Linksys 1750Mbps Wrieless Router & AC Networking

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Product(s): Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router AC 1750 HD Video Pro EA6500
Product(s): Linksys AE6000 Wi-Fi Wireless AC583 Dual-Band Mini USB Adapter
Provided By: Linksys
Price: Find Lowest Price on Linksys Here

Introduction:

A few years ago networking was pretty stale.  Gigabit wired networking was the pinnacle of achievement for consumers and small offices and 802.11n had reached a maximum capacity of 300-450Mbps theoretical throughput.  There was nothing exciting going on so companies decided to once again try powerline networking.  This filled a gap that allowed better ranges and still decent throughput using the wiring in your building.  Still, it was nothing all that groundbreaking.  Recently the introduction of 802.11ac networking has prompted some excitement however.  This new networking standard uses the 5GHz band and is backwards compatible with the 802.11n 2.4GHz band.  This means that a 802.11ac network should work with all of your older 2.4GHz equipment, but at the same time offer you a lot more performance if you have compatible hardware.

The specifications show that we could see wireless speeds of over 1Gb per second (in a multi-station environment) but we should be able to see single-link speeds of up to 500Mbps.  Of course this is all still theoretical speeds, but we are seeing some claims that certainly exceed the boring 450Mbps speed on a dual-band 802.11n network.

Boxes

Linksys is one of the companies that are on this bandwagon early and today we are looking at the EA6500 AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi router and are pairing it up with the AE6000 Wi-Fi Wireless AC583 Dual-Band Mini USB Adapter.  The router claims speeds of up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz "AC" band while still providing 450Mbps on the 802.11n 2.4GHz band.  The USB Adapter doesn't match up perfectly as it only has a maximum expected throughput of 433Mbps on the 5GHz band with 150Mbps available on the 2.4GHz band.  We will be taking a brief look at these pieces of hardware and then testing them out to see how this second 802.11ac networking gear holds up to our expectations and to its claims.

 

First Impressions:

The EA6500 looks pretty typical for a newer Linksys product - but it's super-sized.  It is massive compared to the E4200 series and this is due to all the extra internal antennae to handle the dual-band operations.  This should help with antennae and signal strength for starters and help the plastic housing to remain cooler as 802.11ac routers can get a little toasty.  Overall, this isn't much of a change from their previous generation of products and the design looks good.  It's nothing too dramatic, but it's nice.

Profile
EA6500 - Profile

EA6500 - Bottom
EA6500 - Bottom

EA6500 - Rear
EA6500 - Rear

 

EA6500 - Rear Ports

 

The bundle included with the router is more than adequate and comes with a couple of fun extras.  Included in the bundle is a power cord, a CD with a setup guide, a paper quick install guide as well as a NFC card that will quickly and easily help you connect NFC-enabled devices - even if you forget your password.  Speaking of NFC-enabled devices, such as phones, the EA6500 Smart Wi-Fi router has great Android and iOS Apps that will help you do all of the management on your router - through your mobile device.  This is a fun bonus that sets this router apart from the competition.  We'll continue on through the review to find out if the performance also sets it apart - and hopefully in a good way.

On the next page we'll quickly take a look at the features and specifications of the router before we jump into the AE6000 USB Adapter.


EA6500 Overview:

Only Linksys lets you explore a new world of powerful SMART Wi-Fi apps to control your devices and home network.
 
  • Linksys SMART Wi-FI (formerly Cisco Connect Cloud) - Router Management
  • Block the Bad Stuff - Parental Control Filtering
  • Device Monitr - Device Internet Monitoring
  • Netproofer - Web and Device Access Restriction
  • Gemini IP Camera Viewer - View IP Camera Video Streams
  • HipPlay - Media Player - Music Images Video

Next Generation Wireless Technology

Wireless AC technology was developed to optimize video streaming experiences. Providing gigabit Wi-Fi speeds allows for content to download faster and large video or music files to sync more quickly. With an increasing number of Wi-Fi devices in the home and greater Internet consumption, this new wireless standard will help meet your digital lifestyle demands. As your devices and Wi-Fi usage increases, make sure you have the latest wireless technology to get the most out of your connected experiences.

