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Linksys MR9600 review: Capable but unexceptional

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
277
Inc VAT

It’s not slow, yet similarly priced rivals leave the MR9600 in the dust

Pros 
Lots of ports and connections
Support for higher bandwiths
Affordable for a next-gen router
Cons 
Lackluster performance
Spotty coverage
Interface isn't user-friendly
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It seems redundant to say that the MR9600 is the big brother of the MR7350 – the family resemblance is obvious. This model is distinctly more present, however, thanks to a case that’s 69mm wider and 14mm deeper, not to mention two additional aerials. While you still get four LAN Ethernet ports at the rear, the upsized design allows for a second USB port, while the WPS button is moved to a more sensible location on the right-hand side of the router.

The firmware, meanwhile, is precisely the same – and we’re not delighted about that. The Linksys Smart Wi-Fi interface felt slow and short of features even on the £157 MR7350, so it’s galling that this much pricier model offers nothing more. One almost wonders why Linksys bothered to install the second USB port since it supports only the same basic storage functions as the first. Then there’s performance.

Linksys MR9600 review: Performance

Compared to its cheaper cousin, the MR9600 ups the hardware ante enormously, adding support for those tasty 160MHz channels, quadrupling the theoretical 5GHz throughput to4,804Mbits/sec and taking advantage of the extra antennae to double the MIMO support to 4x4. Sadly, even with all that under the bonnet, the MR9600 struggled to distinguish itself in our file-copy tests.

Wi-Fi 5 performance was mediocre, while over Wi-Fi 6 we saw no real advantage over the MR7350. Indeed, in the bedroom and kitchen, this pricey router fell some way behind the cheaper model. That’s not the world’s worst indictment as the MR7350 is, after all, an excellent performer. But the identically priced Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 shows what this class of hardware ought to be capable of.

We wondered whether the MR9600’s performance could be elevated by tweaking some hidden setting, but alas Linksys gives you almost nothing in the way of diagnostics or technical controls to tinker with.

Linksys MR9600 review: Verdict

The conclusion is brutal but inevitable. If you’ve got £280 to spend on a Wi-Fi 6 router, it’s very hard to see why you’d pick this one.

While it’s not slow, the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 trounces it on performance and user-friendliness, while the Asus RT-AX88U is leagues ahead for features. If you’re a fan of the Linksys design, meanwhile, you lose very little by opting for the cheaper MR7350 instead.