best school laptop under 400

We are finally at a point where even a budget laptop can give you a good enough computing experience. In fact, Microsoft itself has launched a budget version of the Surface for less than $400. So what should you buy? What is the Best School Laptop Under 400? what are the best budget laptops for under 400? let’s check below…

best school laptop under 400

For $400, Say No to Surface Go

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students microsoft surface go

The new Microsoft Surface Go is the first thing you will look at in this price range. But you should actually skip it and move on.

The Surface Go for $399 is a clever marketing myth. That version is the tablet alone, without a keyboard attachment. The keyboard costs another $100-130. So no matter what, we’re talking about a $500 laptop here, before taxes.

Sure, you could buy the $400 tablet alone if you want, but that’s not a proper laptop, and you can’t expect to get any work done on it. Besides, there are better options.

Overall Best Laptop Under $400
Acer Aspire E15

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students 400 laptops acer aspire e15

Acer Aspire E 15, 15.6″ Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U, 6GB RAM Memory, 1TB HDD, 8X DVD, E5-576-392HAcer Aspire E 15, 15.6″ Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U, 6GB RAM Memory, 1TB HDD, 8X DVD, E5-576-392H BUY NOW ON AMAZON$650.00

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 8130u
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels)
  • Memory: 6GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 1TB SATA Hard Drive
  • Ports: 2xUSB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1xUSB-C, HDMI, DVI
  • Notable Features: DVD Writer, Long battery life
  • Biggest Problem: Too bulky for everyday portability

I can’t remember how many years it has been since the first model came out, but the latest version of the Acer Aspire E15 has been my (and most other reviewers’) standard recommendation for a budget laptop with every feature you might need. It’s pretty much a desktop replacement.

The E15 gets everything right, from a sharp screen and good audio to a powerful Core i3 processor and extra RAM. The latest version also fixes the only issue people have had with it by including a hefty battery that makes it among the laptops with the best battery life.

The Aspire E15’s only problem is that it’s bulky and heavy. In a world where laptops are becoming slim and easy to carry around, Acer has made this with all the fixings. So naturally, it’s a pain to take it everywhere with you, but hey, you won’t feel bad about skipping shoulders and arms day at the gym.Advertisement

Best Laptop Under $400 for School and Work
Asus VivoBook E403NA

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students 400 laptops asus vivobook 403

ASUS VivoBook 14 E403NA-US21 FHD Thin and Lightweight Laptop, Intel Pentium N4200 processor, 128GB eMMC Flash Storage, 4GB DDR3 RAM, USB Type-C, Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10ASUS VivoBook 14 E403NA-US21 FHD Thin and Lightweight Laptop, Intel Pentium N4200 processor, 128GB eMMC Flash Storage, 4GB DDR3 RAM, USB Type-C, Fingerprint Reader, Windows 10 BUY NOW ON AMAZON

  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Pentium N4200
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Screen: 14 inch Full HD (1920×1080 pixels)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: 2xUSB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1xUSB-C
  • Notable Features: Lightweight, USB-C Charging
  • Biggest Problem: Not powerful enough for heavy tasks

For most students and office-going professionals, a laptop has multiple purposes. It is the main device to browse the internet, work in Microsoft Office, and do other odd jobs. It’s also the main device to watch movies on or listen to music while you do your chores. At the same time, it needs to be lightweight enough that you can take it from one place to another without complaint. The 8 Best Lightweight Laptops in 2018If you’re looking for the best lightweight laptop you should buy for a specific screen size, this is the list for you.Read More

The Asus VivoBook E403 is the laptop that best meets those criteria. It weighs 3.3 pounds and is made of aluminum, which gives it a sleek and classy look. The solid state drive (SSD) makes it safer to carry it around from place to place.Advertisement

One of my favorite features of the VivoBook is that it can be charged via USB-C. As long as you have a power bank with enough wattage, you can actually hook it up to your laptop and charge it anywhere.

That said, the Asus VivoBook E403 has a much less powerful processor than the Acer Aspire E15. While the VivoBook is good enough for regular work, don’t expect to use it for AutoCAD, Photoshop, video editing, or other such intense tasks.

