- Fastest router tested to-date.
- Excellent range.
- Very good cloud-based management.
- Speedy NAS functionality with connected USB drives.
– Runs slightly warm.
– Problems with disconnects at 2.4GHz band using Linksys WUSB6300 wireless USB adapter.
The Linksys EA6900 AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi Router ($249, MSRP)($140.00 at Amazon) is at present the best router by Linksys since it was purchased by Belkin. Belkin bought Linksys, but in terms of hardware, branding, Linksys maintains its control on its networking products.
This is a smart initiative, because the EA6900 is an excellent router, giving one of a kind performance in range and processing rate in my try.
Its features and interface settings are derived from Linksys’s previous release, the EA6400. In some particular features, the primary competing router Netgear Nighthawk ($159.00 at Best Buy), which a new brand to the router market, has more advantages. However, for its speed, range, and overwhelmingly speedy NAS performance via a drive connected to USB 3.0 port,
Linksys ac1900 Review
The EA6900 is the more dominant router. Bearing in mind that you will pay for that 50$ higher than the Netgear Nighthawk. A caution: You will need an 802.11ac adapter or a wireless adapter with a 3×3 MIMO antenna configuration to get the maximum performance from the router.
Specs and Design
The new EA6900 is quite similar in look to the EA6400, except for the addition of three external dual-band dipole antennas that can be attached to the device (included in the package).
It is acute looking and sharp, with a black housing and silver metallic ornament. I remarked that his silver metallic strip could get a bit warm to the touch following several hours plugged.
Besides, there has been a change in the Cisco logo, which is no longer there since Belkin bought Linksys. Though, the Cisco logo is found on the previous product, the EA6400.
The EA6900 is a more rigorous router than the EA6400 when it comes to specifications. This is a concurrent, dual-band router with a 3×3 transmit/receive antenna configuration on each band. The 2.4GHz band supports up to a theoretical 600Mbps, and the 5GHz band supports up to 1300Mbps.
The provides a USB 2.0 and a 3.0 port for connecting to printers and USB storage devices, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Setting up the Smart Router
The EA6900 comes with an included Quick Start Guide and a setup disc that facilitates setting up the router for people with less experience or none in installing routers.
This router’s setup takes five steps:
- Power on
- connect the Internet cable to the WAN port;
- Wait for the router’s LED to turn solid green;
- Connect to the pre-configured SSID (the SSID name and password are printed in the setup guide) or connect an Ethernet cable from a laptop to one of the router’s LAN ports
- Open a web browser to complete the final settings. You have to type in linksyssmartwifi.com as the URL.
Right after this, as far as my experience, I was redirected to the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi setup page. From there, you will be exposed to an automatic setup or a wizard that will step you through the auto-configuration. You can either follow up the steps or skip them and set your router manually.
The wizard is very accurate, as it tends to ensure that your internet connection is correctly set up. My internet cable connection was inadvertently disconnected, and the wizard automatically detected the problem and asked me to check my cable. The guide set up is indeed beneficial for novices.
Interface and Features
Since the EA6400, the interface has not changed in its look. Once opened, the software pops up with a new available update of firmware, which can be done easily in a matter of seconds. You can control the router locally or remotely through the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi cloud service.
During the test, I was happy to see that all changes made in settings locally or remotely synchronized between both local and cloud interfaces. Linksys has changed the foundation of its previous cloud that of the Cisco Connect Cloud and turned it to an evolved, user-friendly one, easy to manage your home network with locally or remotely.
The software also suggests setting up a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi account that you need for cloud management.
Similar to Linksys EA6400, the interface displays a list of devices, wired and wireless in connection to the router, guest access, parental controls, media prioritization, and more.
Media prioritization lowers the waiting time after clicking play on Netflix video to give an immediate start to the video. This QoS capability mostly becomes more accurate and beneficial when you have more devices connected to the router at one time.
Via Media Prioritization (which is Linksys version of QoS (Quality-of-Service)), you can select from a list of devices. With the option of drag and drop, you can select higher or lower priorities.
Devices selected in High Priority will be automatically given the highest network bandwidth. Also, there is a drop-down list for online games such as Word of Warcraft and Final Fantasy, which enables you to select them into High or Normal priority. A second drop-down list provides the same function as applications like Xbox Live or iTunes, but I was astonished to not find Netflix listed. The Netgear Nighthawk comes with more services listed within its QoS interface. I am saying that Linksys lists PCAnywhere as one of the applications to set in priority. I haven’t seen anyone use it since 1998!
Tech-savvier users are also able to manually add applications and services to this QoS. The EA6900 also supports WMM (Wi-Fi MultiMedia), and you can manually set downstream bandwidth.
