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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz 2 Stream

Next, we'll look at the Performance Table for two-stream 5 GHz.

The key takeaway from this comparison is that it's not the ASUS' strongest mode. If fact, it doesn't win any of the Location A comparisons. The EA6500, on the other hand, once again likes running uplink in both 20 and 40 MHz bandwidth. Its 160 Mbps in 40 MHz bandwidth mode is 2X the highest numbers of the other three products.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink shows throughput drops along with signal level. There is also some rate-shifting during the first 10 seconds or so in each run.

Cisco Linksys EA6500 IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream
Cisco Linksys EA6500 IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream

You'll see some start-of-run rate-shifting again along with some sizeable, but short, dropouts in the plots linked below.

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz 3 Stream

Last up is the Performance Table for three-stream 5 GHz.

The only across-the-location win in this comparison is the ASUS running downlink in 40 MHz mode. But the Linksys once again shines running uplink in the same mode, with a chart-topping 163 Mbps in Location A.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink shows both dropouts and rate-shifting.

Cisco Linksys EA6500 IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream
Cisco Linksys EA6500 IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream

The 20 MHz mode uplink plot is particularly rocky. Things smooth out, though in 40 MHz bandwidth mode.

Closing Thoughts

The conclusion from Part 1 was that the EA6500 had high wired routing performance with plenty of simultaneous sessions. Storage filecopy performance wasn't as impressive, especially if you write to it with a FAT32 formatted drive attached.

The verdict on draft 11ac performance was that the ASUS RT-AC66U still holds the crown for best overall draft 11ac performance, especially as signal levels drop. But with a strong signal, the EA6500 holds its own against not only the ASUS, but the Buffalo and NETGEAR AC routers too.

I have found with other first-generation draft 11ac routers that there is little reason to buy them if you are looking to improve the performance of your current two or three-stream N-based wireless clients. With the EA6500, however, you should see a noticeable wireless throughput boost, but only running uplink and only with very strong signals. Unfortunately, that's probably not where you were looking for a better bang for your buck.

The main good news from of this review is that it looks like Cisco is no longer putting its cloud between you and the ability to access all of the knobs and switches of your router. So if you've been eyeing a Linksys EA series router, but have been worried about being forced to use Cisco's cloud services, you can rest easy. Getting onto Cisco's Connect Cloud is now purely up to you.

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