The Linksys MR7350 Max-Stream Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router is the budget version of the MR9600. Other than the lesser hardware specs and, therefore, the much lower-cost, it’s the same as its big cousin.
What’s most significant, it makes official the fact that all new and likely future Linksys routers will be part of Belkin’s Linksys (Velop) Intelligent Mesh ecosystem.
That said, in this review, I’ll focus on the Linksys Intelligent Mesh notion and differences between the routers, namely their performance. It’s a good idea you read my take on the MR9600 first.
As a Wi-Fi 6 solution, there’s quite a bit to talk about the MR7350, but here’s the gist: Throw the “budget” notion away, and you’ll be happy with this router. Indeed, at some $150, it’s twice the cost of the similarly-specced TP-Link AX10. And if you’re in the market for a Linksys mesh system, well, get a real Velop set instead.
Linksys MR7350 Dual-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router
- Mesh-ready, excellent performance as a single router
- Fast NAS performance when coupled with an external storage device
- Compact, convenient antenna design, wall-mountable
- Expensive, fluctuating Wi-Fi speeds as a mesh node
- Mobile app requires a login account with Linksys to work but still has limited access to the system
- No setting backup/restoration; standard web-based settings deliberately obfuscated from users
- Linksys Intelligent Mesh could use lots of improvement
- No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
- WPA and earlier Wi-Fi encryption methods not supported
- Linksys MR7350: The new phase in Linksys Intelligent Mesh
- Linksys MR7350: The mini version of the MR9600
- Linksys MR7350’s performance: Another type of mixed performance
Linksys MR7350: The new phase in Linksys Intelligent Mesh
The MR7350 is the latest and the other Wi-Fi 6 router from Linksys, after the top-tier AX6000 MR9600. And like its older cousin, it’s also no longer just a standalone router. It’s now part of the Linksys Intelligent Mesh, which started with the Velop series.
Linksys (Velop) Intelligent Mesh overview: All you need to know
This mesh system brand was first available in early 2017 with the original 3-pack tri-band Velop. At the time, I thought the purpose-built mesh system — a direct rival to the Netgear Orbi — was cool, reliable but just also quite pricey and constrictive in terms of features.
Fast forward to the present time, Belkin has now decided that it’ll make all of its mesh-capable single routers part of this ecosystem. And that makes sense, Asus has been doing that with its AiMesh feature for years.
List of Linksys Intelligent Mesh solutions
These solutions include both canned Velop systems and standalone router that can be added or scaled up using the same Velop-based mesh technology.
Wi-Fi 5 Linksys Intelligent Mesh hardware
- Velop Intelligent Mesh Tri-Band (1-pack, 2-pack, 3-pack options)
- Velop Intelligent Mesh Dual-Band (1-pack, 2-pack, 3-pack options)
- MR8300 Mesh WiFi Router
- MR9000 Mesh Router
Wi-Fi 6 Linksys Intelligent Mesh hardware
What you can expect from Linksys Intelligent Mesh
This mesh approach means the above-mentioned Linksys routers can work as a standalone router as usual and also as part of a Velop-like mesh network. Like all things, it has both pros and cons.
Advantages of Linksys Intelligent Mesh
These apply to Linksys routers supporting this feature.
- Hardware flexibility: You can start with a router and scale up the coverage at a later time. There are also many combos of routers to meet one’s budget.
- Ease of use: Setup and on-going management can be done via a mobile app. Users have the option to manage their network from anywhere.
- Uniformity: All routers share the same web user interface and mobile app. If you’ve used one, you’ll know how to deal with the rest.
- Dynamic backhaul band: For wireless setup, routers within the mesh system automatically pick the best bad at a given time (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) as the backhaul. As a result, this could allow for better reliability and coverage, especially, when you use tri-band routers.
- Wired backhaul: You can use network cables to connect members of the mesh to deliver the best performance.
Extra: Linksys Velop vs. Netgear Orbi
It’s important to note that Links Velop Intelligent Mesh is much more flexible than Netgear’s Orbi line, considering Wi-Fi 6 Orbi hardware will not even work with Wi-Fi 5 ones at all.
But that’s probably the only thing Linksy’s Velop outdoes Netgear’s Orbi, which generally has better performance, a lot more features. Plus, it has a full web interface and a vendor-assisted mobile app being available as an option.
Linksys Intelligent Mesh’s shortcomings
From the get-go, Linksys Velop systems are to deliver ease of use at the expense of features and privacy. Being part of this ecosystem mean supported routers will also have to shed features and settings that are not available to the original Velop.
The following are some bullet points on what you should be aware of a Linksys Intelligent Mesh router (and system), including the MR7350 and the MR9600.
- Unless you know this specific trick, you must use the Linksys mobile app and a login account for the setup process. This app-and-login-required shenanigan also applies to when you want to add or remove a mesh node. (In my experience, the app generally works well with Velop sets, but with non-Velop routers, it’s kind of buggy.)
- The mobile app, as well as the router, remains connected to Linksys at all times.
- There’s no way to set up a router without a live Internet connection.
- You’ll need both the app and the web interface, which is available after the initial setup, to have full control of a router (or mesh system.)
- In a mesh, there’s no clear and easy way to find out to which broadcaster a client connects.
- By default, there’s no Wi-Fi performance-related configuration — the only option is the “Mixed” (compatible) mode. (You need to turn that on via a specifically obscured link within the web interface.)
