Linksys EA9300 Max-Stream AC4000 Tri-Band Router

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Product: Linksys EA9300 Max-Stream AC4000 Tri-Band WiFi Router
Provided By: Linksys
Price: $299.99 MSRP at time of publication

 

Introduction:

Today we are looking at a new router from Linksys. The last router we looked at from them was the EA7500 and then have followed up with Velop system. This router steps up the game from the last router though with an extra 5GHz band and therefore, more throughput - when connected with compatible hardware. Marketing claims say that this is about 2x as fast as their previous model, but if you're connected via a single 2.4GHz band, you're still going to be limited. There are more and more wireless devices that take advantage of 802.11ac tri-band options and if you have one of those, you'll get some pretty blistering throughput on your end. If not, you'll simply get great wireless performance on a whole host of devices without slowing any of them down.

The Linksys EA9300 is a MU-MIMO router that supports multiple users with multiple inputs and outputs per client. This should deliver pretty stellar performance for the busiest of home networks.

Box Front Box Back

 

First Look:

The EA9300 has a very similar external style as their other EA8350 and EA7500 products - but this one is a bit thicker. As for the basic appearance, it's pretty traditional. It has a bunch of antenna on it in order to improve range and to provide bandwidth to a bunch of connected clients. As for router performance itself, it shouldn't be short of power as it has a 1.8Ghz quad-core processor inside as well as three other micro-processors. We have pushed this router pretty hard throughout testing, and have never had any issues with packet-loss or slowdowns as we enables QoS on a bunch of different clients.

Bundle

 

In the bundle we located a half-dozen antennae, a short Ethernet cable, the power adapter and of course a quick-install guide. All of these add up to a very basic bundle - but one that will easily get the job done. Although this MAX-STREAM router is part of the Smart Wi-Fi family from Linksys, it doesn't have an NFC card or anything similar that we saw in a previous model to make connection to the unit super simple. Instead, you have to rely on WPS or entering a security key manually.

EA9300 Router Profile

 

With the router now laid bare before us, there really isn't a lot more to explain as we tour around. The front is super non-exciting, but the rear is a wee bit interesting. There two USB3.0 ports on the rear of the unit as well as a reset button, and five GB Ethernet ports. One of these is marked for the Internet - and other is also capable of internet as well (think dual-provider and load-balancing), and the other four are set for your local network. To the right of all of these ports is the power connector and a power switch.

Rear Profile

 

The power switch is a nice touch as many routers require a very ungraceful unplug if they need to be rebooted or if you're going away on holidays for an extended period and you want to disable your network while you are away. The switch makes this process a little more eloquent.

On the next page we'll cover the features and specifications of the EA9300 before we carry on through setup and performance testing.


Features At a Glance:

The following features and specifications have been pulled from the Linksys website for your convenience.

  • Next-Gen AC Wi-Fi - MU-MIMO technology
  • Tri-band Technology
  • Wi-Fi speeds up to 4.0 Gbps
  • 6 external antennas for expanded range

 

More Features:

  • TRI-BAND WI-FI TECHNOLOGY - Three bands that deliver the fastest combined Wi-Fi speeds to more devices.
  • MU-MIMO READY - Latest Wireless-AC technology for simultaneously streaming and gaming on multiple devices.
  • VERY LARGE HOUSEHOLD - Experience powerful Wi-Fi coverage throughout a very large house.
  • EASY SETUP - Installation is fast and easy. No CD required.
  • 3X3 AC - Three simultaneous data streams on each band for faster performance.
  • ADVANCED WIRELESS SECURITY - Safeguard your network with wireless WPA/WPA2 encryption and an SPI firewall.
  • 2x USB 3.0 PORTs - Share files and add external storage across your network with the USB 3.0 port. USB 3.0 offers enhanced speeds over 2.0.
  • QUAD-CORE CPU - 1.8 GHz quad-core processor for extremely fast data transfer speeds.
  • ADVANCED BEAMFORMING+ - Maximize the Wi-Fi performance and coverage for both 2.4 and 5GHz.
  • LINKSYS APP - Monitor and control your home network from anywhere through the Linksys App website or mobile app.
  • ADJUSTABLE WI-FI ANTENNAS - Ensure optimal coverage and maximum signal strength throughout your home.
  • 5 GIGABIT ETHERNET PORTS - Transfer data 10x faster than Fast Ethernet, ensuring high-speed connectivity for wired devices.
  • SMART CONNECT - Automatic network prioritization on the two 5 GHz bands for optimized speed and performance.

