The best laptop under $400 don’t necessarily have to make too many sacrifices when it comes to quality and performance. We’d all have the latest and greatest Ultrabooks if we could afford them, but lots of us can’t — or just don’t want to — hand over thousands of dollars for a computer.
Fortunately, there are many choices for the budget-conscious laptop buyer that still provide a great PC experience. The Surface Go 3 from Microsoft is a versatile, affordable 2-in-1 device that is also one of the best laptop under 400. There are a bunch of other great cheap laptops that we’ve rounded up here.
Surface Go 3
- Premium design with rear stand
- Performance upgrade over Go 2 is welcome
- Outstanding display with inking capabilities
- Optional LTE connectivity
- IR camera for Windows HelloReasons to avoid
- Pentium models are underpowered
- Type Cover and Surface Pen sold separately
The Surface Go 3 might be tiny, but it’s a rather versatile laptop with enough performance from an optional Core m3 processor (CPU) to get through most productivity work. Baseline models start with an Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU, which is still enough power for casual use.
Compared to the Surface Go 2, the Go 3 is nearly identical save for the performance upgrade. Keep in mind that Instant On capabilities, thinner bezel, and larger display have carried over from the Go 2.
Models with Pentium Gold 6500Y CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB eMMC storage start at about best laptop under $400. Scaling up, a model with Core i3-10100Y CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD costs about $630. Add LTE and the price jumps up to $730.
This is a typical 10.5-inch Surface display with 3:2 aspect ratio, 1920×1280 resolution, touch functionality, and Surface Pen compatibility. Thanks to the 2-in-1 form, you can use the device as a tablet for drawing and writing. Attaching a Type Cover with touchpad and keyboard turns it into a notebook with the rear stand deployed.
You get front- and rear-facing cameras, Wi-Fi 6, and dual 2W stereo speakers. Ports include USB-C, 3.5mm audio, Surface Connect, and a microSD card reader. This is one of the best laptop under $400 for anyone who is always on the move and doesn’t need a particularly powerful PC. Models ship from the factory with Windows 11.
The best laptop under 400: Powered by AMD: HP Laptop 14z.
- HP Laptop 14zReasons to buy
- Excellent AMD performance
- Above-average IPS display
- Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
- USB-C and HDMI
- SD card readerReasons to avoid
- Display still not particularly bright
- No keyboard backlight
- No fingerprint reader
HP has been on a roll, and its more budget-conscious laptop have come a long way. Just check out the HP Pavilion Aero, which Executive Editor Daniel Rubino awarded full marks as the best mid-range AMD laptop available today. HP’s standard “Laptop” lineup lives just below the Pavilion line, and the HP Laptop 14z packs in a whole lot of features for less than best laptop under $400. It even has AMD Ryzen 5000 Mobile CPUs.
Prices start at about $350 for a model with Ryzen 3 CPU and HD display, but for a few dollars more, you can get a way better configuration.
For about $490, I configured a model with Ryzen 5 5500U CPU with six cores and 12 threads, 8GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200MHz RAM, 128GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (upgradeable all the way to 1TB if money allows), and a 14-inch 1920×1080 (FHD) IPS display. Not having to deal with an inferior TN panel or HD resolution is important when checking out the best laptop under $400.
The laptop can be upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 for free, and port selection is good at this price. You get USB-C, two USB-A, HDMI 1.4b, an SD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Check out our HP Laptop 14z review for more information.
Lots of Features: ASUS Vivobook 15 — 15.6-inch.
- ASUS Vivobook 15 — 15.6-inchReasons to buy
- Backlit keyboard with 1.4mm travel
- FHD display
- Lots of ports
- Fingerprint reader
- Decent performance from Core i3Reasons to avoid
- Battery life doesn’t impress
- Slow SSD
- Display isn’t overly colorful
I recently reviewed the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 — another ultra-budget laptop — and compared it to the ASUS Vivobook 15. They’re both 15-inch laptops with Windows 10 in S mode (which can be switched easily to normal Windows 10 Home), and they both have a similar price. However, the Vivobook 15 has some extra features that you won’t find in the IdeaPad.
With the ASUS laptop, you’ll be looking at a 1920×1080 (FHD) display with a thin bezel. The chassis is relatively thin, but it has plenty of ports. You get USB-C, HDMI, microSD card reader, three USB-A, and a 3.5mm audio jack. The keyboard has decent travel distance at 1.4mm, and it has a backlight to help with working after hours. A fingerprint reader is built into the touchpad for some added security.
Performance from the 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU will handle light productivity work without much issue, especially with 8GB of RAM. The 128GB SSD isn’t particularly large, but for the price, it’s easier to overlook. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi 5 is the standard here. This is still one of the all-purpose best laptop under $400 you’ll find.
In conclusion, the best laptop under 400 is the Asus VivoBook. It has a sleek design, a powerful processor, and a backlit keyboard. It’s also lightweight and has a long battery life. If you’re looking for a great laptop under 400, the Asus VivoBook is the way to go.