|At a glance|
|Product||Linksys Advanced Multimedia AC1200 SMART Wi-Fi Wireless Router (EA6300) [Website]|
|Summary||Second generation Broadcom-based draft 802.11ac router with Gigabit ports, USB 3.0 drive and printer sharing and optional cloud features|
|Pros||• USB 3.0 port|
• High routing throughput
|Cons||• Guest network for 2.4 GHz only|
• Doesn't function as a bridge or support WDS
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Linksys has stumbled in the rollout of its first router under Belkin ownership. But their misstep is your gain, since you're getting the potential (with the appropriate wireless adapter) of the fastest draft 802.11ac 1300 Mbps link rate in the 5 GHz band instead of the advertised 867 Mbps.
I have learned that this advantage isn't going to be permanent, however. Linksys is working on a firmware that will limit the highest 5 GHz link rate to 867 Mbps and turn the EA6300 into the AC1200 router it is supposed to be. There is no timeframe for the firmware's release as I write this. But if you want to keep the EA6300 as an AC1600 router, you might want to make sure that the automatic firmware upgrade feature is disabled. Now, on to the review.
Linksys has continued the look and feel of the EA6500 and other EA series routers in the 6300's product box and physical design. In fact, you could easily mistake the EA6300 for the EA6500 since it is the same size. There is only a subtle change in the top panel indicator light (a thin green bar vs. the brighly-lit "Cisco" logo) and the different model number to differentiate the two. Yes, my review sample product box and router still carried the Cisco logo; I guess it will take awhile for the purge to propagate through everything.
Linksys EA6300 rear panel callouts
The 6300's rear panel above is a dead giveaway, though, since it moves ports around and has only one USB 3.0 port vs. the two USB 2.0 ports on the EA6500 shown below.
Linksys EA6500 rear panel
Like the EA6500, the EA6300 is designed to sit flat on a table or desk. If you want to hang it in a wall, there are mounting slots on the bottom side. But they are at the left side of the router, so it will hang with all connections pointing right.
There is a user manual posted on the EA6300's support page. It describes the router admin screen features, but is pretty short on details for the SMARTer features like Parental Controls and Media Prioritization.
I've covered the EA6300's innards in my earlier article, so this is just a quick recap. There are five Galtronics bent-metal internal antennas, three for the 5 GHz radio and two for the 2.4 GHz. Looking at the front of the router (photo top), the 5 GHz antennas are positioned left, center and right (black cabling). The 2.4 GHz antennas (grey cabling) are positioned in the left front corner and left side rear of the router.
Unlike first-generation draft ac routers like the Buffalo WZR-D1800H / WLI-H4-D1300 and NETGEAR R6300, both of the EA6300's radios are integrated right into the main board. Note the shielding for the USB 3.0 connector. This must be an effort to reduce interference with 2.4 GHz operation as described in this Intel white paper.
Linksys EA6300V1 inside
Table 1 summarizes the key components in the EA6300 and EA6500 for comparison.
|"EA6300V1" (EA6400)||Cisco Linksys EA6500|
|CPU||Broadcom BCM4708A0||Broadcom BCM4706|
|Switch||Gigabit in BCM4708A0||Broadcom BCM53125 (unconfirmed)|
|2.4 GHz Radio||
- Broadcom BCM43217
- MicroSemi LX5535 2.4 - 2.5 GHz Power Amplifier (x3)
|5 GHz radio|| - Broadcom BCM4360
- RMFD RFFM4501
802.11a/n/ac Front End Module (x3)
|- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L 5 GHz, 23dBm Power Amp
w/ Power Detector (x3)