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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Eight built-in LAN ports
Two USB 3.0 ports for file and device sharing
Very large footprint
Bulky, laptop-style power pack
The Linksys EA9500 Router is one of Linksys’ top of the line, MU-MIMO capable, tri-band routers, providing excellent coverage and combined speeds up to 5.3 Gbps. Whether you’re working from your home office or streaming 4K video simultaneously on multiple devices, this router is capable of meeting your needs.
The Linksys EA9500 Router is a beast, both in terms of size and performance. It may take up a lot of space, but there’s a reason for that. It’s packed to the brim with all the technology you need in a modern, next-gen AC router. This thing is designed for large households and home businesses that are in need of a lot of speed and connectivity options. It’s a very solid performer and more than enough for almost any home application.
We set the Linksys EA9500 up on our bench for testing and when a friend stopped by, the first words out of his mouth were, “How many antennas are too many antennas?” The Linksys EA9500 is a behemoth of a router. At 10.41 x 12.53 x 2.62 inches, it takes up a lot of space, and that’s not even including the eight antennas, each of which are five inches long. At 60.94 ounces or about three and a half pounds, it’s also pretty heavy for a router.
The Linksys EA9500 isn’t going to blend into your home decor in the slightest, but Linksys did a good job at making it look simple and keeping the antennas off the front of the device. It’s a much cleaner design than having them ring the entire device like the crown of Sauron. It’s an all black unit with a small display on the top, surrounded by a lot of tiny holes for venting. The bottom surface is also almost entirely holes, with a service tag in the center and four non-slip rubber feet on the corners.
The Linksys EA9500 Router is a beast, both in terms of size and performance.
The display screen is located on top and close to the front of the device. It looks cool at first but there is no way to turn it off or reduce the brightness. The only thing we were able to discern it does, except show that the device is booting up or upgrading the firmware, is give visual feedback for whether or not MU-MIMO is live. A simple and much smaller LED light could have easily done the same. The grooves around the display are also very difficult to keep clean.
The Linksys EA9500 has a Wi-Fi on/off button and Wi-Fi protected setup button located on the right side. All other I/O and interface buttons are located on the back. There are plenty of connectivity options; two USB 3.0 ports, eight gigabit ethernet ports, one gigabit internet port to connect to your modem, a reset button, power port and a power switch.
Even though the Linksys EA9500 is a massive router, Linksys did a good job on design aesthetics and functionality. You’re going to need a lot of space to set the Linksys EA9500 up but that’s to be expected with such a powerful router. As far as aesthetics go, we prefer it over the more common square design like the Asus ROG Rapture series which has antennas on every side.
The basic setup process for the Linksys EA9500 Router is easy. A simple seven step Quick Start Guide is included in the box. We unpacked the router, turned all the antennas into an upright position, plugged in the power pack and flipped on the power switch. The display lit up quickly and we connected the provided ethernet cable between our modem and the yellow internet port on the router. The Linksys logo lit up right away and we waited for it to stop blinking and turned solid white.
We connected to the network using the network name and password in the Quick Start Guide (also located on the bottom of the router). Next we opened our web browser and went through the rest of the setup at http://LinksysSmartWiFi.com. We initially went with the default configuration and just followed the instructions on screen to see how easy it would be for beginners (quite easy, as it turns out). Alternatively you can download the Linksys app for Android or iOS and do everything from your mobile device.
We didn’t run into any problems at all while setting up the Linksys EA9500 and appreciated how user friendly Linksys made the setup process. For a basic setup, the Linksys EA9500 router was as easy as it gets. The advanced settings include a wide variety of options that aren’t going to be familiar to newbies and should probably be avoided unless you know what you are doing. If you do know what you are doing, however, it’s very easy to configure your router to your own specifications.
The Linksys EA9500 is an AC5400 MU-MIMO Tri-band Gigabit router with 1000+2166+2166 Mbps speeds. It’s powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor and uses 802.11ac network standards. It has one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands that run independently of each other. That means theoretically you can get 1000 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 2166 Mbps on each of the 5GHz bands. In reality, no one is going to reach those speeds, so we’ll take a look at actual network performance in the next section.
The router supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), which is designed to efficiently handle bandwidth in homes with devices of different speed grades. Each device can connect to the router at its highest speed, without reducing the speeds of other devices. Data is transmitted simultaneously instead of sequentially, so it’s essentially like each device has its own dedicated router. That means you can be on a video conference call in your home office while the rest of the family is streaming 4K video in the living room and neither will suffer.
