Linksys EA9200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi router

Linksys EA9200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi router
Linksys EA9200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi router

Before you plonk down $399 for this Linksys router, ask yourself how many Wi-Fi devices you have at home.

If the answer is fewer than 10, this router is probably not for you.

The Linksys EA9200 is a new tri-band AC3200 router that offers an additional 5GHz Wi-Fi network over the typical Wi-Fi 802.11ac router. In total, this router supports a single 2.4GHz network and two 5GHz networks.

The extra 5GHz Wi-Fi network allows you to segregate slower client devices, such as those running on 802.11n, from newer devices that support the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol.

Or to use a motoring analogy, it is akin to creating dedicated lanes for faster vehicles (802.11ac devices) so that they will not be bogged down by slower vehicles (802.11n devices).

But buying the Wi-Fi equivalent of parallel expressways is wasteful if you have only a handful of Wi-Fi devices at home. Also, keep in mind that AC3200 routers will not make your downloads any faster as almost all 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers on the market top out at a theoretical download speed of 1,300Mbps.

If you are persuaded to get an AC3200 router, the Linksys is a good choice. Set-up takes just a couple of minutes and the Web-based interface, like the one on the flagship Linksys WRT1900AC router, is easy on the eye and easy to navigate.

By default, the two 5GHz Wi-Fi networks produced by the Linksys router share the same network name. You simply connect your device to this network and the router will automatically assign it to one of its two 5GHz networks. The software powering the router will juggle client devices between the two networks to ensure minimal congestion.

Generally, you can tell an AC3200 router from others by its six external antennas. The Linksys EA9200 has only three. The remaining three are hidden in the chassis.

The EA9200 lacks the usual front status indicators. The Linksys logo flashes when it is booting up; and a steady light means all is good.

This router has all the features associated with a high-end model, such as multiple guest networks, parental controls and media prioritisation. In fact, all current AC3200 routers use an identical Broadcom chipset. The Linksys even performs about as fast as its rivals, chalking up an average download speed of 239Mbps.

This is the second AC3200 router I have tried. While I rate it more highly than Netgear's Nighthawk X6, the EA9200 is relatively pricey.

With more brands launching their AC3200 routers soon, perhaps it is better to wait.

This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
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