The 5 Best Laptops Under $400 You Can Buy Today

Buying a quality laptop for under $400 might seem daunting, but the good news is – you can still get solid performance and features without breaking the bank in 2023. In this guide, I‘ll review 5 of the top-rated budget notebook models available, to help you find one that best fits your computing needs and savings.

How to Pick the Perfect Budget Laptop

When evaluating sub-$400 laptops, it‘s wise to focus on components that directly impact usability:

Processor (CPU) – Look for an Intel Core i3 or comparable AMD Ryzen CPU. These deliver enough power for browser-based apps, basic creative work and office software. Steer clear of very low-end Celeron chips.

RAM – 8GB is ideal, 4GB still reasonable. RAM strongly dictates how many browser tabs and programs you can juggle smoothly. Upgradeable RAM is a plus.

Storage – 256GB SSDs outperform traditional hard drives. But 128GB SSD or 500GB+ HDD configurations work too. Storage is often upgradable later on.

Display – 1366 x 768 resolution panels are the norm. Premium options with 1920 x 1080 Full HD start beyond $400. Ample 15.6" screen size preferred.

Battery – 5+ hours typical; 8 hours is excellent. Chargers are included; battery seldom replaceable.

Warranties & Support – Cover defects for at least a year. Refurbished models usually get 90 days warranty. Support forums and online help guides prove invaluable with budget laptops.

As long as a sub-$400 machine has decent specs and build quality aligned with the above, it should reliably handle typical needs – web access, basic content creation, video calls etc. Just don‘t expect buttery smooth 4K video editing or the latest 3D gaming!

Next, let‘s get into this year‘s 5 finest laptops available at the under $400 price point.

1. Best Overall: ASUS VivoBook 15

ASUS VivoBook 15


  • Classy, compact, lightweight design
  • Respectable 10th Gen Intel Core i3 processor
  • Fast 128GB SSD storage standard
  • Very affordable for specs


  • Display not the brightest
  • Mediocre battery life

In terms of value for money, the vivobook 15 is tough to beat with a latest-gen Intel Core i3 CPU, 8GB RAM and a quality SSD packed into asolid 3.75 lb chassis.

The fast 128GB SSD out of the box improves boot up times and workflow responsivenesscompared to laptops still relying on old school hard disk drives. Connectivity from the 3 USB and HDMI ports is quite versatile for a budget device.

The 15.6” display may only be HD (1366 x 768) resolution and 220 nits dim, but colors and visibility remain adequate for indoor use. Just don’t expect great outdoors performance. At this price, the ASUS makes a well-balanced pick combining respectable specs with reasonable build quality.

2. Best Budget: Acer Aspire 1

Acer Aspire 1


  • Excellent value for cost
  • Large 15.6" Full HD display
  • Respectable Celeron processor
  • Over 9 hours battery duration


  • Merely 64GB storage (expandable)
  • Plastic body scuffs easily

It’s incredible how much laptop you can currently get for just over $200. The Acer Aspire 1 packs a big 15.6-inch 1080p screen paired with a Intel Celeron N4020 dual-core and 4GB RAM.

Although not a processing powerhouse, the Aspire 1 handles essentials like web access, documents and media playback without complaint. The 64GB eMMC flash storage is on the smaller side but can be upgraded later with a 2.5” hard drive or SSD.

A plastic construction keeps weight at a travel-friendly 3.6 pounds. Just expect minor scuff marks through day to day use. Overall for shoppers on a tight budget, the Aspire 1 brings best-in-class value.

3. Best 2-in-1: 2020 Dell Inspiron

2020 Dell Inspiron


  • 360 degree hinge for tablet use
  • Respectable 10th Gen Intel i3 CPU
  • 128GB SSD for improved responsiveness
  • Touchscreen with pen support


  • Heavy at 4.2 lb weight
  • Average battery runtime

The versatile 2020 Dell Inspiron 3000 2-in-1 lets you conveniently switch between traditional laptop and tablet modes thanks to its 360 degree flip-and-fold hinge. The responsive 11.6” HD touchscreen display enables tapping, sliding and drawing with the included active pen.

Under the hood, a latest-generation 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor and 8GB RAM competently handle everyday work, web and content creation tasks. For storage, a roomy 128GB SSD strikes the right balance between speed and capacity.

