Review: How good is Linksys AC1200 Max WiFi Range Extender?

I am sure that many of you might have encountered this situation. The WiFi signal in the room is so weak that sometimes, you just get disconnected unknowingly. I have many of such encounters and what is worst is that your mobile devices connect themselves automatically to the 4G data and continue to use them.

 

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Does the situation sounds familiar?

Yes, because many of my friends are facing the same problem. Actually, this is the main reason why I want to do this review on the Linksys AC1200 Max WiFi Range Extender (or the Linksys RE6500HG for short). I am a “victim” of weak WiFi signal even though my apartment is not that big. I wanted to find a good and simple solution.

Depending on your usage and needs, there are a few solutions in the market like Range extender or the Powerline products (BTW, I did a comparison on the Powerline product that I have. Read on to find out). These products are able to solve the problem.

Are they difficult to setup?

You know, as a consumer, I do not wish to be troubled by all the jargon, technical know-how of operating a product. I want a plug-and-play product and get on with my life surfing the net and looking at dogs and cats on Facebook.

Linksys AC1200 Max WiFi Range Extender (RE6500HG)

Hardware

As the name implies, it is an extender of your WiFi range. It looks like your router but it is not. On the front, it has no button. Just two antenna sticking from the back. Here is a quick look on the back with and without the Antennas. As you can see, it has some ports (same as any router), a reset button and a power input. One interesting input is the audio jack. Once you connect a speaker to it, it allows you to stream music wirelessly (music extender). How cool is that.

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Here is a close up of the antenna port and the 3.5mm audio jack.

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These are the two dipole antennas provided.

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They are quite flexible. You can adjust it to the optimum position that you like.

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Here is the power adapter. It comes with different power socket heads. A quick release allows you to change the socket.

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On the back of the Linksys RE6500HG, you can see two latches which allow you to mount it on walls or ceilings.

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Assembling them is super easy. It takes just 2 minutes to do the job. Mount the antennas to the ports and connect the power socket to the adapter. That is it!

I know some people will not give up without looking at the specs.

Specifications of LINKSYS RE6500HG

Model: Linksys RE6500HG
Technology: Wireless AC
Bands: 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz Dual-Band
Standards: 802.11ac,802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11b, 802.11a
Antennas: 2 external
Ethernet Ports x Speed: 4 x 10/100/1000
Warranty: 1 year hardware limited warranty
OS compatibility: Windows, Mac

Minimum system requirements:

Wireless: Existing a/b/g/n wireless router or access point
PC: Wi-Fi enabled PC with CD or DVD drive, running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1 or later, Windows 7, or Windows 8
Mac: Wi-Fi enabled Mac with CD or DVD drive, running OS X Leopard 10.5.8 or later, Snow Leopard 10.6.1 or later, Lion 10.7 or later, or Moutain Lion 10.8 or later
Web Browser: Internet Explorer 8, Safari 5 (for Mac), Chrome, or Firefox 8 or higher for optional browser-based configuration
Package contents: AC1200 MAX Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE6500HG), AC/DC power supply, Two dipole antennas, Ethernet cable, Quick installation guide

Installation

Now, this is the  most crucial (in my opinion) moment in my product review. How difficult or easy can you setup this product.

To my honest surprise, it is very simple. The instruction is also very simple.

  1. Connect the antennas and power cable.
  2. Plug in the range extender midway between your router and the area without Wi-Fi.
  3. Wait for a solid light on the cover of the range extender. Then, on a computer, phone, or tablet, connect to the Wi-Fi network “Linksys Extender Setup.”
  4. Set up using the web browser (follow steps in Quick Installation Guide).
    • Here is the “tricky” part of the installation. You MAY NOT get the prompt “Do you want to set up your network” (for Windows 7 or 8).
    • Is this scenario happens, just key in http://192.168.1.1 and continue with setup. You should see this setup page. Just follow the instruction.
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ac1200-setup-01

Once the configuration is done, you should get this page. Note that I am using SingTel Broadband with Dual Band (note that RE6500HG supports dual band too).

ac1200-setup-02

That is it for the configuration. The Linksys WiFi Extender has duplicate the network name/password and configuration. You will only see the original network in your home. In other words, it is working in invisible mode to extend the range of the WiFi signal.

Test Conditions

To test how good this Linksys RE6500HG is, I went to the most remote part of my house (my master bedroom). Usually I get one bar or none at this corner of the house. In my test, I uses my laptop and the test page: http://speedtest.sg. To avoid other disturbance, I tested it at around 3am.

Test 1

Without powering on the configured Linksys RE6500HG, this is the results at my bedroom.

ac1200-speed-test-no-wifi-extender

Yes, the results is pathetic. Therefore, don’t blame your broadband provider if you have a poor speed performance. It may be due to your WiFi signal.

Test 2

Next, I powered up the WiFi extender and as mentioned earlier, you will not see any other network except your original network. However, the signal is now very strong. Here is the test results.

ac1200-speed-test-wifi-extender

Amazing right? Now I have the best results that I have seen for a long time.

Test 3

For test 3, I decided to test the Powerline that I had installed inside my bedroom (about 1.5 metres away). It is the 300Mbps type. Here is the results.

ac1200-speed-test-powerline

As you can see, it appears that the results is better than Linksys RE6500HG. However, you have to consider the distance of the signal. For the Linksys, it is separated by a door and a few walls while the Powerline, it is LOS (Line of Sight). Nevertheless, it proves that signal strength plays an important part in the speed.

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Test 4

In this final test, I decided to go to another far away spot in the house, the Kitchen. Here is the results.

ac1200-speed-test-wifi-extender-kitchen

The results is not too bad but I would think it should be better. Some may question about the quality of the Powerline. I can only say that the results is not interesting (as the powerline has no external antennas, the signal is not that strong).

Summary

Overall, I feel that the Linksys RE6500HG is a product that is simple to setup and great to use. You can actually set up once and forget about it. When you look at the test results, you might feel that the powerline products can also perform the similar job and they have a smaller footprint and appear to be less visible.

You might be correct. However, look beyond the results, you realize that the RE6500HG actually has extra ports for your LAN connections (for gaming and streaming) and the audio jack allows you to stream music across the room. In short, it depends on your usage. If your objective is to have strong signal for your WiFi connection, both products can do the job. But if you consider other features, you know which one to choose.

Finally, I do hope that the footprint of the Linksys RE6500HG and the antennas could be smaller (but not compromising the signal strength). Thanks to Linksys for providing me a chance to test out this WiFi Range Extender.

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