When Linksys released the Max Stream EA9500 router last year, I gave it a perfect 10. What fascinated me about this piece of hardware wasn’t just its ability to eliminate every dead zone in my house, but the smart MU-MIMO technology embedded within. The part that scared most consumers off was the intimidating price, but wave 2 of Linksys’ MU-MIMO routers are seeking to change that by being more affordable without skimping out on features. The subject of this review is the Max Stream EA8300, the youngest sibling in this family of products set on acquiring the hearts of gamers and streamers alike for $199.99 USD.

After unboxing the Linksys Max Stream EA8300 it was obvious that many of the routers aesthetic design choices were borrowed for the EA9500, starting from the bright LCD panel down to the patterning on the chassis. Unlike its older sibling, the EA8300 features a much more space efficient design, coming with a slimmed down quad-network antenna setup and losing nearly half the weight. Set-up took only a few minutes and after a couple more tweaking personalized settings I was in possession of a highly optimized Wi-Fi network.

Linksys Max Stream EA8300 Hardware Review 1

When it comes to specs the Max Stream EA8300 is a clear winner for consumers who live in either a small home or large apartment. Starting with the CPU, the heart of the EA8300 is a quad-core chip running at 716MHz. The router also includes 256MB of both RAM and Flash memory. Perhaps the most important part of these specs though is that this is the first tri-band router in its price range, giving users access to two 5GHz connections with max speeds up to 867 Mbps each, along with a single 2.4GHz connection running at speeds just below 500 Mbps. While these speeds are nowhere near the limit the EA9500 was able to reach, most home networks don’t extend past 100mbps, so there is still plenty of headroom to grow into. Users who prefer having a wired connection, however, will also be able to run at their top internet speeds with 4 Gigabyte Ethernet LAN ports.

Performance, in short, was golden. Just like the EA9500 before it, the Max Stream EA8300 eliminated every dead zone in my house and was able to hit the top speeds supported by my Internet provider. The only real negative was the extent of the range, as the previously reviewed eight-towered beast was able to extend its range past my driveway and still provide coverage to the end of my backyard. The best feature of MU-MIMO products like the EA8300 is the ability for the user to choose what devices are of the utmost priority in the network.

Traditional routers can’t support many devices at a time because they are all pinging the network simultaneously, overworking the hardware and creating lower speeds, but Max Stream routers don’t suffer from this weakness. Every device is treated separately and through the tri-band band networks, set-up will be able to run at top efficiency with ease. This means heavy online gamers who are stuck with Wi-Fi connections won’t be dropping games as often and will always run at the highest speed possible.

Users who are dependent on a consistent and powerful Wi-Fi network for their devices need a product that delivers user functionality, fantastic range, and network customization all in one tight package, which the Max Stream EA8300 provides. For half the price of its elder sibling, the EA8300 is hard to beat, offering the latest advanced tech available at an affordable price for both families and enthusiasts alike to enjoy.