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Linksys WRT1900AC Wi-Fi router: Faster than anything we've tested

Michael Brown | April 17, 2014
When Linksys first showed me a WRT1900AC prototype last year, I thought to myself, wow: I hope its performance lives up to its audacious looks. The good news is that it does--for the most part. In fact, it's the fastest router I've ever tested. The bad news is that its $280 MSRP marks it as the most expensive router I've ever tested (Linksys launched the router with a $250 sale price).

The gaming laptop doesn't have native support for 802.11ac, so I used an Asus USB-AC56 Wi-Fi adapter for one set of tests. If you want top speed in a portable configuration, and your laptop doesn't have a built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter, a USB model is the way to go. I found the USB-AC56 to be one of the fastest in its class in this recent roundup.

When tested with this adapter, the WRT1900AC proved to be anywhere from 5- to 30-percent faster than Asus's RT-AC68U 802.11ac router with its latest firmware (refer to the performance chart, below). The difference was negligible — just 5 percent — when the client was at close range (in the same room, 9 feet from the router). But it jumped to 18 percent when I moved the client into the kitchen (20 feet from the router, with an insulated wall and plywood cabinets separating the two). Throughput actually went up here — from 390Mbps in the bedroom to 418Mbps in the kitchen.

The delta between the Linksys and Asus routers jumped to 29 percent when I moved the client into my home theater. The client is about 35 feet away from the router in this location, but many wireless devices have difficulty penetrating that room because of its construction: It's a room-within-a-room design, with double framing and double layers of drywall, and insulation on the walls and ceiling. It's not soundproof by any means, but it is as acoustically isolated as I could make it on a reasonable budget. With TCP throughput of 114 Mbps, the WRT1900AC had no problem streaming HD video to the HDTV in that room via the laptop.

The Linksys router also performed well when the client was in my home office, 65 feet from the router and separated by two insulated interior walls and an array of plywood cabinets. With TCP throughput of 259Mbps, it was slightly more than 30-percent faster than the Asus RT-AC68U at this location.

If you'd like to connect multiple wired clients in one room to your 802.11ac wireless network, the best solution is to configure a second router of the same make and model as a wireless bridge. This isn't the only way to do it (deploying something like a Linksys WUMC710 is a cheaper solution, but won't be as fast).

Not every 802.11ac router can be configured this way, but the WRT1900AC can and Linksys provided a second unit so I could test it that way. The Linksys router outperformed the Asus model (when connected to a second RT-AC68U) at three of my four test locations, delivering its most impressive performance — 607Mbps — when the router and client were in the same room.


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