Lately, many vendors have been releasing small form factor range extenders with 802.11ac technology.
So, it was no surprise to us that Linksys was on the block next with its own offering, the RE6500. The RE6500 features simultaneous dual bands, meaning the unit transmits at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time; the 2.4GHz band offers 300Mbps, and the 5GHz band offers 867Mbps. Furthermore, Linksys says the RE6500 can extend your network up to 10,000 square feet.
Of course, since it is a range extender, you will need to have an existing wireless network to extend, but the RE6500 does offer four ports of gigabit connectivity.
MSRP of the Linksys RE6500 is listed at $129.99, with a one-year warranty. However, as you can see below at the end of the review, we managed to find it quite a bit cheaper than that at Amazon.
Scope of delivery for the RE6500 includes the power adapter, two antennas, and an Ethernet cable.
The top of the RE6500 houses a single LED. As you can see, the range extender carries quite a small footprint.
On the back of the unit we have an audio port for streaming music, four gigabit LAN ports for connecting PCs, and the WPS button in blue.
Upon starting setup, we were greeted by the above screen.
Here the RE6500 scan your network for an access point. I found there was no way to skip this process, and set everything up manually.
GO TO TOP OF THE NEXT COLUMN ^
After a few more screens, our RE6500 was set up, and ready to go.
Switching over to the web GUI, I was quite surprised at how simple it was. Here we have the basic setup screen.
Apart from a few options throughout the Web GUI, the RE6500 doesn't have a high level of customization available. Most options are basic and straight to the point.
Here we have the testing for the 2.4GHz network. As you can see, we connected at a rate of 130Mbps during testing. Starting right next to the RE6500, we enjoyed a good amount of signal around -20dbm; moving to a final point of 40ft away, the RE6500 was still doing quite well at -50dbm.
The 5GHz band initially connected at 867Mbps, but quickly fell off to 351Mbps -most likely due to the WRT1900 broadcasting its signal one floor below me. The RE6500 started out at -40dbm, and maxed out at -60dbm at 40ft away.
The Linksys RE6500 offers a great amount of additional range while maintaining a very small footprint. While it's not the smallest range extender we have seen, it does offer slightly more range than other solutions we have seen. The wireless speaker functionality of the unit is great, but I found the lack of options in the web GUI a bit confusing.
In fact, the web GUI is the most basic version I have ever seen; apart from a few wireless options, and some value-added WMM functionality, the RE6500 is non-configurable.
PRICING: You can find the Linksys RE6500 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Linksys RE6500 retails for $99.99 at Amazon.