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 85 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.
The best laptop under $400 we've tested is the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020), a 2-in-1 convertible laptop with a thin and light design. It has a 1080p display, providing plenty of space for multitasking. It also has a spacious, tactile keyboard and a small but responsive touchpad. Its port selection is okay; you get one USB-A, two USB-Cs, and an SD card reader. Both USB-C ports support video output and charging. The battery lasts a little over 12 hours of light use and takes a little over two hours to charge to full.
As for the configurations, you can get this laptop with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 processor; both are powerful enough to provide a smooth experience on Chrome OS. 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. If you're new to Chrome OS, know it doesn't support x86 Windows applications, so you must ensure you can get all your work done through a Chrome browser or Android app.
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 enough room for 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, comfortable keyboard, a touchpad with decent tracking, and a wide port selection.
For under $400, you can get an AMD Ryzen 3 4300U model with 4GB of memory and 128GB of storage. The CPU is powerful enough to handle light productivity tasks like text processing and web browsing; however, 4GB of memory is very limiting and will likely cause slowdowns when multitasking, more so than on a Chrome OS device. It's worth upgrading to an 8GB model if you can stretch your budget slightly, as it'll provide a much smoother experience. This laptop may be hard to find as it has been discontinued. There's a slightly more expensive 2021 model with newer AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs on Amazon, which we haven't tested but expect to perform similarly.
Our best 2-in-1 tablet pick is the Microsoft Surface Go 3 (2021), a 10.5-inch Windows tablet. It's super compact—small enough to fit into a handbag—so it's easy to carry around, and you can detach the keyboard to save space, which is handy when you don't have much space, like an airplane's seat tray. The display is sharp, bright, and colorful, and this tablet supports pen input, though you'll have to purchase the stylus separately. The keyboard is also a separate purchase, but it's worth it because Windows isn't very touch-friendly, and doing so helps protect the screen from scratches.
There's an outstanding 1080p webcam for video calls and a facial recognition IR camera for quick logins. You can get this tablet with an Intel Pentium Gold or Core i3 CPU; they're fine for simple web browsing, text processing, and video playback, but don't expect to do anything remotely intensive. If you can afford it, we highly recommend getting a model with 8GB of RAM, as the extra 4GB of RAM will make the user experience significantly smoother.
If you only plan on using the device for media consumption, get the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) instead. This 2-in-1 tablet has a gorgeous OLED display, and its battery lasts over 10 hours of light use. Plus, Chrome OS is more touch-friendly and easier to use than Windows, so it's great for someone who isn't tech-savvy. Unlike the Surface Go 3, the keyboard comes with the device; however, it isn't nearly as comfortable to type on.
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.