​AC5300 Router reviews: Linksys EA9500 vs. Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs. D-Link DIR-895L

Which is the best AC5300 wireless router according to our group test?

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

Which AC5300 router should you buy? Picture: Manolo Gómez (Flickr)

This is a group test of three of the latest AC5300 (and AC5400) 802.11ac, MU-MIMO wireless routers. It’s part of a series of articles that has seen us investigate the following:-

Does MU-MIMO currently make a difference?
Linksys Max-Stream AC1900+ WiFi Range Extender RE7000 review
Linksys AC600 MU-MIMO WiFi USB adapter review

If you think that these are probably the dullest-sounding products in existence remember that virtually every piece of technology that anyone owns relies upon them these days, so pay attention!

Testing WiFi routers is something of a unique challenge. There’s very much a YMMV (your mileage may vary) element about them as performance depends on so many factors including location, surrounding building(s), interference from nearby devices and even time of day.

On top of this, the marketing materials and claims by router manufacturers become more hyperbolic with each product evolution. Now that we’re at $600, AC5300 routers with MU-MIMO technology and multiple antennae, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see, “ability to fly” in the specs sheets. And looking at some of them, you wouldn’t be surprised if they did. And let’s not get started on names.

It’s not too surprising though, these are expensive machines which mostly do the same things using similar components – so marketing will always take over. All of them claim to have special features for added stability, reliability and load balancing and all have different names for them. These are impossible to test for directly but overall performance, in our challenging, real-world test environment gave us a good idea of what to expect from each of them. We tested for performance, features and value before delivering our verdict.

What’s special about AC5300 and AC5400?

The 5300 refers to 5,300Mb/s theoretical throughput. This comes from having a three network bands in each router – one 2.4GHz network (1000Mb/s) and two 5GHz networks (2166Mb/s each). Linksys cheekily rounds this up to 5,400 and calls the same thing AC5400. Which is a bit Spinal Tap.

For comparison, the last generation of super routers was called AC3200 and supported a 3,200Mb/s throughput. We included one of these in the test as a comparison.

The contenders

We’re testing three of the latest products from Netgear, D-Link and Linksys. Despite the different marketing, most are based upon the same components and have similar specs and features. We list the main ones separately but all of these have the stalwart router features of: WPS button, VPN compatibility, USB printer sharing, USB storage sharing, Quality of Service (QoS) traffic prioritisation for voice and gaming plus DLNA media support. These models also support the newer guest network offerings plus varying degrees of parental controls as well as a ‘smart beam’ technology which supposedly follows you around your home/office to keep you connected at optimal speeds. They all have smartphone apps for ease of configuration and all make it simple to connect to your home network from elsewhere. The models are:-

Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8

Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8
Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8


Price: $699 RRP (From $550 real world)
Stated Max throughput: 5.3Gb/s
Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core
Antennae: 4 external, 4 internal
Ethernet ports: WAN plus 6 Gigabit (two can be aggregated)
Bands: 1 x 2.4GHz, 2 x 5GHz (5GHz has Smart Connect)
MU-MIMO: Yes
USB: 1 x USB2, 1 x USB 3
Other features: WiFi off button, open source support, backup software, port aggregator.
Warranty: 2 years

D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router

D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router
D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router


Price: $700 RRP (From $590 real world)
Stated Max throughput: 5.3Gb/s
Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core
Antennae: 8 external
Ethernet ports: WAN plus 4 Gigabit
Bands: 1 x 2.4GHz, 2 x 5GHz (All bands have Smart Connect)
MU-MIMO: In Beta
USB: 1 x USB2, 1 x USB 3
Other features: N/A
Warranty: 2 years

Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router

Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router


Price: $549 RRP (From $500 real world)
Stated Max throughput: 5.3Gb/s
Processor: 1.4GHz dual-core
Antennae: 8 external
Ethernet ports: WAN plus 8 Gigabit
Bands: 1 x 2.4GHz, 2 x 5GHz (combined via Smart Connect)
MU-MIMO: Yes
USB: 1 x USB2, 1 x USB 3
Other features: N/A
Warranty: 3 years


Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: How we tested
Page 3: Results
Page 4: Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8 review
Page 5: D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router review
Page 6: Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router review
Page 7: Conclusion

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