As a gamer, you know as well as we do that the device you’re playing on can make all the difference to your experience. There’s nothing worse than gaming on a slow computer, especially if you’re playing competitively online.
So what’s a gamer to do when their PC has become a bit too outdated, or when you’re moving around a lot and need something a little more portable because a desktop PC just won’t cut it?
Gaming laptops are becoming widely accepted as the norm these days, with more and more laptops becoming so advanced that they can rival a desktop PC that’s quadruple the size.
They’re ideal if you’re perhaps in university and you’re moving around a lot between home and your student dorms, or if you want a good laptop that you can both use practically for work and also use to play some of the most demanding games.
The only issue is that so many of the top end laptops are expensive. Thankfully though, as technology advances so do affordable gaming laptops. You don’t have to spend thousands on a laptop for gaming, you can find so many fantastic options for $400 or less.
With that being said, it’s our ‘call of duty’ to show you some of them.
Without further ado, let us enlighten you on some of the best gaming laptops out there right now under $400, and we’ll show you some of the things you should be looking out for when buying a gaming laptop for your budget.
In a hurry? Here’s our first place pick!
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
- 1 Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Comparison Table
- 2 Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Reviews
- 3 Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Buyers Guide
Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Comparison Table
Buy on Amazon
Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Reviews
Despite its low price tag, the Acer Aspire E 15 defies expectations as far as performance is concerned.
With a 15-inch size and a crisp 1080p display, and a lot of ports to plug in any USBs or additional computer accessories, it really can’t be beaten on quality for a laptop that’s this much of a bargain.
The laptop comes with a decent battery life and you can complete a number of tasks on it without it getting overwhelmed and overheated. It’s got a comfortable to use keyboard, and it comes with some very good specifications in addition.
For starters, the laptop has an Intel Core i3-8130U CPU. It also comes with 6GB of RAM, which is quite decent. The storage is fantastic with a 1TB HDD. It’s also a good choice for any students or people who want to use their laptop for work as well as for leisure.
The laptop is fairly heavy and comes in a texture like brushed metal which makes it look a little more like the premium options out there rather than the budget laptop that it actually is.
Unlike a lot of newer laptops too the laptop even comes with an 8X DVD-RW Double-layer drive, alongside a power connector and headphone jack.
It also comes with an Ethernet port, VGA input, HDMI connectivity, 2 3.0 USB ports, a Kensington lock and a USB-3.1. You can also insert an SD card into the reader if you would like to.
The laptop has a decent display though still not comparable to some of the more premium offerings. It also has decently loud speakers. The laptop is quite fast, and can handle a lot of actions at once.
If you’re on the go and casual gaming or working, the Lenovo Ideapad 310 will be a good choice for you.
Made with a durable construction, a stealth hinge and a comfortable keyboard, the laptop will be enjoyable to use.
The laptop comes in a simple looking design, and doesn’t weigh a massive amount.
The silver on the lid of the laptop looks very sleek. It can also be upgraded using the service lids located on the bottom of the laptop.
It has a decent CPU and a good screen resolution. The laptop features 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, a webcam, a microphone, a 3.5mm audio jack, HDMI port, a 4 in 1 card reader, Dolby Audio loudspeakers, and the display is touchscreen if that’s something that’s important to you.
The laptop comes with some decent graphics so you can play a variety of games with good visuals. It also comes with 6GB of RAM and a 1TBH HDD, and it operates Windows 10.
By no means is this the best option out there for gaming, but for this price point it’s a solid option for any casual gamer.
If you want a fast running laptop with a great 15.6 inch display that can easily be used interchangeably between office work and gaming, the Lenovo 330S-15ARR Laptop may just be ideal for you.
The laptop has a 128GB SSD and a good 1920 x 1080 resolution on the full HD display. It also has 8GB of RAM which is quite good at this price point. It comes with a 2 GHz AMD Ryzen 5 2500U processor.
The laptop looks quite sleek especially in its silver edition, and can run a few different things at once with minimal lag for daily use. When playing games, keep in mind that this device can generally only run them on the lowest graphic settings.
The fan of the device is fairly quiet so you don’t need to worry too much about it sounding like a heavy industrial fan whenever you turn the device on, and it also doesn’t get too hot either.
The laptop doesn’t have a massive amount of battery life so you will mostly need to keep it plugged in when you use it, but as a whole it’s a solid option that will give you a lot of value for money for under $400.
With an easy to use keyboard and a fantastic Intel Core i3-7130U that has a speed of up to 2.7GHz, the Dell Inspiron 15.6 Touch Screen Intel Core i3 is a fantastic choice for gamers looking to spend within the $400 maximum budget.
The laptop comes with LAN connection, HDMI connectivity, USB 3.0, microphone and headphone jack, and an SD Card Reader.
The 15.6 inch HD Touchscreen is an especially useful feature when you don’t want to try and navigate the trackpad - oh, and also when you want to play a little bit of candy crush!
The laptop has decent Intel Integrated HD 620 Graphics and a webcam for those skype sessions. It also comes with Windows 10 already installed.
Thankfully overall it’s a very strong laptop for under $400 that you’ll be able to play games on with very little issue at all.
The HP 14-DF0020NR Laptop comes with a 14.00-inch display with a fantastic resolution of 1920x1080 pixels, giving you plenty of room for your gaming visuals at high quality too.
The laptop is a solid performer at a solid price.
The laptop comes with an Intel Core i3 processor with 4GB of RAM. Not bad specifications for a laptop under $400! The graphics are also decent quality, with Intel Integrated HD Graphics 620.
