As the pandemic has forced more and more people to work from home, internet and Wi-fi routers have become no less important than utility power. A stable, no nonsense and heavy duty router is key to peace of mind while working from home. Recently I decided to change my Wi-Fi router Mikrotik HAP AC^2 with the Linksys E5600. Initially I was skeptical about the Wi-Fi range as it had internal antennas. Many suggested me to go for TP-Link Archer C6, however I wanted an Open-WRT supported router. Since the Linksys E5600 had beamforming and MU-MIMO it was bound to perform better than my present setup. It is an AC1200 dual band router. The design makes the router stand out from the rest. Here is my review on this router after two weeks of intense usage.
Since my childhood, I always had a fascination about Linksys routers. Earlier when it was the time of 2.4GHz router Linksys E900 was my favorite but it was far more expensive than a few D-Link dual band routers. With my previous Mikrotik HAP AC^2 it had subpar range on 5GHz. It’s wireless throughput was capped at 200MBPS. Now that I had 240MBPS internet bandwidth it started becoming a bottleneck. Tweaking with Channel bonding at 80MHz would offer slight improvements but it’s range was significantly less. It couldn’t cover my entire apartment of ~850 sq. feet.
The Linksys E5600 is a Wi-Fi 5 router. A very minimalist design with no external antennas. It supports MU-MIMO and has 4 internal antennas. One gigabit WAN and four gigabit LAN ports offer ample wired connectivity. I have always used Wi-Fi routers as Access Points. Routing, firewall and all other network tasks are offloaded to virtualized firewall/router on my Proxmox server. To have an idea about my network you can read about it here. The bottom has the signature blue coloured rubberized feet. It runs on a 12volt 1Amp DC power adapter with ample number of converter plugs, something seen very rarely with routers in India. There is a vent on top of the router to ensure cooling. The router has a Dual core 880 MHz CPU coupled with 128 megabytes of RAM and Flash storage. Open-WRT support is available for this router. It has enough resourced to handle 10+ devices as listed on the box. It has dedicated power on of switch which is missing on many routers these days.
For testing throughput, I use a self hosted Libre Speed test server to test throughput. I used Poco X3 for testing wifi speeds. I have tested throughput on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Apart from that I have also tested speeds over 5GHz on a Dlink 841 as wireless repeater with repeater link over 2.4GHz. Back and front sides have 5 inch wall as barrier. The repeater has two 8 inch walls between the router and itself.
Over all, I would say that this is an exceptional product by Linksys in the price range of around ₹2,699 only. For a 1000 sq. feet apartment it is enough to provide ample coverage with virtually no dead zones provided you have properly placed the router in place. The web GUI is the classic blue themed one that is found on Linksys routers. Currently, I am using it as an Access Point but with NAT enabled there is no degradation in performance. I have around 15+ devices connected all time to Wi-Fi including IoT devices and there is no slowing down what so ever. It is perhaps the best router under 3K price range. Having internal antennas doesn’t affect its range in any form. If you are working from home and need to do more than just casual surfing then this router should be the cornerstone of your Wi-Fi gear.