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The 4 Best Laptops Under $400 - Summer 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 recently started reviewing laptops and have tested more than 50. Below you'll find our recommendations for the best laptops you can get for 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 Chromebook C340 15 (2020). It's 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. The battery lasts a little over 12 hours of light use and charges over USB-C. There's a second USB-C and a USB-A port for your peripherals, and both USB-C ports can output a video signal to an external display.

    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 have to be mindful of the number of applications you run simultaneously.

    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). 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 formatting, web browsing, and video playback. 4GB of memory is acceptable but not ideal, so you may experience some stutters if you have too many things running at the same time. If you can afford to spend a little more, it's best to go up to 8GB. This laptop may be hard to find as it was first released in 2020 and has been discontinued. If you have trouble finding one, you can look at the 2021 model with newer and more powerful AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs, though we haven't tested it.

    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). It's a 13.3-inch Chrome OS tablet with a kickstand built into the back cover 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 bright reflections. The battery lasts nearly eight hours of video playback, enough to get through a couple of movies and TV show episodes.

    Unfortunately, while the speakers get reasonably loud, they lack bass and sound unnatural. If you plan on using headphones, just know there isn't a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it's better to go wireless. Also, the keyboard feels cramped and isn't ideal for typing a long document or paper. Note that the price is sometimes slightly above $400, though 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 Surface Pro, a Windows tablet with a built-in kickstand and a detachable keyboard. It has a sturdy kickstand that you can open up 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. Like the Surface Pro, 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.

    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 keyboard feels good to type on, but as this is a very compact device, it's going to feel a little cramped. Its 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 with you.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020): The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) is a great Chromebook for general productivity. It's a better laptop than the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020), but the price has increased recently, and it may be hard to find as it's discontinued. 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 if you need to get some work done or multitask. 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
  • 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

Recent Updates

  1. 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.

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

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

  4. Mar 29, 2022: Verified accuracy of picks; no change in recommendations.

  5. Mar 08, 2022: Replaced the Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 (2020) with the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (2020) because it has a higher-quality display and better CPU performance. Replaced the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (2020) with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 (2021) because it has an OLED display with better picture quality. Replaced Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) with Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) due to price increase. Added Lenovo Chromebook C340 15 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet to Notable Mentions.

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.