Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 Router Review
If your family does a lot of streaming, the Linksys EA9500 will keep those streams going strong throughout your whole house.
- Strong performance: The Linksys EA9500 features 8 high performance antennas featuring capable of a 5.3 Gbps throughput when all 3 bands are in use. This is ideal if your family recently cut the cord on cable TV and you have multiple people streaming HD video from services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube at the same time. It’s also ideal if you have a large home and you need the WiFi signal to cover a larger distance.
- 8 network ports: If you prefer to have a wired internet connection, you’ll like the 8 gigabit ports located on the back of the router (many routers only have 4 ports).
- Web interface: Once you have the router connected to your modem and powered up, use the WiFi connection information found in the Quick Start guide to connect your computer. Once connected, head to 192.168.1.1 in a browser and you’ll find a nice web interface for configuring the router (you don’t need to use the CD).
- Network map: If you need to manage a lot of devices, the EA9500 creates a nice map of everything connected to the router. You can view the laptops, iPhones, Android phones, etc currently connected. There is a separate map for the Guest Network, so you can see if one of your neighbors is connected to it and turn off the guest network if need be.
- Guest network: The guest network allows you to create a separate network, name it something different and give it a different password. That way, you don’t need to give out the password to your “real” network to friends and family who may be visiting. The guest network is also isolated, so users on the guest network cannot see shared files from your computer.
- Parental Controls: On a per-device basis, you can restrict usage times and block websites. For example, you can select one of the iPads belonging to your children and only allow access between 6-9pm and block access to facebook.com.
- Media prioritization: If everyone is using your WiFi at once, some devices may slow down and buffer. In the Media Prioritization section of the router, you can allow certain devices to always have high priority. For example, you could give your Netflix streaming box highest priority so your streams are not interrupted by someone else on your network who is uploading high resolution photos. Conversely, you could give your work computer the highest priority so it is not slowed down by someone streaming Netflix.
- USB storage: You can connect an external USB hard drive to the router and share it on your network. Use it to store your photos, videos, and music, then easily access them no matter which computer you are using. One of the USB ports on the router is also USB 3.0, making it ideal for high speed transfers which comes in handy when you’re transferring large movie files and backing up your computer.
- Techie options: If you’re so inclined, the router admin pages provide options for VLANs, port forwarding, DMZ, MAC filtering, etc. Most users won’t need some of these sections, but they are available if you want full control of your home network.
- Power usage: I found that the router only uses about 16 watts while on, which equates to about $17 per year (calculated at a $0.12 kWh rate).
- Linksys Smart WiFi: When I first setup the router, I was prompted to setup a Linksys Smart WiFi account. I wasn’t interested in creating another username and password I would have to remember. But, thankfully, Linksys includes a “no thanks” option that allows you to configure everything locally. The Smart WiFi gives you some “apps” and remote control, but if you’re not interested in those functions, you can bypass it completely.
Overall, this is a powerful, high performance router that provides a stable and strong WiFi connection throughout my home. The very well-done web interface provides a lot of customization options making it ideal for advanced users as well.
Check out the Linksys EA9500 on Amazon
While this router may be overkill for the average consumer, Linksys' "cream-of-the-crop" router handles multiple HD streams without blinking an eye. The extended range from the 8 antennas can reach every corner of your home and the abundance of configuration options helps keep your network secure and functional.