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Wireless Reviews

Features

The E8350 supports the Linksys router feature set found on its E-series dumb (well, at least not "Smart Wi-Fi") routers. This basically means it doesn't support any of the limited set of Smart Wi-Fi apps, doesn't have intelligent QoS and can't be remotely managed via the Smart Wi-Fi app. The features is does have are:

Routing

  • DHCP, Static, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Telstra Cable, Bridged router, DS-Lite WAN types
  • MTU adjust on all WAN types except bridged router and DS-Lite
  • VLAN support
  • IPv6 WAN support, auto and manual configuration only
  • WAN MAC address cloning
  • DHCP server with MAC address reservation, lease time, DNS and WINS addresses
  • Built-in Dynamic DNS clients for TZO and DynDNS
  • Static and dynamic (RIP) routing. Active only with NAT routing disabled.

Firewall

  • Parental controls with per user internet access schedule and 8 blocked URLs
  • Single port forwarding with separate external and internal ports
  • Port range forwarding (static and triggered)
  • DMZ with source IP address restriction
  • IPv6 port forwarding
  • IPv4 & IPv6 firewall disables, multicast, WAN ping and IDENT filtering and Proxy, Java, ActiveX and Cookie blocking
  • IPsec, PPTP and L2TP VPN passthrough (enabled by default)
  • SIP ALG
  • UPnP disable, user config disable, user internet access disable
  • Uplink (LAN to WAN) only QoS with High, Medium, Normal or Low Priority that can be applied to specific applications (divided into Application, Online Game and Voice Device groups) or specific MAC addresses.

Storage

  • SMB storage sharing
  • FTP server (no secure FTP)
  • Media server with settable auto-scan by folder
  • User accounts

Wireless

  • WMM support (2.4 GHz only)
  • Guest network (2.4 GHz only)
  • Beamforming disable (5 GHz only, enabled default)
  • Client bridge support with WPA/WPA2 security

Admin / System

  • HTTPS admin access, remote management (HTTP / HTTPS) enable with IP range restriction and port setting
  • Incoming, outgoing, Security and DHCP onscreen log access
  • Settings backup and restore
  • Ping and traceroute utilities
  • Reset to factory default
  • Firmward upgrade
  • Port light disable
  • Port status display

Sprinkled among the features are odd additions and omissions compared to other E-series routers and routers of the E8350's class (and price!). For example, you get VLANs with tagged and untagged ports and even a page showing port status. But you can't force port speeds or disable ports and there are no statistics available.

IPv6 WAN connections can be configured, but only fully automatically or manually. You get IPv6 port forwarding, but neither IPv4 or IPv6 port forwarding can be scheduled. The only ability to control access to internet services is full on or off, which can be scheduled by device (MAC address?).

For wireless, Linksys stubbornly sticks to providing guest WLAN support on 2.4 GHz only and doesn't support scheduled WLAN access for either radio or transmit power adjustment. At least there is a convenient wireless on/off switch on the back panel. Oddly, WMM is supported on 2.4 GHz only. To my knowledge, WMM is required to enable 802.11n and ac link rates on both bands, so perhaps this is an error. You get MAC address filtering, but nothing for looking at wireless client link rates, signal levels or traffic statistics.

Other things you might expect in this class of router, but aren't included are:

  • VPN server
  • Downstream QoS
  • Apple Time Machine target for storage
  • Linksys logviewer, syslog
  • Automatic firmware upgrade checking
  • Bandwidth use monitor
  • USB print server

Linksys said most "savvy" / advanced users use browser based setup. So why make them jump through hoops to do it? There is no printed quick installation guide included with the product and no login information provided on a sticker or router serial number label like other manufacturers conveniently provide. Instead, there is a Setup CD that auto-launches into a step-by-step setup intended for networking newbies and installs the Linksys Connect Windows utility without asking permission.

If you do happen to make your way to http://192.168.1.1 without running the CD, you'll be greeted by the screen below, which will be familar to owners of E-series routers. Thankfully, you only need to deal with this once.

Welcome to the E8350

Welcome to the E8350

I suspect dealing with the multi-CPU architecture required by using Quantenna was too heavy a lift to integrate into the Smart Wi-Fi OS, so the older, simpler OS was used. But the mix of leading-edge hardware with last-generation OS used on Linksys' sub $100 routers sends a very mixed marketing message.

Storage Performance

I disabled the media server so that it wouldn't index test files and interfere with testing. Our standard Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station [SATDOCKU3SEF] with a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive was used to test file copy performance. The drive was formatted with FAT32 and NTFS volumes and connected via USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and eSATA.

Table 2 summarizes USB 3.0 performance and includes the ASUS RT-AC87U/R and NETGEAR R7500. As you might expect from similar designs the Linksys and NETGEAR's results are pretty close. The ASUS' Broadcom-based design beats the Linksys and NETGEAR handily on writes for both FAT32 and NTFS.

  Linksys E8350 NETGEAR R7500 ASUS RT-AC87U
Processor QCA IPQ8064 QCA IPQ8064 Broadcom BCM4709A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 24.2 28.9 50.2**
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 83.8 79.6 69.5**
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 39.2 40.9 49.1**
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 83.3 83.7 68.1**
Table 2: File copy throughput - USB 3.0 (MBytes/sec)
** = "Reducing USB 3.0 interference" setting disabled

The E8350 is the second router with an eSATA connection, so Table 3 includes both it and the NETGEAR R7500. Given the similarity in USB 3.0 results, I was surprised to see the NETGEAR's much higher read results with both drive formats.

  Linksys E8350 NETGEAR R7500
Processor QCA IPQ8064 QCA IPQ8064
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 23.0 29.9
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 83.2 95.1
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 38.1 38.9
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 88.6 100.3
Table 3: File copy throughput - eSATA (MBytes/sec)

The ASUS RT-AC87U also has a USB 2.0 port, so Table 4 compares it to the E8350. The ASUS does better for writes with both FAT32 and NTFS formats, but the Linksys beats the ASUS on reads.

  Linksys E8350 ASUS RT-AC87U
Processor QCA IPQ8064 Broadcom BCM4709A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 16.9 26.4
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 37.8 30.1
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 33.9 27.3
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 37.1 30.4
Table 4: File copy throughput - USB 2.0 (MBytes/sec)

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