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Linksys WRT1900ACS Review

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review

Last year Linksys released the WRT1900AC, a high end Wi-Fi router which looked back into their history for its external styling but packed the inside with the latest tech and exceptional performance. A popular product, winning our Gold Award, it was followed by the WRT1200AC which had similar features and design but was targeted at a more mainstream section of the market. Now Linksys are refreshing the 1900 spec model, welcome to our Linksys WRT1900ACS Review.

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review – Packaging and Bundle

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For anyone who has seen the original WRT1900AC packaging, and that of the 1200AC, this box will be fairly familiar. It does exactly what we would want, gives a clear image of what we are buying, provides a quick rundown of the key features and lists the main specifications on the other sides. Inside, as before, the router is well protected and bundled with it is product documentation, four antenna and a mains adapter.

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review – The Router

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Anyone looking at the WRT1900ACS, which runs a dual core 1.6GHz ARM CPU, could easily mistake it for the original WRT1900AC or the 1200AC. Externally they are identical. Other than that the 1200 model uses two antenna rather than 4. Looking at the design, again we get that cool, retro blue and black, angled casing with LED panel on the front which provides plenty of information on the status of the routers various connections.

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Flipping the device over we see that there are plenty of holes for airflow, ensuring the single cooling fan inside performs optimally and there are four rubber feet on the base which will keep the router stable on our desk. Also worthy of note is that the WRT1900ACS, like the other models in the series, will stack nicely with the SE4008 8 port ethernet switch that Linksys offer.

The four antenna allow us to connect to 1300MBPS ac, 600 MBPS n and looking down the back panel we find an on/off rocker switch, power input, reset button, USB/eSATA combo port, USB 3.0 port, Internet in, 4xGB LAN ports and a WPS button.

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review – Setup

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Setup of the WRT1900ACS begins with screwing on the antenna and the connecting the mains power and cable from our modem. With that done we can connect to the router via a network cable or Wi-Fi to begin the software configuration. If connecting by Wi-Fi we can either enter the password noted on the base of the router to create a secure connection or press the WPS button on the back of the router. Once connected for the first time the configuration wizard launches in our browser and the router checks for any firmware updates before applying them and asking if we want to auto-apply future releases. Naming our networks is next, along with choosing a new password to access both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

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Next up we choose a new admin password and finally Linksys confirm all of our details to ensure they are correct. At this point our router is ready to use and Linksys allow us to set up an account with them, allowing remote access and even the ability to manage other people’s networks (for example those of an older, less tech savvy family member).

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review – Software

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For those who want to get a little more in-depth with their router configuration Linksys offer an admin control panel with plenty of flexibility. On our first screen we get a summary of the router status as well as quick enable/disable options for guest access and parental controls. We can take a look at the network map which is a handy way to see which devices are connected and a speed test lets us confirm if our connection is performing correctly. The parental controls allow us to restrict specific devices from accessing sites and this can be configured down to specific times of day too.

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File sharing, print sharing, media prioritisation and VPN configuration are all available as is a panel which allows us to manually update firmware, disable the LEDs or tweak our security. Troubleshooting assists us with solving any issues that may develop and we can also configure the routers firewall as well as configure how it behaves with specific apps/games, prioritising those heavy eSports sessions, as one example.

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It is also worth noting that the WRT models also supports open firmware meaning end users can tweak the code and share it adding features that specific user groups may find useful. Mobile apps are also available, allowing us to manage the router from our phone/tablet etc.

Linksys WRT1900ACS Review – Conclusion

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Looking back to the original WRT1900AC, this is what we had to say about the product:

Starting off with the hardware, for enthusiasts, it will be hard to dislike the retro styling of the WRT1900AC. Many “normal” people will argue that the bright blue stands out too much for some environments but that is probably the point. This is a router that tries to blend modern styling with making a statement and we love it.

