The new Linksys Max-Stream AC4000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (EA9300 for short) looks impressive on paper.
It is said to provide aggregate speeds of up to 4,000Mbps over its three wireless bands.
Compared with older AC3200 tri-band routers, the EA9300 is faster by 800Mbps. As is often the case with routers, this usually means nothing because the EA9300's speed boost relies on proprietary technology that is currently available on only a few devices.
However, even discounting this, the EA9300 is still a very good router, especially for households with an abundance of wireless devices. It has two 5GHz wireless bands that are commonly used by newer clients such as smartphones and laptops.
By enabling its Smart Connect feature, the router will intelligently assign devices to the appropriate 5GHz wireless band to ensure optimal wireless performance for all connected devices.
It comes with four Gigabit ports like most routers, as well as two USB 3.0 ports to connect to a printer or an external hard drive. It is fairly chunky and heavy, with six adjustable antennas. Its LEDs can be turned off in the settings.
For those who have newer and, hence, faster clients, the EA9300, like many modern routers, has an airtime fairness feature that gives equal amount of air time to each client device.
ETHERNET INTERFACE: 1 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
SECURITY: WPA2, WEP
ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT, DoS and SPI
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
It prevents slower client devices, which take longer to transmit data, from monopolising the network connection. But enabling this feature means older devices will probably become even slower when sending data wirelessly.
As you'd expect from a top-line router, the EA9300 has a solid set of features. The ones you would use most often, such as parental controls, device prioritisation and guest networks, can be accessed using the Linksys mobile app (available for iOS and Android).
The majority of the router settings requires the use of a PC browser. It is pleasant looking, with a useful network map to show all the connected clients. But many of its settings are buried in unintuitive sub-menus.
For instance, the setting for changing the default password for the router interface page is placed within the Connectivity tab. Other routers typically put this setting under Administration. I also had difficulty finding the DNS option because it is not highlighted in bold, unlike other settings. On the other hand, I could easily find the DNS setting using the mobile app.
Thankfully, the user interface is responsive and quick to save any changes made.
Performance-wise, the EA9300 also lived up to expectations. It was about as fast as competing routers in its class, with an average download speed of 551Mbps.
•Verdict: Linksys' refreshed tri-band router costs the same as the previous version did at its launch. Its Web interface could be better organised, but it delivers fast wireless speeds.