Linksys WRT1900AC Review
Visiting the Linksys booth at CES we saw a very large Wireless AC Gigabit Router they were showing off called the WRT1900AC. They designed it to look like the old WRT54G router that was very popular when released back in 2002 due to its open architecture which sparked the modified router software evolution such as DD-WRT, Tomato, and others which allowed users to tweak their router on their own rather than being limited to just the software from the vendor. Similar retro look but designed with two extra antennas for a total of four. Those four antennas (three main antennas and one backup) help with maximum coverage and reliability. This router also has a dual core ARM Processor keep multiple simultaneous data transfers at top speeds so everyone in the house can maintain the highest speeds necessary to do any task thrown at the router. Linksys, a Belkin company, is coming out of the gate swinging at the other top AC routers on the market. At $249.99 MSRP, the Linksys WRT1900AC is quite a bit more than other 1900AC routers.
The Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless AC Router is a larger router when compared to the ASUS RT-AC66U (link to http://www.missingremote.com/review/asus-rt-ac66u-ac1750-wireless-80211ac-router) and it does have some extra weight to it than expected. It is a fast device with five Gigabit ports, four Gigabit ports on LAN and one Gigabit WAN, with High-Performance 2.4 GHz and 5GHz wireless quad antennas. In the box is a Cat6 Ethernet cable, four detachable antennas, and power adaptor with a plug that fits the standard where you are located (US version here). After first power on, the router automatically updated to the newest firmware after internet connection was established. Included on the device are a pair of USB Ports, one is a USB 3.0 and the other is an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo. Once the router is booted the white lights on the front of the router are different than other routers you see with just one or two lights, these have multiple lines and have a certain upscale look to them.
The Linksys WRT1900AC has one Gigabit WAN port, four Gigabit LAN ports with speeds up to 1Gbps, but with this AC router like other AC1900 routers you are not limited to hardwired Ethernet ports to get the speed you crave. 5GHz 802.11ac can deliver speeds up to 1.3Gbps, and 802.11n at 2.4GHz up to 600Mbps. With the help of the dual core 1.2 GHz ARM-based processor multiple devices will achieve and maintain simultaneous Gigabit speeds. It has full support for IPv6 built-in and the Dual USB ports will support FAT, NTFS and HFS+ file storage for sharing. You can use this router as your host for a NAS or Media server with any external drive, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 or eSATA with transfer rates averaging 80Mbps in testing. Worried about Safety with a router that will bring the speed to your devices at the top speed your ISP can provide are you asking yourself are my kids safe online? The WRT1900AC has built in parental controls that can be turned on via the web interface or the smartphone application on the fly internet restriction come standard.
The Linksys WRT1900AC’s design brings us back to one of the best wireless G routers, but the interface has changed a lot from the old admin menus to the new clean and easy to use auto setup. You plug in your internet and connect to the wireless network as stated on the back of the insert in the box or through a plugged in Ethernet port. You will be asked a few questions and the router will do a very quick setup and reconfigure. Your wireless will be set with one as SSID and the other SSID_5GHz, with matching security passwords. You’re asked to setup a Smart Wi-Fi account to access your router settings from anywhere. Check out the Smart Wi-Fi apps for Android and iOS.
The setup process will enable the Guest Network by default, but it will be password protected, leaving you in control of your guest network on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless. With the Smart Wi-Fi app you can change and provide a new password to guests whenever you want to change it, removing any previous guests using the old password to remain in control of your network.
The device can also be set used as a Network Bridge, Wireless Repeater or Wireless Bridge as well.
Looking for VPN server functionality? Unfortunately, out-of-the-box this device does not have that option. The software is not built into the basic software, but hopefully with the OpenWRT coming out, it will be more supported.
After setup is complete and the Linksys WRT1900AC is online, ports can be opened and DMZ can be added if it is your choosing. Opening up ports on other routers took down the network and time for the router to reboot. This router allows you to prepare many at a time, and you hit “apply” and the devices on your network continue to function uninterrupted. Most of the settings changes are seamless and leave devices connected and online.
The router is designed to do multitasking better than any other on the market, a job the dual core ARM processer from Marvell and beefy internals like the 256MB memory on the built in. Trying to slow it down was nearly impossible on any of my tests. Connecting multiple devices on Ethernet and using many different wireless devices on the different wireless bands did not even touch the max output (see chart below for speed test). Even plugging in a USB 3.0 hard drive and starting a copy on to a Ethernet Hardwired machine copying files (80Mb/s sustained), and then streaming HD (1080HD) movies on 2 other machines over 2.4Ghz and one Netflix stream on 5Ghz wireless didn’t seem to faze the router. It’s running Linksys’ Smart WiFi firmware out of the box and Linksys has labeled the box “Developed for use with OpenWRT,” but sadly a compatible version of OpenWRT was not available for testing. Based off the OpenWRT forum (https://forum.openwrt.org/viewtopic.php?id=50173) it isn’t ready yet and is in very early testing currently and full router capabilities are not available on any release that is currently out.
After months of testing, resetting and testing some more. I have had a few random reboots on the Linksys WRT-1900AC, or complete wireless dropping on machines in my house. The startup is very fast so they are not that noticeable, but I happened to be watching via my phone and tablet when one of the hiccups occurred.
I was hoping that OpenWRT open source software was coming out just after the release of the router, but it is still pending. The router is performing wonderfully and consistent on speed. The router is very fast and if you can live with a few wireless drops then this machine is for you. If you want USB 3.0 for your router and use it as a NAS, this is also a great router for you. No word from Linksys on all the wireless dropping and it does seem to be getting better with more firmware updates.
Dual Core CPU for Simultaneous Connections
Random Restarts and wireless drops
No OpenWRT Yet, or maybe ever
No VPN Server
Not a big performance increase from other AC routers
Thanks to Linksys for providing the review unit