Review: Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream router

If you live with many people, Wi-Fi sharing can cause problems. In a four-bedroom home, for example, you might have one person bingeing Stranger Things on an OLED TV via Chromecast; another playing Doom multiplayer on Xbox; a third Skyping their parents; and a fourth Snapchatting in the kitchen. Additionally, the home has its dark spots – areas where Wi-Fi is mysteriously absent. It could be a particular corner of the living room.

Linksys EA9500
Lots of antennas promise plenty of range in even the most non-Wi-Fi-friendly places

Linksys aims to resolve these issues with the EA9500 Max-Stream router. It resembles an intimidating Space Invaders boss, thanks to its sheer size and eight omnidirectional antennas attached. These antennas are what lend the device its range, which #GNTECH tested in a four-bedroom villa in Jumeirah Village Circle.

A hastily drawn sketch of the JVC villa's first floor. The X marks the router's position; we had full bars everywhere on this level
A hastily drawn sketch of the JVC villa’s first floor. The bottom X marks the router’s position; the top X is the position of the iPhone 6S

With the device installed upstairs in the house, which has a 30mbps connection, we saw download speeds of 3.01mbps on an iPhone 6S inside a sealed shower stall in a closed bathroom on the other side of the first floor – with a 1080p YouTube nature video playing on a Chromecast in another room. When tracking download speed in that room, the HTC 10 we used picked up 16mbps. At least one bar of signal showed up at every point downstairs, only dropping off halfway into the back garden.

This was the speed picked up in the same room as the router - with a 1080p YouTube video running on a Chromecast at the same time
The highest speed picked up in the same room as the router

The router offers bandwidth of 5.3gbps across three bands. In our test, it allowed seamless playback of 1080p video, despite Rocket League being played in another room on a PS4 at the same time. This is courtesy multiple user, multiple input, multiple output (MUMIO) technology. MUMIO lets a router hold multiple connections at once, rather than switching connections on demand. Up to four devices receive individual streams of data simultaneously.

The rear of the EA9500 rocks eight gigabit ports for bandwidth-heavy purposes such as 4K gaming. There’s also a USB 3.0 port for connecting a large hard drive with lots films on it (see our WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra review), so everyone in the house can watch what they want.

Linksys EA9500
The router has eight gigabit ports and a pair USB 3.0 inputs for plugging in a server or external HDD

The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi companion app lets you prioritise devices that require the most speed.

A companion app lets you boost/restrict bandwidth delivered to specific devices
A companion app lets you boost/restrict bandwidth delivered to specific devices

This is undoubtedly a powerful, future-proof device that will satisfy the Wi-Fi needs of any household. However, Dh1,799 is a sizeable investment – nearly enough to get you a 2TB Xbox One S.

Ultimately, the EA9500 is a worthwhile purchase if you live with a lot of Wi-Fi-hungry people and/or in a large house.