A router is no longer a hidden piece of technology relegated to the basement. Routers are key components to our home networks, whether it’s for surfing the web on a computer, running smart home gadgets, or streaming 4K video. You need something powerful and fast. I asked blogger Ron Leung to tackle the review of a new product on the market. Here’s his review. -Erin
Today I had the opportunity to test the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 Mu-Mimi Tri-Band Router. The name is definitely intimidating – especially for those who cringe at the thought of setting up a new router. Linksys has been a router and Wi-Fi pioneer since the dark ages of surfing the web when Al Gore claimed to have invented the “interweb”.
Why do I need a faster router?
Linksys has done a great job of keeping up with the growing demand of faster speeds and massive data transfers we need in order to use streaming services like Netflix.
Why does one need a super fast router? Well nobody really NEEDS one, however if you’re in the middle of binge watching the new season of House of Cards there’s nothing worse than seeing a spinning wheel on Kevin Spacey’s face.
Alas, like all technology lately, faster is always better and it’s true that not all routers are born equal. So what makes the Linksys Max-Stream Tri-Band so special anyway? Well to answer that we must first explain what is Tri-Band Wi-Fi is.
What’s Tri-Band Wi-Fi? What’s a Wi-Fi band?
Let’s backup and explain Tri-Band’s predecessor, the old reliable Dual-Band. (No, it’s not a dual band like Simon and Garfunkel.) What is a Wi-Fi band anyway? A band is basically a range of frequencies. Typically most routers these days are still happily functioning on Dual-Band or even Single-Band technology. A Dual-Band router provides two wireless bands, one 2.4 GHz and another 5 GHz. This allows for more devices and less interference. It’s basically like having two wireless routers in one. By splitting the clients you’re able to make sure things like your Wi-Fi printer, networking cameras, and older generation devices won’t interfere with more frequently used devices like laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
What do you get with Linksys Max-Stream Tri-Band?
Tri-Band Wi-Fi simply means there are three wireless bands to accommodate even more devices on a network. It’s like adding another router under the hood. In today’s data hungry world, more is better right? The AC2200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, for instance, provides one 2GHz band, offering speeds up to 600Mbps, and two 5Ghz bands, for speeds up to 1300Mbps.
Here is a breakdown of the 3 bands and what they do for you:
- Band 1 at 2.4GHz has an optimal speed of up to 400 Mbps ideal for light usage like checking email and works with older Wireless N & G devices.
- Band 2 at 5GHz has an optimal speed of up to 867 Mbps for file transfers and video conferencing.
- Band 3 transfers up to 867 Mbps; ideal for 4K TV, HD Streaming and Gaming.
Linksys Max-Stream Tri-Band -what’s in the box?
The packaging of the Max-Stream was pretty standard. It containes the router unit, an AC power cable and a rather short Ethernet cable. Despite the shiny LED display on top of the router, it still looks like the same old science fiction-style space lander with Martian-like antennae sticking out in several different directions.
I’ve yet to determine the purpose of the fancy LED display other than to remind you that your LINKSYS router is turned on and active, though I don’t imagine many people have their router on display and likely hide theirs in a TV stand like I did.
Setting up Linksys Max-Stream Tri-Band is easy
Everyone at some point has struggled with setting up a home network. There are those long, ridiculous passwords to type in, finding your network amongst a long list can be intermittent and of course there’s that mess of wires and cables.
Setting up the Linksys Max-Stream was very simple and has very intuitive instructions that even a novice should have no problem with. You still have to deal with plugging in wires at awkward angles but the search for networks is almost instantaneous.
There is one thing important detail to note when setting up the router. If you currently have a Gateway type modem/router combo, you will need to contact your provider to have them bridge your modem in order to run your new and improved router independently.
Once you finally see that magical notification that your wireless network is connected and you are off and running, you’ll notice impressive performance.
How fast is Linksys Max-Stream?
I tested my connection while streaming MLB TV on my Apple TV and was very pleased. I typically encounter a few hiccups in my connection but didn’t notice any with the Linksys Max-Stream after a week of heavy usage.
I also decided to download some movies on the Netflix via the app on my iPhone. Again, the Max-Stream provided impressive results. I was able to download the entire “run for it Marty” Back to the Future trilogy in under five minutes. I then tested the featured tri-band ability of the Max-Stream while running my iMac, MacBook Pro, Apple TV and streamed music on my iPhone and did not experience any lag or freezing at all.
I then ran a speed test on my iPhone and found the following results: A download speed of 174.78Mbps and an upload speed of 16.28Mbps. Moving data takes practically no time at all.
These were more than satisfactory results in my opinion. Of course, one must consider what your current data plan currently offers. To put it in perspective – a Ferrari engine isn’t going to impress inside of a mini van. So if you have a good existing Internet plan, you won’t be disappointed with the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200.
Smartphone control of your router
Besides the speed of The Max-Stream AC2200 I was most impressed with its Smart Wi-Fi app that enables access and control of your home network from your mobile device.
Linksys allows device priority
The app also allows you to control all of your router settings including device prioritization. The device prioritization allows you to choose up to three devices for priority usage of your Internet connection. Whether these three designated devices are wired or wireless, they will always be given first dibs when it comes to the best connection. The rest of your devices share the leftovers. This feature is especially handy for streaming devices that typically require a fast steady stream of data like those pesky House of Cards episodes.
Easy router resets on app
Another strong feature of the app is a slide button that allows you to reset your router. We’ve all had to unplug our router and do the whole wait 10 second routine, this feature makes a fixing a hiccup in your connection much simpler and without having to leave the comforts of your lazy-boy.
Overall thoughts – Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 Tri-Band Router
Overall I was very impressed with the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Router. The speeds were very fast and I definitely noticed stability in all of my wireless connections. The range of the Max-Stream was also impressive. I typically lose my Wi-Fi access from my apartment as soon as I walk out the door but the Max-Stream held its connection a few feet further. Nothing to get too excited over but every foot counts for those who perhaps need to connect in their garage or basement.
The Max-Stream retails for about $180 on most sites I found. For a Tri-Band router this is a very fair price. For some this may same very expensive but if you are a heavy Internet user – the last thing you need is a slow wireless connection. The router definitely lives up to its name by streaming at very high “Max Streams” and MU-MIMO which stands for “Multi-Unit-Multi-Input-Multi-Output” simply means the latest Wireless-AC technology for simultaneously streaming and gaming on multiple devices.
I would recommend this router for the intermediate user for sure.
Click here for more info on the Linksys Max-Stream AC2200.
Read our review of Google Wi-Fi Mesh Wi-Fi system here.