​AC5300 Router reviews: Linksys EA9500 vs. Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs. D-Link DIR-895L

Which is the best AC5300 wireless router according to our group test?

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

Results

All results are posted in MegaBYTES per second (multiply by eight if you want the figure in MegaBITS per second). Results from the Surface Pro 3 are in orange while the results which used the MU-MIMO dongle are in Blue.

Up close

Up close, it looks as though the older D-Link AC3200 router destroyed the field on 2.4GHz (scoring 68MB/s). This is likely due to the proprietary Smart Connect feature which means it likely was actually working on a 5GHz band but due to the automated nature of the network handling on D-Link’s devices we can’t know for sure.

Using the SP3, the D-Link scored 11MB/s while the Netgear and Linksys scored 9.3 and 9.2MB/s respectively. With the MU-MIMO adapter the results all dropped and reversed with the Linksys achieving 6MB/s, the Netgear 5MB/s and the D-Link 3.9MB/s.

While testing the 5GHz channels on the SP3 we were disappointed to see the D-Link AC5300 looks as though it chose the slower 2.4GHz connection. Meanwhile, the Netgear scored a mighty 57MB/s and a 39MB/s on its two networks (which operate on different channels). The Linksys almost matched the Netgear’s slower speed, with 37MB/s.

Using the MU-MIMO dongle and all results dropped again but to a similar level. The Netgear scored 26 and 27MB/s, the Linksys edged ahead with 28MB/s while the older D-Link AC3200 gave an indication of true D-Link performance with a score of 27MB/s.

So what looks like a wide range of results actually paint an interesting picture. The 5GHz speeds are indeed much faster up close but using a MU-MIMO adapter makes things slower – probably because the WiFi antennae integration in the SP3 is stronger than a small, separate dongle. As the Netgear and older D-Link demonstrate, choosing different 5GHz channels can make a significant difference to speed. Also, as the D-Link AC5300 unit demonstrated, Smart Connect is not always smart.

One floor up

At 2.4GHz In the first bedroom, There wasn’t much change among most of the Surface Pro 3 scores (the older D-Link model looks to have dropped back to a decent 2.4GHz speed here). The routers all seem comfortable beaming to this distance. Interestingly, while all the MU-MIMO dongle scores were lower than the SP3 (again) both the Netgear and D-Link scores stayed the same and the Linksys got faster. This suggests that the MU-MIMO adapter is a bit happier when slightly-further away from the router.

With the SP3, the D-Link scored 9.7MB/s, the Netgear 9MB/s and Linksys 8MB/s which are all broadly similar. Using the MU-MIMO dongle things changed a bit with D-Link dropping to 4MB/s, Netgear dropping to 4.9MB/s and Linksys to 7.8MB/s.

At 5GHz using the SP3 the Netgear scored 6.7 and 4.1MB/s with its two bands while the Linksys sat between the two with 5.5MB/s. Both D-Links appears to have defaulted to the 2.4GHz channel.

With the MU-MIMO dongle we finally saw some acceleration. Netgear roared ahead with 17.6 and 12.5MB/s connection speeds. Linksys increased to 10MB/s. The AC5300 D-Link's current lack of MU-MIMO may account for its lower score and the older AC3200’s score of 7.5MB/s is ambiguous in terms of which channel it was using.

As can be seen, we later ran these tests on an empty network (it had become evident that one-floor-up was the MU-MIMO dongle’s sweet spot) in order to see how much difference having ‘slow’ devices on the network actually made. On the SP3’s WiFi, at 2.4GHz, across the board, speeds slowed down less than 3MB/s when there was other traffic present. All speeds were still faster than with the MU-MIMO dongle although slowdowns only ranged between 0.3 and 1.1MB/s. That slightly-narrower range may represent a win for MU-MIMO. A very small win. We investigate this further, here.

Two floors up

At two floors up, at 2.4GHz, using the Surface Pro 3 the AC5300 D-Link finally came good, scoring 8MB/s. The Linksys followed with 7.8MB/s while the Netgear scored 6MB/s. With MU-MIMO dongles, the D-Link couldn’t connect at all, while the Netgear dropped to 2MB/s and the Linksys dropped to 4.6MB/s.

At 5GHz results became messy. The Netgear couldn’t connect at all (Our XBox couldn’t connect to it either). The Linksys managed 1.5MB/s using the SP3 but a better 4.2MB/s using the MU-MIMO dongle. Meanwhile the D-Link scored 8MB/s with the SP3 but we suspect this was using the 2.4GHz band. It couldn’t connect to at all using the MU-MIMO dongle.

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: How we tested
Page 3: Results
Page 4: Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8 review
Page 5: D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router review
Page 6: Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router review
Page 7: Conclusion

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Tags WiFiWi-FiD-LinkLinksysrouterroutersnetgear

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Nick Ross
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