Wi-Fi Throughput vs. Attenuation (aka Rate vs. Range aka RvR)
Now let's see the detail behind the average and maximum values above. 2.4 GHz downlink shows the two ASUS routers tracking pretty well and the Linksys far below, for the reasons previously discussed. The good news is that the Hydra doesn't disconnect earlier than the two ASUS routers.
2.4 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - downlink
On 2.4 GHz uplink, the Linksys' curve gets closer to the two ASUS', but still a good 60 Mbps or so lower during the strong to medium signal part of the test.
2.4 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - uplink
5 GHz downlink again shows the Linksys' throughput well below both ASUS routers. But it's interesting to see the best of the bunch is the Wi-Fi 6 GT-AX11000, not the 6E AXE11000.
5 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - downlink
5 GHz uplink shows the Linksys' throughput curve trending higher, but still below both ASUS router curves for the entire test run.
5 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - uplink
6 GHz downlink finally shows the ASUS and Linksys 6E routers pretty evenly matched throughout the entire test run. This is my first comparison of routers using Broadcom (ASUS) and Qualcomm (Linksys) 6E chipsets. They seem evenly matched.
6 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - downlink
6 GHz uplink clearly shows the Linksys' superior throughput for the entire test run. Note throughput peaks at just over 2 Gbps!
6 GHz throughput vs. attenuation - uplink
The new Multiband benchmark is the first time I've had a benchmark that simultaneously loads all radios in a router and that also measures latency under load. Turns out it's a good way to see whether (or how much) a router's Ethernet port speed limits what you can get out of a router. Keep in mind, however, that you'd be hard-pressed to push a router to the limits tested by this benchmark. In the Linksys' case, since its 5 GbE port is locked to the WAN, you'd need an ISP capable of providing at least 2 Gbps service.
We got our first look at how Ethernet port speed could limit total Wi-Fi throughput in How Much Total Throughput Can Your Wi-Fi Router Really Provide? That article showed that even two Wi-Fi 6 STAs at 80 MHz bandwidth could outrun a 1 GbE port. You'll see shortly that a tri-radio 6E router can go way beyond that.
In fact, let's get right to it. By selecting the Multiband Throughput - Downlink benchmark and setting the selector next to it to Total, we get the total throughput of all radios in each product. Keep in mind that for the GT-AX11000, we're looking at two 5 GHz radios @ 80 MHz channel bandwidth vs. one 5 GHz radio @ 80 MHz and a 6 GHz radio @ 160 MHz for the Linksys and GT-AXE11000. This benchmark also uses 40 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz. Although you're not likely to get 40 MHz channel bandwidth in real life, I figured I might as well throw caution to the wind and include it in this benchmark.
The result is a bit surprising; the ASUS GT-AXE11000 with a 2.5 GbE port beat out the Linksys with its 5 GbE port with 2.353 Gbps of total throughput. The Hydra trailed by about 130 Mbps with 2.232 Gbps.
Multiband total throughput
By ticking the checkboxes for each product and clicking the Plot button, we see the contribution each radio makes to the total. Keep in mind the "C" bar for the ASUS GT-AX11000 represents its second 5 GHz radio vs. 6 GHz for the other two products.
It's clear the Linksys' 2.4 GHz throughput isn't helping as it should. I confirmed it was operating at 40 MHz channel bandwidth. However, as before, I found unbalanced transmit and receive link and MCS rates lower than 11 as the likely cause for its lower throughput. Same goes for the Hydra's significantly lower 5 GHz throughput, which we saw from the maximum throughput test discussed earlier. The Linksys' only win is its 6 GHz throughput; more than 600 Mbps higher than the ASUS AXE11000's.
Multiband - Throughput per radio
Because the multiband benchmark is the first SNB benchmark to simultaneously load all the radios in a router, the test can also provide some insight into performance limits other than Ethernet port speed. The table below compares the maxiumum throughput pulled from the throughput vs. attenuation test, which runs one radio at a time, and multiband test that loads all three radios simultaneously. 2.4 GHz isn't included here, since it would be apples (20 MHz channel bandwidth) vs. oranges (40 MHz channel bandwidth). The GT-AX11000 also isn't included because I don't test that radio by itself.