Best Convertible or Flip Laptop Under $400
Dell Inspiron 11 3000

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students 400 laptops dell inspiron11 3000

2018 NEW Dell Inspiron 11 3000 11.6″ HD LED-Backlit TouchScreen High Performance 2-in-1 Laptop, Intel Pentium N3710 up to 2.56GHz, 4GB DDR3L, 128GB SSD, Webcam, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI, Windows 102018 NEW Dell Inspiron 11 3000 11.6″ HD LED-Backlit TouchScreen High Performance 2-in-1 Laptop, Intel Pentium N3710 up to 2.56GHz, 4GB DDR3L, 128GB SSD, Webcam, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, HDMI, Windows 10 BUY NOW ON AMAZON$399.00

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Pentium N3710
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Screen: 11.6 inch HD (1366×768 pixels)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: 1xUSB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, HDMI
  • Notable Features: 360-degree flip
  • Biggest Problem: Weak for multi-tasking

Many laptops these days come with a touchscreen. You might not use it as often when in the usual laptop mode, but it is handy with laptops that flip a full 360 degrees to become like a tablet. The best of those is the Dell Inspiron 11 3000.

You actually have several options in this category, including the Asus Vivobook Flip, the Lenovo Flex 6, and the Acer Spin 1. But like our overall winner Aspire E15, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has the advantage of age. Dell has been making it for years, with slight improvements every year. The latest model has finally got the balance right.

With such laptops at this price, don’t expect to get everything. It’s all about compromising. So you get a lower resolution screen, which has a few flaws; but hey, it’s a touchscreen. The audio can feel low, but it’s Windows, so you can artificially boost it with programs like VLC. The performance isn’t great, but it’s good enough for simple tasks as long as you don’t load too many things at the same time.

Of course, this is the best convertible or flip style laptop. If you want a detachable tablet-keyboard hybrid, you’ll have to look at the next option. But to decide whether you need a convertible or a detachable hybrid, read our article on how to pick the right 2-in-1 for you.

Best Mini Tablet PC or Hybrid Laptop Under $400
Asus Transformer Mini T103

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students 400 laptops asus transformer mini t103

ASUS 10.1” Transformer Mini T103HA-D4-GR, 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop, Intel Quad-Core, 128GB SSD, Grey, pen and keyboard includedASUS 10.1” Transformer Mini T103HA-D4-GR, 2 in 1 Touchscreen Laptop, Intel Quad-Core, 128GB SSD, Grey, pen and keyboard included BUY NOW ON AMAZON$599.77

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Processor: Intel Atom x5 Z8350
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Screen: 10 inch HD (1280×800 pixels)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: 1xUSB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • Notable Features: Detachable tablet with stylus
  • Biggest Problem: Not a great computer

If you like the Microsoft Surface Go but find it too expensive, your best alternative is the Asus Transformer Mini. And it comes with a keyboard case, as well as a stylus pen with handwriting recognition.

The Transformer Mini feels more like a tablet that is a laptop, rather than a laptop that is a tablet. If the majority of your work involved writing or editing documents, it’s actually good enough. Because the rest of the time, you can use it as a tablet to watch movies and shows, or play games.

But for any other task, the Transformer Mini’s low-power processor can’t keep up with your needs. Even with internet browsing, you can open about five to eight tabs in Chrome before it starts choking.

That said, it might be a good idea to spend a few more bucks and get one of the better mini tablet PCs or hybrids. Spend $500 and you’ll get a laptop that lasts you years.

Best Chromebook Under $400
Acer Chromebook Spin 11

All the Best Laptops Under $400 for Students 400 laptops acer chromebook spin 11

Acer Chromebook Spin 11 Convertible Laptop, Celeron N3350, 11.6 Inches HD Touch, 4GB DDR4, 32GB Storage, Wacom EMR Pen, Pearl White, CP511-1HN-C7Q1Acer Chromebook Spin 11 Convertible Laptop, Celeron N3350, 11.6 Inches HD Touch, 4GB DDR4, 32GB Storage, Wacom EMR Pen, Pearl White, CP511-1HN-C7Q1 BUY NOW ON AMAZON

  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N3350
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Screen: 11.6 inch HD (1366×768 pixels)
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage: 32GB Flash Memory
  • Ports: 2xUSB 3.0, 1x USB-C
  • Notable Features: Support for Android Apps and Linux Programs
  • Biggest Problem: Very low audio, average battery life

We keep saying that students should use Chromebooks, they offer much better value in the budget segment. But in the $400 bracket, the Asus Vivobook E403 and the Acer Aspire E15 actually edge ahead. Nonetheless, the Acer Spin 11 is a solid Chromebook for those who want a taste of Chrome OS.

This touchscreen laptop with a flip-around hinge lets you install Android apps through the Play Store, and it will even work with Linux programs in the near future. That means you’ll be able to install full-fledged desktop apps soon. But that 32GB of memory might be an issue then.

There are two not-so-big problems with the Chromebook Spin 11. First, its speakers are quite weak, so you will strain to hear audio. That’s not a dealbreaker though since there are ways to boost volume beyond max. Second, the Spin 11’s battery life is not what you’d expect from a Chromebook. It’s still pretty good, clocking about 7 hours of average use. But for a Chromebook, that’s on the lower side.

