The Linksys E8350, part of the latest "Wave 2" generation of Wi-Fi routers, is among the fastest wireless routers available. It is the second router after the Asus RT-AC87U to provide 2,400Mbps in wireless-transmission capacity.
This figure is the combination of four spatial streams on the 802.11ac standard (for 1,733Mbps), and one on the older 802.11n standard (at 600Mbps).
Another high-speed feature is the use of MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input multiple output), a technology found in Wave 2 routers which lets them send data to multiple devices at full speed for every device.
However, all that speed is an overkill for now. This is because there are currently no client devices which can tap into such high-speed features. There is another rub: For the router to run at its full potential, a second E8350 router is needed as a wireless bridge. To be fair, this arrangement is also suggested by Asus for its RT-AC87U router.
The E8350 has a similar design to the older Linksys routers. Its plastic chassis has plenty of ventilation holes and can be mounted on the wall. There are four adjustable antennas, two at the sides and two at the rear.
For some reason, Linksys chose not to have any LED status indicators at the front of the router. You have to check the back of the router to find out if it is switched on. At the back is also where you will find the power button, as well as the USB and Ethernet ports.
An unusual feature is the presence of an eSATA/USB combo port to go with the single USB 3.0 port. The inclusion of eSATA offers more connectivity options. For instance, you can connect an external drive to create your own network-attached storage.
The router is powered by a dual-core 1.4GHz processor. I like that it is easy to navigate the router's Web interface and that changes to the router settings are applied promptly.
However, Linksys seems to have handicapped this advanced router with an older interface. Compared with its peers, the E8350's interface is basic. For instance, you are restricted to the mixed mode for the 5GHz network, which may result in slower speeds for all clients if even one of them uses an older Wi-Fi protocol.
Also, while the router includes common router features, such as guest networks and parental controls, they feel like a "lite" version with fewer options than the Asus RT-AC87U.
Performance-wise, the Linksys managed an average download speed of 231Mbps for Wi-Fi 802.11ac, slightly better than the Asus model Digital Life reviewed earlier this month.
The foibles of the router would have been more acceptable if it is much cheaper than the Asus model, its only rival. However, both the Asus and Linksys devices have the same $399 price tag.
Still, the E8350 is a capable router and worth considering for those who need to set up the fastest wireless network available for home use.
Otherwise, it might be better to wait for more Wave 2 routers to be released before making a decision.
Pricey but capable, this Linksys router is limited by its software.
Ethernet interface: 1 x 10/100/ 1,000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1,000 Gigabit LAN
Security: WPA/WPA2, WEP
Advanced firewall features: NAT, SPI, DoS protection
Value for money 2/5
This article was first published on Nov 26, 2014.
Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.