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Wireless Reviews

AC2400 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router
At a glance
ProductLinksys AC2400 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router (E8350)   [Website]
SummaryQCA / Quantenna based AC2350 router with eSATA, USB 2.0 & 3.0 storage and printer sharing
Pros• VLAN support
• USB 3.0 & eSATA ports
Cons• Guest WLAN on 2.4 GHz only
• No VPN server
• No individual internet service blocking

Typical Price: $250  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

Linksys' E8350 AC2400 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is the company's entry into the 4x4 AC router derby. It's the second AC2350 class router (NETGEAR's R7500 was the first) to use a mix of Quantenna for the 5 GHz portion and Qualcomm Atheros (QCA) for the main CPU and 2.4 GHz. However, Linksys has joined ASUS in its inflated classing of the E8350 as AC2400 vs. the more accurate AC2350. Marketing tactics aside, all three products offer the same maximum link rates with 4x4 capable devices, i.e. 1733 Mbps on the 5 GHz side and 600 Mbps in 2.4 GHz.

Linksys has stayed with the pack in its "MU-MIMO Ready" positioning of the E8350. Not that any of the three router makers has a choice; MU-MIMO support depends on when Quantenna is ready and that apparently isn't yet. Like NETGEAR, Linksys hasn't mentioned plans to produce a 4x4 AC client, but it has included a wireless bridge mode on the product.

While it has an E-series designation (more on that in a bit), the E8350 is physically more like Linksys' AC1900 class EA6900. It uses the same peek-a-boo dual-band external antennas and same size and style case. The E8350's top cover is mostly perforated, however. In fact, the bottom cover is also perforated and the front and two sides have large slots in most of their surfaces. There are photos of this in the gallery you'll find below. Compared to ASUS and NETGEAR's AC2350 designs, I'd say the E8350 allows for the most airflow.

E8350 callouts

E8350 callouts

The callout diagram above shows all ports and indicators located on the back panel. And I mean all indicators; Linksys has dispensed with the lighted front panel logo found on similarly-styled EA-series products.

All Ethernet ports are Gigabit and each has a link / activity LED. Like the NETGEAR R7500, you get USB 3.0, 2.0 and eSATA ports. But Linksys has combined the latter two ports in a single eSATAp port. The mounting screw slots on the bottom panel will let you mount the router in any orientation except ports down.

Inside

Linksys broke ranks and didn't request short term confidentiality for internal photos and other details for either the E8350 or EA9200. The FCC doc internal photos conveniently had lots of component close-ups so that the router's combination of Qualcomm, QCA and Quantenna components was easily determined.

Component-wise, the design is very similar to the NETGEAR R7500 with a few key differences:

  • Antennas are spaced further apart
  • Higher RAM capacities

E8350 inside

E8350 inside

For comparison, here's the only R7500 board shot I have. NETGEAR's short term confidentiality doesn't expire until the end of January 2015.

R7500 board top

R7500 board top (courtesy KoolShare via Mediatrek)

Table 1 has a comparison of the three routers' key components.

Linksys E8350 NETGEAR R7500 ASUS RT-AC87
CPU Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8064 Internet Processor @ 1.4 GHz Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8064 Internet Processor @ 1.4 GHz Broadcom BCM4709A
Switch Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 in BCM4709A
RAM 512 MB (Qualcomm/QCA)
128 MB (Quantenna)
256 MB 256 MB
Flash 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - QCA9880 3-stream 802.11ac radio solution
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
- QCA9880 3-stream 802.11ac radio solution - Broadcom BCM4360 (3x3 ac)
5 GHz radio - Quantenna QSR1000 (QT3840BC Baseband & QT2518B RF)
- Unidentified 5 GHz power amp (x4)
- Quantenna QSR1000 (QT3840BC Baseband & QT2518B RF) - Quantenna QSR1000 (QT3840BC Baseband & QT2518B RF)
Table 1: Component summary

Note the QCA9880 2.4 GHz radio does not support AC-standard beamforming. So "explicit" beamforming is used only on the 5 GHz side. Note also the separate 512 MB RAM for the main Qualcomm CPU and 2.4 GHz QCA radio and 128 MB for the 5 GHz Quantenna subsystem.

Some people think these new routers suck a lot of power. Not really. The E8350 idled at only 7W.

The gallery has some more hardware photos and a few admin screenshots.

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