Linksys AC1900 (Max Stream EA7500) Review
Pros: Not difficult to use, great 2.4 GHz. throughput
Cons: Abysmal range, pricey
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 performance of the Max Stream and how it ranked amongst its peers.
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 Max Stream has two USB ports — one of these is a USB 3.0 connection and the other one is a USB 2.0. This router also has four gigabit LAN ports. It can support a VPN and a guest network and is managed through either a smartphone app or a browser page.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
For the remaining 10% of the score, we compared and scored the range of the Max Stream. 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.
This router isn't a great value, scoring towards the back of the pack and having a relatively high price.
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