Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

The 3 Best Laptops Under $400 - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated Jun 04, 2024 at 12:46 pm
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 115 laptops. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops under $400. 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 IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023). This 14-inch Chromebook is great for younger students or anyone needing a simple device for light tasks like text processing, web browsing, and video playback. It's a little chunky compared to more premium models on the market but still compact enough to be portable. Plus, its battery lasts around 13 hours of light use. We recommend the Core i3 configuration paired with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and an FHD touch-sensitive IPS display, which you can often find on sale for around $400 USD on Lenovo's website. Cheaper configurations exist; however, you'll have to compromise on performance and display quality.

    The FHD IPS display is one of the best features of this laptop. Its brightness reaches around 360 cd/m², which is rare on budget Chromebooks. That's sufficiently bright for good visibility indoors, possibly even outdoors on a cloudy day. Above the display is an excellent 1080p webcam, so people can see and hear you clearly on video calls. Regarding the keyboard and touchpad, the former feels spacious but mushy, while the latter is small and occasionally unresponsive. Unfortunately, there are no biometrics for quick logins, which is to be expected for a budget-friendly device.

    See our review

  2. Best Windows Laptop Under $400

    The best Windows laptop we've tested under $400 is the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023). This 15-inch ultraportable is available with various Intel 13th Gen U-series CPUs and up to 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. These Intel processors can easily handle light productivity tasks like text processing and web browsing. The cheaper configurations come with a low-quality TN panel. We highly recommend getting the IPS display if you can afford it, as it has better viewing angles and color reproduction.

    The keyboard feels comfortable to type on for an extended period; it's just a little mushy. As for the touchpad, it's small but responsive. Unfortunately, its battery life is rather short at around six to seven hours of light use, so you'll have to plug it in for a short time to get through a typical work or school day. Ports include two USB-As, a USB-C, an HDMI, and an SD card reader. The USB-C supports video output and charging. The power button has an integrated fingerprint sensor to log in quickly.

    See our review

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

    If you need a device mainly for media consumption but with the flexibility to do some work when needed, we recommend the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021), a 13-inch Chrome OS tablet with a detachable keyboard. This form factor lets you take the keyboard off when viewing content, which is convenient in tight spaces like an airplane and makes the device easier to hold as a tablet. You can simply pop the keyboard back on when you need to type something out. It isn't a particularly good keyboard, as it feels rather cramped, but it'll get the job done.

    What makes this device stand out is its beautiful OLED display. It's sharp, bright, and colorful, and like all OLEDs, it displays deep, inky blacks, making it a great device for dark room viewing. The speakers get reasonably loud, although they don't have much bass and sound slightly unnatural. It doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it's best to use wireless headphones. The battery lasts around eight hours of video playback or 10 hours of light use, giving you plenty of time to get through multiple movies and TV show episodes. The display supports pen input if you want to take notes or draw, but you must buy the stylus separately.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Acer Chromebook 315 (2020): The Acer Chromebook 315 (2020) is cheaper than the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023). It has a bigger screen and slightly longer battery life, but its CPU isn't as fast. Also, this laptop will only receive software updates until June 2026. See our review
  • Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023): The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023) is a good alternative to the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023) if you want a model with a faster processor. It has a better keyboard and touchpad but a much shorter battery life and a dimmer display. Also, it's only under $400 when it's on sale, as the base model usually sells for $599 USD. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jun 04, 2024: Minor text edits for conciseness and clarity. No change in recommendations.

  2. Apr 08, 2024: Replaced the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021) with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) because the Surface is closer to $500 and harder to find.

  3. Feb 07, 2024: Added the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 (2023) as a Notable Mention. Minor text changes for clarity.

  4. Dec 13, 2023: Replaced the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 (2023) because the C340 is near the end of its OS support. Replaced the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) with the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023) because the Slim 3i has 8GB of RAM at the same price as a Flex 5 with 4GB.

  5. Oct 18, 2023: Small text changes to provide more information about the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020)'s end-of-life. No change in recommendations.

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.