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Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Review: Too Big a Bet on 6GHz

The Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi Router — available for purchase today together with the Atlas Pro 6E mesh system — has a cool name. And that’s about its only novelty.

Sure, it’s the third Wi-Fi 6E broadcaster on the market, joining the ranks of the Asus GT-AXE111000 and the Netgear RAXE500, but in this case, the third time is not necessarily the charm.

See also  Wi-Fi 6E Explained: Better Wireless Connections at the Expense of Range

Indeed, the Linksys is much more subdued in hardware specs than its rivals, yet not equally subdued in cost. So, in terms of return on investment, it’s the most expensive among the three despite the lowest price of $500, which is far from affordable.

To cut to the chase: If you have many Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz) clients — and you sure don’t, since nobody does — the Hydra Pro 6E can be a great router. Those with existing 2.5GHz and 5GHz devices — and that’s about all most of us have right now — will find it sorely lacking, both in performance and other home networking aspects.

Thinking of going Wi-Fi 6E because, well, why not? You might be better off paying another $50 or $100 for the Asus and Netgear instead. The MR7500 is not bad. It just doesn’t have anything to justify the crazy high cost.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on April 19, 2021, as a preview and updated it to a full review on April 29 after thorough hands-on testing.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Router and its Retail Box
Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Router and its Retail Box

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi Router

$292.95
7.3

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

5.0/10

Pros

  • Wi-Fi 6E-ready
  • Simple design with 5Gbps WAN port
  • Robust web interface, helpful (optional) mobile app
  • Wall-mountable

Cons

  • Hugely overpriced
  • 6GHz band requires Gig+ or faster Internet to be useful
  • Slow 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands
  • Limited Wi-Fi settings, mobile app coercion
  • No Multi-Gig LAN port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
  • Buggy and slow NAS performance when hosting a storage device

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro: A new, yet familiar, and somewhat odd (Wi-Fi 6E) router

The MR7500 shares the same design as the MR9600, albeit a tad smaller. It’s a rectangular box with four non-removable antennas sticking up from the corners. You can not move these antennas around much — they only swivel vertically 180 degrees.

On the back, the router comes with the usual and five network ports. What’s new is the WAN port which is now a 5Gbps. The rest are Gigabit LANs.

Odd naming convention

On the inside, Hydra Pro 6E is a totally different router. For one, it’s a tri-band router that includes a 2.4GHz, a 5GHz, and a 6GHz band.

So, it’s supposed to supersede its older dual-band cousin. But if the model number signifies anything, MR7500 seems like a lesser moniker. (There’s the MR7350 that’s clearly of a lower-tier from the MR9600.)

So the naming is a bit hard to grasp. And compared to other Wi-Fi 6E machines, namely, the Asus GT-AXE11000 and the Netgear RAXE500, the MR7500 is even more unconventional.

An emphasis on the 6GHz superhighway… to a dead end

Indeed. The other two routers are top-tier routers with 4×4 bands across the board, plus a WAN/LAN Multi-Gig port, Dual-WAN, and Link Aggregation support. On the other hand, the Linksys has no Multi-Gig wired LAN option, and its 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands are both modest.

Sure its 6GHz is on par with the rest of the crowd, but it needs to serve the existing clients, too. Well, it doesn’t do so well with them — more in the performance section below.

What’s more, the router’s 5Gbps Multi-Gig WAN port means is only useful when you have a Gig+ or faster broadband connection. Since most of us are lucky to get Gigabit Internet, this port is a waste in most cases.

But even if you do have a super-fast broadband connection, there’s not much for the receiving end within your home. Both wired and Wi-Fi clients will cap at 1Gbps anyway. (That’s unless you have the Samsung S21 Ultra.)

So in almost all cases, for the foreseeable future, the Linksys MR7500 will deliver the same real-world speed as a low-end Wi-Fi 6 router, if not slower, despite its fancy 6GHz band and the 5Gbps WAN port.

In short, this new router is like a huge freeway leading to a dead-end alley where folks would normally walk to use a bicycle to get to. And that’s fine until you see its price tag.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E: Detail photos

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E
The Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E’s retail box.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Package Content
Out of the box, the Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E comes with a standard power adapter and a network cable.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Front
The new router has a standard design. Here’s its front.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Antennas
The Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E comes with four non-detachable antennas that you can swivel 180 degrees along its sides.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Left Side
The Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E has no internal fan and its chassis comes with ventilation holes.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Right Side
Here’s another picture of the other side.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Ports
On the back, the Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E router has five network ports, one WAN and four LANs. There’s also a USB 3.0 port to host a storage device.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Underside
The Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E router’s underside and its label that contain default Wi-Fi settings.

Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Routers Back Side
Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E’s WAN port (yellow) is a 5Gbps port, that can’t work as a LAN.

Linksys MR7500 vs. Linksys MR9600: Hardware specifications

Again, what sets the Linksys MR7500 part from its older cousin is the 5Gbps WAN port and the new 6GHz band. In return, it has much slower 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands.

Full NameLinksys Hydra Pro
6E Tri-Band
Mesh Wi-Fi Router
Linksys Dual-Band 
Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router
ModelMR7500MR9600
Mesh ReadyYes 
(Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh)
Yes 
(Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh)
Dimensions 9.96 x 6.77 x 2.16 in
(25.3 x 17.2 x 5.5 cm)
11.02 x 6.69 x 2.36 in 
(28 x 17 x 6 cm)
Weight2.0 lbs (907 g)2.07 lbs (940 g)
Wi-Fi SpecsTri-band AXE6600Dual-band AX6000 
1st Band2.4GHz 2×2 AX
Up to 576Mbps
(20/40MHZ)
2.4GHz 4×4 AX
Up to 1147Mbps
(20/40MHZ)
2nd Band5GHz 2×2 AX
Up to 1201Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
5GHz 4×4 AX
Up to 4804 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band6GHz 4×4 AXE
Up to 4804 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
None
Backward Compatibility 802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Wi-Fi SecurityWPA2 and WPA3WPA2 and WPA3
Mobile AppLinksysLinksys
Web User InterfaceYes Yes 
AP (Bridge) ModeYesYes
USB Port1x USB 3.02x USB 3.0
Gigabit Port4x LAN4x LAN, 1x WAN
Link AggregationNoNo
Multi-Gig Port1x 5Gbps WANNone
Dual-WANNoNo
Processing power1.8 GHz Quad-Core Processor1.8 GHz Quad-Core Processor
Release DateApril 29, 2021July 2020
Price (at Launch)$500$400
Hardware specifications: Linksys MR7500 vs Linksys MR9600

Familiar setup process, web interface, mobile app, and feature set

Getting the Linksys MR7500 up and running was the same experience as Id id the MR9600 or the MR7350.

The new route has a full local web interface that’s deliberately obscure to force users into using the Linksys mobile app. The app works fine but it requires a login account with Linksys which is always a bad idea for those concerning about privacy.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage QoS
The Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E router has a simple QoS feature.

I’m one, and I decided to opt for the web interface instead. You can follow my detailed post on how to handle this router (or most other new Linksys.)

On top of that, this router shares the same feature set as that of the MR9600, which is not much.

Especially, it has a simple QoS called Device Prioritization that allows you to drag and drop up to three devices within the network on the high priority list. And that’s it.

There’s also a Parental Controls section that allows blocking devices from the Internet on a schedule or from particular websites. The content filtering and Internet pausing worked fine in my testing, but it’s just a bit too simplistic.

Other than that, the MR7500 has a standard set of network settings, including IP reservation, Dynamic DNS, the support for a Guest network, Bridge mode, and so on.

The router doesn’t have a built-in VPN server, but it can work as a mini NAS server when hosting a storage device via its USB 3.0 port. The performance wasn’t the best, however — more below.

And finally, like the MR9600 or MR7350, the Hydra Pro 6E is mesh-ready. It can team up with any router mentioned above or any Velop router to form a Linksys Intelligent mesh system.

While this works on paper, it’s more of a gimmick in my trial. This is especially true considering Linksys also made available the AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E today. If you want a mesh, consider that one instead.

Similarly scant Wi-Fi settings

Like previous routers, the Linksys MR7500 doesn’t allow for a lot of Wi-Fi settings. Specifically, you can’t optimize its bands for performance, but only for compatibility. This was true even when I used the secret “CA” mode.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Wi Fi Settings
The Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E’s Wi-Fi setting page.

That said, if you’re looking to customize your Wi-Fi networks to the max, this router will not make you happy. On the other hand, for those wanting something simple to use, it’s right up their alley.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E: Reliable but unsatisfying performance

You sure will expect to be amazed by the Linksys MR7500’s performance, and you sure will be disappointed. I was disappointed, even though I didn’t expect much.

The lack of a Multi-Gig local LAN port means this router will cap at 1Gbps at best in my testing. And it only did when working with a Wi-Fi 6E client.