- No love for legacy devices. WPA and older Wi-Fi security methods are no longer available.
- You can’t back up and restore or router’s setting.
- There’s no way to download and update a router’s firmware manually.
- Spartan features. Don’t expect popular and useful feature like online protection, game-related settings, VPN, and so on.
So the move to make standalone routers part of the Velop ecosystem means you’ll trade the robust web interface and customizability for ease of use. It’s almost the opposite direction from Asus’s AiMesh, something that will not make savvy and hardware Linksys fans happy.
Linksys MR7350: The mini version of the MR9600
So, again, the MR7350 is virtually the MR9600 in smaller physical design and lesser Wi-Fi spec. In fact, if you use them both, you’ll note that it’s tough to tell which one is which during the setup process where both are called “Velop.”
After that, the two share the same setup process, features, and settings. Again you can find out more about these in my review of the MR9600.
Linksys MR7350’s hardware specifications
The Linksys MR7350 is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel bandwidth. As a result, its theoretical Wi-Fi speeds cap at 1.2 Gbps when working with any Wi-Fi 6 clients. Wi-Fi 5 clients will enjoy up to 867 Mbps from it.
I tested the MR7350 both as a standalone router and a mesh node that wirelessly extended the MR9600’s Wi-Fi network. While it worked fine as the former — again, it was the same as the MR9600 — setting it up in the latter proved to be buggy.
While the steps are exactly the same as those of the Linksys MX5 Velop AX, what happened in each step was a different experience.
First of all, it took a long time in my case for the app to add the MR7350 as a mesh node. It was much longer than the 6-minute estimation. And then I got an error saying the node couldn’t be added
And tried again, but the node was never even found. Turned out; it had been successfully added the first time around. It was the app that showed the wrong message. I reset the router and tried again, and the same thing happened.
I tried the process a couple of times, and there was only one time that it went through as intended. And even then, it took quite a long time — some 10 minutes — to add the MR7350 as a node.
So, the app didn’t give you the impression that Linksys Intelligent Mesh is a valid name. Hopefully, this will change via future updates.
By the way, again, you must use the mobile app to add a node to a Linksys Intelligent Mesh system. Using the web interface, the mesh node will appear just like another connected client.
Linksys MR7350’s performance: Another type of mixed performance
Similar to the case of the MR9600, the MR7350 also delivered mixed performance in my testing. However, it was quite a bit different.
Fast Wi-Fi as a modest single router
Needless to say, I didn’t expect much from the MR750 considering its modest Wi-Fi specs and the lack of multi-gig network ports. But thanks to the low expectations, the router proved to be quite an excellent little performer.
Without the support for the 160 MHz channel width, the router allowed my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 test clients to connect at 1.2 Gbps. At a close range, on the 5 GHz band, they averaged a sustained speed of more than 770 Mbps. Farther out, they now registered 460 Mbps. Both were quite impressive compared with similarly-specced routers.
The MR7350 did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. My 4×4 test machine got some 640 Mbps at close range and father out, my 3×3 client averaged 570 Mbps.
The router did even better on the 2.4 GHz band, better than many higher-end routers. It’s worth noting, however, that on this band, where I live, the performance fluctuates so much that I wouldn’t recommend using it as anything but a reference.
Outstanding NAS speeds, excellent Wi-Fi range
The MR7350 also delivers excellent range for the router of its caliber. In fact, I found that it had about the same range as the MR9600. So if you live in a home of around 1500 ft² (139 m²) or even maybe slightly larger, you can count on it. Of course, Wi-Fi coverage carries depending on your home.
The rotuer also passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection. I had no issue with it in fact.
What’s most impressive, however, is its network-attached-storage (NAS) performance. When coupled with the Crucial X8, via a Gigabit wired connection, it delivers the sustained copy speed of 110 MB/s and 112 MB/s for writing and reading, respectively, slightly edging out many more expensive routers.
Quite terrible as a mesh node
Again, I tested the MR7350 as a mesh node of a network hosted by the MR9600 as the main router. It wasn’t the best mesh experience I’ve had. Far from it.
Other than the hiccups in setting it up, the performance was quite abysmal. First of all, at just 40 feet away (with a line of sight), for some reason, the MR7350’s front status light showed solid embar, indicating that it didn’t’ have an excellent link to the main router.
And the number showed. It was the slowest Wi-Fi 6 mesh node I’ve tested, even when factoring in the lack of a dedicated backhaul. And the range was quite bad, too. However, it wasn’t the coverage that I had a problem with, but the signal quality.
Generally, in a mesh setup, I either got plodding Wi-Fi speeds or just no Internet connection around the edge of the coverage. Typically in a 2-pack mesh test, I use an area of around 3000 square feet as the reference zone.
So after almost two days of trying to use the combo as our main Wi-Fi network, I gave up. The experience was just awful. Considering the MR9600 didn’t perform well in my testing, my guess is if you use two MR7350 units, things might be better, though unlikely by much.
As a single router, the Linksys MR7350 Max-Stream Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router has just one thing against it, the price. It worked well in my testing, just not better than those that cost significantly less or deliver a lot more features.
As part of a mesh system, it’s safe to say, at its current state, Linksys Intelligent Mesh is not ready for prime time and in no way can compete with Asus’s AiMesh.
Things will likely improve in the future via firmware and app updates. But for now, if Linksys is your mesh brand, stick with a true Velop set instead. Or you broaden your horizon and can check out one of these top Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems.