THE LINKSYS EA6300 has a classy design, with a matt black finish with a simple silver accent in the centre and a single green light to indicate power. It has a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port for connecting a separate cable or fibre modem or ADSL router, as there isn’t one built in. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. The EA6300 is able to broadcast simultaneously on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands with theoretical throughputs of 300Mbit/s and 867Mbit/s respectively.
By default, both wireless networks have the same name, meaning only one SSID will appear on most of your devices depending on whether they support 5GHz or not. This does mean you can’t force 5GHz devices to use the 2.4GHz band, but you can change the SSID names in the web interface should you wish.
A SimpleTap NFC card lets you connect NFC-capable wireless devices such as smartphones to the router. However, we didn’t manage to get this to work with either a Nexus 5 or an HTC One (m8) smartphone. You can also create a guest network, but only on the 2.4GHz band. The web interface allows you to limit the number of devices that can connect, from five guests up to 50.
The router’s web interface is easy to use, with settings broken down into mostly logical sections such as Parental Controls and Connectivity. Parental controls in particular are very easy to set up, with a step-by-step process to block internet access from specific systems at pre-determined times. You can also conduct a speed test to check your internet upload and download speeds.
The router’s USB3 port can be used to share an external storage drive or a printer across the network. It’s possible to share files through SMB or FTP, or you can create a DLNA media server. You’ll need to install Linksys’s printer sharing utility on each computer you want to print from and you might have to install the printer drivers manually. We had no problems printing from our test Samsung Xpress C1810W laser printer.
We tested the EA6300 using our reference laptop, which has an Intel Dual Band Wireless N-7260 adaptor, and Linksys’s WUSB6300 Wireless-AC USB3 adaptor (£37 inc VAT from www.ebuyer.com). Using our test laptop and the router’s 2.4GHz network, we saw an impressive 53.6Mbit/s at 10m, but 6.6Mbit/s at 25m was poor. Performance improved on the 5GHz band with a strong 149Mbit/s at 10m, but 42.8Mbit/s at 25m is below average.
Using the USB adaptor, speeds were impressive. In 802.11n mode the router managed a seriously quick 195.7Mbit/s at 10m and 139.8Mbit/s at 25m, which is also very fast. In wireless-AC mode wireless speeds were further improved, with 233Mbit/s at 10m and 181.8Mbit/s at 25m; the 25m score is amazing for a router at this price. The Linksys EA6300 is a smart-looking router with very strong speeds as long as you use Linksys’ own USB adaptor. However, the D-Link DIR-868L is far faster, so if you don’t need printer sharing it’s worth the extra £39.