The new 6E Mesh Router from Linksys is wildly quick, but you should expect it

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Photo: Wes Davis

techno.rentetan.com – Even though the latest ROG Rapture router from Asus was on the market, on 14 January, the Linksys Atlas Max 6E was actually the first WiFi 6E router. This also means that it is the first mesh router to be certified. It promises exceptional performance, and with a few other nodes in the right spot it can be expected to see almost gigabit speeds across your home.

That is, provided that you have some WiFi 6E devices to use these speeds. Hey, don’t look at me like that! Do not look at me like that! You know what it was. You know what it was.

What is this? What is it?

The first 6E mesh router with WiFi.

Price

$1,1999

Like

Very fast wifi throughout my home; easy setup; easy to use software; not terrible;

Don’t Like

Too expensive; all that is wrong with power brick/cable combo; The LED status is so bright; lack of functions and lack of network security.

Not the most terrible router

The Atlas Max looks virtually identical with the Linksys Velop MX10: The Xbox Series is a white brick, which stands on the end of the Xbox series (or does the Xbox Velop shape?). The top has grid holes for refrigeration and a single, bright, non-disconnected status LED that drives me to the groove – it’s so lucky!

In the case of the USB 3.0 direct-attached storage, and a power port in a barrel, there is a single five-inch Ethhernet WAN port and four gigabit LAN ports on the back. The recessed bottom has a power switch, a reset button and a WPS button. All of this applies to each node in the three-box, which is nice compared to the equally expensive, excellent AmpliFi Alien 2-box, which has only one ethernet port with simple status lights in the second router.

Each Atlas Max comes with it’s very difficult to tell how large it is. I want to take a moment to tell you about the greedy, unmanageable external power. So I want to say that they’re about the size of a generous taco for breakfast in Texas. Think of the first time you held the affectionately named Duke, when you like games and you are old enough. The original Xbox is bloated at a control unit in the first place. I have to rearrange the plugs in my PSU to accommodate its range, simply by providing the Atlas power supply. Most companies deal with bricks of this size either by hiding them inside the unit or by placing them in the middle of the power supply cable.

The Atlas Max comes with 2.2 GHz, a 1-GB RAM- and 512MB of flash, quad-core processor. The second 5 GHz band is usually seen by a threeband router, replacing the threebands by 6 GHz. It also features OFDMA and updated MU-MIMO technologies thanks to the 802.11ax protocol used by the router These features allow communicating simultaneously with multiple devices, first through subdividing channels into a single stream of intelligent home devices with low bandwidth; and second by diffusing multiple simultaneous data streams.

Wi-Fi 5 also uses MU-MIMO but WiFi 6 first expands this capacity into a 2.4-GHz band which will probably account at least in part for the speed boosts on this and other Wi-Fi 6 routers that you see on that band.

Easy setup, but lack of functionality

It was typically easy to set up but was only intended to be done as far as I could tell via the phone app. You can’t do it via a web browser; just that there’d be no configuration wizard, and the status light of Atlas doesn’t get blue until you finalize the app configuration, which in no way admits that you’ve done any kind of configuration yet. Personally I don’t believe that’s the right choice, though we live in a world that definitely has a smartphone for people who can afford this router. But the Atlas Max doesn’t kill.

After setup, it is perhaps easier to manage your router via your phone app; however, ni the app, ni the browser-based user interface, allows particularly advanced administration.

That said, other routers add a number of whistles and bells you can not see with the Atlas in this range. The lack is any type of network activity meter, ad blocking or malware protection on a network basis, or any advanced features set for game players or home workers that may need some type of adaptive priority features requiring little input. It does of course have quality of service (QoS), but in terms of some of Linksys’s competitors it’s a pretty basic implementation. Not only are the characteristics of the Velop simple – they feel incomplete in comparison with the Atlas peers. Still, there’s really nothing particularly confusing in the application or the browser UI, and while I can’t resist a certain behavior of the app (with “back” in many of the menus, I found it easy to get around, instead of the preceding menu).

