If you are an avid gamer, you would probably know that there were times when it was quite difficult to find a good gaming laptop from the other regular ones. As a matter of fact, when you had a laptop with decent RAM space, good graphics, and an i7 processor, you pretty much had a gaming laptop you could rely on. And for many, desktop remained their all-time favorite. Well, today, there are so many options out there, with all the specifications you can possibly think of, and of course, in every price range.
But, why specifically a gaming laptop? Because you get a completely immersive gaming experience, thanks to their quality audio, excellent graphics, and amazing displays, and not to forget, the many additional accessories you can have to further enhance the experience.
With so many options out there, how do you choose the best gaming laptop under $400? Continue reading our guide below to get a clear understanding of what matter’s the most:
Buyer’s Guide for Sub-$400 Gaming Laptop
When it comes to buying a laptop, one of the biggest decisions you will make would be choosing the graphics card, also widely referred to as GPU. This is basically the headstone of any gaming laptop and does the complex job of processing data and transmitting signals to your monitor, which is then delivered as images on your display. With a good graphics card, you will be able to enjoy your favorite games at their best quality and resolution. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to play some games if your device doesn’t have a graphics card that supports the game’s minimum requirement.
The two well-known names in the category are AMD and NVIDIA, and based on your needs, there are a lot of different options to choose from. However, since your budget is under $400, you would be limited to the processor with graphics models, which, nevertheless, deliver great performance.
The CPU can be rightfully called a brain. It takes care of everything except for the graphics part. In addition, the CPU is responsible for the performance of all the other applications on your device, including the OS, browser, and more. Fortunately, choosing a CPU is much easier than choosing a GPU. In most cases, you will come across Intel’s 8th generation processor, which is known to offer amazing computing performance, thanks to their high power. When choosing your CPU, the following are some pointers to keep in mind:
Clock speed is another factor that matters when choosing your CPU. Remember, higher the clock speed number faster will be the device. Therefore, go for devices with at least a 3.4 GHz clock speed.
Games today are considerably larger in size. Therefore, it is good to go for a device with a higher RAM capacity. When you choose a gaming laptop, shortlist models that come with at least 8 GB of RAM space. One benefit in terms of RAM is that memory is upgradable, at least in most models. Therefore, if you cannot afford more than 8 GB at this time, you can always upgrade it whenever you can.
In the case of storage, you get to choose between the hard drive and Solid State Drive (SSD). Yes, some models allow the inclusion of an SSD along with the built-in hard drive; however, those models could cost significantly higher than your initial budget. Most gamers prefer SSDs because of their blistering fast transfer speeds and loading times, power efficiency, and the overall lag-free computing experience. Regardless, you can always go for a model with an HDD space of 1 TB to be on the safer side in case your games require more space.
There is no point in playing an interesting game with amazing graphics if your laptop’s display isn’t up to the mark. This is why you need to look for certain display features when choosing a decent gaming laptop under $400:
- Screen resolution: If you wish to avoid dull graphics, the screen resolution should be minimum 1920 x 1080. Full HD, QHD, UHD, and 4K resolutions are quite popular these days due to the excellent color and details that they deliver.
- Screen size: The screen size you need typically depends on your personal preference. Most models come with 15- or 17-inch screens. Though there are bigger ones, those models usually tend to be bigger and heavier.
- Touch screen: If you will be playing games that extend touch screen playing capabilities, you can go with a model with this facility. However, gaming laptops do not really need this feature.
Why is the keyboard so important? Because you will be spending endless hours pounding those keys; so, you need something that is not only durable but also comfortable for such constant use. One factor you should pay attention to is the key travel, which refers to how much a key can be pressed. Basically, you don’t need keys that are hard and flat. The keys should provide proper feedback every time you hit them.
Having a keyboard with a backlight feature is an added benefit, which will be of help to you during your late night sessions. While most basic laptops white or red lighting, there are also models that come with multiple colors for different areas of the keyboard, which you can also customize according to your preferences.