You can easily connect it to WiFi and Bluetooth and it has a decent amount of ports to connect your devices to, though some users have reported that they’re positioned a little too closely together. It has fairly loud stereo speakers and a 128GB SSD.
It’s a fairly speedy machine and you’ll be able to play low end games on it with no problem.
Thankfully it’s also quite portable, so you can take it back and forth with you from work or college without feeling like there’s a massive weight on your back.
Overall it’s a good performer that will provide a decent gaming experience for under $400.
Best Laptop For Gaming Under $400 - Buyers Guide
So, what do you need to look for when considering a laptop for gaming?
One thing to be aware of right away is that you won’t be able to run some of the more intensive games like Black Ops 4 for example very smoothly on a laptop at this price range.
Usually, to run a game like this you’ll need a more expensive laptop with higher specifications.
Before buying a gaming laptop, you should always consider what kinds of games you want to play so that you can budget accordingly. Consider the running requirements your game needs, otherwise you may be disappointed when your laptop can’t run the game.
In general, here are some things worth taking note of.
A tiny screen can be a bit of an issue when you’re gaming. Naturally, you want to be able to see the game that you’re playing, and it’s easier to see multiple things at once when you have a bigger screen.
This is particularly important for a lot of newer triple A games out there. With that being said though, bigger screens are also much heavier and obviously larger, so this can make them a little trickier to carry around with you.
This is a decision you will need to make, is portability or a full view more important to you, and can you get the full enjoyment out of your game with a smaller screen size?
You also need to consider what size screen you need for the other things you will use the laptop for.
The resolution is another important thing to consider. Usually, the minimum resolution you’ll need for a gaming laptop is 1920 x 1080, otherwise you’re going to get some pretty poor graphics which will take away from your enjoyment.
Touch screen laptops aren’t entirely necessary for gaming unless you’re going to be playing a lot of games that require a touch screen. They are also normally a lot more expensive and the touch screen can sometimes cause strain on the battery life.
The CPU is the hub of your PC, it’s what makes your laptop function at the speed that it does. It’s kind of like the computer’s brain - without a good CPU, everything else is pretty much redundant.
A good graphics card is nice, but having something look good that doesn’t perform well is a little bit pointless.
Usually, most of the CPUs you will find out there are manufactured by Intel - the most common manufacturer of CPUs. With that being said, AMD are usually cheaper CPUs so they’re usually better for a cheaper budget under $400.
The general rule is that the newer CPUs are usually faster and provide a better performance than the older ones, so some of the older ones will be a little behind the newer ones.
Don’t worry too much about GPU when you’re looking for a budget gaming laptop. There are hundreds or great graphics cards out there but the best of the best are usually very expensive. If you prioritise getting a good graphics card over anything else you’re likely to make some sacrifices on performance.
Usually at this price the laptop will have an integrated GPU instead of a discreet processor, so don’t expect excellent quality graphics but it’s the experience of the gaming that’s important.
RAM isn’t exactly a deciding factor when it comes to buying a good gaming laptop, but it’s still something that you should keep in mind when making your decision.
The RAM you get depends on the budget, so with a lower cost comes less RAM, and thus less memory. If you can get more RAM, your computer will process tasks quicker if you perform them a lot, so you’ll get faster load time.
This is particularly beneficial for games with lots of features.
The best amount of RAM to get is 8GB. If you only play casual games you can use 4GB of RAM. RAM is, then, a useful consideration to make to improve your laptop speed, and you can add more at a later date without a lot of hassle.
The amount of storage you get will depend on personal preference. You’ve got two main choices, a Hard Drive or a Solid State Drive, each of which will have unique qualities from the other.
HDD laptops tend to come with a 1TB hard drive, and these older hard drives give the user a lot more storage capacity for a decent price than you would get on a SSD.
These hard drives also run slightly slower than an SSD would and it’s slightly more susceptible to being damaged.
Instead of a HDD you can get a solid state drive, which offers a lot more speed which is perfect for a gaming PC as you’ll get better performance. As you can imagine a SSD drive will also cost you more money, but it provides a much better gaming experience. The question is, how much space do you need?
Potential to Upgrade
Technology is constantly changing, so having the ability to upgrade your laptop when specifications improve is a massive plus side to a laptop. You’ll be pleased to learn that a lot of laptops under $400 offer the ability to upgrade later down the line.
It’s a bit tricky to upgrade a GPU and CPU, but you may have the ability to improve the RAM and the hard drive it comes with. This can help you to create a better gaming experience down the road.
Trackpad and Keyboard
If you’re a gamer, it’s worth investing in a separate keyboard and mouse for your laptop for easier playability, as it can sometimes be difficult to play a lot of games on a laptop trackpad, especially in a laptop under $400.
You don’t need to worry too much about the built-in keyboard and laptop if you buy them separately. They can also be upgraded later on if need be.
There’s not much use in looking for a good gaming laptop in a MacBook for under $400 as the chances are you won’t find one that’s worth it for that purpose.
This isn’t a huge problem as a lot of games tend to prioritise Windows operating systems and certain games are only available on Windows machines too.
Most computers will now run Windows 10, whether it’s the normal home edition or Windows Home S. Usually the standard version is better.
You could also consider a Linux operating system, but these are probably the least compatible systems with most games. You could get a mix between a Linux and Windows if you do prefer the customizability of Linux.
Last update on 2021-01-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API