For the rest, it was among the slowest. In return, it proved to be reliable in my week-long testing. Other than the slow speed and the relatively short range, I had no issue with the router.

Speaking of range, the MR7500 had about the same as that of the MR9600, maybe slightly better. Still, it’s not something to brag about. If you live in a small home of 1800 ft² (167 m²) or so, it will likely work out. But it sure has lesser coverage compared to the other two Wi-Fi 6E routers I mentioned here.

Excellent Wi-Fi 6E speeds

The Linksys 7500 was the first Wi-Fi 6E I tested using an “official” test laptop. That’s because I decided to cheat my way into an official test machine, as I detailed in this post on how to make the Intel AX210 adapter works.

See also  Real Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E Driver that Enables the 6GHz Band: Download It Here!
Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Wi Fi 6E Performance

And as expected, this band worked incredibly well in my testing. At a close range, my 2×2 Intel AX210 client maxed out the router’s Gigabit port averaging 1030Mbps and a close range and almost 900Mbps at 40 feet (12m) away.

Like the case of the Asus GT-AXE11000 and Netgear RAXE500, the range of this band on the Linksys MR7500 was short. Don’t expect more than 60 feet within the line of sight. With a wall, you might get only about 40 feet at best.

This is just the nature of the 6GHz band.

Middling speeds for mainstream clients

On the 5GHz and 2.4GHz, though, the Hydra Pro 6E was quite slow due to its modest specs.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Wi Fi 6 Performance

Indeed, as you’ll see on the charts, the MR7500 was consistently below average in my testing. In fact, when working with my Wi-Fi 5 test clients (a 4×4 at the close range and a 3×3 at the far range), it was at the bottom.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Wi Fi 5 Performance

And finally, on the 2.4GHz, the new router faired about the same as most other Wi-Fi 6 routers. This band has the longest range but is constrained by the 40MHz (or 20MHz) channel width and generally delivers much slower real-world performance than the theoretical number.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage 2 4GHz Performance

Buggy network storage section and slow performance

The Linksys MR7500 comes with a USB 3.0 port which was buggy in my testing.

Each time I visited the storage section of the interface, without or without a portable drive plugged in, I got the error message shown below. Linksys will likely fix this via the next firmware release.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Error
The error I ran into each time I visited the Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E’s Storage section.

Despite the error, the router did recognize the plugged-in portable drive, a My Passport SSD, and automatically shared its content via the popular SMB network protocol. The speeds were slow, however.

Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Storage Performance

Via a Gigabit wired connection, the router registered the NAS speeds of just 34.5MB/s for reading and 31.4MB/s for writing. So, it’ll work for mild data sharing. But if you want anything more, get a real NAS server.

Conclusion

At $500 apiece and a ton of marketing hypes, the poor Linksys MR7500 AXE6600 Hydra Pro 6E Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi router suffers from high expectations.

It seems Linksys doubled down a bit irrationally on the 6GHz band in this case. It’s a bad gamble from the get-go since, at its best, this band is inferior to the 5GHz and 2.4Ghz in terms of range, which is as important, if not more so, than the speed.

Here’s the deal: The Linksys Hydra Pro can be a good router. It just can never be $500 good. To put it in perspective, I’d recommend it if it cost $200 less, and even then, still with reservation.

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6 thoughts on “Linksys MR7500 Hydra Pro 6E Review: Too Big a Bet on 6GHz”

  1. after reading your review, I was like, well I will still check this out, and see if I can use it as a parent node with the older generation Velop ‘child nodes’ (AC4400), I discovered that, although Linksys support said there shouldn’t be any issues, this does not appear to be compatible at all. The speeds without the child nodes were generally ‘ok’, but the moment a ‘child node’ was added, my speeds dropped from roughly 500-600 mbps to 25 mbps..After 48 hours of troubleshooting, I’ll be returning it soon and continue to use the MR9000 Max Stream as the parent node, or maybe switch up to the Netgear AXE11000 ! Great review.

    Reply
  2. Wow that was a nice spec explanation of this router.
    I think is very expensive for what it has to offer. Weird 5ghz band. $500, C’mon Man!

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong, Glad to know your post on the Asus Zen XT8 gives great advice. I am on the verge of purchasing it.
    But I seek your advice on the pricing of the unit.
    In some shops the cost is S$660 and in some shops the cost is S$770.
    Could you advise if possible the reasons for this difference?
    Thanks

    Reply

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