comes standard for seamless connections to other devices.
A USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.2 capabilities and 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A connectors provide both data transfer, and the ability to hook up an external display.
Being a Chromebook, the choice of operating system is of course Chrome OS. It is a lightweight, fast, and secure operating system that receives regular updates from Google.
Within the operating system, you’ll find access to all the Google apps you’re familiar with, including Chrome, Gmail, Docs, Play, Slides, Notes, Keep, Drive, and others.
Also featured is an HP Wide Vision HD Camera, with a camera shutter, and integrated dual array digital microphone, for all of your video conferencing and webcam-related needs. Other notable features include stereo speakers, and a MicroSD card reader.
The HP Chromebook 11a-nb0013dx is the best Chromebook for under $400, because of its streamlined simplicity, long battery life, robust design, and snappy performance. For simple productivity on the go, we can think of no better choice, this is the best of the bunch.
Though these are not the cheapest laptops, the $400 price point has some stellar deals and great performers. With how fast tech is maturing, laptop PC performance you wouldn’t have thought possible for this price point previously is now up for grabs at reasonable prices.
Having waded through all the good laptops under 400 dollars on the market today, we believe these are the best choices for their respective categories.
Each choice has been meticulously examined by us to give you the most bang for your buck.
We hope that you’ve found our best laptops list helpful and that it has pointed you in the right direction to purchase the top option for your needs and get real value for money.
A Buyers Guide to Help Pick a Great Laptop at this Price
Below is a helpful section to guide you on what to look for when wanting to buy a new laptop at this price point. We’ll keep it short and sweet.
The processor is the brain of any system and does most of the computing work. They are rated in frequency (GHz), and faster is usually better, but it’s always good to check online comparisons and ratings, as not all cores are created equally.
At this laptop price point, you’ll want to opt for either an AMD Ryzen 3, Athlon Silver, or Intel Pentium Gold processor for the best performance.
This is where all the data that the CPU needs to access immediately is stored. More is usually better since more RAM capacity gives you the ability to have more applications open simultaneously, and makes switching between them snappier.
Most of our picks come with DDR4 RAM, which is faster and more power-efficient compared to DDR3L. Laptop computers with upgradeable memory slots are preferred.
Storage is the place where all your data is saved permanently. There are different types of storage in varying sizes and speeds. They are, from fastest to slowest, NVMe SSDs, SATA SSDs, Hard Drives, and finally eMMC flash storage.
Ideally, you want an SSD, be it NVMe or SATA, as these offer the best boot times and most responsive performance when opening and switching between applications. Though a hard drive may be preferable if you’re storing many large files.
Many of the best laptops in this price range will have expandable 2.5” drive bays for hard drives or SSDs, and their M.2 SSDs can be changed out for larger capacities, so you can have the best of both worlds should you choose.
Sizing and resolution are the most important factors for choosing a display for a laptop computer. Most options in the price range offer 1366×768 LED-backlit HD displays, which are adequate enough for most general use cases. Sizing is also important when taking portability into consideration.
Do you want a bigger 15.6-inch display at the cost of being bulkier? Or would you rather get a smaller 14” display that’s lighter, smaller, and easier to carry? Or an even smaller 11.6-inch model? Everyone has their preference.
For photo and video editors, it’s recommended to go with an IPS panel display with color gamut as close to 100% as possible, though this may be hard to find in this price range.
Adding to our previous point, monitor size will often dictate how large and heavy a laptop will be. There are exceptions to this rule though, as some budget laptops come with ultra-thin bezels to cut down on overall footprint, and are made with lighter weight materials.
Going with a larger laptop will give you more monitor real-estate, and possibly more battery life, but at the cost of being bigger, heavier, and possibly more fatiguing to carry around all day.
Smaller budget laptops may sacrifice battery life, screen size, and even some port connectivity in pursuit of portability and weight savings. We recommend you try and find a balance between the two.
Operating Systems (OS)
Microsoft Windows 10
The most popular choice of OS, Windows 10 is on practically every device outside of Chromebooks and Macs. It’s versatile, stable, fast, and almost everyone knows how to navigate its UI.
Windows 10 is regularly updated by Microsoft and has a fairly robust built-in antivirus and firewall for added security.
Windows S Mode
S Mode is Microsoft’s cut down, more restrictive, and security-minded version of Windows.
While it may be a bit faster than the full version, you can only install apps that have been verified by Microsoft through the Windows Store, and can only use the Edge browser. Opting out for the full version is a fairly easy process, however.
Chrome OS comes with all Chromebooks, hence the “Chromebook” designation. It’s a streamlined, resource-efficient, simple operating system that is designed for affordable productivity laptops.
Chrome OS gives you access to all Google’s native applications, as well as the ability to download apps from the play store. It receives regular, frequent updates from Google to ensure tight security.
Budget laptop PCs in this price range can be of use to students, business workers, office workers, professionals, and even budget gamers.
While only the higher spec’d laptops on this list are capable of gaming at playable frame rates, all are perfectly suited to productivity tasks, multimedia, photo and video editing, and video conferencing and presentations.
I hope that you found the reports on the top laptops under $400 useful, but if you happen to decide you want to spend a little more or less, you should check out our wide range of laptop reviews here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best laptop for $350?
The Acer Aspire 5 is arguably the best laptop at this price. It comes with a snappy Ryzen 3 3200U with Radeon graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a backlit keyboard, and a Full HD IPS display.
Is a $400 laptop worth it?
A $400 laptop will provide acceptable performance for day-to-day use, productivity, and light editing and gaming. However, it may fall short for more intensive tasks.
If you don’t need a lot of computing power, a $400 laptop is worth it for you. But if you want a laptop that can handle more intense applications or gaming, it may be a better idea to save up some more.
What’s the best gaming laptop under 400 dollars?
We have written a whole article about the best reasonably priced gaming laptops for under $400 which you can find by clicking the link.
James Cosgrove has been the lead writer at GizmoFusion since 2019. He has a huge passion for the latest technology and gadgets. He loves to talk and write about this interest. He hopes that visitors to the website will find his reports informative and helpful when it comes to making the best choices for their needs.