So here we are…the Linksys WRT1900AC vs EA9200 vs E8350 – just what is the best Linksys router around right now? 2014 has been a bumper year for AC router releases. Netgear have released two new Nighthawk routers, the X6 and the X4. There’s also the RT-AC87U that Asus recently set off into router-land….and for those on a budget, TP-Link have released the Archer C8.
All are awesome routers in their own right, but there is one other major heavyweight brand that has been keeping active on the wireless AC front. That brand happens to be Linksys. They have in fact released 3 routers this year – take that Netgear & Asus!!!
What you want to know is which of these Linksys routers is the best? Which one is going to have the features that are best suited to you and your environment.
So what we’re going to do is list out the features that these bad boys of the routing world have in common. Then point out some unique features for each one. That should make your choice a whole lot easier! Or it may just confuse you even more, lol – ah well, we do try!
Linksys WRT1900AC AC1900 Router
The Linksys WRT1900ac was the first of these three Linksys giants to be released (in Spring 2014). It looks very similar to the classic WRT54GL Wireless G router.
Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Router
An AC3200 router released in direct competition to the Asus RT-AC87U and the Netgear Nighthawk X6.
Linksys E8350 AC2400 Router
Want MU-MIMO and 4 spatial streams? Want to have the furthest and most reliable coverage without compromise? Here’s the E8350 for ya.
Linksys WRT1900AC vs EA9200 vs E8350 – Major Shared Features
Fast AC Wireless
Ok, so not really a great shock here! Of course all routers are AC. Here are the data rates for each:
- WRT1900AC – 1.9Gbps in total. the 5GHz offers 1.3Gbps. 2.4GHz adds an extra 600Mbps
- E8350 – 2.4Gbps in total. 1.73 on the 5GHz AC, and a further 600Mbps on 2.4Gbps Wireless N
- EA9200 – 3.2Gbps total. As the EA9200 used Tri-Band (more on this later), there are actually two 5GHz bands, each with 1.3Gbps, making 2.6Gbps and that extra 600Mbps on 2.4GHz
Dual Core Processor
In the world of AC routers, having a dual core is essential. With Gigabit Wi-Fi routing, USB sharing and potential interfacing with cabled Ethernet devices, it’s important to have a solid CPU to cope with the loads. Otherwise performance may suffer significantly. The last thing you want is your router to be the bottleneck in your network, especially when connecting to the Internet.
- WRT1900AC – 1.2GHz
- E8350 – 1.4GHz
- EA9200 – 1GHz. Don’t be fooled into thinking the EA9200 is the weakest. It also has 3 offload processors to help out on the side… Especially when processing NAT (connecting to the Internet)
Ok, so at an absolute minimum, you want at least one USB 3.0 port. Most AC routers ship with one, and a token USB 2.0 port for good measure. But what do our 3 Linksys aces have?
- WRT1900AC – 1x USB 3.0 port. There’s also a secondary USB 2.0 port, which doubles up as an eSATA port. Great for the eSATA drive lovers out there!
- E8350 – Same as above. Linksys seem to like the eSATA port option!
- EA9200 – USB 3.0 port and USB 2.0 port. No eSATA this time folks!
Important for extending coverage and reliability, beamforming stretches coverage in the direction of clients as and when they need it. Traditional coverage beams out signal in all directions at all times, which can be inefficient.
All of these Linksys routers use beamforming.
Not so important in single story dwellings, but when multiple floors need to be covered, having adjustable antennas is crucial. The idea is that you tilt the various antennas so that the vertical of the antenna faces the different levels. Of course, you want at least one antenna (on the band you’re using) to sit fully vertical against the floor the router is located, assuming that you have clients using that floor – which is probable.
Again, all three routers have this feature.
Gigabit Ethernet Ports
All these routers have Gigabit per second. 4x LAN ports and 1x WAN port. Perfect for high speed networking internally and to the Internet.
Linksys AC Routers – The Unique Features
Linksys WRT1900AC AC1900 Is DD-WRT Ready
For those of you who don’t know, DD-WRT is an open source based firmware that gives you more control over your router. From network monitoring to Quality of Service adjustments to adjusting the power levels of each antenna amplifier, “Open WRT” – based on Linux, turns your router into a fully customizable mean machine.
It is available as a download from the Linksys website.
The Linksys WRT1900AC Router
E8350 AC2400 Has MU-MIMO & 4 Spatial Streams
MIMO has been around since the days of the Wireless N standard – yes, quite some time now. It’s great on it’s own. Taking delayed reflected Wi-Fi signals and realigning them into one strong beam again, it was a revolution which really helped bump up throughput speeds. However, only one user at a time could take advantage of MIMO.
MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple In Multiple Out) goes that one step further by facilitation multiple users to connect with MIMO technology at the same time. It’s used in conjunction with the 4 spatial streams on offer, where each stream can be sent to a different client. Better throughput for all your users!
EA9200 AC3200 Uses Tri-Band
Tri-Band has been the buzzword term of 2014. Along with the Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000, the Linksys EA9200 uses this revolutionary technology, which optimizes available wireless signals, especially among a large number of clients.
Rather than traditional Dual Band, which uses one 5GHz band and one 2.4GHz band, Tri-Band has two bands on 5GHz and the third on 2.4GHz.
Having two 5GHz bands, means that your clients can each get their maximum throughput when they connect concurrently.
The WRT1900AC? EA9200? E8350? – Which One?!
It’s always difficult to recommend a particular router. Everyone has their own needs and everyone has a different home with different aesthetics (yes, very important).
Some people are looking for good QoS, or maybe the fastest Wi-Fi, so they can stream HD locally. Some want good storage ports.
Some want DD-WRT so they can customize and play around with the settings, others might want an easy intuitive user interface that requires little knowledge or understanding in order to get results.
If you are someone who wants storage options, you maybe want to discard the EA9200 as it doesn’t have an eSATA port. Of course it does have USB 3.0 (as they all do), and if you don’t have an eSATA drive, it doesn’t really matter anyway.
So what about speed? Well, let’s concentrate on the 5GHz download actual throughput speeds, because I think that’s what most of you are interested in…
Ok, let’s be clear, the fastest is the EA9200. At optimal distance around 515Mbps can be reached! The E8350 comes in second at around 505Mbps, and last but no means least, is the WRT1900AC which achieves 420Mbps. Little difference then between the EA9200 and the E8350…
On the 2.4GHz band, they all hover between 120 & 135 Mbps.
Coverage-wise, the E8350 is able to stretch out the furthest…
In fact, overall, if we had to make the pick out of the 3? We would go for the E8350. Although not quite the fastest, it’s awesome features, eSATA port, 4 streams and readiness for MU-MIMO….along with a pretty attractive & competitive price tag…. this is the one to go for. However, the other 2 are still great routers, and should still be on your comparison list!
The Linksys E8350 Router
Do you agree/disagree? Why not comment below and let us know what you think…
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