Linksys launches AC5400 tri-band EA9500 router

Bringing MU-MIMO into the fold.

Linksys has a new high-end router and accompanying accessories for anyone wanting to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology and AC5400 class speeds.

Let's start with the latter as it tends to be a point of a confusion. The new Linksys EA9500 is a tri-band router that can serve up speeds of up to 1,000Mbps on the single 2.4GHz channel and up to 2,166Mbps on each the two 5GHz channels. You can't actually add those channels together for a single super-fast 5,332Mbps connection, but router makers do add them for marketing purposes, hence the rounded up AC5400 rating.

In any event, you get three channels to spread out your wireless connections, along with eight external antennas for expanded range and eight Gigabit ports for your wired gear.

Arguably the biggest feature for next generation networks is the inclusion of MU-MIMO (Mulit-User, Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology. When beaming Wi-Fi signals to compatible MU-MIMO wireless adapters, you can generally expect less lag and buffering. How so?

Most routers are of the SU-MIMO (Single User) variety and communicate with only one wireless device at a time. Routers are good about rapidly switching between devices, which is why you can play online games on your PC while little Billy streams Netflix in another room. However, switching between clients is one of the reasons why buffering and lag occur.

In contrast, the Linksys EA9500 MU-MIMO router can dole out up to eight streams simultaneously. The caveat is that client devices must have a MU-MIMO wireless adapter to take advantage of this. Those are few and far between, though Linksys also announced a Max-Stream AC600 USB MU-MIMO adapter (WUSB6100M).

According to Asus, it's the first MU-MIMO enabled adapter on the market. It works with any Wi-Fi router, though if you pair it with a MU-MIMO router like the EA9500, you can take advantage of simultaneous streams.

Lastly, Linksys announced its Max-Stream AC1900+ MU-MIMO range extender (RE700). If you need more coverage than what the EA9500 (or any other router) provides, the RE700 can expand your network while still supporting simultaneous streams.

The EA9500 routers carries an MSRP of $400, while the RE700 range extender and USB adapter are priced at $150 and $60, respectively.

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