Hydra Pro 6E
|Max||Multiband||% diff||Max||Multiband||% diff|
Table 2: Throughput comparison
It's interesting that the Linksys, even with its 5 GbE port vs. the ASUS' 2.5 GbE port still shows 24% lower 5 GHz throughput and 20% lower 6 GHz throughput. The ASUS oddly gains 13% 5 GHz throughput, but loses just shy of 50% 6 GHz throughput! So it looks like there's something else limiting the Hydra's total throughput when it's fully loaded.
Updated 8 June 2021: Latency measurements converted to scores.
Last but not least, let's look at latency. This is another SNB first and measures ping (round-trip) latency from the STA, through the router engine, to a WAN-side server while simultaneously running unlimited bandwidth downlink TCP/IP traffic from WAN, through the router to the Wi-Fi STA. As with wired routing latency, these Multiband Latency values have been converted to scores to keep the Ranker happy.
While the default Charts view is the average of all router radios, it's more useful to look at each radio, as shown below. The 90% percentile values are shown, since they represent more of a worst case.
Multiband Latency score per radio
It's clear the Linksys is the worst of the bunch, with significantly lower latency scores on all three bands, particularly 2.4 GHz. This is even clearer when looking at the CDF plot shown below, which compares 2.4 GHz latency for all three routers. This kind of plot is good for getting a feel for the spread of a measured value. Unfortunately, you can't get this plot from the Charts; I generated it using octoScope's Expert Analysis tool.
It's clear the Linksys has a much wider spread and higher maximum value. You can confirm the 234 Mbps 90th percentile value shown above by eyeballing where the plot crosses the 90% Y-axis line.
Multiband Latency CDF plot - 2.4 GHz comparison
The 5 GHz CDF shows the Linksys still has a relatively wide, but narrower spread, but moving in the right direction (to the left). Latency for both ASUS routers also is lower, but not as dramatically as the Linksys'.
Multiband Latency CDF plot - 5 GHz comparison
The 6 GHz CDF plot finally shows the Linksys much closer to the ASUS pack. But its 6 GHz latency is still not as low as the AX11000's high-band 5 GHz radio's.
Multiband Latency CDF plot - 6 GHz comparison
Finally, for some insight into the Linksys' results, let's go to time plots. These are taken from the octoScope server's UI. There's definitely something wonky with the 6 GHz radio (blue line), which drops down to a remarkably steady 1.5 Gbps a minute or so into the 5 minute test and stays there. Then something else is definitely up, starting around 200 seconds, with increased latency variation (aka jitter) and low level (< 1%) ping loss. These results are not a fluke. I ran the test multiple times with similar results.
Multiband throughput, latency, loss vs. time
So is the Hydra Pro 6E the Wi-Fi 6E router the one to buy? Its main selling points are its $50 lower price than the first-to-market ASUS GT-AXE11000 and its 5 GbE WAN port vs. the ASUS' 2.5 GbE. But it's unlikely most buyers will reap an advantage from the latter and the former may not be as compelling as Linksys thinks it might be. And while ASUS provides the flexibility of using its > 1 GbE port for either WAN or LAN, the Linksys's 5 GbE port is dedicated to WAN only duty.
It appears that the Hydra's two-stream 2.4 and 5 GHz radios put it at a disadvantage to the ASUS GT-AXE11000's four-stream. It could be that some additional tuning by Linksys (or more likely Qualcomm) can fix the unbalanced Tx/Rx link rates and get the throughput up to where it should be, but who knows at this point?
Since early adopters tend to like lots of knobs to twiddle for their $500+, the Linksys will definitely disappoint in that department, too.
My bottom line is that if you simply must have a 6E router right now, then I'd pony up the extra $50 and go for the ASUS GT-AXE11000.