Linksys EA9500 Router Review (Tri-Band AC5400 feat. RE7000 and WUSB6100M) - HardwareHeaven.comHardwareHeaven.com
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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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Linksys EA9500 Router Review (Tri-Band AC5400 feat. RE7000 and WUSB6100M)

Linksys EA9500 Router Review (Tri-Band AC5400 feat. RE7000 and WUSB6100M)

In the tech industry, the majority of components receive┬áregular performance boosts or enhancements. Faster CPUs, more advanced┬áGPUs, new interfaces for SSDs and so on. One area which has remained pretty stagnant over time is WiFi. We have slowly moved through the various speed increases over the past decade and a half with the most recent standard being ac in 2013. Within that ac┬átech we’ve seen manufacturers push speed limits but essentially the majority of routers are capped at the same theoretical speed. So it takes a manufacturer to think out of the box a little bit in order to push the industry forward for consumers That is exactly what Linksys have done with their latest router featuring tri-bands (2.4Ghz and dual 5GHz!) and today we take a look at it in our Linksys EA9500 Router Review.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – Packaging and Bundle

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We get some fairly familiar packaging from Linksys on their new router. Very similar styling to previous models with all the key features covered in various sections around the box. Inside we find the router, well protected by cardboard and bundled with it is a PSU, some product documentation, software disc and a cat 5e network cable.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – The EA9500

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As routers go, the EA9500 is a substantial device. It measures 264.52 x 318.15 x 66.66 mm and weighs just over 1.7Kg. The majority of the chassis is a matte plastic with the top surface featuring a large perforated area for airflow. In the centre, towards the front, is a glossy panel which has LEDs beneath and around the edges of the unit are eight antennas. Inside the router we have a dual core, 1.4GHz CPU and tri-band technology along with 4×4 MU-MIMO. That’s one 2.4GHz band with 2x5GHZ. Our 2.4GHz network runs at 1000Mbps with each 5GHz supporting 2133Mbps. All major encryption standards, such as┬áWPA/WPA2, are supported and an SPI firewall is present. The router also supports storage and printer sharing over USB.

The other feature of note is support for seamless roaming. When we connect a device such as the RE7000 range extender from Linksys our network will allow devices to move between the router, bands and extender so that we are always connected to the strongest signal when moving through the building.

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Looking down the left side of the router we find no buttons or ports, however the right side is home to a couple of discrete buttons, one for WPS setup and one for WiFi on/off. Flipping the EA9500 over we find that there are four rubber feet, plenty of holes for airflow and an info sticker which gives the factory set security details.

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At the rear of the router we find two USB ports, one 2.o spec, and the other 3.0 spec. A single WAN port is present and it sits alongside the reset button and power input. A rocker switch is over on the right for power on/off. Most notable though is the panel of GB LAN ports, eight in total.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – Enhancing the Network

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Bundled with our router were a couple of extra items from Linksys, the first being a compact wireless-ac USB adapter weighing less that 6grams. Speed wise we have AC600 spec (433Mbps on 5GHz) and it is plug and play compatible on Windows. Finally, MU-MIMO is supported.

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Also bundled, maximising our range is the RE7000 range extender which takes up a single plug socket. It arrives with a basic bundle of some documentation and software disc and is a compact form factor extender. The plug can be changed depending on the region and it has a single GB LAN port on its base. The right side is the location for the power, WPS and reset functions and on the front is some branding along with a status LED. As far as specs go, this is an AC1900+ product on wireless-ac (300Mbps 2.4Ghz and 1733Mbps on 5GHz). The RE7000 supports MU-MIMO, beamforming, and seamless roaming.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – Setup

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Setup of the EA9500 is a very simple process. We connect to the router and that auto-launches the setup wizard in our browser. From there we are walked through the process. This includes setting up an admin password, choosing our security and making a decision about remote access.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – Software

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Once up and running we monitor and maintain our router through the above interface. It uses the same layout and features the same functionality as we have seen in previous Linksys products which is no bad thing. All the key options we would expect are present starting with a summary of the router status as well as quick enable/disable options for guest access and parental controls. We can take a look at the network map which is a handy way to see which devices are connected and a speed test lets us confirm if our connection is performing correctly. The parental controls allow us to restrict specific devices from accessing sites and this can be configured down to specific times of day too. File sharing, print sharing, media prioritisation and VPN configuration are all available as is a panel which allows us to manually update firmware, disable the LEDs or tweak our security. Troubleshooting assists us with solving any issues that may develop and we can also configure the routers firewall as well as configure how it behaves with specific apps/games, prioritising those heavy eSports sessions, as one example. Mobile apps are also available, allowing us to manage the router from our phone/tablet etc.

Linksys EA9500 Router Review – Conclusion

We’ll get to the EA9500 in a moment but first a few words on the extender and USB adapter that we also tested. On the extender our experience was very positive. It is compact, feels solid, offers good performance and is very simple to set-up. Essentially plug in, hit WPS and we are done. As for the WUSB6100M (which is a Windows only product currently), we get that Linksys want to show off the MU-MIMO functionality and performance of the EA9500 but for the average user, the performance from this adapter is pretty average. With a limit of 433Mbps on 5GHz, the adapter is slower than many WiFi adapters pre-installed in systems. The Intel AC 7265 which HP use in their Ultrabooks is significantly faster. It is easy to connect, though. Just plug in, select the WiFi network and click connect. So those who have an older WiFi product at the moment will find it to be a quick and easy upgrade to a product with the latest features.

As for the EA9500… it is probably worth noting that upon unboxing it the majority of those who saw it responded with some form of expletive, in a positive way. This thing is huge, but it is impressively huge. There is no denying that it draws attention thanks to the chassis size and those eight antennas. The overall styling is decent, the port and button layout is good and there are no garish LEDs.

On the software front, we’ve been fans of the Linksys control panel and mobile app for a while now. To see them present here is great. Responsive, intuitive┬áand feature packed. They allow us to manage the device with ease. We were also pleased to see that Linksys have implemented auto firmware updates so that the router is always running the latest version, without any interaction from us. The setup process is also fast and simple, taking less than 10 minutes from unboxing to having a working WiFi network.

So that brings us to performance, where the EA9500 was flawless. The router handled everything we could throw at it. Streaming multiple 4k content streams which gaming, surfing, downloading and uploading from multiple devices concurrently… we noticed no slowdown. In fact, the only limit we hit was that of our internet connection from the ISP. That will likely always be your limit, not the EA9500. Ideal. We were also pleased with the seamless roaming process which worked flawlessly as we wandered around.

Summary: Fantastic performance, huge capacity for devices, great features and a solid control panel. A worthy winner of our Performance Award.

Performance Award

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Linksys EA9500 Router
Author Rating
5

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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