Parental controls function accurately. It enables you to control access by device and can block internet access, or upon choice block based on a schedule. You can also block by a particular website, which also worked in testing. However, for complete parental control in a router, look to Skydog, where its best option is content and Internet access management.
The EA6900 lacks two advanced features that the Netgear Nighthawk has: full VPN service, and the option to be flashed with open-source firmware. Generally, the EA6900 is a fast router for those who have a more user-friendly network device to manage.
The EA6900 provides NAS functions as long as you connect a hard drive to the USB port and share data throughout a network. The NAS interface is easy to use and genuine.
I connected a Western Digital My Passport drive. To manage storage, you can use the “USB storage” widget. Its interface displays used and free space on the external storage.
You can also see the path of accessing the default folder share from a PC or a Mac. Managements proficiency covers enabling secure folder access, installing FTP, and configuring the media server used for streaming media from the connected external drive.
I tried Read and Write performance with a drive connected to the router using a video clip and a laptop wired to one of the EA6900’s LAN ports. Notably, I received some of the top performance I have ever tested with a router’s USB NAS functionality.
Write speed average was 14MBps when I usually saw an average of 11MBps in my previous attempts using USB drives. Reads were even more efficient at 27MBps, which was far better than my other tests when I got about 13MBps only.
My test was with a USB 3.0 port. Overall, as far as I am concerned, NAS functionality in the EA6900 is better in use than in the EA4600. With the latter, I got a weird error trying to delete a file from a shared folder encountering a message “File in use. Try again” I could not delete that file until I reconnected the USB drive again. Gladly, I did not encounter such an error with the EA6900.
The best feature of the EA6900 is the speed and range. It is quite the fastest router I have tried. In 802.11ac mode using Linksys’ WUSB6300 Wi-Fi Wireless AC Dual-Band AC1200 USB adapter, the router reached 400Mbps testing. I have never noticed anywhere close to that speed in our testing sphere.
The next fastest router we have tested is the Trendnet AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-812DRU) ($53.00 at Amazon). That router hit 300Mbps testing with a high-performance testing script but did not reach close to the EA900’s 400Mbps.
Nevertheless, the Trendnet keeps its standard production rate test using Ixia’s IxChariot testing software when put in comparison with the EA6900: At 15 feet, the Trendnet router managed 283Mbps compared with the Linksys at 238Mbps.
A slight difference though not a big deal; for me, it’s that 400Mbps for high throughput testing that sets the EA6900 far higher than the Trendnet when comparing both at 5GHz in 802.11ac mode.
The Linksys EA6900 also provided higher performance in GHz 802.11-N only mode. Besides, the device maintains the range well. It did perform fine as well in 2.4, indeed, resulting in the highest numbers I have seen among 11ac routers.
Yet, I encountered a troubling issue while testing the EA6900 in 2.4GHz mode at a distance of 30 feet when the connection kept dropping.
That happened only when I tested with Linksys’ newest 11ac wireless USB adapter, the Linksys WUSB6300. After testing it using my laptop’s native onboard Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN adapter, I encountered slower throughput results, but the connection did not drop 30 feet farther from the router.
Linksys advisors informed me that the connection drops because the WUSB6300 adapter will change from USB 3.0 mode to USB 2.0 mode when it detects interference. The balancing performance is okay, but it should better not disconnect the client from the router. You can read the details about the adapter in its dedicated review.
This problem, indeed, does not affect the review of the EA6900. It is regrettable because the EA6900 paired with the WUSB6300 gives a killer performance.
Until Linksys clears up issues with the adapter, my idea would be to only use the Linksys USB adapter at the 5GHz band, and use your wireless client’ native wireless adapter for connecting to the EA6900 at 2.4GHz band. I am sure that Linksys will make a firmware update shortly to fix the adapter issues.
The EA6900 is a choice if you are searching for a high performance yet simple to manage route. I suggest putting it somewhere that allows air circulation since it gets a bit warm. As a home router, it is a good choice for users who do not want advanced networking features such as a full VPN or do not desire to twist granular networking settings.
It fits multi-device home networks that like streaming videos, Skype, online play games, and any of the other online activities we choose to do at home. It gets four out of five stars and Editor’s Choice for consumer routers.
THE BOTTOM LINE
After having the above overview on the features of the Linksys EA6900 AC1900, Smart Wi-Fi, is the router a high-performance? And high-priced? It is a router that provides easy-going management and interfaces with interesting features and functionality. It is a great choice for multi-device home networks, including movies, TV streaming, Skype use, and online gaming.