Along with its incredibly strong wireless capabilities, the Linksys EA9500 has a massive eight wired ethernet ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Very few other routers have that many ethernet ports and usually top out at four. The two USB ports allow for network attached storage devices, so you can do things like share your video collection with all devices on the network. Overall, the Linksys EA9500 has excellent connectivity when it comes to both wired and wireless options.
We tested throughput network performance on a Comcast Business plan, utilizing the 5ft/30ft technique, for both 2.4Ghz and 5GHz bands. The Linksys EA9500 is made for high-speed Wi-Fi, and it delivers. On the 2.4GHz band we averaged about 99Mbps at 5ft and only measured a slight drop with 79Mbps at 30ft. The 5GHz band really showcases the EA9500’s cabilities. We consistently got an average of 450Mbps at 5ft but saw a significant drop at 30ft with throughput speeds of around 255Mbps.
The Linksys EA9500 is made for high-speed Wi-Fi, and it delivers.
Coverage was more than enough for the entirety of our roughly 2,000 square foot space. We also maintained good coverage in the basement and a decent distance from the house, covering the majority of the yard and parking space. This was great because we have a habit of forgetting to pull up directions while inside the building and happen to park in a spot with no mobile cell signal.
When it comes to performance, if you live in a large house, have a high-speed fiber connection and need the speed for 4K streaming or playing games, the Linksys EA9500 hits all the numbers you need. The signal was reliable and even at a distance it was more than we really needed.
Linksys is known for its well designed and user-friendly dashboard. As we mentioned earlier, setup was a breeze and the router offers some robust additional features. Linksys calls its dashboard interface “Smart Wi-Fi” and you can access a number of tools.
All the standards like Guest Access, Parental Controls, and Media Prioritization are there. Guest Access allows you to set up a network with an easier password for visitors. The parental controls allow you some control over what your children have access to and at what time of day. The router’s speeds were so good that we didn’t notice any difference with Media Prioritization.
We found the mobile app design and interface to be one of the best we’ve seen so far.
You can also look at a Network Map to see what devices are connected on your network and what they are doing. A built-in Speed Test lets you test any changes you make right from the dashboard. External Storage lets you see what drives are attached to the USB 3.0 ports. All of these tools are well laid out and we found them very easy to understand and use.
Linksys has also released a mobile app on Android and iOS that appears to let you do all the same things you can do from the browser dashboard. The app’s design and interface are some of the best we’ve seen so far. We really appreciate that Linksys nailed it on the software side of things, somewhere a lot of other companies fall short.
At $400 (MSRP) the Linksys EA9500 Router is very pricey. The average street price is around $350 and it can be found refurbished for under $300, which brings the price down closer to some of the major competitors (though given how long the EA9500 has been on the market, it’s surprising the price isn’t even lower). Not many routers with the Linksys EA9500’s specs come with eight LAN ports though, so competition in that regard is sparse.
If you don’t need eight LAN ports, there are many current generation routers with better specs and faster speeds. The ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Tri-Band 10 Gigabit router is a great example and currently goes for around $400. On the other hand, Linksys has excellent software and a great reputation for quality, long-lasting products with very few problems. In our opinion, the Linksys EA9500 is still worth the cost if you need the specs, but if this router is overkill for you like it was for us, you could spend a lot less.
The Linksys EA9500 Router’s most similar competitor is the TP-Link AC5400 Tri-Band Gaming Router (Archer C5400X). While the Linksys EA9500 has a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, the TP-Link Archer C5400X sports a 1.8 GHz 64-bit quad-core processor and three co-processors. They both are MU-MIMO capable, have eight antennas, eight gigabit ethernet ports and two 3.0 USB ports.
The TP-Link Archer C5400X outperforms the Linksys EA9500 when it comes to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz speeds. On the other hand, the C5400X doesn’t have all the advanced settings available on the EA9500. We definitely prefer the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi dashboard and mobile app over TP-Link’s software. If you are looking to purchase a router this powerful, it’s likely you’ll want a lot of control over advanced features and that’s why we suggest the Linksys EA9500 over the the TP-Link Archer C5400X.
Might be overkill for most.
The Linksys EA9500 Router is a great, powerful, and robust router with killer speeds and a nice looking design. It’s just beginning to show its age and if all you are looking for is speed, we’d suggest taking a look at other more current generation routers. If things like eight built-in gigabit ethernet ports and Linksys’ excellent software entice you, there aren’t many other routers that can compete. For our space, the Linksys EA9500 was totally overkill and way more than we need. If you know the specs you are looking for though, even though its been years since its initial launch, the Linksys EA9500 is still a great buy that you won’t regret.