The pattern continued with 802.11n over 5GHz and these results were arguably even more impressive achieving 23.1MBps (184.8Mbit), 16.8MBps (134.4Mbit) and 10.4MBps (83.2Mbit). This makes the Linksys EA6500 by far the fastest 802.11n 5GHz router we have tested and even bests the speeds attained by the Buffalo AirStation 1750 at range when it is using 802.11ac. Given replacing all hardware with ac-compatible equivalents is a process that can take many years, breathing such new life into 802.11n is revelatory.
That said there is one fly in the ointment and that is 802.11n performance over 2.4GHz which remains by far the most ubiquitous standard supported by today’s devices. Results of 8.1MBps (64.8Mbit), 5MBps (40Mbit) and 3.9MBps (31.2Mbit) are not slow by any means, but the first two results are significantly lower than the circa 10MBps achieved by the D-Link DIR-645 at both distances. Then again, at its furthest distance the figure of 3.9MBps is 35 per cent faster than the 2.57MBps managed by the DIR-645. Once more, the EA6500 demonstrates when it comes to range it currently has no equal.
All of which means right now you should be preparing yourself for the inevitable caveat: cost. This would be wise as the EA6500 has an RRP of £189, while the Universal Media Connector (WUMC710) comes in at £119. In particular, the price of the EA6500 makes it the most expensive 802.11ac router on the market at £30 more than the Netgear R6300 and almost twice the price of the Buffalo AirStation.
That said there is an upside, which is 5GHz 802.11n performance is so good we’d suggest the bridge isn’t vital to anyone but the most extreme of speed freaks. Furthermore, we have already seen retailers knock it down to nearer £160 (the original RRP for the EA4500) and should you live in a large property where range is a significant problem, there really is nothing to compare.
The Cisco Linksys EA6500 is not only the best 802.11ac router on the market right now, but it’s also the best 802.11n router on the market too. Peak performance is exceptional, but where it really shines is range, hitting speeds far in excess of anything we have seen before. Furthermore, Cisco Cloud Connect is the slickest and most complete Cloud networking platform we have seen, with the inclusion of two USB ports extremely welcome, if long overdue. The cherry on top is a discrete, yet stylish design.
Inevitably all these positives come at the cost of a premium RRP, but if you have been looking to upgrade your router, the EA6500 is certainly the one to buy. And if you can’t afford it, we’d suggest you keep on saving.
Score in detail
Build Quality 8