Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Linksys E8450 Router Review: A Flawed Budget Wi-Fi 6 Goodness

Linksys E8450 Dual-Band AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Router is a breath of fresh air. This new Wi-Fi 6 router harkens back to when Linksys was one of my favorite home networking vendors, thanks to its traditional local web interface.

Indeed, it’s the first in a long time that’s no longer part of the “intelligent mesh” trend that deliberately neuters the hardware’s functionality to coerce users into surrendering their personal information via the Linksys mobile app. You buy it, and it’s yours. Pure and simple.

Unfortunately, the Linksys E8450 is far from perfect — even severely so. That’s partly because of its relatively low-end hardware and mostly due to the buggy firmware. As a result, other than the reliable Wi-Fi performance, there’s not much you can count on it.

But at the current sub-$150 cost, this new Linksys Wi-Fi machine is still an excellent deal for a small home. Get it.

(The E8450 is a better version of the even lower-specced Linksys E7350 AX1800 that’s slated to be slower, albeit with the same firmware and feature set.)

Linksys E8450 has a shiny front face
Linksys E8450 has a cool new design with a shiny front face.

Linksys E8450 AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Dual-band Router

$139.99
7.6

Performance

7.5/10

Features

7.0/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Reliable Wi-Fi width good coverage
  • Traditional local web interface, no login account required
  • Compact and pleasant-looking design

Cons

  • Only supports 20MHz and 40MHz channel width in Wi-Fi settings
  • Lacking and buggy firmware
  • No multi-gig network ports, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
  • USB 2.0 port with horrendous NAS performance when hosting a portable drive

Linksys E8450: Out with the new in with the old

From the look, the Linksys E8450 seems definitely a new router. It comes in a unique, eye-catching design that looks like a standing book with a shiny face. The all-plastic body, and especially the front, attracts dirt easily, though. Not a huge deal.

At the core, the E8450 is a standard and simple router. Despite the support for Wi-Fi 6, it comes with old hardware. Really old in some aspects.

For example, other than the usual four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port, the router also has a USB 2.0 port on its back. This is totally ridiculous, considering USB 2.0 first came out more than 20 years ago.

And there’s more.

Linksys E8450: Hardware specifications

The Linksys E8450 supposedly comes with a Wi-Fi 6 5GHz band that caps at 2408Mbps, suggesting that it’s either a 4×4 band (at 80MHz) or a 2×2 band (at 160MHz).

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On the setting page, though, the router only allows for switching between the narrow 20MHz and 40MHz channel widths. It’s the only Wi-Fi 6 router I’ve seen that doesn’t have 80MHz as an option.

So, the E8450’s specs are a bit of a mystery, and Belkin is quite vague on this front.

Model E8450
Full NameLinksys Dual-Band AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Router
Dimensions
(Without Antennas)
6.14 x 3.03 x 8.66 inches
(15.6 x 7.7 x 22 cm)
Weight1.41 lbs (.64 kg)
Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-band Wi-Fi 6 
AX3200 (800 + 2400 Mbps)
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs4×4 AX: Up to 2408Mbps
Channel Width: 20/40MHz
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs3×3 Wi-Fi 6: Up to 800Mbps
Channel Width: 20/40 MHz
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac 
Wireless SecurityWPA2 / WPA3
Mesh-ReadyNo
Web User InterfaceYes
Mobile AppNo
Login Account RequiremntNone
Bridge ModeYes
AP ModeNo
USB Port1x USB 2.0 (Storage)
Processing Power1.4 GHz Dual-Core CPU,
512MB RAM,128MB Flash
Gigabit Port4x LAN, 1x WAN
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Multi-Gig PortNone
Linksys E8450 Dual-Band AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Router’s hardware specifications

In testing, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client managed to connect at 1.2Gbps (1200Mbps) of negotiated speed at best, so maybe the 80MHz was implied. (More in the performance section below.) Still, this is more like an AX2000 router than an AX3200.

That said, even the E8450’s total bandwidth is also old — low, that is. Many old Wi-Fi 5 routers can deliver more on paper.

