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Linksys WRT1900ACS review: The best router for most router enthusiasts

Michael Brown | Oct. 9, 2015
In April 2014, the Linksys WRT1900AC was the fastest 802.11ac router I’d ever tested.

The Netgear R6400 is a dual-band AC1750 router that can deliver throughput of up to 450Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band. It didn’t beat the new Linksys by much, but it’s a strong value with a $150 street price. The Google/TP-Link OnHub is also an AC1900 router, but it trailed the field on this benchmark by a wide margin.

WRT1900ACS 80211n
Click on image to enlarge.

5GHz 802.11ac performance

I plugged in a D-Link DWA-192 USB Wi-Fi adapter into my test client to measure each router’s 802.11ac performance. I retired the Asus USB-AC56 adapter I was using previously because it’s limited to two spatial streams where the D-Link supports three. The WRT1900ACS performed very well here, especially at long range. The Google OnHub also performed well; in fact, it was faster than all the other routers when the client was in the same room as the router, nine feet away, and when the client was in my great room, 33 feet from the router with one interior insulated wall in between.

But the new Linksys was the fastest performer by a wide margin at long range, when the client was in my sun room, 65 feet from the router and separated by two insulated interior walls. The OnHub, meanwhile, fell way behind with the client in this location; and the older Linksys was surprisingly slow at close range.

WRT1900ACS 80211ac
Click on image to enlarge.

Network-attached storage performance

If you’re looking for network-attached storage, I typically recommend that you buy a dedicated NAS box. The WRT1900ACS has me almost rethinking my position. It is incredibly fast at read and writing large files (I use a 10GB zip file in my benchmark), and it’s very fast when it comes to handling large collections of files, too (I use a 10GB collection of files here). I still think a dedicated NAS box—with a mirrored array for redundancy—is the best approach if you have serious storage needs. But wow, this new Linksys is fast with storage.

For the record, I use a dedicated SSD in a desktop PC hardwired to the router to transfer files to and from a dedicated USB 3.0 SSD plugged into the router. Most people will connect a mechanical drive to the router and will see slower performance, but I wanted to take that bottleneck out of the equation for this benchmark. 

Linksys WRT1900ACS
Click on image to enlarge.

Should you buy a WRT1900ACS?

I’ve been using the WRT1900AC in my smart home ever since that router shipped (it’s sitting atop the Linksys SE4008 WRT 8-port switch, which rests in turn on a D-Link DGS-1024D 24-port switch). The router has been supremely reliable, even though my home-run closet tends to get a little warm. Most of my audio and video gear is hardwired to my network, so I don’t need the added flexibility than an AC3200 router offers.

 

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