Connectivity from the USB 3.1, USB 2.0, HDMI and networking ports sufficiently meets most wired and wireless accessory needs. At just over 4 pounds, the Inspiron is reasonably portable but noticeably heftier than non-convertible models.

Altogether, the Inspiron brings versatility and quality engineering all for under $400. Shoppers wanting flexibility from their notebook should give it hard look.

4. Best for College: Acer Aspire 5

Acer Aspire 5


  • Excellent AMD Ryzen 3 processor
  • 512GB SSD storage capacity
  • 15.6” Full HD display
  • Great value for college students


  • Mediocre battery life
  • Case picks up fingerprints

College assignments and streaming media are no match for the Aspire 5 thanks to AMD’s brisk Ryzen 3 3200U CPU and Radeon graphics. The dual core, 2.6 GHz chip keeps up with demanding multitasking while the integrated Vega 3 graphics smoothly handle 4K video playback.

Storage is abundantly covered by a roomy 512GB solid state drive – enough for countless documents, presentations, music and more. Additional highlights include loud stereo speakers, an HD webcam and backlit keyboard.

With a lightweight 3.97 lb chassis plus 10+ hours of use per charge, the Aspire 5 makes for a reliable on-the-go companion around campus. It‘s an unbeatable value aimed at academic budgets.

5. Best Refurbished: Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air MD760LL


  • Premium Apple build quality
  • Speedy 128GB SSD storage
  • Vibrant 13.3” 1440 x 900 display
  • macOS praised for security


  • Older dual-core 2015 processor
  • Just 4GB RAM

Although it originally released in 2015, the mid-range 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 CPU and macOS still competently handle everyday work in 2023. Smooth system performance is aided by a zippy solid state drive and intelligent power optimization.

The bright 13.3-inch screen supports an ample 1440 x 900 resolution for fitting more menus and documents without scrolling – an improved experience over basic 1366 x 768 panels. Stereo speakers pump out surprisingly robust sound while the backlit keyboard enables typing in dim settings.

Being manufacturer refurbished, Amazon provides a 90 warranty against defects. But longevity could be a concern with the older internals compared to new budget Windows laptops. However, buyers wanting quality engineering alongside access to Apple’s acclaimed macOS platform get a compelling option here.

What to Know Before Buying a Sub-$400 Laptop

While the above deals prove you can certainly get a capable, long-lasting computer on a tight budget, there are some smart shopping practices worth keeping in mind while deal hunting:

Read Reviews – Don‘t just glance at the rating. Thoroughly read neutral reviews highlighting owners‘ first-hand usage experience – positive and negative. This gives the best indicator of real-world performance.

Research Refurbs – Buying refurbished translates to big savings, but shorter included warranties. Verify covering defects for at least 90 days. Inspect the condition upon delivery before use.

Check Seller Ratings – Stick with highly rated sellers boasting at least a 95% positive lifetime feedback score from thousands of buyers. This minimizes getting stuck with fraudulent listings or shady support.

Look for Upgrades – Many budget laptop components like RAM, storage and wifi can be user upgraded after purchase fairly cheaply. This prolongs viability as needs grow.

Extend your Budget – Consider bumping up to the $500 or $600 mark if possible. The improved hardware often proves worth the extra investment, providing peace of mind and added years of usable service life.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is with some diligent shopping, you can find a laptop under $400 delivering solid performance for basic everyday computing – whether optimizing cost as a budget buyer, college student or just needing an inexpensive second household computer.

Models like the top-rated ASUS VivoBook, Acer Aspire and Dell Inspiron exemplify well-balanced portable PCs blending capable specs, good displays and lightweight builds at reasonable price points. They effortlessly manage basics like internet access, office work, video chat plus light entertainment.

Just be realistic with any sub-$400 notebook‘s capabilities out the box. Tasks like demanding 3D games and graphics work will require more expensive components down the road. But add some upgraded RAM or SSD yourself over time, and these budget picks often surprise with their lasting versatility over 3+ years.

When shopping this affordable segment, let your specific needs dictate priorities rather than fixating on rated specs alone. And never hesitate reaching out with any personal questions!

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