Powerful, Pricey, and Nearly Perfect – Review Geek


Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $700

The Atlas WiFi 6E router on a shelf
Dave McQuilling / ReviewGeek

Wi-Fi 6E is still relatively new, but the hardware you need to upgrade your network is becoming more common. Linksys seems to have gone all out with its Atlas Max 6E series of routers, and the price tag matches those ambitions. So are the routers worth the money?

You can pick up Atlas Max 6E routers on their own, as part of a two-pack, or in a set of three. One will act as the “parent” node — connecting directly to the modem, and the others can be placed around your house to enhance your Wi-Fi signal, increase the number of devices that can be connected, or simply provide ethernet ports if something needs hard wiring.

Linksys sent me a two-pack to test out, and they have been the basis of my home network for several months. So I feel I can give an honest opinion on things like setup, reliability, and day-to-day use. Here’s what I’ve found.

Here’s What We Like

  • Lots of bands available
  • Great range
  • Easy set-up

And What We Don’t

  • It’s pretty expensive
  • Wi-Fi 7 may make it obsolete soon

Review Geek’s expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Installation is Pretty Simple

The Linksys Atlas Wifi 6E router near a laptop
Dave McQuilling / ReviewGeek

The biggest barrier to home network upgrades is installation-related anxiety. You have to get the new router working with the modem, link everything up, and place nodes around your house. It can seem overwhelming, and the setup process for some modems makes it even harder. This isn’t the case with the Linksys Atlas Max 6E. Just download the app, which is available on iOS and Android, plug it in then connect an ethernet cord from your modem to whichever router from the multipack you’ve decided will be your main hub. They’re all the same, so it doesn’t make a difference which you pick.

The app does most of the work. No weird logins or code entries, no phone calls to your provider; just make a cup of coffee and come back in a few minutes. The app can also be used to change network names and passwords, handle things like parental controls, add a guest network, and so on. Changing the network names (SSIDs) and passwords so they match your previous Wi-Fi Network can also help your devices seamlessly migrate to the new router. Which caves you a job.

As for the second router, and the third if you have a three-pack, things are equally simple. Just plug those in where you want them and look for them with the app. They’ll be added as a child node, and again the app basically does all of the work. This may have been one of the most stress free network installations I’ve ever experienced.

The Coverage is Great

The Linksys Atlas router between some books and a wooden basket
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

Each unit promises around 3,000 square feet of coverage, which is a larger area than most American homes. Obviously, this can also stack for each router you have. So with the two-pack, and some strategic placement, you can hit 6,000 square feet. The three-pack gets you 9,000 square feet. And so on.

I live in an 800-square-foot apartment, and a single unit is enough to give me a strong signal in every room of my apartment, downstairs, and in a decent chunk of the backlot. Of course, walls are the enemy of any Wi-Fi signal, and that problem is exacerbated as you move through the bands. I can still get a 6GHz signal everywhere in the apartment, but the floors seem to do a great job killing it off. 5GHz is slightly better, and 2GHz seems to go on forever. The second router really comes in handy if you want a strong Wi-Fi 6E signal in multiple areas of your house.

This isn’t a problem with the router, it’s more to do with the frequencies themselves. This is where strategic placement comes in. Putting the second router in the downstairs laundry room means I get a strong signal everywhere in the building, including the basement. This is an old concrete building, which isn’t ideal for Wi-Fi. So if I can get a signal, you should be okay in a wood-framed house.

The second router also comes in very handy for tasks where you need to have an unrestricted view of the device that is pumping out your Wi-Fi signal. For me, as a VR enthusiast, there’s one obvious application. Unfortunately, the Quest Pro is still unable to handle Wi-Fi 6E in the year 2023 — but it should be able to this year, and that will make the Atlas Max an even better router choice. I can set up the second router in my VR space and play through AirLink flawlessly — even if I am stuck on the 5GHz band for the time being.

Linksys’ Atlas Max 6E routers have been the basis of my home network for several months now, and I can honestly say I have no complaints. The speed is fantastic, they’re very reliable, and I’ve had no problem expanding my smart home, linking new devices, or organizing my home network in that time.

Wi-Fi 6E Could Be a Gamble

The Linksys logo with text pointing out it is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

Wi-Fi 6E is arguably the routers’ biggest selling point, but is it a necessity? I’m going to be honest. Wi-Fi 6E may not be necessary just yet. You need a recent device to take advantage of it, and you only really, really, need it if you have Wi-Fi 6E compatible devices and a household that has multiple devices engaging in bandwidth-heavy activities, like 4K streaming, regularly.