A standard router with a good dose of nostalgia

But the old notion is not all bad. In fact, I was delighted to find out that it now uses the traditional local web user interface accessible via the router’s default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1.

As a result, you can set it up and manage it the way you do any standard router. And the setup process was indeed straightforward. It took me less than 10 minutes to get the E8450 up and running.

All I had to do was open a browser from a connected computer, navigate it to the IP address and then follow the self-explanatory onscreen wizard.

It’s safe to say, if you have worked with a standard router before, you’ll have no problem with this Linksys. Also, here’s the good news: The interface has all the goodies, including the ability to back and restore the router’s settings — Belkin removed this function from most recent Linksys routers.

Linksys E8450 Interface Setup
The Linksys E8450’s web interface allow for easy on-going management and setup which include a wizard that walks you through the steps including updating the router t the latest firmware.

What’s more, the interface brought back a sizable dose of nostalgia, for me at least. It’s similar to that of Linksys’s best Wi-Fi routers in its heyday, such as the WRT1900AC.

Indeed, the web interface was part of the reason I used to love Linksys’s routers when it was still an independent company and also during the time Cisco owned it, from 2003 to 2013. (Subsequently, Cisco sold it to Belkin, and then Foxconn bought Belkin in 2018.)

But, again, the E8450 seems dated, and the interface itself has nothing new. Those who have never used an old Linksys router will find this menu-based UI rather primitive and tedious.

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However, if you’re tired of the mobile app and login shenanigans taking place in the past couple of years in Linksys routers, you’ll find the E8450 a welcome change. This retro approach is a push in the right direction. I hope it’ll get better in this direction.

Linksys E8450: Detail photos

Linksys E8450 Box
The Linksys E8450’s retail box.

Linksys E8450 Box Content
Out of the box, the router comes included with a small power adapter and a network cable.

Linksys E8450 Front
The Linksys E8450 comes in an eye-catching design with a shiny front.

Linksys E8450s right side
The Linksys E8450 from the side.

The Linksys E8450 is a light weight router.
The Linksys E8450 is a light weight router.

Linksys E8450
On the back, the Linksys E8450 has the usual number of LAN and WAN ports. There’s also a USB 2.0 port.

Linksys E8450s underside
The underside of the Linksys E8450. You’ll find here it’s default settings.

Linksys E8450 is a relatively compact router
The Linksys E8450 is a relatively compact and light Wi-Fi 6 router.

Compatibility-favored Wi-Fi settings, buggy firmware

The Linksys E8450 doesn’t have a lot of features. It comes with a standard set of settings found in most Linksys routers, including the support for Dynamic DNS, port-forwarding, VLAN, and so on.

Linksys E8450 Wi Fi Settings
The Linksys E8450’s Wi-Fi section doesn’t allow for performance-favored settings nor does it have 80MHz and 160MHz channel widths.

The router’s Wi-Fi settings are a bit backward. Specifically, you can’t customize the hardware to deliver the best performance, but just the best compatibility. It also doesn’t support WPA and older encrypting methods — you won’t be able to use many legacy clients with the E8450.

The biggest issue I experienced was the bugginess. Indeed, a lot of the router’s settings and features didn’t work as intended.

Take the Parent Controls, which is dead simple yet the only notable feature, for example. You supposedly can use it to manually block up to 8 certain websites (such as facebook.com, youtube.com, etc.)

I tried it out, and at first, it didn’t work at all. As it turned out, I had to restart the router first before the changes applied. But then it also blocked the sites that were not on the list at random. It was quite a pain to use, and I ended up having to turn it off before I could really use the router.

The Linksys E8450 doesn’t allow for using channel bandwidth higher than 40MHz, and you can’t customize the setting to favor performance.

Other aspects of the router didn’t work out well in my testing, either. Hopefully, this will change via firmware upgrades.

Linksys E8450 Interface Parental Control
The Linksys E8450’s Parental Controls feature is too buggy to be useful.

