Having owned a Linksys WRT1900AC router for the last month and experimenting with it a reasonable amount (including the installation of the OpenWrt firmware), I thought it was about time to put up a list of the good and bad points of this particular model. It was released in 2014 but is about to be superseded by the WRT1900ACS which boasts a faster processor and twice the amount of onboard RAM. This will hopefully mean that the slightly over-inflated pricing currently on the WRT1900AC will come down and make this powerful router accessible to more people. Let’s face it, it’s not like 2014 makes it an old router by any means.
- Powerful processor means that it does everything you throw at it with ease. Traffic is handled well even with multiple connection downloads running. No wireless bottlenecks as on other routers I’ve used.
- External antennas give more flexibility around signal optimisation and even fitting 3rd party antennas.
- Supports 5Ghz AC mode. It’s not that fast but it’s by far the fastest wireless I’ve ever used. Transferring files internally from an iPhone 6 Plus to a desktop computer, I can achieve a genuine 200mbps (23-24MB/sec).
- Supports third party firmware and has the hardware to be able to use it well.
- Super stable with third party firmware (see cons for a bit more on this).
- Many routers now come with a 1gbps switch but this router performs exceptionally well (probably aided again by the dual core CPU). In short, this router is extremely fast at wired internal transfers.
- SSH command line control (when using OpenWrt or other opensource firmware) is just excellent. No unnecessary reboots and clean, clear config files rather than web interface check boxes.
- USB 3 port on the back allows the connection of network storage directly to the router. Really handy and avoids having another device on 24/7 to provide this functionality.
- It’s pretty big and a bit cartoon like in its design and is a bit dominating. Some people probably like this. Not me.
- The Linksys firmware is awful. Easy to setup but oh so unstable. I used it for a day and my connection was dropped 3 times. I updated to OpenWrt 15.05 and the connection has been up since. This really could and should be a show stopper for many. If you’re happy updating the firmware to an opensource third party variety then ignore this con. If not, stay away as this router will disappoint.
- The wireless performance is good speed wise but don’t believe marketing around coverage and range. If you’re in the UK (for example), you’re still bound to the 100mW output at 2.4GHz and the antennas with this router only have about 2dB gain at this frequency. You’ll probably see exactly the same coverage as your last router. If you go down the OpenWrt route, there are things you can do to improve matters. I’ve recently done a video playing around with the wireless settings.
- It’s expensive. Seriously, you have to love this type of stuff to want to part with £170 for a home router. I do and did but many don’t and won’t when a model around the £40 price will do the job.
I’ve learned a lot since buying the WRT1900AC through using OpenWrt. For me, that alone has made this a good investment. I love the faster wifi as backing up photos from my phone to Google is now so much quicker and moving video from my phone to the desktop is incredibly quick. What are your experiences with this device? Would you spend this much? Are there any better alternatives from other manufacturers? I certainly don’t have buyer’s remorse but certainly did until I got OpenWrt up and running. Don’t even bother with the Linksys firmware.