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Wireless Reviews

Features

The EA8300's supports Linksys' standard "Smart Wi-Fi" feature set, which is described pretty well in the EA9500 review.

Linksys Smart Wi-Fi home

Linksys Smart Wi-Fi home

The default wireless settings are shown in the screenshot below. While Linksys uses the Broadcom-coined "Smart Connect" term in its marketing material, here, it's called plain-ol band-steering. Perhaps due to the use of Qualcomm technology, the EA8300 defaults to band steering among all three radios (the Broadcom-based EA9200, EA9300 and EA9500 band steer only between the two 5 GHz radios).

Linksys EA8300 Wi-Fi Defaults

Linksys EA8300 Wi-Fi Defaults

Turning band steering off exposes the controls shown below for all three radios, with the settings I used for testing.

Band steering disabled

Band steering disabled

Linksys's routing features continue to lag far behind ASUS and somewhat behind NETGEAR's. Like other EA series routers, the EA8300 does not support OpenVPN as Linksys' Marvell-based WRT routers do. However, non-WDS based Wireless bridging and repeating are supported, but hidden in the Connectivity > Internet Settings > Type of Internet Connection control.

It's not clear from the User Manual, but if you assign unique SSIDs to the two 5 GHz radios, Linksys confirmed you should be able to link up a second EA8300 to get the equivalent of a two-node Velop. However, unlike Velop, the link between two EA8300s would be dedicated to backhaul.

Wireless Repeating setup

Wireless Repeating setup

If you make your way to the Wireless > Advanced tab, you'll find an Airtime Fairness enable, which is off by default. Airtime Fairness provides a shot at improving total wireless bandwidth use by keeping slower devices from hogging too much air time. It's not a panacea, though, so you should experiment and see if it's right for you.

Speaking of Advanced Wireless settings, the hidden advanced-wireless.html menu in the EA8300 brings up the page shown below, which contains no controls on either 2.4 or 5 GHz tab. So there are no controls to enable/disable beamforming, MU-MIMO or anything else.

Hidden Advanced Wireless page

Hidden Advanced Wireless page

Storage Performance

Our standard router storage test procedure was used to measure file copy throughput for FAT32 and NTFS volumes connected via USB 3.0. The NTFS results below are not much to write home about. They're about as good as the best performing routers produce with USB 2.0 connections.

USB 3.0 storage  performance - USB 3.0, NTFS

USB 3.0 storage performance - USB 3.0, NTFS

Routing Performance

The EA8300 was tested with the V10 router test process, loaded with 1.1.3.184925 firmware. I threw in the EA9300's results to compare against Linksys' next step up in tri-band routers, which is Broadcom-based.

Test Description Linksys EA8300 Linksys EA9300
WAN - LAN Throughput (Mbps) 815 941
LAN - WAN Throughput (Mbps) 775 941
HTTP Score - WAN to LAN (%) 41.3 56.9
HTTP Score - LAN to WAN (%) 42.2 57
Bufferbloat Score- Down Avg. 433 494
Bufferbloat Score- Down Max. 213 385
Bufferbloat Score- Up Avg. 181 415
Bufferbloat Score- Up Max. 40 305
CTF Score (%) 23.9 56.7
Firmware Version 1.1.3.184925 1.1.9.181086
Table 2: Routing throughput

I was somewhat surprised to not see the iperf3-based WAN-LAN and LAN-WAN throughput benchmarks top out at the 941 Mbps many other routers clock in with. But the HTTP and CTF Scores are where you want to focus. The numbers above are averages of scores for four file sizes. The plot below shows the per filesize results for the EA8300 and EA9300. The EA8300 actually out-performs the EA9300 in the smallest 2 KB file test, but can't keep up in the larger filesize tests. I don't know why the EA8300 doesn't handle the 108 KB filesize as efficiently as the EA9300.

HTTP Score comparison

HTTP Score comparison
Plot key file size: [A] 2 KB, [B] 10 KB, [C] 108 KB and [D] 759 KB file

Comparing average Bufferbloat scores from the table above, average downlink bufferbloat was about the same, but average uplink and maximum bloat in both directions was worse than the EA9300's. Before you get too concerned, converting theEA8300's scores back to latency [(1/score) x 1000] yields 2.3 msec average WAN to LAN and 5.5 msec LAN to WAN. The 40 score for LAN to WAN converts to 25 msec.

The Cut Through Forwarding tests look for throughput reduction when various router features are used. The 23.9% is the worst case throughput reduction measured when enabling the Media Priority feature and assigning the test computer as highest priority. Turning off the Connectivity > Administration > Express Forwarding featured (enabled by default) knocked down throughput to around 30% of normal. Using the Parental Control feature to block google.com for the test computer also slowed things to around 30% of normal throughput.

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