Linksys WRT1900AC review
The striking blue-and-black case of the Linksys WRT1900AC is a deliberate homage to the famed WRT54G router that was originally released in the 1990s. Wireless technology has come a long way since then, though, and this, its spiritual successor, is a breed apart. Read on for our Linksys WRT1900AC review.
Everything about this router is top of the range, including the price. It’s solidly built and feels more than capable of surviving years languishing in the router cupboard. It has four removable, positionable antennae so you can fine-tune the spread of your wireless network, and its wireless credentials are impeccable.
For £250 you get a 3×3 MIMO stream router with a top 802.11ac link speed of 1300Mbits/sec and 600Mbits/sec on 802.11n. The router has four Gigabit LAN ports on the rear, accompanied by a single Gigabit WAN port for hooking up to your broadband modem, be that cable or ADSL. There’s also a pair of USB 3 ports, one of which can double up as an eSATA connector (an odd choice), plus a power switch; there’s no wireless on/off toggle, though.
Linksys WRT1900AC review: Ease of use
Log on to the WRT1900AC’s web interface, and more treats are in store. The router sports Linksys’ excellent Smart Wi-Fi front-end, and it delivers the most user-friendly router experience on the market. The widget-based front-end makes settings extremely easy to understand, and it’s a snip to set up features such as parental controls and guest networks.
We particularly like the network map, which gives you a visual lowdown on all attached devices and lets you drill down to view bandwidth use by device. The QoS feature is a boon, too, and makes it easy to assign network priority on an application or device basis.
You can also use your Android or iOS device to manage the router and add features via in-app extensions. One disappointment is that there’s no built-in integration with content-based website filtering tools, such as OpenDNS or Norton, but you can control access on a device and timeslot basis, and blacklist individual URLs.
Linksys WRT1900AC review: Performance
When it comes to performance, the WRT1900AC keeps the tempo high. From a distance of 2.5m from our 3×3 stream Asus PCE-AC68 PCI Express card, file copies averaged 71.9MB/sec over 802.11ac and 19MB/sec over 2.4GHz, while speeds to a 2×2 stream-capable iPad Air averaged 13.2MB/sec. It isn’t the fastest router we’ve seen at close range, but it isn’t far off.
At long range, however, speed takes a hit – suprising given the . 802.11ac speeds were fine, hitting an average of 29.3MB/sec, but in the rest of the tests, over 802.11n 2.4GHz and 5GHz, we were disappointed to see transfer rates pull the overall average down to 11.3MB/sec.
For all-round performance, we still prefer the Asus RT-AC68U.
There’s clearly plenty of power behind the USB controller, however: transfer rates of up to 60.5MB/sec mean that using the WRT1900AC as a basic NAS drive is a practical possibility.
Linksys WRT1900AC review: Verdict
The WRT1900AC’s big problem isn’t its performance, however, it’s the price. For £250 we expect the very best in performance at close range and long range, and this router doesn’t quite deliver that. There are plenty of other AC1900 routers offering 1,300Mbits/sec 802.11ac speeds that don’t cost anywhere near this much, in particular the Asus RT-68U, which is now around £170, and the Linksys EA6900. Unless the price comes tumbling down, we recommend you plump for that router instead.
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|10/100 LAN ports||0|
|Wireless bridge (WDS)||yes|
|WPA Enterprise support||yes|
|WPS (wireless protected setup)||yes|
|MAC address filtering||yes|
|Port forwarding/virtual server||yes|
|Web content filtering||yes|
|Dimensions||245 x 205 x 125mm (WDH)|