A couple of months ago we reviewed a new router from Linksys (WRT1900AC). With styling based on one of their classic routers but specs to compete at the high end of the market. After some time with that router we found it to be the best we had tested to date. Performance was fantastic and the user interface we so much better than the competition.
Today Linksys launch their latest high end device, the AC1200 Max range extender which compliments their routers by boosting our Wi-Fi signal towards the edge of the routers range. We have one for review, so let’s find out if it shares the same easy setup and good performance as their latest routers.
The AC1200 Max arrives in a reasonably compact box with some key information on the front along with a decent image of the product. The other sides give us further info and then inside we find a quick start guide, product info, power adapter and network cable.
The AC1200 Max is shown above and as you can see the unit is fairly minimalist. The alternate model name is shown on top (RE6500), along with the Linksys branding and a power LED which lights up white when powered on and connected. The unit measures 15x9x2.5cm and as shown above, two removable antenna are situated at the back of the device.
The AC1200 features 2.4GHz and 5GHz compatibility and in an interesting twist can cross-bands, so allow us to send on one and receive on the other if we wish. Speeds are rated for N300+AC867 and the router features QoS media prioritisation to maximise the potential for smooth streaming of media. It is also worth noting that this extender (like the N600 and N300 versions also being announced) works on all brands of router and B, G, N and AC signals.
Also at the back of the router we find a power switch, power input, quick connect button, 4xGB LAN ports and a 3.5mm connector. This can be used to stream music from our connected devices to a set of speakers. Looking at the base of our extender we find it is perforated and as well as four rubber feet which hold it stead on a desk, there are two slot holes for mounting on a wall. Then, hidden away, is a reset button.
Setup of the AC1200 Max is a very simple process. After turning it on we look in the list of available devices and it will show there. We connect and then open our browser. It should direct us to 192.168.1.1 however we can insert that manually if not and doing so shows our setup screen. We select the language, the networks to extend and enter the security details. That’s it!
For those who like to get a little more in depth with their config it is also possible to directly access the extenders settings. Just enter the final IP address after setup, then we are a username and password away from enhanced configuration. As well as managing the wireless bands these screens also allow us to update the firmware, change security and edit the wireless names to help them stand out in our expanded network.
User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the AC1200 Max we have a product from Linksys which feels well built. It is lightweight (ideal for hanging) but sturdy and stylish without standing out. Both nice mixes. The compact footprint means it should be easy to tuck away also and the inclusion of four GB LAN ports as well as the 3.5mm audio port gives us plenty of scope for connectivity.
In terms of performance, as the above graph shows there was certainly a boost in performance on our setup. What makes these figures all the more impressive is that we are using one of the best Wireless-AC cards in our system already, so adding the Extender has allowed us to boost its performance even further (Broadcom AC, 25ft from Router with 2 walls between). In real word terms the AC1200 Max easily allowed us to hit our peak download on 160meg internet connection and so the external internet connection, rather than the extender is likely to be the bottleneck in most cases. That said, it will be great to see if Linksys can offer an AC1900 edition in the future to match their high end router.
As noted above the setup is also super easy. We would have liked to see the advanced interface take on the same styling as the great software we saw on the most recent Linksys router however what we have here is functional and really, most users won’t ever go into the advanced options. So for the average consumer it is a case of unbox, plug in, connect to our existing Wi-Fi. Done.
That mixed with a competitive price and 3-year warranty means we are awarding the Linksys AC1200 Max Wi-Fi Extender our recommended award. An ideal addition to any network where a boost in signal is required (e.g. Those wishing to get a better signal upstairs, or in a garden).
Price: RRP £89.99