Reviews You Can Depend On

Linksys AC5400 Tri Band Wireless Router with MU-MIMO

Linksys AC5400 Tri Band Wireless Router with MU-MIMO (Max Stream EA9500-CA)
by Linksys Price: CDN$ 484.99

Looks like an aircraft carrier but is more like a Disney ride on the inside, ok for consumers but the price, oh the price!


I have to wonder what the people at Linksys were thinking when they slapped a $400+ price tag on this thing?

Before I get into the not so good I’ll put out a few of the good things:
~Parental controls that are easily managed, can be set for specific attached devices
~Easily set up Guest access so they have connectivity but aren’t on your internal network
~Can provide priority access to certain devices, gaming PC’s for instance
~Turn FTP server on/off for access to attached external drive
~Set up as a DNLA Media server
~Built in 8 port Gigabit switch
~Two USB ports
~Limited Diagnostics capabilities
~Easily change Wi-Fi SSID and passwords
~Various security settings although you’ll have to find them all as they are not in one place
~DMZ and Port Forwarding hidden under the Security tab
~Ability to clone a MAC address to retain ISP DHCP IP address
~NAT, Dynamic Routing (RIP), Static Routing
~3-Year warranty
~Antennas articulate in various directions to accommodate best possible coverage for upstairs/downstairs use
~And the all-important OOKLA Speed Test tab, yup one whole tab for this
~App for controlling the router from your phone if you so desire (novelty wears off quick)
~Internal ability to check for and download new firmware (unable to test and confirm functionality as none was available)

Now into the real machine:
First off here’s probably the biggest issue with this router, before you can even experience its feature set you first need to get into it. Here’s the kicker, this thing can’t be configured without being online. This is a real problem for anyone who only has one router at home and only one IP from their ISP that wants to slip this in as a replacement. Normally you would power up the router so you can connect via Ethernet cable, log in, and then work with certain settings before putting it into service. Not a chance with this thing. If you don’t have it connected to the internet you CANNOT configure it. And, get ready for it, if something goes wrong setting it up as it did for me you can’t get past the required login that has to be done while its online. It asks you to download new firmware and this takes you down a rabbit hole sorting through which version of firmware you have. Once you have it downloaded they leave you hanging with no way to use or upload this firmware. I went down this hole just to see where it would lead, you can forget about this, just reset the router as I explain here (this is explained in the instructions). For a factory reset insert tooth pick in the ‘Reset’ hole next to the power switch located on the back panel and keep it depressed till the display resets, about 15 seconds.

This means that to configure your own router at home you have to first create an account with Linksys. Yes folks, you will get more spam email. Then once you’ve bent a knee and given in to Linksys, created an online account, you need to go through the online login which then lets you into the router. I could guess at why this was done in such a convoluted way but my mom always told me not to say anything if I couldn’t say anything nice about someone. After the account set up fiasco there was the option to log in locally but you need to set up a local password during the online log in session before this is possible.

I have two far less expensive routers that I run at home now and both provide a far more robust interface for connectivity than is found within this huge device. And I’m not joking, this thing is huge. Looking at the power adapter, it runs 12v at 5amps. 5 amps for a router? Does it have a coffee making attachment I’m missing? Yes its common good practice to go double the required current needs when considering a power supply but that still leaves 2.5 amps at 12 volts which is about 5 times more than other routers. It does run warm although I have no idea why as at this point I have nothing going on.

~Ok it looks cool, all those antennas sticking up on articulating arms, it’s rather impressive, gives it that aircraft carrier control tower kind of appeal. Does that provide more coverage than the sub $100 router with the built-in antenna I have, no unfortunately it doesn’t? So for the life of me I can’t see what needs that much current.
~Looking at the feature set I can’t see where it will be feeding a processor that much current either. It does have a number of useful set up features that will probably be enough for an average non-technical home user but in the future if more in depth network items are required this will become a disappointment. Here’s a good example, this router like every other one I’ve ever got my hands on, came preconfigured to work on a 192.168.x.x network address assignment. However, if I want to replace an existing router that uses a 10.10.x.x assignment I can’t do it, there is no capability to change this up, its hard coded for only a 192.168.x.x network set up.

So you need to go through all of that to discover some of the features you might want to use aren’t there. I can’t tell you which ones because your needs will probably be different than mine.

As for the size of this beast, to simply say it’s huge doesn’t quite cover it. I have full HD laptops with a smaller footprint. Now with this air craft carrier sized real-estate on the top you would think that maybe the display would provide some useful information on its status or something – anything – but alas it does not. All that lights up is the Linksys logo and 8 vertical bars. Are the eight bars supposed to represent the 8 antennas, I don’t know, there’s nothing in the documentation. Well at least one of the options that are available to you once you finally get into the setup is the ability to turn off the display.

~Ok so I can forward ports and ranges, the least expensive routers have this, for instance the routers that internet service providers (Bell ‘ Telus ‘ Rogers ‘ Shaw) give you when you buy your internet service from them have this option and they’re the worst routers imaginable.
~It does have a nice network map set up that shows you what devices are connected, while the map concept is nice and looks cool, it really has no benefit that can’t be gained from a simple list of connected devices.
~A lot of what this router has going for it is looks, both external and in the config settings.
~There is the ability to tie certain devices to one of the three (2) bands but again this isn’t anything new.

With the bent towards looks and lack of functionality as a real network device I can only assume that this is aimed at consumers. How the average consumer justifies spending this much for a simple router I don’t know either. Maybe they were thinking they could attract a lot of lottery winners?

I can only hope that in future firmware version they correct some of this and add in the capabilities that a router in this price range needs to have.

While it pains me there’s no way I could give this 5 stars. Even giving it 4 took a lot of bending my own arm and backing away from the kind of device I need and instead look at it from more of a non-technical consumer perspective which means that for what it is the feature set is ok but the price is way out of line.

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