Hands-on Gear Review

Linksys AC1900 (Max Stream EA7500) Review

Price:   $160 List | $109.97 at Amazon
Pros:  Not difficult to use, great 2.4 GHz. throughput
Cons:  Abysmal range, pricey
Bottom line:  This router might work for you if you only use 2.4 GHz. devices, otherwise you would be better served by another model
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
MU-MIMO:  Yes
Wireless Specification:  802.11ac
LAN Ports Available:  4
Manufacturer:   Linksys

Our Verdict

Overall failing to impress, the AC1900 Max Stream finished towards the back of the pack. While this product did undeniably well in the series of 2.4 GHz. throughput assessments, it only has mediocre 5 GHz. throughput and absolutely abysmal range. However, it is reasonably easy to set up and use and has a little more than the average set of features at a somewhat reasonable price. It's not the best you can get but it wasn't one of our least favorite products.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Friday
February 9, 2018

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Finishing a few points behind the Linksys AC1900 WRT1900ACS, the Max Stream performs similarly when we tested throughput over both bands and when we compared ease of use and the various features, but it is far inferior in terms of range. However, it does retail for about $70 less. The Max Stream did outperform the NETGEAR AC1200 in most tests, though the AC1200 does have substantially better range and slightly better 5 GHz. throughput. The AC1200 does cost about $40 less than the Max Stream.

The Linksys Max Stream has some impressive throughput results  but its overall performance wasn't enough to merit an award.
The Linksys Max Stream has some impressive throughput results, but its overall performance wasn't enough to merit an award.

Performance Comparison


To determine which router really ruled them all, we bought all the best and compared their performance in five weighted rating metrics. We tested each router head-to-head, with the following sections elaborating upon the the performance of the Max Stream and how it ranked amongst its peers.

The Max Stream has a decent suite of features  scoring above average compared to the rest of the pack.
The Max Stream has a decent suite of features, scoring above average compared to the rest of the pack.

Features


Accounting for 25% of the score — the most of any metric — our Features metric is the most important of the test. After extensive research, we compiled a list of critical features that we deemed important for these products and scored each router on whether or not it had these features and functions. The Max Stream did reasonably well, earning a 6 out of 10 for feature suite of features.

Right off the bat, the Max Stream earned points by having MU-MIMO and beamforming capabilities. These features allow data to be transferred much faster over the network, particularly with multiple devices on the network.

Next, we looked at if the router can be remotely reset, making troubleshooting much easier. Unfortunately, the Max Stream lacks this ability, forcing you to manually hit the reset button if you run into connection issues. However, you can dim the traffic indicator LEDs on this router, allowing you to more discreetly hide it in a dark locations — though the power light does remain on. This router is wall mountable and supports IPv6.

The collection of LAN and USB ports on the Max Stream.
The collection of LAN and USB ports on the Max Stream.

This model has the standard four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a pair of USB ports, one 3.0 and one 2.0. It can support a VPN and a guest network and is managed through either a smartphone app or a browser page.

The Max Stream is quite easy to use.
The Max Stream is quite easy to use.

Ease of Use


Next, we looked at the amount of effort and skill it took to install the router and configure it for use. Comprising 20% of the total score, we scored each router on how long it took to unbox the router and set up a network name and password, as well as how user-friendly the interface is and the quality of the parental controls and QoS. The Max Stream delivered a good performance, earning a 7 out of 10 for its efforts.

Upon unboxing, we ran into similar issues as the Linksys AC1900. The first setup was extremely problematic, with plenty of error screens arising and the final screen freezing. However, we reset it and tried again and had a flawless install with the setup guide.

We encountered a few issues when setting up the NETGEAR routers  causing the setup to take longer than the others.
We encountered a few issues when setting up the NETGEAR routers, causing the setup to take longer than the others.

This product didn't require any software updates and has a relatively user-friendly interface. It wasn't the best of the bunch, but the design had at least been updated some time this decade. The parental controls on this router were fine, though definitely much less sophisticated than the NETGEAR or TP-Link Routers.

The parental controls took a bit more work to setup  but are much more sophisticated than some of the other models.
The parental controls took a bit more work to setup, but are much more sophisticated than some of the other models.

You need to set up the controls for each device separately, but you can enact time slots when a device can access the internet and you can set a blacklist of websites for each device as well. This QoS, or Quality of Service is decent. This allows you to set bandwidth prioritization depending on application, allowing you to sort by device or by application.

2.4 GHz. Throughput


This metric is also responsible for 20% of the total for each product and is based on the results of our throughput testing using the iPerf3 software. The Max Stream delivered an above average performance, earning a 6 out of 10 in this metric. We used a test computer at three different distances — 10', 35', and 70' — running an unobstructed line of sight test at both 10' and 35' and an obstructed test at all distances. For each of these tests, we averaged the results of three trials to determine the final score for each router in this metric.

The Max Stream started off a great performance in the short distance tests, delivering an above average performance in both. It did well in the line of sight test with an average of 57 Mbit/s, but did exceptionally well in the obstructed test, again achieving an average of 57 Mbit/s. This compared extremely favorably to the rest of the group, as shown by the chart below.


It continued its solid performance in to the medium distance tests, again performing above average in both the line of sight and obstructed tests, achieving speeds of 52 Mbits/s and 51 Mbit/s respectively. The chart below shows how this router compared to the rest of the bunch in the unobstructed test.


The Max Stream finished out this metric with a solid showing in the long distance test, achieving an average throughput of about 20 Mbit/s.

5 GHz. Throughput


This metric has an identical test plan as the prior one, though this time we conducted the tests over the router's 5 GHz. network. It also is worth 20% of the total score, with the Linksys Max Stream meriting a 5 out of 10 for its middling performance.

This router started off a great performance in the short distance, line of sight test, but it disappointed in the obstructed test, earning one of the lowest scores of the group, as shown below.


For the middle distance tests, the Max Stream achieved an average score in both, hitting throughput speeds of 207 Mbit/s in the line of sight test and 179 Mbit/s in the obstructed test. The following chart shows how the Max Stream compared to the rest of the group in the line of sight test.


For the long distance test, the Max Stream delivered a mediocre performance, achieving 19 Mbit/s.

Range


For the remainder of the score, we assessed the effective range of each router. This constitutes the residual 15% of the score and is comprised of a single test. We used a test laptop to play a video at set distances away from the router and scored based on what point the video began to experience interruptions. The Max Stream did an absolutely abysmal job, meriting a 2 out of 10. The feed cut out at about 115' — one of the worst of the group.

Value


This router isn't a great value, scoring towards the back of the pack and having a relatively high price.

Conclusion


While the Max Stream did take claim the top spot in some of the throughput tests, it didn't perform well enough across the board to merit our recommendation or an award.

David Wise and Austin Palmer

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