Linksys EA8300 brings MU-MIMO Wi-Fi under $200

Wi-Fi is a second-class service in my house, but even I am looking to replace my creaky old 802.11g access point. If like me, you're also looking for a new router (and have a terrible fear of space arachnids), you might have a look at Linksys' latest offering: the Max Stream EA8300. Linksys says this is its first AC2200 tri-band router with MU-MIMO support priced under $200.

The EA8300's AC2200 Wi-Fi offers a theoretical peak throughput of 2.2 Gbps across its three streams. You get five Gigabit Ethernet ports—four for LAN connectivity plus one WAN port—and a USB 3.0 connector for easy setup of networked storage. The hardware inside consists of a quad-core ARMv7 SoC and 256MB of DDR3 memory, all booting from 256MB of onboard flash. Notably, this router offers some measure of support for Amazon's Alexa assistant, allowing for "a variety of convenient voice commands."

Until recently, high-speed Wi-Fi has been restricted to relatively high-end hardware. Nearly a year after the Wi-Fi Alliance finalized the 802.11ac "wave 2" standard,  we're seeing the technology finally creep into consumer devices. Linksys is looking to bring MU-MIMO to the masses, claiming that "more than 84%" of Wi-Fi hardware will be MU-MIMO-enabled by 2019.

Linksys says you can grab the EA8300 right now at its own web shop or Amazon for $199. If you'd prefer to pick one up in person, you'll have to wait until May.

Comments closed
    • blahsaysblah
    • 3 years ago

    Sigh, only secure solution seems Google’s Wifi router/AP but it doesnt seem to support VPN.

    • Welch
    • 3 years ago

    If this uses Linksys’ Smart Login portal crap…. RUN. Never seen routers so buggy for something so simple as login. I’ve been locked out of the router at my office so many times even though the password was known and worked the day before. No number of firmware updates made it more stable. Their hardware also hasn’t been the most stable.

    If you can flash it with 3rd party firmware without too much feature loss (maybe gain) then it might be worth chancing the hardware front.

    Just my 0.02

    • Kretschmer
    • 3 years ago

    My opinion of a router is 99.9% based on it’s stability/software quality and .1% its speed, as I’m limited by my ISP on that front. My TPLink AC1750 is the result of trying and discarding several models for odd signal drops and lag spikes. It’s crazy how poor most routers are when it’s such established tech.

      • dyrdak
      • 3 years ago

      Exactly this. Decent coverage WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet LAN, whatever – WAN side, no BS cloud integration (last thing I need is for Linksys to middleman my interactions with my router or hackers getting extra paths to exploit). The management interface that does not require restarts for every change made (Netgear). And last but not least – hardware that lasts years than warranty period.
      Actually, would be nice to add an option to upload firewall rules/files (i.e. to block telemetry in one shot instead of adding them one by one).

    • Beahmont
    • 3 years ago

    So I have to ask, where does the expense come with these things?

    It can’t be the base hardware. A Raspberry Pi has more and better processing power with more RAM and easily more storage.

    Do the wi-fi modems really cost 100+ bucks? And the software another $50?

    If validation cost more than $10 per unit, I’d be amazed.

    So what is the markup on these things? What is the production cost? What is the Bill of Materials?

      • curtisb
      • 3 years ago

      Wi-Fi has become more and more complex to manage as the standards advance and mature. It takes quite a bit of software expertise to manage the hardware. $200 is relatively cheap compared to enterprise offerings. The 4×4:4 wave2 AP’s we just put in at work are around $500 or so each, not including the license for the management system. These do quite a bit more than standard consumer units and have to be aware of each other so one doesn’t overpower the other, and/or don’t operate on the same channel in the same area. There’s a lot more to it that justifies the additional cost, but I’d consider $200 for a high-end consumer router/AP very reasonable.

      • jensend
      • 3 years ago

      Reminds me of [url=https://youtu.be/EmLHOGT0v4c?t=2m25s<]Flight of the Conchords[/url<]: They're turning kids into slaves Just to make cheaper sneakers But what's the real cost? 'Cause the sneakers don't seem that much cheaper Why are we still paying so much for sneakers When you got little kid slaves making them? What are your overheads?

      • zzz
      • 3 years ago

      The BoM is the cheapest aspect of all hardware: it’s the firmware that costs so much. The hope is that they’re not simply repackaging something they got from somewhere else; you’d hope they’re actively modifying it and updating it and that eats into the profit of every unit sold but creates good-will for the customer. The shelf price needs to accommodate the cost of employee work yesterday and tomorrow.

      On that exact note I wouldn’t buy Linksys hardware from after they were sold to Belkin. I won’t even consider buying this product, admittedly that’s personal bias.

        • gamoniac
        • 3 years ago

        Well said on the first part. I can’t comment on the second part since my last Linksys router (E3000 or something like that) was more than 8 years ago. I am currently using an al-cheapo, single-band TP-Link that seems to do a really good job without getting hot like my $220 Linksys.

      • VincentHanna
      • 3 years ago

      Patents and patent trolls.

      • ludi
      • 3 years ago

      To summarize the others’ excellent points:

      1. Pay all of the requisite patent and related IP licensing fees.
      2. Hire a talented team of firmware programmers.
      3. Build the basic design described in your core chip’s Application Notes, add extra antennas because Everyone Likes More Antennas.
      4. Volume-manufacture, market, distribute, and prepare to support a new-in-this-market-sector product, including expectation of providing RMA support and security updates 2+ years out.
      5. Price the product to recapture costs associated with the above in same 2 years, with the expectation of selling 500k units. Early adopters pay accordingly; plan on a midcycle discount or rebate to keep people interested and/or react to a competitor’s offer. You reap profits on price.
      6. Release a downmarket Gen2 product at half the price. Sell 1.5M units in two more years. You reap profits on volume.
      7. Implement feature “SuperFacePalm” when half your dev team quits and jumps to a competitor because they want a new toy to play with, not a support job managing commodity products. Interview and hire replacements.
      8. Wash, rinse, repeat until your business can properly be described as a “going concern.”

      • strangerguy
      • 3 years ago

      It’s a funny world now when dedicated USB LTE modems can cost as much as Android smartphones which can do the same thing and more. It makes no sense whatsoever.

        • ludi
        • 3 years ago

        The LTE modem is being sold with a markup to cover the production and support costs for a niche product with limited production runs and no other uses.

        The smartphone tech was paid for two or three years ago when it launched in a flagship product, and now the company is pulling in gravy by selling it in a downmarket product for slightly more than the hardware BOM cost, and offering minimal support.

    • UberGerbil
    • 3 years ago

    Alexa support — I guess if you’re frequently turning DMZ on and off or tweaking the parental controls, this might be useful (assuming their Alexa integration allows for that). Otherwise, this sounds like a solution-in-search-of-a-problem gimmick they did because it’s easy.

    Personally, my router is something that I set up and then don’t fiddle with for months at a time. It’s infrastructure — if I’m paying attention to it, then something has failed.

      • Vaughn
      • 3 years ago

      Agreed boss once everything is setup I rarely touch the router config. The only thing that keeps me going back it to update firmware and to check the log from time to time. When things are setup properly you don’t need to be fiddling around with the router constantly.

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