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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The EA8300 is Wi-Fi Certified and was tested with the Revision 10 wireless test process loaded with 1.1.3.184925 firmware. The router was reset to factory default, then set to Channel 6 and 40 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz and Channel 40 and 80 MHz bandwidth for the low band 5 GHz radio. The high band radio was disabled. WPA2/AES encryption was used for all connections. The Revision 10 process still uses 20 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz tests for throughput vs. range, but uses 40 MHz for peak throughput tests. These settings are enforced by the octoScope Pal test client.

The router body was centered on the test chamber turntable with all antennas vertical as shown in the photo below. The 0° position for the router had the front facing the chamber antennas. Although you see four chamber antennas in the photo, only the center two are used for throughput vs. attenuation testing, which is done with the Pal set to operate as a 2x2 AC device.

EA8300 in test chamber

EA8300 in test chamber

I'll be comparing the EA8300 against two three-stream tri-band routers, Linksys' EA9300 and NETGEAR's R8000P.

The 2.4 GHz downlink profile shows the two Linksys EA's tracking together and the NETGEAR following below until it meets up with the EA9300 around 30 dB.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz uplink shows distinctly different characteristics for all three products. The EA8300 has highest maximum throughput, but falls off a bit more quickly than the NETGEAR. The EA9300 is the poorest performer of the group in this benchmark.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink clearly shows the EA9300 and NETGEAR with distinctly lower performance. The common element between the two is the use of Broadcom's relatively new BCM4365E radio SoC. Linksys questioned this result after the EA9300 review and suspected a problem with the octoScope Pal test client, which is Qualcomm-based. octoScope worked with Linksys and found the performance shown was, indeed, real and not in error.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz uplink shows all three products with similar performance characteristics.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For our peak wireless performance tests, the octoPals are configured as 4x4 AC devices and left to negotiate their best connection, with 10 dB of attenuation applied on 2.4 GHz. The latter is necessary so the 2.4 GHz octoPal isn't overloaded.

The octoScope Pal test client reported the maximum possible 2.4 GHz link rate of 400 Mbps for receive, but only 360 Mbps for transmit for the EA8300's 2.4 GHz tests. For 5 GHz, both receive and transmit link rates were the 866 Mbps maximum.

Test Description Linksys EA8300 Linksys EA9300 NETGEAR R8000P
2.4 GHz Peak Downlink (Mbps) 313 384 497
2.4 GHz Peak Uplink (Mbps) 289 327 237
5 GHz Peak Downlink (Mbps) 658 772 637
5 GHz Peak Uplink (Mbps) 700 855 681
Table 3: Peak Wireless throughput

I don't put much value on peak rates in the Router Ranker algorithm and neither should you, because they are so seldom achieved in real world use.

As is now my practice, I did not test MU-MIMO performance, which makes even less sense in two-stream products.

Closing Thoughts

The EA8300 ranked #6 out of 13 routers tested with the latest Revision 10 process. That's notable because it's the only two-stream router in the Revision 10 ranker and beat out both three-stream NETGEARs (R8000 and R8000P). It also beat its more expensive three-stream EA9300 sibling.

When looking at the ranking performance details below, keep in mind the ranker algorithm weights average wireless throughput and range scores significantly higher than peak and maximum benchmarks. The four-stream two-radio NETGEAR R7800 Nighthawk X4S remains the #1 ranked router, albeit at $40 more as I write this.

EA8300 Router Ranker Performance Summary

EA8300 Router Ranker Performance Summary

So while it has decent wireless performance, the EA8300's real value will be for two different buyers. For folks who have good coverage, but are having trouble keeping up with the demands of too many wireless streamers in the household, the EA8300's second 5 GHz radio will add bandwidth capacity for less money than more expensive three and four-stream alternatives. The extra bandwidth can be used by wireless devices, or to link up a wireless bridge with its own bandwidth supply.

For coverage-challenged buyers, the second 5 GHz radio can be used as a dedicated backhaul link to a second EA8300, or a tri-band extender like NETGEAR's EX8000, or Linksys' $60 cheaper RE9000. This makes a lot more sense than spending about the same, or more, for a four-stream AC5300/5400 tri-band router with all its radios stuck in one spot.

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