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Linksys AC1900 (WRT1900ACS) Review

This router overall failed to impress us and isn't one we highly recommend purchasing
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Price:   $200 List | $146 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, above average 5 GHz. throughput
Cons:  Pricey, overall mediocre performance
Manufacturer:   Linksys
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 8, 2018
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Features - 25% 5
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • 2 4 ghz throughput - 20% 5
  • 5 ghz throughput - 20% 6
  • Range - 15% 5

Our Verdict

Failing to deliver a particularly impressive performance, the WRT1900ACS wasn't one of our favorite products. While this product is reasonably easy to use, it delivered a relatively mediocre performance in every other testing metric and failed to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. On top of that, it has quite a high retail price and was outmatched by wireless routers that cost about half as much.


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Price $200 List
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Pros Easy to use, above average 5 GHz. throughputExtremely easy to use, packed with featuresRelatively inexpensive, exceptional rangeVery easy to use, more affordable, solid set of featuresSuper easy to use, decent set of features
Cons Pricey, overall mediocre performanceAverage range, throughputSparse on features, average throughputUnimpressive throughput and rangeBelow average throughput, somewhat expensive
Bottom Line This router overall failed to impress us and isn’t one we highly recommend purchasingTaking home the top score, the Asus is the best of the best when it comes to routersThe NETGEAR would be a good option for those shopping for an upgrade pick on a budget and have a larger homeThe Nighthawk AC1750 is our top recommendation for those budget-conscious shoppers that are willing to spend a little bit more for better performanceWhile this router did alright, it seemed a little expensive relative to its results
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories Linksys AC1900... ASUS RT-AC88U... NETGEAR AC1750... Nighthawk AC1750... ASUS RT-AC68U...
Features (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
9
2 4 Ghz Throughput (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
4
5 Ghz Throughput (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
4
Range (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
5
Specs Linksys AC1900... ASUS RT-AC88U... NETGEAR AC1750... Nighthawk AC1750... ASUS RT-AC68U...
MU-MIMO No Yes No Yes No
Wireless Specification 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11ac 802.11ac 2.4 GHz: 802.11n
5 GHz: 802.11ac
LAN Ports Available 4 8 4 4 4
Security WEP, WPA2 Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA2/WPA Mixed Personal, WPA2/WPA Mixed Enterprise WPA2 Personal, WPA Auto Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Auto Enterprise WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise WPA2 Personal, WPA Auto Personal, WPA2 Enterprise, WPA Auto Enterprise
Wall mountable No Yes Yes Yes No
Beamforming Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frequency 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz
USB Ports 2: 3.0 and 2.0 2: 3.0 and 2.0 2: 3.0 and 2.0 1: 3.0 2: 3.0 and 2.0
Dimensions 4.76" x 2.95" x 1.02" 11.8" x 7.4" x 2.38" 7.2" x 11.22" x 2.4" 7.26" x 11.22" x 1.97" 6.3" x 3.3" x 8.6"
Antenna 4 external 4 external 3 external 3 external 3 external
Processor 1.6 GHz dual-core ARM-based 1.4 GHz dual-core 880 MHz dual-core 1 GHz dual-core 1 GHz dual-core processor
Memory 128 MB Flash
512 MB DDR3 RAM
128 MB Flash
512 MB DDR3 RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
2.4 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 53 Mbits/s 51 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 48 Mbits/s 45 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 53 Mbits/s 39 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 44 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 40 Mbits/s 39 Mbits/s 39 Mbits/s 43 Mbits/s 29 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 48 Mbits/s 38 Mbits/s 40 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 23 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Long Distance Throughput 2 Mbits/s 27 Mbits/s 22 Mbits/s 25 Mbits/s 13 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 204 Mbits/s 212 Mbits/s 220 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 186 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 212 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 184 Mbits/s 201 Mbits/s 161 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 210 Mbits/s 204 Mbits/s 196 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 153 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 211 Mbits/s 186 Mbits/s 181 Mbits/s 194 Mbits/s 167 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Long Distance Throughput 11 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 17 Mbits/s 11 Mbits/s 35 Mbits/s
Video Playback Range Test 151 ft. 158 ft. 204 ft. 155 ft. 144 ft.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Linksys WRT1900ACS barely edged out the AC1900 Max Stream, having a substantially better range. However, the Max Stream is slightly easier to use. These both finished right behind the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1750 and the NETGEAR AC1750, though this pair only outperformed the Linksys WRT1900ACS by a single point.

The Linksys WRT1900ACS Router.
The Linksys WRT1900ACS Router.

Performance Comparison


To come to these conclusions, we bought all of the best routers currently available and tested them side-by-side, scoring their performance in five weighted rating metrics. The sections below describe the performance of the Linksys WRT1900ACS and how it stacks up against the rest of the competition.

This product has an average set of features.
This product has an average set of features.

Features


Earning the most weight of the entire group, our Features metric is most important at 25% of the total score. To score each router, we compiled a list of the most important features and then awarded points to each product for each feature that it possessed. The WRT1900ACS did moderately well in this set of tests, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its performance.