A new way to optimize your connected life
The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router with AC wireless technology includes Cisco Connect Cloud to give you visibility into your home network from anywhere at any time. With your Linksys Smart Wi-Fi router you have the opportunity to get an ever-growing set of new capabilities through mobile apps. These mobile apps will empower you to easily enhance and control your connected life.

Ultimate Wireless Speed*
The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router EA6500 is built with the latest Draft 802.11ac wireless technology for speeds approximately 3x faster than Wireless-N. The EA6500 is ideal for fast HD video and media streaming.

Superior Wireless Coverage*

The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router EA6500 is built with high power amplifiers and is designed to achieve ultimate range, increasing HD video and media streaming coverage area in the home.

SimpleTab Technology
Easily connect Wi-Fi devices to your home network with a push of a button (WPS) or a tap (included SimpleTap card to connect NFC-enabled devices). Through a Cisco Connect Cloud mobile app, you can use Wi-Fi Protected Setup to easily add devices without having to go to your router. Once you have a Cisco Connect Cloud account, you can use the included SimpleTap card to easily add NFC-enabled mobile devices by tapping your card on the NFC-enabled device.

2 USB Ports**
Simultaneously access and share your stored USB content and printer.

Broad Wireless Compatibility
Connect computers, HDTVs, media players, game consoles, smartphones, printers and more to your network and Internet connection. The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router EA6500 is backward compatible with a/b/g/n Devices.

The Power of Dual-Band
Double your network bandwidth with dual-band N (2.4 and 5 GHz) designed to help avoid interference and maximize throughput for smoother HD video streaming, file transfers, and wireless gaming.

Benefits of Gigabit
Use the four Gigabit ports for quick file sharing, 10x faster than standard Ethernet, between other Gigabit-enabled devices.

DNLA Certified Media Server
The built-in DLNA Certified media server enables media streaming to your TV, Xbox 360, PS3, or other DLNA compatible devices.

SpeedBoost Technology
Higher quality antenna technology helps to maintain high speeds across greater distances throughout your home for maximum wireless coverage and in-home mobility.

Advanced Security
Help keep your network and personal information protected with advanced WPA2 encryption and integrated firewall.

Quality of Service (QoS)
Traffic prioritization technology delivers smoother performance for music, voice and video.

Quick to Install
Included Cisco Connect software helps you set up your home wireless network in a few easy steps.

IPv6 Enabled
The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router EA6500 supports the latest Internet Protocol technology to future-proof your network.

 

  • Model: Linksys EA6500-CA
  • Technology: Wireless-AC
  • Bands: Simultaneous 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz
  • Transmit/Receive: 3 x 3 for 2.4 GHz, 3 x 3 for 5 GHz
  • Antennas: 6 Internal
  • OS Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Software Setup: CD Install
  • Ethernet Ports x Speed: 4 x Gigabit
  • Cisco Connect Software: Yes, App Enabled
  • USB Port: Yes, Shared Storage, Virtual USB and Media Server

 


AE6000 Information:

The Linksys AE6000 is the smallest 802.11ac networking adapter that I've seen so far.  This little unit is smaller than most flash drives and is tiny compared to the Trendnet TEW-805UB.  That being said, the Trendnet unit also promised much faster speeds.  Still, the AE6000 claims it can handle up to 433Mbps on the 5GHz band and we'll be finding out in a couple of pages if it can do anything close to that.  Also it is worth mentioning that the AE6000 is USB 2.0 only so it will work in order systems and in theory should still be able to handle most of the theoretical bandwidth available.  The maximum throughput of a USB 2.0 device is 480Mbps and with the AE6000 claiming a total of 583Mbps, I can already tell you that we won't be seeing this.  You'll have to shave at least 100Mbps off the top speed right off the bat.

AE6000 Bundle

 

The cap fits nicely on the AE6000 and helps protect it when not in use.  The beauty of the AE6000 is it's size - or lack thereof.  It's nice and small and won't block adjacent USB ports for most systems.  I am a big fan of it's small size.  The downside is that with such a small size, Linksys sacrifices performance in favor of it's small size.

