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Wireless Reviews

Four Stream Performance

Linksys suggested angling only two of the antennas as shown below to see if it boosted performance.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

I set two E8350's up in open air, six feet apart, one as a normal router and the other in wireless bridge mode (found in the Basic Setup > Internet Connection Type selector. The in-house 5 GHz network was not shut off for the test, but it was idle and only beaconing (no traffic). Channel was set to 153, bandwidth mode was in its default 80 MHz mode and everything else was set to defaults.

I connected only one computer via Gigabit Ethernet at each end of the bridge. Baseline tests using Ethernet between the two computers and TP-LINK NICs show the Ethernet link capable of a bit over 900 Mbps in both directions with each direction run separately. So the hardwired part of the link shouldn't be a limiting factor.

I couldn't monitor link rates for these tests, since the admin GUI doesn't provide even a wireless client list, let alone one with signal levels or link rates.

I ran two sets of tests, one with the antennas on both E8350's straight up and the other with the suggested 45 degree angle for the side antennas. The simultaneous up and downlink test with straight-up antennas yielded 832 Mbps total throughput.

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink

Angling the antennas gained about 80 Mbps total throughput.

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink, angled antennas

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink, angled antennas

I also ran separate up and downlink tests for each antenna position. Results with straight-up antennas show a little over 700 Mbps downlink and 660 Mbps uplink.

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - up and downlink

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - up and downlink

The angled side antennas gained about 100 Mbps on downlink, but only 57 Mbps for uplink.

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - up and downlink

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - up and downlink

Note that this improvement was obtained under conditions not likely to be encountered during typical use, i.e. same room, router and bridge 6 feet apart. Once you get some distance between the two, Linksys' recommendation is to set all antennas straight up.

I also added a second pair of clients plugged into the router and bridge to see if a second stream would yield higher throughput. I got only 64 Mbps more throughput for a total of 976 Mbps, about a 7% gain, using angled antennas.

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink, angled antennas, four computers

Linksys E8350 four stream throughput - simultaneous up/downlink, angled antennas, four computers

At 912 Mbps of simultaneous up/downlink throughput with a single pair, the E8350's four-stream results are a little better than the ASUS RT-AC87U/R's 871 Mbps and much better than the NETGEAR R7500's 794 Mbps.

Closing Thoughts

The Router Ranker Performance Summary shows the E8350 tied with the ASUS RT-AC87U in overall rank at #1.

Linksys E8350 Router Ranker Performance Summary

Linksys E8350 Router Ranker Performance Summary

But features are a problem. Although its switch supports VLANs, the E8350 lacks many of the features found in its ASUS and NETGEAR competitors. So if you want a VPN server, secure remote access to storage, advanced QoS, decent information about wireless clients and even the ability to selectively control access to internet services, you'll need to take a pass on the E8350.

I hope Linksys improves the E8350's feature set over time to bring it more in line with other routers in its class and price range. I also hope all three AC2350 routers get MU-MIMO enabled soon. After all, MU-MIMO is the real reason to buy this class of router, since it has no performance advantages to offer the one and two-stream AC devices it will be paired with. Finally, Linksys has said nothing about supporting alternative firmware for the E8350, while NETGEAR has just posted an OpenWRT beta for its R7500.

Unfortunately, consumer router manufacturers answer more to the demands for new stuff to sell from retailers like Best Buy than to the desires of lowly consumers who hope the products they buy get bugs fixed and features added over time. But until you router buyers change your behavior, you're gonna get what you (are willing to) pay for.

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