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Wireless Performance - more

The Benchmark Summary below shows the average of all wireless throughput measurements made over the tested attenuation range.

EA8500 Benchmark Summary

EA8500 Benchmark Summary

To provide some perspective, I pulled all three AC2350 class routers plus the EA8500 into one chart of 2.4 GHz average throughput below. Average downlink comes in at the bottom, while average uplink sits at the top of the respective charts. But note the 96 Mbps average uplink is essentially the same as the ASUS and Linksys E8350 results.

2.4 GHz average throughput comparison

2.4 GHz average throughput comparison

The 5 GHz average throughput comparison shows the EA8500 beating all the first-generation 4x4 routers by a wide margin.

5 GHz average throughput comparison

5 GHz average throughput comparison

The profile plots will provide more insight into the average results. The plots include all four 4x4 routers tested so far, the EA8500, Linksys E8350, ASUS RT-AC87U and NETGEAR R7500.

The 2.4 GHz downlink profile shows the AC87U as the clear downlink winner with throughput above the other three routers for the entire test run, save the 63 dB attenuation test where it tied with the EA8500.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot is harder to call by eye, except for the NETGEAR, which sits below the other three routers for most of the tested range.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz downlink profile shows the EA8500's advantage of having the highest starting throughput (593 Mbps) of the group. That, plus a similar slope results in its significantly higher 315 Mbps average downlink throughput.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For 5 GHz uplink, the EA8500 once again has significantly higher starting throughput (535 Mbps), which again keeps its curve above the other three for the entire test run.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Closing Thoughts

If you simply must have a 4x4 router—and I'm not recommending you do—I see no reason to mess with any of the first-generation, Quantenna based products. The main reason for 4x4 is MU-MIMO and the only way to get that is with a QCA-based router. Right now, the only game in town is the Linksys EA8500.

But, the game's afoot, folks. If you look at the table from the CES 2015 wrapup, you'll see only one upcoming QCA-based AC2600 class router likely to have decent performance—TP-LINK's Archer C2600. But that's not due until Q3. D-Link's clearly betting on Broadcom's 4x4 chipset, but didn't reveal a timeframe in its CES 2015 announcements. And NETGEAR hasn't said what their plans are. And don't forget 8 stream products are on the horizon.

Product Class # of Antennas 2.4 GHz Max. Link Rate (Mbps) 5 GHz Max. Link Rate (Mbps)
Amped Wireless RTA2600 Athena AC2600 4 800 1733
D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 8 1000 2165
D-Link DIR-885L AC3100 4 1000 2165
Linksys EA8500 AC2600 4 800 1733
TP-LINK Archer C2600 AC2600 4 800 1733
TRENDnet TEW-827DRU AC2600 4 800 1733

As good as the EA8500 is, I see no reason to rush out and buy it. It's unlikely you'll have MU-MIMO enabled device in your pocket anytime soon and you'll have one only if you trade up to another phone or tablet. And who knows, if you already own one of last year's MU-MIMO "ready" products, ASUS, NETGEAR or Linksys might even enable MU-MIMO on it.

But if you just have to have a MU-MIMO enabled router now, then by all means go for the Linksys EA8500. With or without MU-MIMO, it looks like a good all-around performer.

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