Starting off, we checked it the routers had beamforming and MU-MIMO capabilities — features that dramatically act to speed up your network. Beamforming focuses the signal at your devices, rather than transmitting omnidirectionally and MU-MIMO means that your router can simultaneously interact with multiple devices at once — a great feature if there are multiple internet-connected devices in your network — true for practically every household, given today's connected society. While the WRT1900ACS does have beamforming, it lacks MU-MIMO — hurting its score overall.

This router isn't wall mountable and has to be manually reset, but it does support IPv6 and allows you to dim almost all of the indicator LEDs, with the exception of the power light.

The back of the WRT1900ACS  showing its LAN and USB ports.
The back of the WRT1900ACS, showing its LAN and USB ports.

The WRT1900ACS has the average 4 gigabit LAN ports and a pair of USB ports, one 2.0 and one 3.0. You manage this router through either a smartphone app or a browser interface, allowing you to enable features such as the guest network or the VPN.

The WRT1900ACS is one of the easier routers to operate.
The WRT1900ACS is one of the easier routers to operate.

Ease of Use


For our next set of assessments of each router, worth 20% of the total score, we scored how easy it actually is to operate and install each of these products. In our opinion, you shouldn't need a technical degree to successfully operate or configure one of these products, so the easiest to use routers earned the most points. The WRT1900ACS is one of these, earning a 7 out of 10 for being solidly easy to use.

First, we looked at the unboxing and installation process. Conveniently, this router didn't require any firmware updates out of the box. Unfortunately, the setup process was a bit of a mixed bag, as we found that it tended to freeze or encounter errors and require us to restart the initial configuration, even when using the setup guide.

The Linksys setup process gave us a few difficulties.
The Linksys setup process gave us a few difficulties.

However, the setup was quite smooth on subsequent tries, with no error screens arising and allowing us to set the network name and password without incident.

The interface for this router is quite user-friendly, with a relatively modern design — much better than that of the NETGEAR routers, but still a bit inferior to those of the TP-Link routers. This makes it very easy to set up and configure the guest network, as well as QoS or parental controls. QoS, or Quality of Service, allows you to prioritize bandwidth by devices or applications, letting you give preference to the family media streaming device over a teen's smartphone. The WRT1900ACS lets you sort by applications or by device.

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.

The parental controls are decent, but you have to manually enter websites to block, rather than restricting by content, but you can block off devices at certain times.

2.4 GHz. Throughput


This metric, also worth 20% of the overall score, evaluated the throughput speed of each product over their 2.4 GHz. network. We used the iPerf3 software on a test laptop to determine speeds, averaging the results of three trials to score the results. We conducted this test with three different distances — 10', 35', and 70' — separating the router and computers. One test at 10' and one at 35' offered an unobstructed review between the router and computer, while the remaining had a handful of walls separating them. The WRT1900ACS did reasonably well, meriting a 5 out of 10 for its performance.

The WRT1900ACS started off with an above average performance in the short distance tests, averaging 53 Mbits/s in both the unobstructed and obstructed tests. This was particularly impressive in the obstructed test, as shown below.


Performance dropped a little in the medium distance tests, with the WRT1900ACS doing about average in the line of sight test with 40 Mbits/s and slightly above in the obstructed test with 48 Mbits/s average speed. This again compared reasonably well with the rest of the group, highlighted below.


Unfortunately, this router finished out with an abysmal showing in the long distance tests, earning one of the lowest scores of the group for its paltry 1.5 Mbit/s average.

5 GHz. Throughput


This metric, also worth 20% of the total score, was tested and scored identically to the previous one, with the exception of swapping the 2.4 GHz. network for the 5 GHz. network. The WRT1900ACS did a little better than the 2.4 GHz. metric, meriting a 6 out of 10 for its performance.

The WRT1900ACS delivered a mediocre showing in the line of sight test with an average of 204 Mbit/s, but did exceptionally well in the obstructed test. The WRT1900ACS earned one of the top scores with 212 Mbit/s, as shown below.


The same pattern continued in the medium distance tests, with the WRT1900ACS doing well in the line of sight and phenomenally in the obstructed test, again claiming one of the top spots.


Again, it finished out with a poor showing in the long distance test, only hitting a paltry 11 Mbit/s average.

Range


For the final aspect of our metric, taking credit for the remaining 15% of the total score, we assessed the effective range of each router. We did this by attempting to stream a video on a laptop at various distances away from the router and noting at what point the video began to experience buffering or interruptions.

The WRT1900ACS did reasonably well, earning a 5 out of 10 for its performance, with the video dropping out about 159' away from the router.

Value


This board isn't a great value, combining poor performance with a high retail price.

Conclusion


All in all, there isn't much of a reason to recommend the board. It did do very well in the obstructed throughput tests, but it is hard to justify its high price and overall subpar performance on that merit alone.


David Wise and Austin Palmer