Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream

THE EA9500 IS A BRIL­LIANT ALL-ROUNDER THAT DE­LIV­ERS SUPERFAST SPEEDS – FOR A REA­SON­ABLE PRICE

PC & Tech Authority - - REVIEWS INTRO - $449 • www.linksys.com.au

The EA9500 is an im­pos­ing slab of a router, fes­tooned with no fewer than eight (non-re­mov­able) an­ten­nae. It’s not quite this month’s big­gest model – that’s the D-Link DIR-895L – but it ts into the plus­sized cat­e­gory, along­side the Net­gear R9000 Nighthawk X10.

A big case with lots of aeri­als usu­ally im­plies strong wire­less per­for­mance, and on pa­per, the EA9500 is ca­pa­ble of 1,000Mbits/ sec on the 2.4GHz band, and a whop­ping 2,167Mbits/sec on each of its two 5GHz ra­dios. By de­fault, these ap­pear as a sin­gle 802.11ac net­work, but a band steer­ing op­tion works be­hind the scenes to bal­ance clients across the two 5GHz con­nec­tions, keep­ing con­tention to a min­i­mum.

Need­less to say, we didn’t get any­where near those speeds in our tests, but the EA9500 still served up an im­pres­sively fast con­nec­tion, with solid down­load speeds of 13MB/sec even at the far end of its range. It wasn’t quite the fastest router in any test, but it was con­sis­tently ei­ther sec­ond or third, and never more than a whisker be­hind the win­ner. In short, if you’re look­ing for fast, per­va­sive Wi-Fi, the EA9500 de­liv­ers.

A ciona­dos of wired Eth­er­net will be happy, too. Round the back of the EA9500 you’ll

nd a gen­er­ous eight Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net ports – more than any other router in this month’s roundup – in ad­di­tion to a sep­a­rate Eth­er­net WAN socket (which you’ll need, as this router doesn’t have a built-in mo­dem).

There’s ad­di­tion­ally a pair of USB 3 ports, al­low­ing you to at­tach a printer and an ex­ter­nal hard disk si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Be aware that the EA9500 doesn’t have an in­ter­nal print server, how­ever: you’ll have to in­stall the Linksys printer soft­ware on a Mac or PC to man­age and share it.

Ex­ter­nal drives are au­to­mat­i­cally shared as soon as you plug them in, al­though if you dig into the web por­tal you can op­tion­ally set up cus­tom shares and even pro­tect them with in­di­vid­ual user­names and pass­words. In­ter­est­ingly, you can also make les avail­able over the in­ter­net via FTP – a niche fea­ture, per­haps, but a po­ten­tially handy one. En­able the DLNA server and any video les on the disk are pub­lished for stream­ing to com­pat­i­ble de­vices.

Most of the other fea­tures you would hope for are present and cor­rect too – a ring-fenced guest net­work is cre­ated by de­fault, and you can set up ac­cess sched­ules for in­di­vid­ual de­vices. There’s builtin sup­port for the dyn.com and no-ip.com dy­namic DNS ser­vices, and if you con­nect your ac­count to Ama­zon then you can ask Alexa to read out your wire­less cre­den­tials, as well as com­mand her to turn the guest net­work on and off.

There are just a few nig­gles. If you don’t want to mess with your ex­ist­ing net­work set­tings, you can switch the EA9500 into AP mode and use it purely as a wire­less ac­cess point, but there’s no wire­less bridge mode. Still, I doubt many peo­ple would want to use a pow­er­ful router like this as a mere ex­ten­der.

More an­noy­ing is the “Smart Wi-Fi” web in­ter­face, which is nicely laid out but frus­trat­ingly slow. Af­ter ev­ery click there’s a wait of a few sec­onds for the next page to open, which makes even the sim­plest ad­min­is­tra­tion task feel like a chore.

I’m also par­tic­u­larly unim­pressed with the net­work map. Linksys has taken a graph­i­cal ap­proach here, and it’s re­ally un­help­ful. Each client is rep­re­sented by an icon and a name, but if you want to see an IP ad­dress, it’s two clicks to open each de­vice’s in­for­ma­tion win­dow, and an­other to close it again. And if you have more than 16 de­vices, they won’t t on a sin­gle page, so you have to ick back and forth to get a full over­view. Why not just give us a con­ven­tional ta­ble?

Still, that’s prob­a­bly the worst crit­i­cism I can level at the Linksys EA9500 – and you can get around it by us­ing the Linksys smart­phone app, which has a cleaner in­ter­face and lets you check up on your net­work sta­tus and even tweak set­tings re­motely.

All told, the Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream is a su­perb all-rounder. While not quite as fea­ture-packed as Net­gear’s mighty Nighthawk X10, it’s far more sen­si­bly priced, de­liv­er­ing terri c wire­less speeds and great wired con­nec­tiv­ity. What more could you want?

The Smart Wi-Fi web in­ter­face looks good, but it’s frus­trat­ingly slow

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