AE6000 - Close
AE6000 - Close

AE6000 - Close
AE6000 - Close

The AE6000 doesn't have much of a bundle - but a USB adapter doesn't need much of a bundle.  It comes with a quick install guide as well as a CD with drivers.  Oddly enough the drivers didn't work on my installation of Windows 8 so I had to go get fresh drivers from the Trendnet site.  This is not a big deal - but Windows 8 came out long before this adapter so I'd expect the included drivers to work.

 

Features:

Next Generation Wireless Technology
Connect and upgrade your laptop or desktop computers to the newest, most powerful wireless-AC technology.

Ultimate Wireless Speed and the Power of Dual-Band
Up to 433 Mbps speed* on Wireless-AC 5 GHz band or up to 150 Mbps speed* on Wireless-N 2.4 GHz band

HD Video and Gaming Ready
Stream HD video and online gaming simultaneously throughout your home.

Performance Investment Protection
Compatibility with Wireless-A (802.11a), Wireless-B (802.11b), Wireless-G (802.11g), Wireless-N (802.11n) and Wireless-AC (802.11ac) Wi-Fi Standards.

Wi-Fi Security
Supports up to 128-bit encryption (WEP, WPA and WPA2).

Easy Setup with Router or Access Point
Support WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button for easy connection with wireless router or wireless access point.

Easy Computer Setup and Compatibility
Easy to use CD setup wizard and compatible with Microsoft Windows 8, 7, Vista SP1/SP2 and XP SP3.

Take Advantage of New Wireless-AC Routers, Access Points and Extenders
Compatible with all Wireless-AC 802.11ac routers, access points and extenders (Linksys, Belkin and others).

Specifications:

  • Model: Linksys AE6000-CA
  • Technology: Wireless-AC
  • Bands: Selectable 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz
  • Antennas: 1 Internal
  • OS Compatibility: Windows
  • Software Setup: CD Install

 

Now that we know what we are getting into, let's get into the router interface on the next page.


Web Interface and Setup:

The interface of the Linksys EA6500 is a bit different than other Linksys products I've looked at before.  The interface has a nice fresh look to it, and while I still prefer a text-heavy interface like Rosewill or Trendnet, the look and feel of the Linksys unit is pretty slick.  As we continue on through this page, I'll show a few images from the web interface as the functions are all pretty standard for a router - even if the interface is a bit more dynamic.  If you want to take a look at all of the screenshots, I do have them in an album for your viewing pleasure.  As I previously mentioned, we'll only cover a few key ones below.

Login Page

As with pretty much every router these days, you can choose manual setup with a custom password or pass phrase or you can use WPS.  One thing that Linksys adds to the Smart Wi-Fi routers is the inclusion of a NFC card that you can use with your Android devices to quickly and easily join the guest network if you've forgotten the password.  While this seems a little gimmicky, it's a pretty nifty feature to add with your router.

Main Screen

 

Linksys takes their USB storage on this device pretty seriously.  They include two USB 2.0 ports as we saw earlier and they have storage features, media streaming and FTP access available to devices that are plugged in.  This is a nice touch and a bonus if you want to add a USB flash drive or USB hard drive to your network without adding an expensive NAS solution.  The performance of course will not be as good, but it is a simple and easy way to share files on your network.

USB Storage - Status
USB Storage - Status

USB Storage - Folders
USB Storage - Folders

   

USB Storage - FTP
USB Storage - FTP

USB Storage - Media Server
USB Storage - Media Server

 

The router has all of the typical Wi-Fi setup configurations as most routers and this is pretty straightforward.  As for port forwarding and such, this too is also pretty standard.  As I mentioned before, one of the nifty features of this router is the Simple Tap feature.

Simple Tap

 

There are many more images of the interface that we didn't include in the review to save pages of information that is pretty basic.  Make sure to check out the gallery here for all of the images.  On the last page we'll take a look at the performance of the router and see how it performs.


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 actually capable of.  In the real world, you don't often see wired transfer rates approaching 1000mpbs because hard drives are barely fast enough to read and write at this speed.  Also, CPU overhead can become an issue when transferring this much data.  We use iperf with confidence as it shows how good the network hardware actually is and if it can perform anywhere close to its rated specs.  We will be testing wired performance, then wireless performance compared with a bunch of routers.  Lastly, we'll show how well the Linksys EA6500 works with different wireless devices.