Honestly, when it comes to a laptop for gaming, you cannot expect a lot in terms of battery life, regardless of the brand you choose or the amount you pay for the same. You need to keep your device plugged-in in order to extract the complete performance out of your graphics card. If not, you can expect only a few hours of battery life on a single full charge. On the other hand, if you go with models without a separate graphics card, you can expect the charge to last a bit longer.
Ultimately, your budget plays a prominent role in choosing the right product. You need a device with a decent GPU, good processor, and a great screen, which are all the essentials. All the other features come with the amount you are willing to spend. Most importantly, you need a decent product that is durable and lasts for years to come.
For a more comprehensive guide on gaming laptops, you can check out this post on our website.
With the many options available today, it is easy for you to get overwhelmed. Therefore, for those of you looking for a gaming laptop below $400 price tag, the following is our top picks:
List of Top 8 Best Gaming Laptops Under $400
|Model||Check Latest Price||Processor||RAM||Graphics|
|Lenovo IdeaPad||AMD A12-Series||8GB||AMD Radeon R7|
|Acer Aspire E15||Intel Core i3-8130U||6GB||Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Lenovo IdeaPad 330||Intel Core i3-8130U||4GB||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|Lenovo N23||Intel Celeron N3060||4GB||Intel HD Graphics 400|
|HP Pavilion 2019||Intel Core i3-7100U||4GB||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|HP 15.6 HD||AMD Ryzen 5 2500U||4GB||AMD Vega 8|
|Dell Inspiron||Intel Core i3-7100U||8GB||Intel HD 620|
|Dell Inspiron 14||Intel Core i3-8145u||4 GB||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
Note: At LaptopDiscovery, we intend to make the buying process of our visitor as simple as possible, and therefore we offer various awards to the laptop after researching and testing them. Below you’ll find a recommended laptop and one which offers the value for money. If you want to jump to our awarded models directly, then you can click the button below.
1. Lenovo IdeaPad
Processor: AMD A12-Series | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 1 TB HDD | Display: 15.6″ | Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 | Weight: 5.07lbs | Battery Life: up to 6 hours
The Lenovo IdeaPad packs quite some solid components into its durable shell and yet happens to be an affordable model when compared to many other machines in the price range. Yes, like with most low-cost laptops, there are a few sacrifices made; nevertheless, it gains a strong spot as one of the best below $400 gaming laptop.
Weighing a bit over 5 pounds, this Lenovo IdeaPad is a little on the heavier side; however, it is compact and portable when compared to many of its competition available in the market today. The platinum gray frame makes the device look sleek and the overall finish is decently sturdy. However, the color is likely to pick up dirt marks easily.
Despite its 15.6-inch display, what makes its price range evident is the 1366 x 768 screen resolution. Though the resolution is HD, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the visuals of your games as you should. It is not the best in terms of display, but certainly isn’t the worst either; therefore, it can definitely be accepted for the price.
The Lenovo IdeaPad comes with a 2.7GHz AMD A12-9720P quad-core processor. A huge letdown with this model is that, for the amount you pay, you get only 8 GB of system memory, most of the other models on our list have much better offerings. The saving grace is the 1 TB hard drive, which gives you more space to save your large games. And unlike the previous products on our list, there is no option for an SSD. The AMD Radeon R7 Integrated graphics chipset assists you in handling low-to-medium graphics-intensive tasks.
2. Acer Aspire E15 E5-576-392H
Processor: Intel Core i3-8130U | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Display: 15.6″ | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | Weight: 5.27 lbs | Battery Life: up to 10.5 hours
Talk about value for money and the Aspire series from Acer will certainly make the list. It is one of the very few laptops for gaming under $400 price range that defies its affordable price tag. Known to deliver great performance, amazing display, and various other features you would want, this should definitely be on the top of your consideration list.
