Looking for a powerful wireless router? Look no further than the Linksys WRT1900AC. It provides many great features, like excellent Wi-Fi range and data rates, as well as supporting add-on storage, and has been placed high atop the list of home routers. However, that excellence comes with a price, which is reflected in its high cost.
It performs like an expensive dedicated NAS server when hosting a storage device and offers a wide range, which is one of the many reasons it will set you back between $250 - $300. However, it isn't perfect – its missing customizations for its Wi-Fi networks, and the Web interface can be quite confusing if you're a first time, inexperienced user.
It doesn't have the typical look of Linksys models put out recently. Instead, it takes a retro approach, with the old-school blue and black, kind of like the WRT series. You can choose to mount it on the wall, or you can place it on a shelf – it is stackable, perfect for the switch Linskys plans on releasing at a later date that can sit right on top. It's heavier than most routers at 2.11 pounds, and measures 9.68 x 7.63 x 2.04 inches.
The WRT1900AC features components that are much more powerful than other routers that preceded it. When compared against all other home routers, it beats them all by far – 1.2Ghz ARM-based dual-core processor with 128MB of Flash storage and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. Its value is increased further with the fact the router supports third-party firmware. DD-WRT and Tomato stated they'll release their versions of compatible firmware no later than June, while OpenWRT will release theirs at some point this month.
There are four antennas instead of the typical three, but it's still a three-stream router, not 4 x 4. It provides speeds of up to 1,300Mbps on the 5Ghz frequency band, and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band. The back features four gigabit LAN ports and one gigabit WAN port, one USB 3.0 port, and an additional port that can be either a USB 2.0 or eSATA connection. In fact, it's the first router that supports eSATA. The ports allow you to host up to two external storage devices at one time. The front features LED lights to indicate the router's status. If you don't like seeing the lights, you can use the router's Web interface to turn all of them off except the power light.
Setup and Performance
Anxious to use the WRT1900AC immediately? Turn the router over – there are default settings listed there so you can plug it into a power source and connected its WAN port to an Internet source and start using it right away. However, you can head to the router's Web interface to customize the setup to your liking. You are able to use the interface to manage your network both locally and over the Internet with the help of the free Linksys Smart Wi-Fi account you'll set up.
Access your router locally by pointing the browser to the router's IP address from a connector computer. The default IP is 192.168.1.1, and the default password is admin. If you aren't at home, even if you are on the other side of the globe, you can head to linksyssmartwifi.com and log in using the Smart Wi-Fi account. The nice part is that both interfaces look the same. Check out the mobile apps, like the Lynksys Smart Wi-Fi mobile app available for free on both Android and iOS devices to manage the settings of your router.
If you've used other Smart Wi-Fi routers, you're in luck – the interface is exactly the same. However, Linksys has made some improvements on certain features. The Network Map is more customizable – see connected devices by their connection types, or device types. Name a connected client, add a new client, edit existing clients, or view clients' information. The Network Map is an excellent visual tool for managing the entire home network. If you've never used this interface before, it can be a bit confusing as things are somewhat miscategorized. An example of this – MAC filtering should be listed under Security, but is instead listed in the Wireless section.
Media Prioritization gives you the power to designate clients as either High or Normal priority with drag and drop simplicity. The Parental Control feature works well, and allows you to choose the connected devices to block Internet access or even certain websites. Don't want your teen on their tablet past 9pm? No problem – you can even set it up to block a connection within a specific time frame each day. It also allows up to 50 guests at once.
If you're looking for a great home router that can handle your devices and deliver great speeds, along with unrivalled customization and features, look no further than the WRT1900AC.