If you ask me, I’d advise you to extend your budget by about $50 and get the Asus Chromebook Flip C302. It’s one of the best Chromebook convertible laptops and surprisingly cheap for what it delivers.

Forget About Gaming at This Price

Some of you may be wondering why there isn’t a recommendation for a gaming laptop. It’s simple. You can’t enjoy PC gaming at the $400 price. The Acer Aspire E15 is actually the best gaming laptop you can get in this budget, and even with that, you won’t have a good experience.

Which laptop should you buy?

This isn’t always a question with a clear and obvious answer. No matter your price category, there are simply too many different types of laptops to choose from. More to the point, there is no single best laptop because there is no single kind of user. Period.

Everyone wants something different. Some people care more about specs. Others care more about screens. You might care more about having a laptop that looks good than having one that can run graphically demanding games. You might not. So when people ask us which laptop or laptop brand is the best, we don’t give them an easy answer.  

Instead, we give them a list. A set of criteria that everyone should give some consideration towards before splurging on a new device. Ultimately, it’s your money. Taking the time to research and think about how best to spend it might sound a little more tedious and time-consuming than dropping into your local JB Hi-Fi, flashing that cash and walking out with A Shiny New Thing. However, in the long run, it increases the likelihood of you both saving money and ending up with a product that actually suits your needs.

1. Size & Form-Factor

When it comes to laptops, size matters.

Depending on what you plan to be doing with your next laptop, you’ll want to make sure you pick the size that’s the right fit for you. Size isn’t like the RAM or ROM of a laptop, you can’t upgrade it later. You’re locked into whatever form-factor you select up-front, so choose wisely.

Laptops sizes tend to start at 11.6-inches and go all the way up to 17.3 inches. Most brands and OEMS like HP, Dell, ASUS and Acer tend to offer three display sizes – 13.3-inch, 15.6-inch and 17.3-inches. However, some vendors do sell laptops that fall outside these sizes including 11.6-inches, 12.5-inches and 14-inches.

Obviously, if portability is your priority, you’ll want to go for a smaller-sized Windows laptop. They tend to be thinner and lighter than their larger counterparts. Look for laptops that have a screen that is either 12.5-inches or 13.3-inches in size, and a weight between 1kg and 1.5kgs.

Razer Blade
Razer Blade

However, keep in mind that smaller-sized 13.3-inch machines often don’t support the same high-end Intel Core CPUs or discrete graphics cards you’ll be able to find in their 15.6-inch counterparts. Most of the time, they’ll also feature a less-robust selection of ports. If the kind of work you intend to be using your new laptop for necessitates a larger display or standalone graphics, you’ll probably need to look at a larger size.

Beyond specific sizings, there are several different classes of laptop to choose from. Ultrabooks tend to favor a slim and lightweight form-factor over high-end performance. Things like the ASUS Zenbook (review here) and Lenovo’s Yoga (review here) devices fall into this category.

By contrast, Notebooks tend to offer a good mix of power and portability. If you’re looking at notebooks, a good place to start is the Dell XPS 13 (review here) and HP’s Envy x360 (review here).

Convertibles (also known as 2-in-1 laptops or 2-in-1 PCs) expand on this by adding the ability to fold away (or remove) the keyboard and use your new laptop as you would a tablet. Products like Microsoft’s Surface Go (review here) and Acer’s Chromebooks fall into this category.

Finally, traditional clamshell and gaming laptops tend to boast bulkier form-factors but significantly-beefier specs.

Microsoft Surface Go
Microsoft Surface Go

The most important thing to consider here when looking for the best laptop you can buy is what you’re actually going to need that laptop to do. It’s rarely ever a case of one size fits all. Some users need something lighter and more portable. Other users need discrete graphics for things like video editing or running high end games. If you need a PC with an optical drive or long battery life, you’ll almost certainly have to look for something larger.

[Related Content: Top 6 Best 4K TVs of 2018]

Once you’ve worked out the size and form-factor of laptop you’re looking for, the search for the best one becomes that much easier – since you can begin to filter your search results by those parameters.

2. Screen Quality

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Since you’ll probably end up staring at your laptop screen hours at a time, you’ll probably want to make sure it’s as painless as possible to do so. For this, you’ll need a screen that is comfortable to look at and feels natural to use. m

To start with, you’ll want to consider whether you want your next laptop to have a touchscreen at all. These days, touchscreens are very common and they can make some tasks easier than others. Some brands include this feature as standard. Others will demand a modest surcharge for its inclusion.