The overall design of the Acer Aspire E15 is a quite old school; however, the design is nevertheless functional. Weighing a little over 5 pounds, though quite sleek, is on the heavier side, which is something you would expect from a budget laptop in this category. If your focus is to meet your budget at any cost, then the weight shouldn’t bother you much. Despite the plastic feel that this device gives, it is definitely sturdy, which means you can expect it to last long.
This Acer Aspire comes with a 15.6-inch display, which delivers a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, which should be the basic specification you should look for in a gaming laptop. The widescreen backlit LED display looks quite sharp and powerful, especially from the straight angle, which should be enough for playing some of your favorite games. As expected from a price point of view, the display isn’t that appealing when the screen is tilted or when you view it from a side.
It is powered by 8th generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor, with a base clock speed of 2.2GHz that can go up to 3.4GHz, thanks to the Turbo Boost Technology. It is paired with a 6 GB RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. A huge benefit of the E15 is that you get the ability to upgrade to an SSD up to 2 TB, a size sufficient for almost any game you wish to play.
In terms of graphics, this particular Acer Aspire E15 may not be the ultimate choice for you if you want to play all the latest games. However, given its pricing, the Intel UHD Graphics 620 delivers good graphics performance on the whole, which allows you to play less-demanding games.
3. Lenovo IdeaPad 330
Processor: Intel Core i3-8130U | RAM: 4GB | Storage: various options available | Display: 15.6″ | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Weight: 4.85 lbs | Battery Life: up to 6 hours
The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 belongs to the brand’s range of affordable laptops that users can configure to match their requirements. Yes, this again is a simple offering, but it delivers great power yet very easy to use, which is one of the highlights of this laptop.
Similar to the previous IdeaPad model, this one is also quite portable and weighs almost 5 pounds. It is designed with a protective finish to make it long lasting, resisting the many wears and tear it undergoes. Overall, the IdeaPad 330 scores high in terms of design.
The 15.6-inch display of the IdeaPad 330 comes with a screen resolution of just 1366 x 768, which is pretty much most gaming laptops in this price range have on offer. However, the screen performance is pretty decent. You can adjust it to its maximum brightness for a better game viewing experience; but, this will be effective only when you use the laptop indoors. And the display doesn’t deliver good results when tilted at certain angles.
Talking about the processor, it is equipped with Intel Core i3-8130U processor, which can reach up to 3.4 GHz in clock speed, sufficient for your gaming purposes. When it comes to memory, you have customization options; choose between 8 GB, 12 GB, or 20 GB RAM based on your needs. Customization is available with storage as well; in the case of SSD storage, you can choose from 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB space, and when it comes to hard drive, your choices are 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB. The Intel UHD Graphics 620, with its latest improvements, happens to be a great option for casual gaming.
You can also check out: 5 Best Laptops for Sims 4 2019 (Top Picks)
4. Lenovo N23 2-in-1
Processor: Intel Celeron N3060 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 11.6″ | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | Weight: 3.1 lbs | Battery Life: up to 8 hours
If you are looking for a device that can deliver the performance of a desktop computer yet being compact and portable like a laptop and tablet, the Lenovo N23 2-in-1 might just be the model you need. Known as a great laptop for students and classroom use, this device, however, is also a wide choice among users for multiple purposes. While some features of the laptop make it an excellent choice for gaming, there are some lackluster aspects as well.
The first apparent beneficial feature of the Lenovo N23 is its 2-in-1 Yoga design, with which you can use the device in four different ways: as a tablet and laptop, and also in stand-perfect and tent models. This makes it possible for you to play your games easily and efficiently without straining much. The device might look a bit bulky, but it is one of the few laptops in the category that is light in weight, weighing just 3.1 pounds, and hence highly portable. The overall design, though basic, is quite simple and professional.
One downfall of this device is its small screen size of just 11.6 inches. This could be extremely bothersome when you want to play for longer hours. The Multi-Touchscreen AntiGlare Display with the integrated camera is a great addition to the device and can be useful in many ways. Similar to the screen size, the screen resolution is also lackluster, with just 1366 x 768, which also can make those longer gaming hours difficult.
