Linksys Atlas 6 review: A fuss-free, affordable mesh networking system that works
Performance & conclusion
To test the Linksys Atlas 6 mesh networking system, we are using our standard test setup that consists of two notebooks – one acting as a host machine and another as a client device. The router acts as a gateway. For systems where manual settings are possible, a channel bandwidth of 160MHz is selected.
The Wi-Fi client device we are using is the ASUS ZenBook UX425, which supports Wi-Fi 6 via an Intel AX201 wireless card.
Performance will be measured by calculating the speed achieved when transferring a 1GB zip file. We will do multiple tests at different distances to simulate use around a typical 5-room apartment.
The router was placed in the living room and we repeated the test from four locations in the flat, starting from the closest to the router and then to the farthest.
Here are the locations and the rough ranges that they represent:
- Living room (2 metres, clear line of sight)
- Bedroom 1 (5 metres, behind closed door)
- Master Bedroom (12 metres, behind a closed door)
- Master Bathroom (12 metres, behind two closed doors)
The tests were then repeated with the Atlas 6 in a mesh configuration. In this configuration, the second node was placed somewhere near the middle of the house and within the line of sight of the first router.
To give the results some context, it’s important to know that the results of the Atlas 6 is being measured against flagship-class tri-band mesh networking systems. The ASUS ZenWiFi XT8, for example, is a tri-band AX6000-class system and so is the Orbi RBK853. These systems are not only faster, but they also have more antennas, which should translate to greater range and coverage.
Single node performance
Despite being comprehensively outgunned on paper, the Atlas 6’s single-node performance was quite good. Download speeds at closer ranges were competitive but they tapered off significantly once we moved further away. Upload speeds were a little more disappointing. While it was quite strong at a close range, it fell rapidly once we moved away.
When used as a mesh networking system, we can see a noticeable boost in performance. In the master bedroom, for example, download speeds increased from around 60Mbps to 230Mbps, whereas upload speeds were boosted from a mere 20Mbps to around 140Mbps. That said, the mesh performance of the tri-band systems was clearly better because of the additional network band that can be used for backhaul transmission.
At S$389 for a pack of two, I’m hesitant to call the Linksys Atlas 6 cheap, but it is the most accessible mesh networking system in Linksys’ lineup and it’s priced competitively against other mesh networking systems with similar specs. More importantly, it offers decent performance, ease of use, and features that most users would need and want. All things considered, this is a good choice for anyone who’s looking for a solid entry-level mesh networking system to expand Wi-Fi coverage at home.