Linksys EA6400 AC1600 - Performance, Value & Verdict

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Linksys EA6400 – Performance

EA6400 acSo the EA6400 looks good, is easy to setup and a doddle to operate but can its performance also blow its mid-range rivals out the water? Not quite.

At our test distances of 2m and 10m line of sight and 15m behind two standing walls the EA6400 excelled at close range but trailed off at distance with speeds of 75.1MBps (600.8Mbps), 46MBps (368Mbps) and 16.3MBps (130.4Mbps). At 2m this is a superb speed and only 6MBps off the fastest router we’ve seen (the WRTAC1900) but it drops significantly at 10m and 15m leaving it behind similarly priced rivals the TRENDnet TEW-818DRU (60.9MBps and 25.3MBps) and the Netgear R6250 (65.4MBps and 34.2MBps).

EA6400 5GHzHappily over 802.11n 5GHz these issues disappear as the EA6400 managed 35.6MBps (284.8Mbps), 33.6MBps (268.8Mbps) and 15.6MBps (124.8Mbps). This gives the router the edge over both the 818DRU and R6250 at all three distances and isn’t far off the best premium routers, which only pull away at 15m. Given the proliferation of 5GHz wireless n kit on the market this is a notable advantage.

Unfortunately 802.11n 2.4GHz performance throws a spanner in the works (see graphs in ‘Photos’ link above). At 2m and 10m performance is strong hitting 12.8MBps (102.4Mbps) and 10.9MBps (87.2Mbps) both which edge out the R6250 though cannot match the AC1900 bolstered speeds of the 818DRU (22MBps and 14.9MBps). The problem is at 15m where the EA6400 stumbles to an unreliable 2.09MBps versus 4.49MBps and 5.89MBps from the R6250 and 818DRU respectively. This is a shame as there is still a plethora of ageing 2.4GHz-only kit out there.

The EA6400 ends on the up with its USB network performance (again see this graph in ‘Photos’ link above). Speeds of 12.2MBps (97.6Mbps) don’t quite match the R6250 (16.5MBps) and 818DRU (14.4MBps) but these three routers are head and shoulders over other mid-priced rivals.

EA6400 2

Should I buy the Linksys EA6400?

Yes, depending on your circumstances. Where the EA6400 excels is as an overall package. Peak performance in all bands is outstanding, midrange has punch and its design, setup and user interface outgun its rivals. The problem comes where we expected: those 2×2 antennas which struggle (with the exception of 802.11n 5GHz) as range increases.

This is most notable over 2.4GHz and we’d go so far as saying older kit will struggle for a reliable connection. This is compensated by the excellent 802.11n 5GHz, but again 802.11ac is weak at our longest test distance. Price is also in its favour with the EA6400 officially priced at £119 but online deals can be found currently for little more than £90.

Consequently technophobes and those living in smaller properties should make a beeline for the EA6400, it is a wonderfully polished router but if you want maximum range for your buck then the TRENDnet TEW-818DRU (also with a £119 RRP) bests it.

Verdict

Right now no company makes routers with as much polish as Linksys. They look good, they are a doddle to setup and no other router is as easy to manage. The EA6400 takes these qualities and combines it with superb close and midrange performance and a bargain price tag. The problems occur at long range where better alternatives emerge, but if this isn’t a key priority for the budget conscious the EA6400 should be at the top of your shopping list.

Next read our Best Routers roundup

Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 8
  • Features 8
  • Build Quality 9
  • Usability 9
  • Design 9
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