 

Side Profile

 

Specifications:

Specifications

 

On the following page, we'll take a quick look at the router web interface, set it up and then jump into testing.

 


Web Interface & Setup:

The interface of the EA9300 follows along closely with other Smart Wi-Fi routers. In fact, the interface is pretty much exactly the same as the older EA7500 router we looked at over a year ago. The interface works, and once you get used to the graphical design, it works well. I do like the idea of it, but still prefer a more text-heavy interface like they use on their E8350 unit.

While the E8350 and EA7500 are both dual-core units that run at 1.4GHz, the EA9300 is a quad-core unit that runs a bit faster. The graphic interface is pretty and it takes a good CPU to run it. I found that with the older units, the interface felt sluggish, but with the EA9300 it feels nice and speedy. 

Instead of including a bunch of screenshots and written information detailing ever screen on the router, we've put together a bit of a video showcasing all of the settings, features, and setup of the EA9300. Please check out the video below and watch full screen at 1080p for best quality. 

 

Rear

 

Testing:

As far as performance goes, we fired up iperf to do a little benchmarking on this router. Iperf results show bandwidth that the network is capable of. In the real world, you don't often see wired transfer rates approaching 1000mbps because mechanical hard drives are barely fast enough to read and write at this speed. Also, CPU overhead can become an issue on slower systems when transferring data at high speed. We use iperf with confidence as it shows how good the network hardware actually is and if it can perform anywhere close to rated specs. We will be testing both wireless and wired performance.

Wired Performance

 

We have a whole pile of routers in this comparison table - all of which are Gigabit routers. Most are very close in performance with the poorest performance coming from the Rosewill T600N, followed by the DIR-655. The latest router from Linksys takes the crown with the fastest wired performance however. At 982 mbps - it's as close to a full 1000 mbps as we've ever seen.

On the next page, we'll continue testing and cover wireless performance.


Testing (Continued):

In the wireless testing we compared the EA9300 against the same batch of routers using 5GHz networks at the best speed if possible. For some of the older routers, they are limited to 2.4GHz and we'll remove them in a future review, but for now it helps you appreciate the speed of these new machines.

When connected to a solid 5GHz client, the router performed like a champ. I was able to consistently run over 400Mbps over a wireless connection to my aging Thinkpad T540p. This is the fastest Linksys router we've taken a look at in terms of wireless performance even though it gets edged out by the TP-Link Archer C3150.

Wireless Performance

 

Final Thoughts:

Overall the performance of the EA9300 is very solid. The upgraded quad-core CPU with extra micro-processors to handle beamforming, QoS, prioritization and more is a great touch. All of that extra power helps this router achieve the fastest wired throughput of any router we've tested. In terms of performance and power, this router won't leave you lacking on your home network or even your small office setup.

It did it all without a hiccup in the performance arena, without dropping connections and without slowdowns or crashing. I was impressed. I've used more expensive consumer-level routers in the past with poorer results. The range is very good and with this installed a mid-sized multi-level house, there were no issues connecting at the far edges and even outside if you stayed closed to the building.

What felt weak though was the limited Parental Controls and client devices that could be managed. You are allowed a total of 14 devices to manage - and while that won't be an issue on 95% of home networks, there are limitations, and this is a bit of a setback. There was no way to block certain sites across the entire network and we had to add custom rules for specific computers. Again, for home use, this won't be an issue - but it is worth mentioning.

The Smart Wi-Fi interface takes some time to get used to, but it seems to work well. I had no issues with it at all and have learned to like it quite a bit. As previously mentioned, some pages loaded slowly, but it didn't actually affect network performance. 

Pros:

  • Great wireless performance and range.
  • Tri-Band wireless with separate configuration
  • Secure Guest Network
  • MU-MIMO lives up to the promise
  • Can handle small business networks as easily as a home network


Cons:

  • Parental controls limited to 14 clients

 

Gold

 

There were a few complaints I had with the last Smart WiFi router I looked at from Linksys - and they've cleared them all up - except the number of computers you can apply parental controls to. While I'm sure that no one needs to add more than 14 machines to the control list at their home - if you use this in a SOHO environment, you may come up a little short. Still, the performance, range and overall ease of use make this a top choice here at BCCHardware.

If you have any questions, comments or general feedback, please feel free to post it in the forum right here.