Linksys EA8500 max stream AC2600 MU-MIMO smart wi-fi router

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Linksys EA8500- Introduction

Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO smart Wi-Fi Router is the first of the second-gen Qualcomm Atheros QCA-based 4×4 routers to hit the market. This new gen gets a bump from 600 to 800 Mbps maximum link rate on the 2.4 GHz side enough to QAM-256 support on the additional radio. But the real potential of AC2600 class routers is that their MU-MIMO feature is actually working.

In contrast, all first-generation 4×4 AC2350 (aka AC2400) class routers used Quantenna’s QSR1000 4×4 radio on the 5 GHz band. The E8500 is physically similar to the company’s E8350 first-generation 4×4 router as shown in the comparison shot below. The cases of both products are largely perforated top and bottom and have vent slots on the front and sides, providing full airflow. Both routers also have screwed mounting slots on the bottom that will orient the back panel connectors up, left, right, but not down. The EA8500’s back panel is virtually identical to the E8350’s, saving for a missing power indicator. That’s because the lighted Linksys front panel logo has returned, which is also running, pulses or shines steadily to indicate web connection status, booting, and firmware updates.

Linksys EA8500- New Wi-Fi technology

The Qualcomm MU/EFX 802.11 AC Wi-Fi chip features Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology, designed to control Wi-Fi bandwidth efficiently, hence capable of delivering betters data rate to multiple connected clients at a time. Especially, existing 802.11AC routers (or Wi-Fi access points) employ the original MIMO technology and that means they manage all Wi-Fi clients the same, regardless of their Wi-Fi power. Since a router typically has extra Wi-Fi power than a client, in a particular wi-fi connection, the router is hardly used at full capacity.

With MU-MIMO, many simultaneous transmissions of different Wi-Fi tiers are sent to multiple devices at the same time, allow them to connect the speed each client needs. In other words, having an MU-MIMO Wi-Fi network is like having various wi-fi routers of various Wi-Fi tiers. Each of these routers is dedicated to each tier of devices in the network so that many devices can connect at the same time without slowing down one another.

Linksys EA8500- Powerful hardware

The EA8500 is a powerful router give up to 1733 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and up to 800 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. The EA8500 powered by a 1.4GHz Dual-Core processor, 128 MB flash storage, and 512 MB DDR3 RAM memory.

Design-wise It looks very similar to the EA8350 that came out last October, with 4 detachable wire. These antennas are much larger and longer, but, ensure better coverage. EA8500 does not have any indicator lights, but the power status light on top that shapes into the Linksys logo. The new router is to stay flat on a surface, but it can also be wall-mounted though it does not include any mounting screws.

Linksys EA8500- setup

The EA8500 share the same Smart Wi-Fi firmware as the rest in Linksys Smart Wi-Fi family, containing the recently-reviewed WRT 1200AC and the once-flagship WRT 1900AC. The means it’s very easy to set up, and use.

If you just want to use this router right out of the box, there are default settings shown on its bottom. All you have to do is connect its Internet port to an Internet source and plug it into power, and you’re done. If you want to more customize, you’ll need to access the router’s Web interface

Locally or remotely, the Web interface is the same and well-organized or responsive. The opted to use a Smart Wi-Fi account can also use Linksys Smart Wi-Fi mobile app (Android or iOS) to manage the router’s features and settings, using their mobile device. The mobile app only allows access to only a some of the router’s settings and features, but, and can’t replace the Web interface entirely.

Linksys EA8500- Pros

  • Supports bridged router, wi-fi bridge & wireless repeating
  • MU-MIMO support provides moderate total throughput improvement

Linksys EA8500- Cons

  • No outbound port/service filtering
  • You’ll need to buy new devices to benefit from MU-MIMO

Linksys EA8500- Conclusion

You get the latest wireless technology and solid 5GHz performance with the Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router, but you will pay a premium for both. The EA8500 is one of the few routers out there that can serve many clients together, but those clients must have the 802.11ac circuitry that supports MU-MIMO to take full benefit of this feature, and as of now, there are very few.

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