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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance - 2.4 GHz

The new process lets us see how throughput varies over a wide range of signal levels. Rather than show you the plots for just the EA6300, I'm going to show plots comparing data from the EA6500 retest with the EA6300.

Here's what the plot looks like for 2.4 GHz, downlink (router to client ). The four values entered into the Charts database that correspond to Locations A, C, D and F are highlighted.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

This isn't really a fair comparison, because the EA6500's radio is an N450 class (3x3) and the EA6300's is only N300 (2x2). But it's surprising how similar the curves are. The EA6300's best 20 MHz mode downlink throughput was 89 Mbps.

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot is next. The values are very similar to downlink, unlike the previous method, which seemed to favor uplink. Best case uplink throughput for the EA6300 was a bit lower then downlink at 80 Mbps.

Simultaneous uplink/downlink throughput in the strongest signal "Location A" (or with 0 dB attenuation) came in at 110 Mbps total throughput.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz

Moving along, the 5 GHz tests can be directly compared, since both radios are AC1300 class. Best case 5 GHz downlink throughput of 333 Mbps with 0 dB attenuation ("Location A") edged out the retested EA6500 at 313 Mbps. The curves show that the two products are very similar in 5 GHz performance.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

The 5 GHz uplink plot again shows the EA6300 with better throughput at 260 Mbps. The EA6500's 209 Mbps peak "Location A" throughput forms a wider gap than with downlink.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation - Linksys EA6300 vs. Linksys EA6500

Simultaneous uplink/downlink throughput in the strongest signal "Location A" (or with 0 dB attenuation) came in at an impressive 605 Mbps total throughput. This is almost 25% higher than the 491 Mbps for the retested EA6500 measured.

Time for a few IxChariot plots. Here's a composite 5 GHz up and downlink plot with 0 dB attenutation. The delayed throughput upshift that seems to be a signature of Broadcom's draft 11ac technology is clearly shown.

5 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

5 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

No sign of the upshift in the equivalent 2.4 GHz composite plot shown below.

2.4 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

2.4 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

Closing Thoughts

The EA6300 is our first look at a product based on Broadcom's dual-core BCM4708. It shows higher wired routing throughput and generally about double the performance for reading and writing files to an attached USB 3.0 drive compared to the EA6500, which is based on the single-core BCM4706. To be fair, some of the file storage performance can be due to the 6300's USB 3.0 port vs. the 6500's USB 2.0. Still, the gains are impressive and will be welcome to those of us looking for our router to also be a storage hub.

The EA6300's 5 GHz wireless throughput compared to the top-of-line EA6500 is almost the same running downlink and significantly better at higher signal levels running uplink. This is probably to be expected, given that they both use the same Broadcom BCM4360 radio and both use outboard 5 GHz amplifiers.

2.4 GHz throughput, however, can never be as high as the EA6500's because the 6300 has only an N300 class radio vs. the 6500's N450. Because of this, the EA6500 should still produce higher throughput at all signal levels than the EA6300 when used with an N450 class adapter, although that difference will probably be hard to see toward the range limits.

In all, though, I'd say that the EA6300 is a much better deal than the EA6500. As I write this, Amazon is selling the EA6300 for $127 vs. around $180 for the EA6500. But if your heart is set on achieving the higher 2.4 GHz link rates that the EA6500 provides, you could opt for a EA6500 Linksys factory refurb for only $150.

Remember, though, that Linksys only promised that the EA6300 would be an AC1600 router. So when the firmware comes out that makes it so, don't complain. We'll be retesting the EA6300 when that firmware becomes available to see how much throughput you lose by being limited to the lower 867 Mbps maximum link rate.

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