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Linksys Hydra Pro 6 Review

The Hydra 6 Wi-Fi 6 router is a decent pick if you can get it on sale.

Hero shot of Linksys Hydra Pro 6 router

Is the Hydra Pro 6 right for you?

The Hydra Pro 6 is a decent router. The only thing that differentiates the Pro version from the Hydra 6 model is added capacity on the 5 GHz Wi-Fi band. You don’t get a multi-gig port as other upgraded pro routers have, and you don’t get a third wireless radio for better device management. It’s just a bare-bones router you should buy only when it goes on sale, as you can get more features from other routers at this price.

Pros:

  • 160 MHz channel support
  • Decent multi-device capacity
  • Basic parental controls

Cons:

  • No VPN tools
  • No free antivirus
  • No multi-gig internet support

Fastest internet plans for the Hydra Pro 6

The Hydra Pro 6 uses a Gigabit Ethernet port for internet, so it’s only compatible with internet plans of 940Mbps and slower. To see if you have the best internet speeds for the Hydra Pro 6, run our speed test first:

 

 

 

You don’t need the fastest internet plan to enjoy this router. But If you’re shopping for an internet upgrade, here’s a list of the best plans to take full advantage of its throughput.

PlanSpeedTypePriceOrder online
Astound Broadband 940 Mbps InternetUp to 940MbpsCable, fiber$50.00/mo.*
AT&T Internet 500Up to 500MbpsFiber$65.00/mo.View Plans for AT&T
CenturyLink Fiber GigabitUp to 940MbpsFiber$75.00/mo.
Cox Go Even FasterUp to 500MbpsCable$89.99/mo.§View Plans for Cox Communications
Frontier Fiber 500Up to 500MbpsFiber$44.99/mo.||View Plans for Frontier
Mediacom Prime Internet 300Up to 300MbpsCable$44.99/mo.#View Plans for Mediacom
Optimum 1 Gig InternetUp to 940MbpsCable/fiber$55.00/mo.**View Plans for Optimum
Sparklight Freedom Connect 600Up to 600MbpsCable$75.00/mo.||||
for 3 mos.
View Plans for Sparklight
Spectrum Internet® UltraUp to 500Mbps
(wireless speeds may vary)
Cable/fiber$69.99/mo.††
for 12 mos.
View Plans for Spectrum
Verizon Internet 1 GigUp to 940MbpsFiber$89.99/mo.‡‡
Xfinity SuperfastUp to 800MbpsCable$70.00/mo.§§View Plans for Xfinity

Hydra Pro 6 standout features

Close up of Linksys Hydra Pro 6 router logo

Like the Hydra 6 and Hydra Pro 6E routers we previously reviewed, the Hydra Pro 6 is bare-bones at best. There are a few basic features, but don’t expect all the bells and whistles offered on competing routers.

The best features at a glance:

  • SPI firewall
  • Basic parental controls
  • Basic file sharing

Compare the Hydra 6 to the competition

ProductWi-Fi versionMax throughputTested speed @ 40 ft.Price*Order online
Linksys Hydra Pro 6Wi-Fi 65,400Mbps550Mbps$199.99View on Amazon
NETGEAR Nighthawk RAX50Wi-Fi 65,400Mbps670Mbps$150.00View on Amazon
TP-Link Archer AX5400 ProWi-Fi 65,400Mbps601Mbps$199.99View on Best Buy
NETGEAR Nighthawk XR1000Wi-Fi 65,400Mbps594Mbps$299.99View on Amazon

Don’t let our 40-foot marker scores fool you. Based on our tests, every router in the chart provides roughly the same speeds at close range up to 120 feet. So, while the Hydra Pro 6 has the slowest speeds on the chart, it still keeps pace with similar AX5400 routers.

The problem with the Hydra Pro 6 is that it has the fewest features in the batch listed above. Sure, you aren’t faced with subscriptions to get the most out of it, but it also lacks some common things like media sharing, built-in VPN tools, and profile-based parental controls we can get on competing routers.

See our full coverage of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Our Hydra Pro 6 scoring breakdown

Category Score* Summary
Performance 4 Tests with decent speeds comparable with other AX5400-class routers.
Features 3 Lacks built-in VPN tools, media streaming, and easy parental controls.
Design 4 Provides better support for multiple devices than the basic Hydra 6.
Setup 3 Offers a troublesome process that may leave you frustrated.
Ease of use 4 Presents a nice user experience in the app and web interface.

* out of 5 points

Close up of Linksys Hydra 6 router antenna

Performance

4

Wi-Fi configuration:

  • 4 GHz band: 574Mbps (2 x 287Mbps)
  • 5 GHz band: 4,804Mbps (4 x 1,201Mbps)*

* Using 160 MHz channels

The Hydra Pro 6’s tested speeds are really no different from other AX5400 routers we’ve benchmarked, like the Nighthawk RAX50 and the Archer AX5400 Pro. Their Wi-Fi speeds all start around 850Mbps on average at close range when we test with a client device capable of speeds up to 1,200Mbps. And they mostly end up averaging around 250Mbps outside at 120 feet.

