Do you remember your first wireless router? Mine was a Linksys WRT54G, which was fairly common even in its heyday with reliability and hacking earning it legendary acclaim. For me, it was able to handle almost anything I threw at the poor thing, and proved worthy where other fancier devices failed.
Unsurprisingly, Linksys’ WRT1900AC Wireless AC Router has a tough act to follow, and one can’t help but immediately compare the obvious visual similarities between this and its most famous predecessors. Subtlety be damned, what we have here is a modern and deliberately nostalgic design from a decade ago with outstanding performance.
First off, the classically broad angles have return along with a familiar combination of pastel blue and black plastics – something like a tank with four jutting antennas that resemble a Michael Bay Transformer. Other nods to legacy WRT models are a prominent front panel that displays an array of status LEDs for power, Wi-Fi (2.4/5 GHz), eSATA/USB 3.0, WPS, and Gigabit Ethernet activity with corresponding LAN/WAN ports around back; there’s even a low profile fan near the top vent that works as a heat dissipating fail-safe.
The “love it or hate it” throwback look is one thing but powerful components are marked improvements. Linksys really did their homework and kept the essentials intact while beefing up everything else. In fact, the WRT1900AC easily outclasses every router we’ve tested to date specification-wise. Unless you’re serious about your network hardware a 1.2 GHz ARM dual-core processor, 128MB flash storage, and standard 256MB of DDR3 RAM could be considered overkill at the very least. This is most apparent since Linksys boastfully declares that the WRT1900AC chipset will be able to accept third-party firmware and OS solutions like OpenWRT when said options do become available, but most users probably won’t take advantage of this unique feature.
The initial setup takes a couple of minutes if you stick with the default settings printed underneath the router, and of course you’ll receive help through the process if you somehow manage to accidentally cross wires during installation. The Web-based interface (IP address 192.168.1.1) is carried over with features like Media Prioritization for drag and drop priority to three devices, Parental Controls that can limit individual access or schedule times for specific websites. Familiar mainstays like an updated Network Map acts as a visual aid for all connected devices and a local Speed Test. Remote management is also a plus, granted you’ll also need a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi account and the suite of compatible mobile apps to actually control your router away from home.
Other than that, the rest of the WRT1900AC comes standard with the common assortment of DynDNS, IPv6, guest, and port forwarding options. Depending on your intentions and preferences it’s still a router that intuitive with most of the advanced settings neatly tucked away, which works for people with more curiosity than sense but not entirely so for manual IP fine-tuning.
With a theoretical maximum signal of 300 ft. the WRT1900AC had no trouble handling bandwidth traffic and expected interference (i.e. walls and conflicting ISM bands). We already knew this router would be quick but actual benchmarks which involved LAN file copy/transferring more than backed up these claims. We stuck to the “Auto” setting for our benchmark testing with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The WRT1900AC is definitely intended for 5GHz usage and delivered immediate light-of-sight (4-8ft) figures of 96.5 MBps (771.9Mbps), and dipped to an appropriate 57.3MBps (458.4Mbps) at 35ft behind a series of walls. This easily trumps the DIR-868L’s post-review numbers of 26.8MB (214.4Mbps) at 6ft and 18.1MBps (144.8Mbps) at 35ft.
We noticed that 2.4GHz performance was respectable but not stellar, which seems to be a common trait in current Linksys offerings. Average speeds were sometimes inconsistent teetering between 14MBps to 36MBps, but we were eventually able to nail down a transfer rate of 24.4MBps on most occasions. Simply put, this flagship sits squarely in the middle if your PC is still working with older network cards.
DLNA and NAS functionality are again equipped with a USB 3.0 port and now an eSATA port. We never had high praise for most media servers before but content streaming is actually worth using this time around considering the speed this router is rocking, or for those who can’t be bothered to enable sharing options through the computer itself.
Most of the recent EA6000 family of routers were plagued with issues and comparatively mediocre speeds but Linksys has finally proven themselves again with the WRT1900AC Wireless AC Router. It’s everything you’d excessively want thanks to its amazing speed and connectivity out of the box, but the price ($249.99-$299.99 MSRP) means that only high maintenance users will really benefit from the performance; let alone the added value of using it as a NAS server or taking advantage of custom firmware options. We feel this networking homage is definitely an Editors’ Choice pick, if you can rationalize the money spent.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_gallery type=”flexslider_fade” interval=”3″ images=”8145,8144,8143,8142″ onclick=”link_image” custom_links_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]