Unfortunately, opting for a touchscreen can sometimes add a glossiness to the display. Though not a universal trait among touch-sensitive displays, glossier screens are often a little more susceptible to glare. This can be a definite drawback if you’re gaming, watching content or editing images and video content.

Modern touchscreens are much better than their predecessors but, some of the above details persist and if you’re more of a natural typist, you might want to consider going for a laptop that doesn’t have a touchscreen.

Next up, be sure to look at the resolution on any laptop you’re thinking of buying. A 1920×1080-pixel resolution (Full HD) should be considered the minimum if you want plenty of space to line up windows and keep things in view.If you splurge on something a little sharper, you probably won’t regret it though.

Select modern laptops also now offer 4K resolutions. However, these high-end display panels are generally a costly add-on to an already-expensive product. 4K is an extra that’s only really going to be worth it for those who really need it such as content creation professionals.

Photographers and videographers will also want to privilege laptops that offer better color accuracy and support wider color gamut and HDR standards over those that don’t. The key things you’re looking for here are Delta E < 1 color accuracy and 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 color gamut. 

[Related Content: Everything You Need To Know About 4K]

If you’re a gamer, it’s also worth taking the time to check the refresh rate on the display of any potential laptop. A faster refresh rate can often provide a sometimes provide a competitive advantage in online games, as it enables a smoother and more responsive play experience. Ideally, you want something with less than 5ms response time or a refresh rate greater than 144Hz.

Lastly, viewing angles are extremely important. A laptop screen that touts IPS (in-plane switching) technology offers the widest viewing angles and the best user comfort. Chances are you’re not always going to be using your laptop in its natural habitat, so a laptop with an IPS display is usually preferred over the opposite.

If possible, take the time to go into a store and try to feel out the differences between different displays for yourself. If your eyes can’t see much of a difference between a laptop with a FHD display and one with a 4K one, it might not be worth paying the premium for the latter.

Just keep in mind that display models usually have the settings cranked to the maximum in order to catch your eyes. Otherwise, be sure to check out reviews like those on PC World to get a good overview of the product and whether or not its screen will be able to suit your needs. In 2020, most major laptop displays hit the mark but those that don’t make themselves quickly known often when subjected to the scrutiny of a professional reviewer.

Related: The Top 5 TVs
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3. Keyboard quality

For long typing sessions, you’ll need to get a laptop that has a comfortable keyboard. You don’t want to get a keyboard that packs in every key under the sun (think keyboards that have squished in number pads) because that can translate to a poor overall user experience when hunting for specifics like the arrow or delete keys.

Ideally, you want a keyboard that has a comfortable layout with full-sized keys and some space around the arrow keys. The keys should have adequate travel on the downstroke and snappy responsiveness when you let them go.READ MOREWhat’s the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?

Make sure the keyboard is also backlit. At face value, that might seem like a superficial detail but backlit keys make it much easier to see what you’re typing in dimly lit environments.

[Related Content: Four Alternatives To Cherry MX Switches]

As with the screen, it helps to try before you buy – especially if your main task will be typing. Chances are, you’re going to find the most comfort with what you know here. If you’re used to typing on a laptop keyboard that stretches all the way to the edge of the chassis, you’re probably going to find laptops that opt for the same or a similar layout to be easier to type on than the alternatives.

4. CPU

It’s hard to go past any of Intel’s Core-based CPUs when buying a new laptop. Even if you’re not versed in the technical details, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the stickers plastered on all new laptops for the silicon giant’s Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors.

For many users, an Intel Core Processor offer the best performance when it comes to multitasking and multimedia tasks. Core i3-based notebooks are generally found in entry-level systems, while Core i5 makes up the majority of mainstream computers.

Core i7-based systems are for those of you who want the best performance from your laptop. However, note that with a Core i7-based system, heat coming through the base of the laptop can be cause for concern, especially if you plan to actually use the laptop on your lap a lot of the time.

Some larger laptops also now incorporate Intel’s i9 Core processors. Laptops running on i9 Core processors are even more powerful than laptops running on i7 Core processors. They’re able to rival desktops for performance but they do come with a significantly-higher cost than a laptop with an i7, i5 or i3 Core Processor.

[Related Content: How do I decide between a Core i3, i5, i7 or i9?]

Select vendors now also offer laptops and notebooks that run on AMD’s Ryzen Mobile CPUs. If you’re a gamer, this can be a particularly compelling option worth considering. Ryzen Mobile CPUs tend to be paired with AMD’s own Vega graphics chipsets, which are currently far better for gaming than Intel’s own onboard graphics.

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