Rapid performance

Of course, in reality, the most you want is great performance, and the Atlas delivers my normal WiFi 5 Eero system completely out of the water, at least here. I first tested it as one router, without any active nodes, to feel the Atlas Max 6E range on its own. I found that a solitary unit that was tested with a 6 GHz, 5 GHz Galaxy S21 Ultra protocol was more than sufficient for my house. Downloads were quick everywhere I tried it in the house on both bands. Aside from restarting the usual suspects, my smart home devices did not seem to have any hesitation, and I was able to stream audio and video on various devices simultaneously. Atlas Max alone doesn’t fully reach the few devices I have in my workhouse, which is about 80 feet away from my house, but it only worked if I use a network system with a node in the back of the house or when I test out some of the strongest antenna loading options there.

I have combined the two satellite nodes in satisfied with the indoor performance of the Atlas. Here, I found a bit of insecurity, with some of my smart home devices stubbornly refusing to cooperate with the change, but eventually I got it all back online and acted. At that point, in the interests of the health of my family, I decided to bridge the Maxes atlas for testing. Constantly separating and recombining bands can test one’s patience greatly, because you only want to add the tortilla chips via a clever speaker to your shopping list. I’ve achieved excellent results, with some ticks — numbers based on where I tested that seemed wrong.

Later, I got to re-test the Atlas again as a normal router, and I got the number I expected — nearly 600 Mbps with WiFi 6 — but it revealed an annoyance: the ability to view which devices are connected, which nodes are connected when the Atlas is bridge mode. If not because the Asus AiMesh routers I tested in the past were able in bridge mode to do so, I might have thought this is simply unable. Ultimately, this is a little complaint and really annoying only when you test a router for examination and don’t know which node you are connected to without using network analysis tools.

I ran again tests on the faster 6 GHz band with a mesh network setup. In fact, the 6 GHz band is probably used by the Atlas Max as a wLAN backhaul between nodes, if the output is slightly reduced. Backhaul is the backbone through which all data paths between nodes are conceived. That gave me more than 600 Mbps at the dining table, which is fast. When an ethernet drop went into my bedroom, I conducted node tests connected via ethernet to the main router, and the improvement there was amazing, with internet speed tests pulling down the modem number that matched what I would find hardwired. I never needed such a speed in that room, but at the beginning of the pandemic I needed a projector, which would make streaming films in my backyard a much better experience because the router is at a table in front of my home’s back wall.

Do you want to purchase it?

It is quite amazing to be able, literally, to see download speeds above 600 Mbps in my home and at least 50 feet in my backyard, and you wonder why you would even have a single access point if mesh could get you this. Naturally, oh. The cost. See, I’m not sure I have to say that the Atlas Max 6E is amazingly expensive with an eye-watering $1,200 MSRP for a triple package. It’s twique the cost to buy an Eero Pro three-unit kit, but Linksys didn’t offer another option for the piecing purchase of my 1200-square-foot home (which is $ 1 for a foot of WiFi in accordance with my Very Good Math). I hope they do, because I have a very well done one single unit and 400 dollars is much easier to swallow. Either way, relatively easy.

Finally, Atlas Max does not belong to a shamelessly short list of Apple HomeKit Secure routers, like its WiFi 6 predecessors. It would not be your worst idea to keep it until Linksys has announced anything about it if you plan to buy it, but having that feature is a dealbreaker for you.

Overall, the Atlas Max 6E is just too costly. It works very good, but it is hindered by the lack of advanced configuration or smart QoS smarts and by a lack of security on previous Linksys routers (though Linksys told me it does intend to add Linksys Shield and Linksys Aware to these routers eventually, so keep your eyes peeled for that).

The ATLAS Max may put up incredible numbers, but it is extremely difficult to recommend it at this cost, especially with all the hole in its feature set, with almost noWiFi 6E devices on the market and many great, cheaper WiFi 6 routers – including Linksys’ own MX10 Velop 3 package. However, I must assume that many of these downsides will function on time, so I would classify this as a wait-and-see at present.