The laptop is powered by Intel Celeron N3060 processor, known to be decently powerful, and can reach a clock speed of up to 2.4GHz. When it comes to storage, this model from Lenovo tends to stick to its originality of being a student laptop and hence offers only 4 GB RAM space with 128 GB SSD, something that is insufficient for proper gaming. The keyboard is made water-resistant, which is a plus. In terms of graphics, you get the Intel HD Graphics 400, which basically belongs to the lower end of the spectrum and is known to offer slower clock speeds; hence, it is certainly not the ideal unit for intense playing.
5. HP Pavilion 2019 Newest Premium Flagship
Processor: Intel Core i3-7100U | RAM: various options available | Storage: various options available| Display: 14″ | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Weight: 3.15lbs | Battery Life: up to 6 hours
Another affordable yet great model from HP, the premium flagship 14-inch laptop is one lightweight model that also delivers great power and performance. This is certainly a solid performer, given it useful set of features, and the fact that you are allowed to choose different aspects, including RAM size, processor, etc. makes it even more exciting.
As far as the overall look goes, the laptop is quite basic in terms of design. However, what will impress you the most about this model is the fact that it is just over 3 pounds in weight, which makes it a perfect device to carry with you wherever you go to enjoy playing your favorite games.
Unlike many others in this price range, with this HP Pavilion model, you get to choose your display as well. You can either go with the 14-inch BrightView glossy screen that comes with a screen resolution of 1366 x 768 (which isn’t ideal for gaming) and WLED backlight or the 14-inch FHD IPS BrightView Micro-Edge WLED display with 1920 x 1080 screen resolution. Apparently, the latter would be the foremost choice for gaming purposes.
First off, the processors; once again you can choose between two options: the 7th Gen Intel Core i3-7100U processor or the 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8130U dual-core processor. To be on the safer side, it is good to go with the 8th Gen because it gives you a clock speed of 3.4GHz. You can choose between RAM sizes 4 GB, 8 GB, 12 GB, and 16 GB, and SSD sizes 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB. And with the Intel HD Graphics 620, you can play almost any game you like without compromising on the quality of graphics.
6. HP 15.6 HD
Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2500U | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Display: 15.6″ | Graphics: AMD Vega 8 | Battery Life: up to 5 hours
The HP 15.6 Laptop is yet another moderately priced model from the company. The notebook is specifically designed to deliver long-lasting performance with its good battery life, which is likely to keep you entertained for a long time. But, can it meet your gaming demands?
This HP notebook model is designed to be portable; however, weighing almost 5 pounds, carrying it around on your travels can be quite difficult. In terms of design, it looks sleek and stylish, and its finish is unique and eye-catching.
With a screen size of 15.6 inches, the HP notebook is big enough to give you a great user experience, especially for the amount you get to pay. Though it comes with an HD LED backlight display, the screen resolution can only hit a maximum of 1366 x 768, which doesn’t ever get close to the basic resolution a gaming laptop should have to make your graphics look good.
It is also powered by AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor, a version that is known to outsmart certain versions of the Intel core processor in terms of graphics performance, and this is exactly what you need from a less expensive laptop. It is capable of reaching a clock speed of up to 3.6GHz and is available in RAM sizes 8 GB, 12 GB, 16 GB, 20 GB, 24 GB, and 32 GB. In addition, you can also choose your first and second hard drive size and type from 1 or 2 TB HDD and 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1TB SSD. Integrated with the AMD Vega 8 Graphics with 8 GPU, it is sufficient to handle medium-graphics intensive tasks.
7. Dell Inspiron 15.6 HD Laptop
Processor: Intel Core i3-7100U | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB SSD | Display: 15.6: HD | Graphics: Intel HD 620 graphics | Weight: 6.24lbs | Battery Life: up to 6 hours
Dell has always been a brand for consumers to rely on when it comes to producing well-rounded machines for affordable prices. The Dell Inspiron 15.6 HD Laptop is one such model, which comes with some major compromises, which is always the norm with low-end gaming laptops.