Gigabit Wired Performance Wireless Network Performance

 

For reference we compared this router to the Trendnet TEW-812DRU, Rosewill T600N, as well as the Trendnet TEW-691GR, TEW-672GT and the Linksys WRT610N, E4200 and the D-Link DGL-4500 and DIR-655.  Many of the wireless adapters have changed over the years but we have always been using the current equivalents throughout these tests to keep everything as close to realistic as possible.  As you can see, the results of the Linksys EA6500 are in red, and when it comes to wired performance it's in the middle of the pack.  It tops out at just under 920Mbps (out of 1000Mbps), coming in behind a couple of Trendnet products, a couple of Linksys products and the D-Link Gamerlounge DGL-4500.  Wireless performance favors 802.11ac products and this router is almost twice as fast as every other wireless router - except the Trendnet TEW-812DRU that we reviewed recently.  

We will now compare specific wireless devices connected to the Linksys EA6500 router.

Adapter Performance

In terms of adapter performance, the Linksys AE6000 showed the worst overall.  While I realize that this little adapter is way smaller than the Trendnet unit and has less antennae and boasts less bandwidth, I had hoped that it would beat out the built-in wireless of my laptop as it is only 802.11abgn.  True, it does operate on the 5GHz band, but I really had higher hopes for the AE6000.  It is quick for a 802.11n device, but falls very poorly short for a device that claims 802.11ac speeds.

We ran through several instances of iperf and each instance transferred data for five minutes.  The results were averaged and are displayed above.  All of the Linksys gear that we are testing today shows up in red to make identifying it easier.  When it comes to wired performance, the Linksys EA6500 does alright, but isn't ground breaking.  On the wireless side of things, it does better when connecting to speedy 802.11ac or 802.11abgn hardware.  The AE6000 fell wildly short and really isn't worth buying.  It claims total speeds that exceed the USB 2.0 bus that it uses and still only performs about 25% of what it is rated - and it's rated pretty slow.  I realize that wireless network often falls short, but I did expect it to be better than older hardware and integrated laptop wireless.

Final Thoughts:

Overall the EA6500 and AE6000 are decent products and continue on where 802.11n left off - for the most part.  This router is currently the flagship router from Linksys and as we've seen, it certainly is feature-rich and performance friendly.  At the end of day this product offers a lot of performance and features for a decent price.  I've seen the router available for as little as $119 and for an AC1750 802.11ac product, this is very affordable.  The EA6500 gets the job done and gets it done very quickly.  I didn't expect to see 1000Mbps wireless performance and in that regard I wasn't let down.  We did see the second fastest wireless network that has graced BCCHQ South, but that required the Trendnet USB wireless adapter and the integrated 802.11abgn of my T430 ThinkPad.

In terms of performance, I've got some mixed feelings.  The wireless performance is decent for sure, but it does lag slightly behind the Trendnet bundle we looked at a little while back.  It's quick for sure - but it does have some room for improvement.  Wired performance was decent, but again nothing to write home about.

The Linksys EA6500 and AE6000 don't come with a lot of extras, but the extra that was included with the router is pretty nifty.  The NFC card is pretty slick and the Linksys Wireless App allows you to have complete control over your router from your smartphone or tablet.   Setup is simple and there are enough wireless and integrated features to keep your network secure and separated from other users.  The interface is quick and responsive - and the refreshed interface looks good and performs well.

The best part about this router is that it is powerful, fast and pretty affordable.  At ~$120 it's one of the most affordable 802.11ac routers on the market - and it comes in at this price point with a few bonus features.  That is always a good thing.

Pros:
  • Pretty and speedy software interface
  • Speedy wireless performance and decent range
  • Dual-Band wireless with separate configuration
  • Excellent price
  • NFC Simple Tap Card

 

Cons:

  • Less than 50% of rated wireless performance
  • Slower than expected wired performance

BCCRating

Silver

 

I'd like to thank Linksys for sending over these products for us to review.  If you have questions, comments or general feedback, please leave it in the forum at the link below.