Linksys E8450: Reliable Wi-Fi performance

The Linksys E8450 did as expected in my testing. Without the support for the 160MHz (or even the 80MHz at times) channel width, you can’t expect it to be fast. But within its own hardware constraints, the router did quite well.

For one, it proved to be reliable, as long as you use it mostly with the default settings — among other things, don’t use Parental Controls. I passed my three-day stress test with no issues at all.

Linksys E8450 Wi Fi 6 Performance

The range was decent, too. If you live in a small home of some 1600 ft2 (149 m2), chances are it can cover every corner. But Wi-Fi range always depends on the environment, so your mileage will vary, even by a great deal one way or the other.

Good Wi-Fi throughputs

And the Wi-Fi speeds weren’t bad at all, either. My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client, on the 5GHz, could connect at 1.2Gbps and registered the sustained speeds of between 685Mbps and 875Mbps from up to 40 feet (12m) away.

Linksys E8450 Wi Fi 5 Performance
Linksys E8450 Wi Fi 5 Performance

The router did OK with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too, averaging some 660Mbps at a close range of 10 feet (3m) and some 440Mbps at 40 feet away.

On the 2.4GHz band, the Linksys E8450 did about the same as similarly-specced Wi-Fi 6 broadcasters, topping at some 85Mbps in the best-case scenario.

Linksys E8450 2 4 GHz Performance
Linksys E8450 2 4 GHz Performance

Overall, considering the lackluster hardware specs, the Linksys E8450 did slightly better than my original expectations. It had nothing to wow anyone but enough to deliver good Wi-Fi speeds, fast enough for most sub-Gigabit Internet plans, in a small home.

Horrendous NAS performance

On the other hand, calling the Linksys E8450’s NAS performance when hosting a portable storage device via its USB port “terrible” would be an understatement. It was a joke in my testing.

Linksys E8450 USB Freature
The Linksys E8450’s USB-related feature is a no go.

I tested it with a couple of portable SSDs, including the WD My Passport SSD, and the sustained speeds (both read and write) never exceeded 2MB/s — that’s two megabytes per second. To put things in perspective, for NAS performance, 20MB/s is still quite terrible.

Needless to say, don’t bother to use this router’s USB port at all.

Conclusion

The Linksys E8450 AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Dual-band Router is a little push in the right direction by Belkin. The new router is as straightforward and easy to use as a home router should be. It also poses no privacy concerns.

In its particular case, though, the shoddy firmware weighs it down, and the low-end hardware doesn’t help. Hopefully, things will get better via a firmware update. For now, still, you can think of its as a reliable, frill-free Wi-Fi 6 machine or a relatively small area. Get one if that’s all you need.

6 thoughts on “Linksys E8450 Router Review: A Flawed Budget Wi-Fi 6 Goodness”

  1. The dual core 1.4GHz MediaTek CPU with AES capability on this router is an OpenVPN dream when Wireguard is not an option. The 128MB flash and 512MB memory are generous. Lacking USB3 can actually be a smart modern design choice: USB3 is notorious for causing 2.4 GHz WiFi interference when home users who don’t know that plug in old poorly shielded cables. The way to get fast NAS is to plug an actual NAS into an ethernet port. Plugging a drive or stick into USB2 is fine for casual file sharing in a home – beyond that use case, a real NAS is in order anyway. The buggy featureless firmware with no 80 MHz channel width option? Who cares? This thing was made for OpenWrt 😉 80 MHz width all day long…

    Reply
  2. Using 2 E8450 as wireless bridge , performance is really good.
    Main router is MX5300. My ps5 gets over 750mbps @ speedtest.

    Reply
      • Thx Dong, MX5300 is good enoguh for my small apartment.

        Just need 2 wireless bridge to connect my consoles & uhd player in bedroom and AV Cabinet in living room.

        Was about to buy Netgear EAX series, but i studied the user manual of E8450 and knowing that it supports Wireless bridge mode.

        Finally i gave it a try and there is no regret. 🙂
        Remark : And they are much cheaper than EAX20/EAX80 as well. 🙂

        Reply

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