The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router AC1600 (EA6400) is one of the first routers to be produced since Belkin purchased Linksys, and it is one of the most powerful. Despite the fact that Linksys has changed ownership, the EA6400 does not alter significantly from last year’s Cisco Linksys Smart Wi-Fi AC 1750HD Video Pro EA6500.
One distinction is that performance in 11ac mode is not as fast as it is with the EA6500. Nonetheless, this is not surprising given that I would consider the EA6400 a little “lower grade” router than the EA6500 both in terms of cost and hardware specifications.
Although it is a very nice router that operates very well in 802.11n mode, it is not the best unit I have seen among pre-draft 11ac routers.
The EA6400 is very identical in appearance to the earlier EA6500. In fact, I was shocked to notice that the EA6400 still bears the Cisco branding on the back. According to Linksys representatives, this is due to the fact that the router was already in production before the company’s takeover by Belkin.
One significant difference between the two is that the EA6500 supports up to 450 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band, whilst the EA6500 does not. For its part, the EA6400 is only capable of 2.4GHz throughput of up to 300 Mbps, with a theoretical maximum throughput of 1300 Mbps available in the 5GHz band. The EA6400, while having lower theoretical maximums, had much better performance at 2.4GHz, in my experience.
One USB 3.0 port, four Gigabit LAN ports, and a Gigabit WAN port are included on the 6400’s networking choices. An external hard drive or printer can be connected to the computer using its USB connector.
The EA6400 provides 300 Mbps at 2.4GHz, whereas the EA650 offers 450 Mbps at the same frequency. The EA6400 has four internal antennae, compared to the EA6500’s six, and its transmit/receive rate is 2×2, whereas the EA6500’s is 3×3. The EA6400 also has a lower transmit/receive rate than the EA6500, which is 2×2. These specifications may account for some of the differences in performance between the two routers while operating in 11ac mode.
Even while testing with Linksys’ new Wireless Mini USB Adapter AC 580 Dual Band, I didn’t see a significant difference in 11ac mode performance between the EA6500 and the EA6400 (AE6000). As a matter of fact, performance in 5GHz mode with the newer EA400 was a little slower than with the EA6500 (again, perhaps due to the fact that the antenna design on the EA400 wasn’t as robust as on the EA6500).
Using the EA6400 as an example, at a distance of 15 feet from the router, it achieved 126 Mbps in ac mode testing whereas the EA6500 achieved 133Mbps. There isn’t a statistically significant difference. The EA6400 achieved 150 Mbps in 802.11n only mode when tested from the same distance as the EA6500, a result that was just slightly better than the EA6500’s 160 Mbps.
The 2.4 GHz mode is where the EA6400 performed exceptionally well in terms of performance. It managed to deliver some of the highest throughputs I’ve seen from pre-draft 11ac routers in my testing. It achieved 74 Mbps at 15 feet in 2.4 GHz mode, and a blistering 118 Mbps in 2.4 N-only mode, which is really impressive (speedy in my test environment, which is very RF-interference-challenged).
Even so, I’ve seen better throughput from competing for pre-draft 802.11ac routers, such as Trendnet’s AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-812DRU) which delivered an incredible 283 Mbps, and Edimax’s AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Gigabit Router, which delivered an average speed of 186 Mbps. Trendnet’s AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router Nonetheless, I am pleased with the EA6400’s 11ac throughput, which is in the triple-digit range.
The EA6400 is an excellent router in its own right. The clear UI, simple configuration, and extensive feature set make up for the lack of performance when compared to other 11ac routers operating in 11ac mode on the market. But the EA6500, which I reviewed last year, is not a much different router from this one. In reality, it’s a little slower in 5 GHz mode than in 3 GHz mode.
Having said that, for the vast majority of customers, it will work well as an all-purpose router, enabling QoS, NAS, and printer sharing, as well as excellent support for legacy devices operating on the 2.4 GHz band. We give it four stars out of five, with Trendnet’s AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-812DRU) keeping its position as our Editors’ Choice among pre-draft 11ac consumer routers.
- Network Standards:
- IEEE 802.11b
- IEEE 802.11a
- IEEE 802.11g
- IEEE 802.11n
- IEEE 802.11ac
- Radio Frequency Bands:
2.4 & 5GHz
1x Gigabit WAN, 4x Gigabit LAN, 1x USB 3.0
Power, Ethernet LAN, Internet, WPS
Reset, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, Power (EU models only)
- Operating Temperature:
32 to 104 F (0 to 40 C)
- Storage Temperature:
-4 to 158F (-20 to 70C)
- Operating Humidity:
10 to 80% Noncondensing
- Max. Link Rate:
- Platform Compatibility:
- Windows XP
- Windows Vista 32/64
- WIndows 7 32/64
- Windows 8 32/64
- Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard
- Mac OS X 10.6.1 Snow Leopard
- Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
- Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
- Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
The Linksys EA6400 Smart Wi-Fi Router is simple to operate, attractively designed and provides a reliable Wi-Fi signal. Its only notable flaw is the slow Wi-Fi data rate it provides. Unfortunately, this significant flaw prevents it from being a truly good router in almost any situation. It’s still a decent investment, but only for people who live in very compact spaces like apartments or condos.