So saying one router is faster than another is a moot point in our Wi-Fi testing because we’re talking about 20Mbps differences at most in single-device scores—speed differences you’ll probably never notice. Plus, since the Hydra Pro 6 doesn’t have a multi-gig internet port, all that bandwidth enabled by the 160 MHz channels is limited to device-to-device transmissions. Boo hiss.

Images of USB stick in port of Linksys Hydra Pro 6 router

Features

3

Notable features:

  • Basic file sharing
  • SPI firewall
  • Basic parental controls

The Hydra Pro 6 is no different feature-wise than the other Hydra models we’ve recently reviewed. They’ve all been pretty humdrum, actually, missing some of the key ingredients we usually see from competing routers from ASUS, NETGEAR, and TP-Link. Mesh networking is probably this router’s only saving grace, and even then, you’re limited to expanding your Wi-Fi coverage using Linksys Intelligent Mesh routers and systems—EasyMesh isn’t supported.

The USB port is still handy if you want a central point for accessing files stored on a flash drive. However, it doesn’t support the usual protocols associated with USB on routers, like Apple Time Machine, FTP file sharing, and DLNA media streaming.

What we wish the Hydra 6 did better

  • Better parental controls
  • VPN connectivity

The Hydra Pro 6’s parental controls lack user profiles, so you must manually restrict website access and set schedules for each device your child uses. This limitation can be tedious work, especially when you have older kids and teens who use multiple devices, like a phone, computer, game console, tablet, and media streamer.

And while VPN connectivity is the new norm in standalone routers, you’ll find none of that here—except for VPN passthrough support. Generally, the routers we’ve tested have an OpenVPN server, at the very least, for browsing the web anonymously while you’re off the home network.

Shot of Hydra 6 Pro router ports

Design

4

Buttons:

  • 1x Power switch (back)
  • 1x Reset button (back)
  • 1x WPS button (back)

Ports:

  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports (back)
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet WAN port (back)
  • 1x USB 3.2 port (back)

The Hydra Pro 6 doesn’t have a multi-gig WAN port for internet, which should call for a lower score. But truth be told, it has a slightly better 5 GHz capacity than the base Hydra 6 model, plus it supports 160 MHz channels—but only if you enable them manually.

So, even if the router is limited to 940Mbps internet speed tops, you can still have superfast transfers between two Wi-Fi 6 devices. The USB port is an okay bonus tossed into the mix, although it lacks Apple TimeMachine and DLNA server capabilities.

Setup

3

Inside the box:

  • 1x router
  • 1x power adapter
  • 1x Ethernet cable
  • 1x Setup guide
  • 1x Regulatory and warranty booklet

Linksys treats the Hydra Pro 6 as part of a mesh system, so you must use the Linksys app to set it up—the web interface remains unavailable until you do. It’s no different than the other Hydra routers we’ve tested—and it’s annoying that the setup still goes through an infinite show-stopping loop. All we want is to get the network up and running quickly, and the web interface could’ve done just that.

Linksys says you can have multiple routers on one account, and we selected “Set up a New Product” at the start, but we ended up having to delete and reinstall the app and remove the previous router from the account so the setup loop would stop and let us set up the new one. Honestly, it’s a bit of a mess, and you still have to use the web interface to split Wi-Fi into two connections.

Screenshot of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi web interface

Ease of use

4

Router interface:

  • Web interface: myrouter.local or linksyssmartwifi.com (192.168.1.1)
  • Mobile app: Linksys (App Store, Google Play)

If there’s one thing we can say about Hydra routers, it’s that their features and presentation are  consistent across the board. We like the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi interface, although it could use a bit more work to categorize some settings properly. Our biggest beef is in how Linksys hides some notable settings behind a tiny “CA” link in the bottom corner. The very 160 MHz wireless channels Linksys uses to advertise the router’s 5,400Mbps speed is disabled by default, and you have to enable them in the web portal settings. Why limit the router right out of the box?

The app is a far more streamlined experience than the browser one, and you’ll probably use that the most anyway. Everything you need is crammed into a rollout menu tucked away on the left versus spreading everything out across multiple tabs. It doesn’t list every setting, so you still need the web interface to fine-tune your Wi-Fi network.

Are there any additional costs?

There are no additional costs if you want just the router. However, to create a mesh system, you must purchase a compatible Linksys mesh router or mesh node.

Image of Linksys Hydra Pro 6 router

Our Hydra Pro 6 review: The verdict

As we said in the beginning, the Hydra Pro 6 is just an okay router, but honestly, we didn’t expect a lot from a $200 router. It has speeds similar to what we benchmarked on other AX5400 routers, so we can’t recommend it over the competition in that regard.