In terms of design, Dell has managed to create an appealing laptop for this price point. The whole design of the laptop looks great, definitely not like what you would expect from a low-priced model. However, you will be let down by this model if you are in need of a highly portable and lightweight device, because of this one weight over 6 pounds, making it not-so-portable. As a result, it could be very difficult for you to carry the laptop with you outdoors or during travel.
The 15.6-inch HD Truelife LED-Backlit display delivers crisp detail, decent enough for enjoying the graphics from your favorite games. The screen resolution, as usual, is only 1366 x 768, not the best for gaming, especially for the latest ones. The viewing angles are not that better either; while the view from the front is pretty good, tilting the screen or viewing from the sides may not be a good idea for using the laptop.
This particular Dell Inspiron model is powered by Intel Dual Core i3-7100U processor, which can reach a clock speed of up to 2.4GHz. As we discussed earlier, this isn’t the optimum speed you could get from a laptop at this price range, especially considering the fact that many of the other models on our list offer higher speeds for similar pricing. Further, under the hood, you get 8 GB DDR4 RAM and 128 GB SSD, both of which may not be sufficient for you if your games will be one of those larger ones. Talking about the graphics, you get Intel HD graphics 620 graphics card inside the laptop.
8. Dell Inspiron 14 (2-in-1 Gaming Laptop)
Processor: Intel Core i3-8145u | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128 SSD | Display: 14″ HD | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Weight: 5.6 lbs | Battery Life: up to 5 hours
The next we have is Dell Inspiron 14. It comes with a 2-in-1 14″ touch HD display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. The touch-screen comes in handy when you want to play some small online games. Also, the display can turn around into a tablet for easy writing or freelancing work and can also fold like a tent for watching movies.
Considering the processor, you get 8th generation Intel Core i3-8145u processor furnished inside this Inspiron 14. The processor comes with 4MB Cache and offers a clock speed of up to 3.9 GHz which is decent for playing some low-level games. For all the graphics needs, the laptop sports in Intel UHD Graphics 620 graphics card with shared graphics memory. Although the integrated graphics don’t fit well for playing games, this is what you get in a gaming laptop priced below $400.
Now what makes the inclusion of this laptop into our list of top picked models is the presence of SSD powered storage space. The laptop comes with 128GB M.2 PCIe SSD. For sure, the amount of space you get for storing stuff is quite less, but the power of SSD enhances the overall system speed giving you smoother and lag-free gaming experience.
Along with an 8th gen i3 processor, SSD storage you get 4GB DDR4 RAM which you cannot upgrade as there is no extra slot of upgrading the RAM. The RAM can handle small-to-medium multitasking but is not suitable for excessive browsing with 20+ tabs opened in programs like Google Chrome.
Overall with the presence of Windows 10, you can install use software and games comfortably. Also, you can expect a battery life of around 4-5 hours on a single charge. So make sure the laptop is plugged-in to charging point while playing games or consuming some other entertainment media.
Choosing the best machine is, without a doubt, a tricky job. Ultimately, your choice should be based on the games you are looking to play and of course, your budget. With under $400 as your budget, there isn’t much you could expect in terms of features from laptops. And with a myriad of options laid in front of you, choosing the one that suits your needs is where the challenge lies.
Fortunately, we were able to shortlist seven laptops below the $400 threshold. Each of these models has its own positives and downfalls. With technologies constantly changing, from screen technology to GPU and possibly anything you could think of, it is wise that you invest in an affordable gaming laptop model right now and later upgrade to one with a better set of features and a bigger budget from your end.
Now that you have the list in your hands, all that’s left to do is choose the one that seems perfect for your gaming needs and invest in it for the unlimited joy of gaming.