Best Laptop for under $400 USD


Oct 25, 2011
Hey all,

Looking for a laptop to present my fiancee with for christmas. Hey old ibook is on the fritz and I'd like to surprise her. We set up a limit of $200 for xmas gifts for each other, but I don't think she'd mind if I break the rules this one time. Here goes:

1. What is your budget?
$400 max....but I'm willing to go up to $450 given that there will be tons of sales between now and christmas

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
Something greater than 15"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
1080 would be nice, but I don't think that she'd really care if it was 720

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
I want it to be a desktop replacement

5. How much battery life do you need?
This is not an important feature.

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
She generally plays web-based games (farmville, yahoo games) and some simple windows games (solitaire, minesweeper). I recently introduced civilization 5 to her on my desktop and she absolutely loves it. If I could find a laptop that could play it on even the lowest settings that would be great.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
She has a lot of pictures, but I don't think she'd be doing much editing. This would be more of an e-mail, ms office machine for her.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
500GB if possible

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
The site with the best deal and reasonable customer service usually gets my business.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
Given her basic computing needs, it would be nice if it lasted 3-4 years

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
I don't think this will matter too much. The most basic DVD-ROM drive will do.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
I don't have strong preferences, but I've had good experiences with Toshiba and HP laptops in the past. She prefers apple products, but has come to the realization that it's not worth the extra money to pay for a brand in which the same features can be purchased in a product with a significantly lower price.

13. What country do you live in?

Thank you all for your suggestions. This site has been great for me in the past and I look forward to your comments.
Also in your price range @ BestBuy:
HP Pavilion G7 17" laptop $430
Core i3-2330M 2.2Ghz Sandy Bridge CPU, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 17.3" 1600x900 LCD w/ Intel HD 3000 graphics.

Core i3-2330M is a peppy dual core CPU and HD 3000 graphics will do fine for everything but Civ5. It should be a major upgrade in performance over an older ibook.

This would be my recommendation, considering your budget.



Oct 25, 2011
thanks for your help WR2. I have a 570 in my desktop, and I had a feeling there wouldn't be anything in my price range. Just wanted to see if there was a chance.
It was certainly worth checking out.
You were looking at something like $700 for a laptop that would do well at Low settings and full screen on Civ5.

That GTX 570 should be sweet for her taking a swing through Civ5.
I predict you'll spend a bit more time on the laptop than you might have expected.