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Echo CS-400 review

The Echo CS-400 is a good value gas chainsaw, with a choice of bar lengths, that works efficiently and reliably for various outdoor and larger garden tasks.

Echo CS-400 review
(Image: © Echo)

For

  • Easy to start
  • Pro-grade two-stroke engine
  • Inertia-type chain brake for safety
  • Good for tree-trimming

Against

  • Newer models available

The Echo CS-400 is a reliable and efficient gas chainsaw from one of the best chainsaw brands in the industry. Echo is well-respected for its ability to offer high quality chainsaws for less, and the CS-400 is testament to this. It actually looks like a professional tool, despite its smaller price tag, and has a nice suite of features that make it easy to start, even during winter, and more comfortable to use. 

At the same time, the Echo CS-400 lacks a tool-free chain tensioner, which we'd expect to find on similar tools. However, it makes up for that oversight (depending on your viewpoint) with additional key features including vibration reduction and a two-stroke 40.2cc engine.

Echo CS-400 review: Design

Echo has designed the CS-400 for professional tree care operators, farmers and ranchers, as well as for use around bigger gardens populated by trees and larger, denser bushes. Though if you work on a farm or have a very large, mature garden, we also recommend checking out the Stihl 271 Farm Boss

The CS-400 has the same features as the CS-370, but isn't as powerful or as versatile as the Echo CS-310-14. The CS-400 uses a 40.2cc professional-grade two-stroke engine and boasts an adjustable oiler to match the different cutting conditions you may come across in an outdoor environment. 

Echo has also fitted the chainsaw with a heavy-duty automative-style air filter for enhanced filtration when it's in use, plus a G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner to reduce air filter maintenance over the years. 

As mentioned earlier in our Echo CS-400 review, the chainsaw has an i-30 starting system designed to reduce starting effort by 30%, so you should be up and running quickly. There's also a cold weather by-pass for easier starting during the winter. You have a choice of bar length too, with 16" and 18" bars on offer.

A computerized ignition advance automatically adjusts the engine timing, while a vibration reduction system works to make the chainsaw more comfortable for you to operate, especially during longer cutting sessions. 

The Echo CS-400 looks and feels solid, and balances well in the hand, helped along by a wrap-around handle at the front of the chainsaw. Even with the longer 18" bar, the chainsaw is perfectly balanced. The rear handle is fully enclosed, and there's a step plate for placing your foot while kick-starting the engine.

The pull-starter is on the left of the chainsaw, along with access for the chain oil and fuel. On the right-hand side you'll find a T-wrench style chain tensioner. The cut-off switch is basically a steel toggle that's durable and easy to grip.

Echo CS-400 review: the chainsaw photographed at an angle

(Image credit: Echo)

Echo CS-400 review: Performance

The Echo CS-400 is easy to use and to maintain. When the saw gets dirty, you won't have any issues accessing the major components for cleaning. The 16" bar length helps the chainsaw achieve a significant amount of stability when cutting, though obviously the chain tension will play largely to its success. While adjusting the chain tension may prove problematic due the need for a tool to make that change, frequent tension adjustments shouldn't be necessary.

Other chainsaws choose to approach vibration dampening through the use of coiled springs. In comparison, the Echo CS-400 approaches the problem with rubber bushings. The change in material simulates the characteristics of a coil, but without the potential for reduced resistance over time due to frequent vibrations from the engine. 

The rubber bushings are actually made of a polyurethane material capable of being as soft as a rubber band or as hard as plastic, taking the middle ground on this to absorb some of the shock of the engine vibration while still minimizing its effect on operators.

We like how the Echo CS-400 uses an automotive-style air filter, which is a much higher quality filter than you'd usually find on a chainsaw of this price. It ensures you're breathing cleaner air when using the chainsaw, and the entire filter is easy to clean too. It's the same story with the fuel filter. In fact, maintenance of the entire chainsaw is very simple. 

Echo CS-400 review: the chainsaw photographed from the back to show the controls

(Image credit: Echo)

Starting the CS-400 is easy thanks to the i-30 starter system. With the choke off, just one pull is enough to kick-start the chainsaw. Priming the bulb, engaging the choke and pulling the cord starts the engine in two quick pulls. Once it's up and running, you'll be surprised at the noise output. While it certainly isn't quiet at 82dB SPL, it isn't rocket launcher volume either, so you won't feel too bad about letting it rip in the garden on a Saturday afternoon.

However, when you really crank the CS-400 it can reach up to 107dB SPL, which will damage your hearing over time if you persistently use the chainsaw without any form of ear protection such as earplugs.

In terms of performance, the Echo CS-400 easily handled every job we threw at it, from quartering a tree stump to cutting up old decking and felling a small tree. For pruning and storm clearance, also look at the Kobalt KCS 120-07 40 Volt Cordless chainsaw. The cutting precision of the CS-400 was noticeable, and the integrated vibration reduction system made it more comfortable to hold throughout.

Should you buy the Echo CS-400?

The Echo CS-400 comes with a standard warranty, but be aware that using the chainsaw with the incorrect type of oil can void the warranty - check the user guide for full instructions and maintenance tips before using the chainsaw. With that out of the way, the CS-400 is a solid and reliable chainsaw with an impressive array of features. It's ideal for light-to-medium cutting tasks, including tree-trimming, cutting up old decking, and other wood-cutting jobs outdoors and in larger gardens.