Linksys’ latest mesh network system has hit the shelves, and if you need broader coverage and are willing to pay generously for WiFi 6E, you’re in luck. Announced at CES 2021 earlier this year, the Linksys Atlas Max 6E system (AXE8400) looks, at first glance, like the familiar mesh totems we’ve seen from Linksys before.
However, there is the latest in 802.11ac WiFi connectivity, with support for WiFi 6E and the new 6 GHz band. This is what can give the AXE8400 its particular speed curve.
In fact, Linksys says, you can see up to 8.4 Gbps of wireless bandwidth, which is a considerable increase compared to previous WiFi versions. With the three units in the Atlas Max 6E package, you’ll have up to 9,000 square feet of coverage, Linksys promises. Meanwhile, each node can support more than 195 devices connected simultaneously.
At the rear, there are also more doors than normal. Along with the 5 gigabit WAN port, there are also four gigabit LAN ports on each unit. A USB 3.0 port allows external drives to be shared with the rest of the network, among other things. Everything is configured through the Linksys app for iOS and Android.
Exactly how you use this 6 GHz band will probably depend on what you are trying to connect to. At the moment, of course, client devices supporting WiFi 6E are missing. This will change as new laptops, smartphones and other things are launched in the next year and beyond, but at the moment there may be a shortage of things that you can actually connect to this 6 GHz radio compared to the much more established 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
Potentially more useful, then, is having the 6 GHz radio as the backhaul connection between each of the nodes. This could be a bottleneck on previous mesh WiFi systems, but the combination of WiFi 6E and four times the number of channels on existing mesh routers should not be a problem for the AXE8400.
In fact, the only problem is likely to be the price. Available to order now, the three-node Atlas Max 6E costs $ 1,199.99, meaning you really need maximum wireless speeds to make the jump. A single unit will cost $ 449.99, or you will pay $ 849.99 for a pack of two; they should arrive in June. Everyone else can be better served by waiting for WiFi 6E to do more than a breakthrough into the mainstream.