Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router Reviewed

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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Linksys' EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router provides our first look at how Broadcom MU-MIMO performs.

Read on SmallNetBuilder
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Thanks for posting this one.

Would be nice to see a comparison between the EA8500 (QCA based 4*4:4) vs the EA9500 (BRCM based 4*4:4) side by side - esp with regards to MU support. Would be neat to see things on the EA8500 on the new test bench.

Since Linksys shares the board support package all their platforms, it would be a good comparo across different chipset vendors.

Any thoughts here...

BTW - that thing is heat sinked like crazy - big aluminum plate for the radios topside, the SOC heatsink with the big alloy block and a metal radiator shield to boot, and the plate on the bottom side. Must be weighty...
 

microchip

Very Senior Member
It's Broadcom. These things get hot...
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
The other concern - and @thiggins brought this up on the review - is the 256MB RAM...

There's a reason why Linksys bumped the memory on the WRT1900acV2/ACS to 512MB - it's the NAT/SPI tables, along with the QoS queues... this is also why the other vendors have gone with 512MB of memory in this class.

With three radios and 8 wired ports, more memory is better - this could cause the EA9500 to either reject new clients, or outright crash if the number of clients gets high enough.

Again, probably less said about WRT1900, the better perhaps - but a WRT2600 could have been a possibility if they didn't cost reduce and put the WiFi chips on the mainboard (v1 had a daughter board, and it would have been a simple exercise to change out the wifi chips to QCA or Broadcom if Marvell couldn't deliver a timely MU solution)

Oh well...
 
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sm00thpapa

Very Senior Member
With everyone else going to 512MB of RAM why did Linksys stick with 256MB? Pretty disappointing review.
 

pete y testing

Very Senior Member
That is what I appreciate about the Staff Reviews here...

its certainly one of a few i trust , trustedreviews.com also get a mention as the test real world

http://www.trustedreviews.com/

but in the end its up to the end users to push through the bull shyt and gain the knowledge through educating them selves , rather than relaying on reviews , the likes of smb and my whirlpool forum will give that education for free :) , that is if ppl are willing to listen rather than blindly follow the likes of cnet paid advertising
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
paid for comment always gets caught out , the cnet review being a typical example
Saying a review was paid for without that fact being disclosed is a serious charge to make. What is your basis for your statement?

I agree the review is light on details and is complementary. But that doesnt' make it paid for.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Would be nice to see a comparison between the EA8500 (QCA based 4*4:4) vs the EA9500 (BRCM based 4*4:4) side by side - esp with regards to MU support.
I thought that's what I did in the MU-MIMO section....
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Saw that in the MU section - but it would have been nice to get an A-B comparison across the other test cases as well.

Esp. since the common code across both devices is probably close to 80-85 percent, counting only differences between QCA/BRCM specific, so seeing things in this light would highlight the strengths of each vendor's premium consumer grade chipsets.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
The other concern - and @thiggins brought this up on the review - is the 256MB RAM...

I probably need to explain myself a bit more on this one... with NAT and SPI, we track states not by clients, but by connections - as some clients open and maintain many connections, and some don't.

A general rule of thumb is to reserve/allocation 10 percent of total memory for the state tables - classic demand/capacity theory, which is based on queuing theory, which most communications and network engineers have a decent handle on when designing platforms - need to make sure we're "right-sized" so we don't spend too much overbuilding, or underbuild and have a bad user/customer experience.

Each entry in the state table takes roughly 1Kbit of ram, and in a 1GB system, we can support approximately 100 clients - this is also why many vendors limit the total number of clients on consumer routers, because you have to... they're memory bound.

Once the memory limit is hit, one of two things happen - either connections get blocked, or older entries must be flushed from the table, which can impact clients that maintain connections for a long period of time (think watching netflix for example) - so it's actually better to block than to shed in most cases.

The recent move by many of the vendors to 512MB takes some of this pressure off, but the limit is a hard one.

This is also why after an extended bit torrent session that sometimes one has to power cycle the router, as the state tables are absolutely full (and one of the reasons that folks get into trouble with running a torrent client on the router itself).

Now all that being said - most of the current top-tier machines are running 512MB, and they seem to be pretty good with this in most cases - even the WRT1900acV2/ACS and the EA8500 have 512MB, so I was pretty amazed with the EA9500 being limited to 256MB, which suggests roughly a 25 client max (give or take a few depending on traffic use cases).

It seems like a step backwards, esp. when we add 4 more gigabit ethernet ports, and the second 5GHz radio - SmartConnect needs to track state there as well to make sure it knows where the clients are... if we throw samba and/or cups into the mix, along with DLNA and OpenVPN, this device seems very memory bound.

Tim - can you confirm with Linksys that it is 256MB, and maybe pass along this post - it would be interesting to see their response.
 

microchip

Very Senior Member
Cue the v2 version with 512 MB RAM :p
 

sm00thpapa

Very Senior Member
Drop the RAM from the EA8500 and raise the price. Great marketing.

Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
 
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