If there’s anything that Linksys has learned in its nearly three-decade long tenure of making some of the best home networking devices in the business – it’s that no one router fits all sizes.
While some might want the most raw output and power possible (and are willing to sacrifice big chunks of desk space to get it), there are routers like the EA9500. But, for those who may live in a smaller home or apartment, all that extra power is lost when you’re not transmitting data over distances more than 20ft in any direction. So what’s a customer in the middle supposed to buy?
Well, keep reading in my Linksys EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream router review to find out!
Summary: The Linksys EA8300 MU-MIMO Max-Stream is a mid-priced router that puts out top-tier performance, while still including many of the same rockstar features like Smart WiFi to help seal the deal.
What We Liked
- Functional, minimalist design
- Great performance at short range
- Linksys Smart WiFi is still king of router software
What We Didn’t
- Could use more wired ports
Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream Router Specs
|Linksys EA8300 Max-Stream MU-MIMO Tri-Band AC2200|
|Processor||716MHz quad-core processor|
|Operation Modes||Wireless Router, Wired Networking, Access Point, Bridge|
|128-bit Wireless Encryption|
|Ports||4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,
1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
|Dimensions||8.41 x 6.37 x 2.16 in|
|Price||[amazon_link asins='B01N2NLRSD' template='PriceLink' store='gadgetreviewc-20' marketplace='US' link_id='4f2fd56c-7195-11e7-82de-27d886b6e3dd']|
For anyone who’s already read our review of the Linksys EA9500, the design of the EA8300 should feel like a familiar face in the crowd. Almost everything from the EA9500 has been copy/pasted over to the EA8300, albeit in a much more petite package than before.
The EA8300 is both considerably smaller and lighter than its bigger brother, at just 8.41 x 6.37 x 2.16 in around and 1lb heavy (compared to 3.25lbs from the EA9500). This means it’s made to fit in tighter spots in your home office, or maybe even hang on the wall without requiring an anchor screw to hold it in place.
Around the border of the black-on-black plastic meshed shell are four all-black antennas, compared to the six we found on the EA9500. This suggests there might be a little less power output than what we’d normally see on routers of this size, but more on that later.
The new LED status screen in the middle of the router also bears mentioning, as it adds just another little layer of “cool” on top of a router which already looks 95% the part. The subtle orange and white highlights shine brightly (but not too brightly) off the surface, telling you if the router is having any problems with connectivity or just to let you know that everything’s running in tip-top shape.
The Linksys EA8300 features a 716MHz quad-core processor with three offload processors, tri-band AC2200 wireless, 802.11ac/n/a 2.4Ghz/5GHz antennas with MU-MIMO beamforming capability, four high-powered antennas, five gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN, 1 Internet), and one USB 3.0 port for setting up external media servers.
Speaking of media servers, setting one up in Linksys’ Smart WiFi system – like everything in that software dashboard – is a breeze. I’ve gushed endlessly about all the benefits you get with Linksys Smart WiFi that the competition can’t match, and the case continues to ring true on the EA8300.
Whether it’s altering your parental controls, watching device logs from your phone, or getting media to stream to any device anywhere you are in the world, you can do it in Linksys’ Smart WiFi dashboard.
Speed & Distance Tests
|All number in Mbps||2.4GHz (5ft)||2.4GHz(30ft)||5GHz (5ft)||5GHz (30ft)|
Netgear Nighthawk X10
|Up: 69.30 Down: 69.67||Up: 388.04|
AmpliFI HD Mesh Router
TP-LINK Archer C5400
Linksys EA9500 AC5400
D-Link DIR-879 AC1900 EXO
Netgear Nighthawk X4S
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
Netgear NightHawk X6 AC3200
Linksys EA7500 AC1900
TP-Link P5 AC1900
D-Link DIR890L/R AC3200
As a part of the Max-Stream family of Linksys routers, we expected only the best speeds out of this pint-sized performer, and we didn’t leave the testing table disappointed.
Despite its AC2200 rating, the Linksys EA8300 still managed to pump out an even rate of 150.97Mbps down, 31.75Mbps when testing the 2.4GHz band from a distance of five feet away. That upload score could definitely use some work, but somehow we actually got a better score once we pushed the 2.4GHz testing to a distance of 30ft. On that test we were able to achieve 163.82Mbps down and 76.39Mbps up, one of the best scores recorded to date.
Note: All speed tests conducted from this review forward will now use a local Stephouse Networks server, rather than the direct line to Centurylink. This is due to a change of address from our old testing facilities, which were previously close to the CL node. These will produce slightly faster results across the board, independent of the specific router we’re testing.
The EA8300 held up equally as well when it came to the 5GHz spectrum, clocking a respectable score of 502.53Mbps down/281.26Mbps up when running from five feet away. Next was the 30ft test, which as always runs with several walls and doors placed between the base station and the laptop to get the most realistic results. Being that 5GHz suffers between obstacles, it was understandable when we saw the nearly-cut-in-half score of 261.30Mbps down/118.50Mbps come back to round out the 30ft distance results.
The Linksys EA8300 is yet another ace in Linksys growing pocket of knockout networking equipment, providing both mid-sized homeowners with larger families or single apartment-dwelling gamers with the speed and performance they need without breaking the bank.
At $199.99 the EA8300 AC2200 MU-MIMO Max-Stream router is competitively costed out, especially given the above-average performance we saw at almost every range. Add to this the ever-flawless Linksys Smart WiFi system on top of its lower-profile build and you get a router that’s well-rounded and future-proofed enough to justify the investment.