Reviews
Linksys AC2400 Wi-Fi Router E8350
Stealth Router

By Seán O'Sullivan - January 23rd, 2015

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In most homes, the router isn’t something you tend to think about until something goes wrong with it. The “unplug it and plug it in again” ritual of addressing misbehaving routers has been commonplace for so long that South Park lampooned it back in 2008. If you’re looking for a router that offers a robust feature set that won’t get in your way, you’ll want to consider the Linksys E8350.

Opening the box reveals the E8350, as well as all of the usual accoutrements: 4 high-performance external antennas, an Ethernet cable, a power adapter, a quick start guide and a CD-Rom with documentation. The back of the unit serves up the usual buffet of interfaces: 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a single Gig WAN port, a USB 3.0 port, a power jack and something quite neat: a combination eSATA/USB 2.0 port, for all of your external hard drive needs.

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Box contents.

With a price tag of $280, this model is certainly not aimed at those who pick up the cheapest box in a Best Buy, but this router does deliver a lot for the asking price. This is a 2.4 + 5GHz dual-band router that supports the newer AC standard, capable of delivering up to 1733Mbps to compatible clients. To keep that data pumping through the home at those speeds, the router is equipped with a dual-core 1.4GHz CPU, which is put to good use when using the eSATA Port or USB 3.0 as a NAS. Simply hook up a FAT32 or NTFS-formatted drive to the router, and it’ll appear as a SMB share (so Mac users will have to do some extra setup), which is an an extremely elegant way to add a network drive or printer to a home network. I was getting speeds of 85MBps reading off the network over Gigabit connection, which is more than enough to pull up my movies and photos without delay.

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Set up and ready to go.

Suffice it to say, it’s a very capable machine. But how will it look in your home? One of the more novel aspects of the E8350 is that it has no status indicators to speak of. My modem and router are hooked up on my home entertainment centre, so the absence of a few flickering green LEDs is quite a great feature. If you want to tell if this thing is on, pretty much the only way to do that is to see if you can connect to it. That’s great until something goes wrong, and I did encounter some difficulties with the pre-release firmware, but since the release of firmware 1.0.01, everything has been hunky-dory.

I was initially disappointed by the interface for interacting with the router settings – if you’ve used a Linksys router in the last decade, you’ll probably be somewhat familiar with the design. Even though it’s not necessarily intuitive, I had no trouble in configuring QoS and NAT settings to ensure my games consoles got majority share on my busy home network. If you’re not into fiddling, there is a bundled connection wizard that easily and conveniently allows users to set up their basic settings (including a guest network).

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Diggin’ the combo port.

If you’re in the market now for a good router that will offer support for the not-quite-critical-mass-yet AC devices now, and deliver great speeds in the meantime, the E8350 is a great choice. While it’s not on the bleeding edge of speed and design, this unassuming grey box delivers a great performance and packs in plenty of useful features to more than justify the price tag.

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