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The 4 Best Laptops Under $400 - Black Friday 2022 Reviews

Best Laptops Under $400

Shopping for a laptop under $400 can be challenging. Most laptops in this price range are Chromebooks, which are great options for simple tasks like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback. However, they might not be powerful or versatile enough for professionals, especially those who need to run regular Windows x86 applications. That said, you can find some Windows laptops as long as you don't mind compromising on some features, like a dimmer display or lack of biometric login.

We've bought and tested more than 60 laptops. Below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops under $400 you can get. See our picks for the best laptops under $300, the best laptops under $500, and the best Chromebooks.

  1. Best Laptop Under $400

    The best laptop under $400 we've tested is the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020), a well-built 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a thin and light design. You can get it with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 processor, both of which are powerful enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS. It has outstanding battery life, as a full charge gets you a little over twelve hours of light use, which is plenty for a typical school or workday. It has one USB-A and two USB-C ports; both USB-Cs can output a video signal to an external display and support charging.

    As for the built-in display, it's decently sharp and gets reasonably bright for use in most indoor settings. It's touch-sensitive since it's a 2-in-1, but it doesn't support pen input, which might be disappointing to those who like taking handwritten notes. The keyboard feels comfortable to type on all day, and the touchpad is small but responsive. The main downside is that you can only get a maximum of 4GB of memory, so you may experience some slowdowns if you have too many applications running simultaneously. By the way, if you've never used Chrome OS before, it's best to check that you can do all of your work through a Chrome browser or Android apps because it doesn't support x86 Windows applications.

    See our review

  2. Best Windows Laptop Under $400

    If you find Chrome OS limiting or prefer working on Windows, get the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) instead. It's a portable 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a battery that lasts a little over eleven hours of light productivity or nine hours of video playback. It sports a 14-inch display that looks sharp and provides just enough room for some light multitasking. It isn't a particularly bright screen; it's bright enough for most indoor settings but not well-lit environments or outdoors in broad daylight. You get a spacious and comfortable keyboard, a touchpad with decent tracking, and a wide port selection.

    Performance-wise, the 6-core AMD Ryzen 3 4300U CPU is powerful enough to handle most light productivity tasks like text processing, web browsing, and video playback. For Windows, 4GB of memory is acceptable but not ideal, so if you can afford to spend a little more, it's best to go up to 8GB, as you'll get a much smoother experience when multitasking. The memory isn't user-upgradeable, but the storage drive is, meaning you can get a cheaper storage configuration and upgrade it yourself later on. This laptop may be hard to find as it was first released in 2020 and has been discontinued. If you have trouble finding one, there's a slightly more expensive 2021 model with newer and more powerful AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs on Amazon, which we haven't tested but expect to perform similarly.

    See our review

  3. Best 2-In-1 Tablet Under $400

    Our pick for the best 2-in-1 tablet under $400 is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021), a 13.3-inch Chrome OS tablet with a kickstand and a detachable keyboard. It features a stunning OLED display that produces vibrant colors and deep, inky blacks, making it great for watching videos, TV shows, and movies. It gets bright enough for use in well-lit settings, though not quite outdoors in broad daylight, as its glossy finish struggles with reflections. The battery lasts nearly 11 hours of light productivity or eight hours of video playback, and it charges over USB-C, so there's no need to carry a proprietary charger.

    Unfortunately, the keyboard isn't particularly pleasant to type on as it feels cramped. It's fine for some quick emails but not ideal for typing a long document or paper. Also, while the speakers get reasonably loud, they lack bass and sound unnatural, so it's best to use headphones. The price is sometimes slightly above $400; however, it goes on sale often, and of course, you'll have to pay a bit more if you want to upgrade the memory to 8GB or increase the storage space.

    See our review

  4. Best Windows 2-In-1 Tablet Under $400

    If you prefer a 2-in-1 tablet that runs on Windows, get the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021). It's essentially a miniaturized Microsoft Surface Pro 8 (2021), a Windows tablet with a built-in kickstand and a detachable keyboard. You can open the kickstand to a wide angle to take notes or draw, and you can detach the keyboard to save space, which is handy in tight places like a bus or airplane. It's compatible with any Microsoft Pen Protocol stylus, though you have to purchase the stylus separately, and the same goes for the type cover keyboard. As for the keyboard itself, the scissor switches have a lot of travel and tactility, but because this is a very compact device, it feels a little cramped.

    The display is amazing for a budget device. It's sharp, colorful, and gets bright enough to combat glare in most settings. The thick bezels look pretty outdated; however, they give you a place to hold onto in tablet mode. They also house an outstanding webcam and a Windows Hello IR camera for quick logins through facial recognition. The Intel Pentium Gold CPU is fine for simple web browsing, text formatting, and video playback, but editing 4k videos or playing AAA games is out of the question. The battery lasts about seven hours of light productivity, so you might need to bring the charger around.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Acer Chromebook 315 (2020): The Acer Chromebook 315 (2020) is a cheaper alternative to the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020). It has longer battery life than the Lenovo, but its Intel Celeron processors aren't as fast, and it isn't a 2-in-1, so you can't use it as a tablet. See our review
  • Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020): The Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) is a good alternative to the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) if you want a better touchpad and webcam. However, its battery doesn't last seven hours of light productivity, and you can't use it as a tablet because it isn't a 2-in-1 convertible. See our review
  • Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020): The Microsoft Surface Go 2 (2020) is almost identical to the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021). It's an older model you can find for cheaper, but its CPU doesn't perform as well. It isn't an issue for media consumption; however, it isn't ideal for multitasking. See our review
  • Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020): The Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020) is a cheaper alternative to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021). It's a smaller device that's more portable, but it has an IPS screen with a much lower contrast ratio, so it can't display deep, inky blacks. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Nov 11, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  2. Sep 12, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  3. Jul 14, 2022: Minor structure change. Replaced Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) with the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) as the 'Best Laptop Under $400' because the Acer has increased in price.

  4. May 10, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  5. Apr 19, 2022: Minor structure and category changes. Added Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) as 'Best Mini Laptop'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best laptops you can get for under $400. We factor in the price (a cheaper laptop wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no laptops that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you prefer to make your own decision, here’s the list of all of our laptop reviews, sorted by price from low to high. Keep in mind that most laptops are available in various configurations, and the table only shows the results of the model we tested, so it’s best to see the full review for information about other variants.