Today I’ll have a look at a new entry level laptop model from ASUS, called the ASUS Laptop E406MA-DH21. It’s always hard discussing low end notebooks, since they’re usually not that flexible for a wide range of users. Still, judging by today’s standards, the E406 offers surprisingly decent performance and portability.
The ASUS E406MA-DH21 comes with an entry-level Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor. This is an energy efficient Gemini Lake CPU designed for cheaper devices. It has 4 cores, 4 threads, 4 megabytes of cache size and a clock speed ranging from 1.1 GHz to 2.7 GHz. Considering its specs, this processor will handle most everyday tasks. Don’t expect it to launch programs too quickly, or handle multitasking with much ease. This is an entry level CPU, after all.
System memory is fixed at 4 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM, which means you can’t expand it any further. I don’t think you’ll need to, either. It’s adequate for the amount of processing power the ASUS brings to the table. Windows will work OK, everyday apps and programs as well, multitasking will be limited, but programs like Lightroom or Photoshop will likely work slower than usual on the E406MA-DH21.
Storage space is more than I expected from such a cheap laptop. It offers a 128-gigabyte eMMC drive. Not as fast as an SSD, not as roomy as an HDD, the eMMC is basically flash memory that offers a compromise between speed and affordability. You’ll likely want to use either an external drive or a cloud service for your extra storage needs.
Graphics and display
Don’t expect to play any games on this laptop. It’s not equipped in any way, shape or form to handle gaming. Not only is the processor too weak, the system memory inadequate, it doesn’t have a dedicated video card either. Not a surprise for a laptop that costs about $300, is it? The ASUS E406MA-DH21 features an integrated model from Intel, the UHD Graphics 605. You’ll be able to stream Full HD videos without much trouble.
Its display is rather nice for an entry level laptop. It does offer Full HD resolution on its 14-inch screen with great viewing angles, similar to those we see on IPS displays. However, colors won’t be as rich and vivid as you see on more premium notebooks. Still, I can’t complain.
The thing that struck me the most about the ASUS E406 is how lightweight it is. You don’t get to see many low-end laptops being built this well, weighing this little. This model is almost on ultrabook territory when it comes to portability. It weighs just 2.87 pounds (1.3 kg), meaning that you’ll be able to carry it around almost everywhere you may need to go. I wouldn’t necessarily keep it as a travel laptop, but I would commute with it most days if I had to.
Battery life is also impressive. One full charge will last around 11 to 12 hours, enough for most working professionals and casual users. Not having to keep the charger around with you everywhere you go drastically improves portability as well.
Who’s it good for?
Inexpensive laptops exist for a specific set of users. Namely, folks who don’t really need all that extra processing power from superior CPUs. If all your doing is browsing the Internet, editing some documents, sending emails and streaming the occasional online content, than this ASUS model may be a good choice. Sure, a $700 notebook will run apps more fluidly, yet you’ll end up paying for extra resources you won’t actually end up using anyway.
How does the ASUS compare to similar laptops?
So, how well does the ASUS Laptop E406MA-DH21 fare against similarly priced laptops?
I’ll start with a cheaper notebook from the same brand: the ASUS L406MA-AB02. It costs less, but is overall much worse as a device. It has a slower CPU, less storage space and a smaller screen resolution. At the time of this review, the latter was just $50 less than the model I’m reviewing today. The performance difference is well worth the small price difference.
Another contender would be the Acer Aspire A515-43-R19L. I’ve covered the more powerful Intel powered version in depth here. This model (the A515-43-R19L) is slightly more expensive than the ASUS, but offers superior performance. For instance, it’s fitted with a much better AMD Ryzen 3 2200U, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128-gigabyte SSD (not eMMC). However, if you like your laptops lightweight, the 14″ ASUS E406MA-DH21 is vastly superior to the 15.6″ Acer.
I can’t think of other laptops approaching this level of performance at such a low price range other than Chromebooks. And it would be unfair to compare them, they’re like apples and pears.
ASUS Laptop E406MA-DH21 Spec Sheet
- Display: 14″ LED-backlit FHD anti-glare panel, IPS like viewing angles
- Processor: Intel Pentium Silver N5000
- System memory: 4GB DDR4
- Storage space: 128GB eMMC
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 605
- Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Interface: 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A, HDMI 1.4, microSD card reader, COMBO audio jack
- Keyboard: Chiclet keyboard, not backlit
- Webcam: VGA webcam
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home in S mode
- Battery: 3-cell 56Whr battery pack
- Weight: 2.86 pounds
- Dimensions: 12.8″ x 8.9″ x 0.7″
As far as affordable laptops go, the ASUS Laptop E406MA-DH21 is almost an outlier. It offers decent performance, fantastic portability and, best of all, everything you’ll need for everyday tasks. Sure, it lacks a USB Type-C port, and its display quality isn’t the best out there, but for around $300 (price available at the time of this writing) what more can you ask?
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