But when we stand back and compare this Pro model to the base Hydra 6 router, we can’t say it’s worth spending the extra money. You don’t get a multi-gig internet port with the Pro upgrade, just a slightly better multi-device capacity you may or may not even need.

Overall, the Hydra Pro 6 is a bare-bones design. At this price point, the TP-Link Archer AX5400 Pro gives you a multi-gig port, built-in VPN tools, and more—it’s just a better bang for your 200 bucks. The Hydra Pro 6 falls short in comparison.

FAQ about the Hydra Pro 6

What's the difference between the Hydra 6 and the Hydra Pro 6?

The only major difference between the two routers is the number of wireless streams they broadcast on the 5 GHz band. The Pro 6 model is better equipped to handle more devices simultaneously than the basic Hydra 6 model.

  Hydra 6 Hydra Pro 6
Range Up to 2,000 sq. ft. Up to 2,700 sq. ft.
Total throughput 3,000Mbps 5,400Mbps
5 GHz streams 2 4
5 GHz max throughput 2,402Mbps* 4,804Mbps*
Price $126.49 $199.99

Why can't I change router channels?

You can change the Hydra Pro 6’s router channels. On the web interface, click the “CA” link located in the bottom right corner of your screen—it’s above “all rights reserved.” After that, you can modify the channel and channel width fields. However, there isn’t a way to change router channels in the Linksys app.

How do I use 160 MHz Wi-Fi channels?

The Smart Wi-Fi interface does a weird thing of listing the widest available channel selection as Auto in the channel width drop-down menu. So, if the router doesn’t have Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) channels enabled, the only channel width selections you have are Auto (aka 80 MHz), Up to 40 MHz, and Up to 20 MHz.

To use 160 MHz channels, you must enable the web interface’s “CA” mode and DFS channels. When you do, Up to 80 MHz appears on the channel width list, and Auto becomes your new 160 MHz channel width selection.

Here’s how to enable and use 160 MHz channels:

Step 1: Click on the tiny “CA” link in the bottom right corner of the Smart Wi-Fi web interface.

Step 2: Click on Wi-Fi Settings in the menu on the left.

Step 3: In the Wi-Fi Settings window, click on the Advanced tab.

Step 4: Toggle on Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) to turn on 160 MHz channels.

Step 5: Stay in the Wi-Fi Settings window and click on the Wireless tab.

Step 6: Find the Channel Width field and select Auto on the drop-down menu—this is your new 160 MHz setting.

Step 7: Click on the Channel drop-down menu and select the 160 MHz channel you want to use.

Methodology

We test router speed by setting up each router in an office and connecting it to a local test server. Then, we transmit test data between our wireless devices and the server, taking numerous measurements to account for fluctuations in Wi-Fi speeds.

The first tests occur close to the router, without obstructions—so the Wi-Fi is as strong and fast as it’s gonna get. We repeat the process straight out at 10, 20, and 30 feet, with only a glass door obstructing our view of the router. The same glass door and an exterior door blocks our path when we test outside at 40 and 50 feet.

We also run tests in a hallway to the left of the TV room and office—where there’s a glass door, three walls, and an air handler unit blocking our view of the router. The dining room, another testing point, sits to the right of the kitchen, TV room, and office—two walls and a glass door block the path in this test.

To test video streaming, we connect a fast storage device to the router and stream a 4K video to six wireless devices simultaneously—two phones, three tablets, and a laptop—connected to the same wireless band.

Client devices used in testing

Google Pixel 6iPhone 12 Pro MaxGoogle Pixel 3
Wi-Fi versionWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 5
Stream configuration2 x 22 x 22 x 2
Max channel width160 MHz80 MHz80 MHz
Max 6 GHz speed (AXE)2,400Mbps
Max 5 GHz speed (AX)2,400Mbps1,200Mbps
Max 5 GHz speed (AC)866Mbps866Mbps866Mbps
Max 2.4 GHz speed (AX)195Mbps195Mbps
Max 2.4 GHz speed (AC)195Mbps195Mbps144Mbps

Hydra Pro 6 benchmarks (5 GHz only)

iPhone 12 Pro Max*Google Pixel 3*
2 feet829690
10 feet800643
20 feet755590
30 feet670528
40 feet (porch)550322
120 feet (across street)227115
160 feet (mailboxes)No connectionNo connection
20 feet (hallway)557356

Disclaimer

Author -

Kevin Parrish has more than a decade of experience working as a writer, editor, and product tester. He began writing about computer hardware and soon branched out to other devices and services such as networking equipment, phones and tablets, game consoles, and other internet-connected devices. His work has appeared in Tom’s Hardware, Tom's Guide, Maximum PC, Digital Trends, Android Authority, How-To Geek, Lifewire, and others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on network equipment testing and review.

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