Inside the cool casing we get some top notch components which require active cooling but that isn’t too much of an issue because from the moment the WRT1900AC is turned on it gives fantastic performance. The software never lags, the wireless signal is as strong and fast as we have seen and network speeds across wired connections are crazy. We could quote figures but that varies so wildly for every consumer… from person to person, device to device etc so what we will say is that in our testing like for like, the WRT1900AC offered three times the speed of our Netgear R6300 (also a modern, AC spec router).

The software is also a highlight. It looks great, where other manufacturers offer admin panels which often look like an afterthought. The support of Open WRT means we have great flexibility and the base functionality offers everything most users would need from firewall rules to guest access and on into media/gaming configuration. We were also pleased to note that compatibility was fine, all our devices including Android, Windows, smart TV, consoles and Chromecast units all worked without issue.

With its 2-year warranty, excellent software, phenomenal performance and great flexibility the Linksys WRT1900AC is the best router we have used to date.

So what’s changed since then? Well overall the market has moved forward and there are a number of routers available which offer AC speeds in excess of the 1600 Mpbs that Linksys offer here. This is still a top end unit, just not the fastest. The plus side to this is that Linksys have had a year to enhance an already stable/impressive admin panel for the router and iron out any small bugs that end users have reported. That means an already stable router should be even  more solid in real world use.

The updated CPU and memory (512mb) on offer here won’t entice the existing WRT1900AC users to upgrade however 1200AC users needing a bit more throughput for multiple device use, gaming or media streaming will see benefits. The same can be said of those on older, or ISP provided, kit. You can also consider the High Gain Antennas that Linksys offer as an optional upgrade if you want maximum signal strength.

Summary: A top notch router just got a specification boost and retains our Gold Award for its rock solid stability,cool styling, great software panel and high performance.

Gold Award

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Linksys WRT1900ACS
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

About Author

Stuart Davidson

3 Comments

  1. Stephanie Fick Rittenhouse

    I upgraded this router from another Linksys router that was only about 3 years old and kept dropping the Wifi signal. After about a week, this new router (WRT1900ACS) started dropping the Wifi signal as well (ethernet connection was fine). Called customer service, and they tried to get me to PAY to remotely access my computer to trouble-shoot! I declined, since the router is brand-new and she told me that I was entitled to a year of free customer support over the phone, just not remote access by a tech. Ridiculous! Anyway, she basically had me reset the router and tweaked a few of the wireless settings (changed the channel and channel width), and things seemed to be working fine, so I hung up.

    Fast forward a few short hours, and now both the ethernet connection and the wifi connections are down, and rebooting the router does nothing to fix the problem. I connected both desktops directly to the cable modem, and everything ran very fast, so clearly the router is the issue. I tried three different ethernet cables, thinking maybe one had gone bad, with no luck. Back to customer support. This time, I get told that there is a known issue with the router, and get transferred to a special customer support section JUST FOR THIS ROUTER! That agent tells me the same thing, that the router is buggy and that he will download new firmware to fix the problem (despite the fact that I have the router set to automatically download any firmware updates!). This time the tech remotely accesses my computer and downloads the firmware himself, and after rebooting, everything is working again. However, he tells me that I need to keep an eye on the connection issue for the next few hours and if I still have problems, they will send me a new unit.

    So – I am ticked off that I bought a Linksys router since I now suspect that this brand clearly has a problem with dropped connections, and their own tech support admitted that this router in particular has a known issue! WHY IS LINKSYS STILL SELLING THIS ROUTER IF THEY KNOW THERE IS A PROBLEM???

    Lesson to buyers – stay away from Linksys, and particularly the WRT-1900ACS!!

    • Rubens

      Why “stay away from Linksys” if they fixed the issue?… It’s no sense. Sh*t happens for all routers, the important thing is they fixed the problem!…

    • Had Enough With the BS

      Pasting this experience all over the interwebs and at Amazon just goes to show …

      and what Rubens said.

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