But things are set to change soon as 6E-compatible devices get more and more common. This is due to occur pretty soon. The chances are your smartphone is the only 6E-compatible device you currently own, and that’s only the case if it’s a relatively recent flagship. But if you’re getting a new smart TV, projector, laptop, desktop, etc. in the next year or two then it will likely have support for the 6GHz band.

There’s also the argument that Wi-Fi 7 is on the horizon, so you may want to just skip 6E entirely. However, Wi-Fi 7 is going to have the same problems 6E has faced over the last few years — cost and uptake. Yes, we could see the first Wi-Fi 7 devices hit the market as early as this year– but they’re going to be very, very, expensive. Then it’s going to be another couple of years before the standard becomes commonplace. If you can hold off on your home upgrade for another two or three years, you may consider waiting. But Wi-Fi 6E is likely going to be the go-to fast Wi-Fi standard for a while, and I believe it should still have more than enough power even when Wi-Fi 7 starts to become established.

More Ports and Bands Than You’ll Ever Need

The ports on the back of the Linksys Atlas 6E router
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

Having multiple Wi-Fi bands is a great idea. It can help ease congestion on your network, which helps things go faster on the whole. Certain devices can also benefit from 5 GHz, and in the case of routers like the Atlas Max, 6 GHz speeds.  If you’re a smart home user, it’s also handy to have a band your smart devices can all use. It helps keep everything working together nicely, and in the cases of extensive smart networks, stops tens of devices chewing up your bandwidth.

With the Atlas Max, you have an incredibly generous number of bands. It’s a tri-band router by default, which means you have three. But that’s not counting the guest network, which bumps things up to four when it’s enabled. As we’ve mentioned, not a lot of devices currently use Wi-Fi 6E, so that band may not get much activity yet. However, more Wi-Fi 6E capable devices are coming out every day, and it may be your go-to band in a few year’s time. Wi-Fi 6E networks also have the most bandwidth available, and are capable of handling multiple heavy tasks like 4K streaming. So in addition to having a bunch of bands, it also has one that you’ll struggle to overcrowd.

Linksys also boasts that its Atlas routers have four times as many channels as “current Wi-Fi systems.” Each router can handle up to 40 devices, so with the two pack you can have 80 devices connected at once with no issues. Although that sounds like a lot, if you’re setting up a smart home then you could find yourself approaching that number soon enough. Even if your home isn’t full of Wi-Fi 6E capable devices, you’ll still see a major benefit. The extra capacity these routers have will make a big difference to how your home network runs, and if you have a lot of things connected you’ll find your 5GHz and 2.5GHz bands running a lot smoother than they would on a lower capacity router.

Then you have ethernet ports. You have four per router, plus one 5Gbps port on each. One of those 5Gbps ports is going to be connected to your modem, but you’ll have another on the second router that might be worth plugging a desktop into. The main router is currently wired to my printer, a second router I have for unrelated testing purposes, and occasionally my laptop. I can’t really think of nine things around my apartment that need an ethernet connection, so it’s probably more ports than the average user will need. You can host a LAN game on the 5 GHz network these days.

Its Very Good if You Can Afford It

The LinkSYS Atlas 6E router on a shelf between a vase and a picture
Dave McQuilling/ReviewGeek

If you have the money, I can’t recommend the Linksys Atlas Max 6E router enough. The ease of connection, range, reliability, speeds, and number of bands available make it a fantastic choice when it comes to home networks.

The only sticking point for me is just that, the money.  The Atlas Max 6E is on the expensive end of things. For the two-pack I tested, the MSRP is $899.99. Amazon currently has them on sale at 48% off, with an extra 10% coupon that can be applied to that. But even at a discount of over 50%, they’re still over $400 a pair, and still on the expensive side of things as far as routers go.  The single router doesn’t seem to be on sale, and may cost you more than the two pack at the moment. If it is within your budget, it’s a solid system you won’t regret buying. Otherwise, there are cheaper ways to get a reliable network and Wi-Fi 6E in your home.

Here’s What We Like

  • Lots of bands available
  • Great range
  • Easy set-up

And What We Don’t

  • It’s pretty expensive
  • Wi-Fi 7 may make it obsolete soon





Source Link

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.