Let me paint a picture:My background is in purchasing, I am a research nerd. I used to spend in excess of 50 million a year for the largest retailer of its kind in my industry, I am obsessive when comparing details and am even more obsessed with getting every last ounce of value for my money. I am not the most tech savvy person you will ever meet, but I believe I am above average, and I also believe I am a realistic person with regards to my expectations.
Aside to all the above details about myself. Here is the Best Laptop under $400 which you can purchase in 2018
This is a fantastic laptop for the majority of people, I do not intend to do heavy gaming or run heavy/complex programs. This laptop is like the F-150 of laptops (sorry Chevy fans) , yes some people need an F-250 or even F-350 for towing/hauling, but for most people an F-150 is all they will ever need.
With that said, I spent about 20 working hours comparing over 400 laptops (nerd) from all major brands, and looked at over 300 deals(super nerd) offered on laptops by all major retailers on both black friday and cyber monday. I chose this laptop for $329 on cyber monday, and although it was only $20 off, versus others that were $200 or more off, this was still the most computer for the money.
Here is why to buy Acer E5-575-33BM laptop:
1) Newest Kaby Lake generation 7 Intel processor, low 15 watt usage and great speed for the price. Runs quiet and cool.
2) DDR4 ram, again the latest and greatest, also happens to be the cheapest ram available. Ram prices have an inverse relationship to normal consumer priced goods. Most things cost more when new, but because PC components become obsolete so quickly, when ram is first introduced this is the product being currently manufactured, which in turn means supply can easily exceed demand, which means lower prices. Once ram is no longer being actively manufactured the supply dries up and prices increase. Also ram can EASILY be added to this laptop, takes less than 5 minutes and costs exactly $24.99 for the best available, here is the link to the 4GB stick I added here.
***Additional note about ram, I chose to purchase an additional stick of 4gb rather than a 8gb or 16gb. There is a phenomenon known as “dual channel” with regards to ram, the concept is that if you have 2 like sticks of ram (they need to match in a few tech specs), in the exact same size, ie: 2 sticks of 4gb of ram, your pc will be able to access both sticks of ram at the same time. If you have 2 mismatched sticks, like a 4gb and an 8gb, then the pc will access only 1 at a time. Therefore after talking to a computer genius friend of mine and doing about an hours research on this specific application, my best guess is that the extra money on the 8gb stick of ram would be a waste, two 4gb sticks of dual channel ram will out perform a 4gb and 8gb stick together for most applications. Also please note that for 99% of users 8gb of ram total is plenty. My personal opinion of adding more than 8gb of ram to this specific laptop would be like putting the most expensive Z rated tires on your honda accord, yes the tires might be rated for 200mph, but will you ever utilize it? If you do want to have more than 8gb of ram total, I would recommend purchasing 2 identical sticks of 8gb or 16gb ram to utilize dual channel.
3) Full 1080 HD LED back lit (vs LCD) Screen, pretty much unheard of for this price. LED backlit biggest advantage is it uses less energy, thus better battery life. Also has a matte finish screen, I prefer the look of a glossy screen (good for a desktop in a controlled lighting environment), but because laptops travel with you to different places, you often times have reflection problems with a glossy screen.
4) Battery life, best battery life you can get for anywhere close to 3x the cost of this pc. Please know that 12 hours is in best case scenario, meaning lowest screen brightness, and NOT playing videos or games or other CPU intensive tasks. Based on my first week of use I feel comfortable planning on a solid 7 to 10 hours of normal use. Please note that the battery is not easily removed, as one reviewer put, “let your future self worry about that”.
****Note on battery, ACER has a specific process for breaking in your battery. If you do not follow it you WILL limit its potential. If you are too lazy to find the manual online here is my summary of what they say: Charge laptop to full (charge light turns to blue) before you ever turn it on. Then leave the laptop plugged in while the computer updates, it will not update and boot up the first time without being plugged in. As soon as updates are completed unplug the laptop and use the PC until the battery is almost dead. Then charge it to full and immediately unplug and discharge to near empty. Do this cycle a total of 3 times to condition your battery for its best longevity.
5) Back LIT keyboard, there is no other laptop back of $800 that offers a backlit keyboard that I could find. This means the keys light up when one is pushed, you will absolutely love this feature if you have never had it. Also the keys are crisp but very easy to use, I love them.
6) Easily upgrade-able. I will briefly touch on this, because other reviews have done a fine job of addressing it. Basically to turn this PC from great to ridiculously amazing do 2 things. The first is add ram (although mine operated for almost a week very well on the stock 4GB). The second is add a SSD or Solid State Hard Drive. To make a long story short the motherboard for this PC has 2 spots for a hard drive, the SATA and the m.2. The 1TB stock hard drive is installed on the sata slot. That means the m.2 slot is open. You can either purchase a traditional sata SSD and replace the existing hard drive, or purchase a m.2 SSD and have 2 hard drives. The latter is the option I chose, I am placing the operating system and programs on the SSD because it is much quicker, and I will place files (Photos, games, music, movies) on the stock drive. ***If you decide to pull the stock hard drive, you can purchase a usb case for it and turn it into an external hard drive that connects via usb cable.
7) Newest AC wifi technology for fastest speeds
8) All the other tech stuff you want like usb 3, hdmi, CD RW drive, blah blah blah.
9) Fit and finish is excellent. Speakers are also stupid good for this price range.
Reason’s to not buy:
1) You need more of a workhorse PC
2) You print money in your basement and don’t care about value
3) You don’t like Henry Fords philosophy of “you can have any color you like as long as it is black”, because this PC only comes in the 1 color.
Conclusion: Sometimes, and much more rarely than you would think, a manufacturer actually listens to customers and gives them everything they want at a great price. This laptop is a unicorn in the fact that it has ALL SOLID FEATURES, with 2 potentially weak spots for some users (ram and hard drive). But these are easily upgraded, and the truth is (regardless of what tech nerds might argue), 4gb of ram, and the included hard drive are more than adequate for the majority of users. The only real question you have to ask yourself is do you have the patience to wait, or will you pony up for 1 day shipping?