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Does the router below stack up to the Netgear X8 Nighthawk AC5300? When looking for the best router, there are a few different metrics you want to keep an eye on when making your final decision. The basic stuff like how fast is it or what kind of range is important enough on their own, but what separates a regular Wi-Fi hub from the greats like Linksys’ new 1900ACS is the added features you get as a part of the complete package. That sense of polish, history, and prestige is something that only a few brands in the wireless router space have, and Linksys continues to show it deserves its top spot among others like D-Link, Cisco, and Netgear.
Summary: The Linksys 1900ACS already took the number one spot over our reviews of the D-Link DIR-867 and Netgear C7800. But, read on if you want to find out why the 1900ACS isn’t possibly just the best of this year – it could be the best router that Linksys has developed to date.
Price: $229.99Available: October 7, 2015Model: WRT1900AC
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
Related: We highly recommend the Linksys WRT AC3200 Router review roundup
Thanks to the Linksys “Smart WiFi Setup” wizard, getting the 1900ACS up and running at full capacity is a breeze. One feature we especially liked is that during the initial setup, Linksys will automatically connect to the company’s servers to scan for any firmware updates to be sure no security holes leave you scrambling to clean up a pre-compromised firewall.
Taking the guesswork out of knowing whether or not your router is protected with the latest firmware is great, but where Smart WiFi really shines is in customization. In the main Smart WiFi panel, you can change everything from which devices in the house get the highest bandwidth/streaming priority (say the console in the living room or gaming PC in the den) to carefully selecting which computers have access to the different channels of each dual-band radio.
Speaking of the firewall, adjusting settings here (and everywhere else) became a joy thanks to the sleek, responsive UI. I’ve been jumping into routers for well over half my life now, and this is the first router UI that I not only didn’t hate using, but didn’t mind either. Menus come and leave without being intrusive, settings can be quickly saved on the fly without constant reboots, and if it is something vital the Linksys will only prompt a reboot after you’re completely done.
The Smart Wi-Fi dashboard is also packed to the gills with any add-on frill you could possibly want out of a home router, including internal speed testers, Guest Access networking, and powerful media server configuration tools.
Related: Take a look at our Linksys WRT3200ACM MU Mimo Wireless Router review
The design of the Linksys 1900ACS is an unapologetic throwback to the router that first made the company famous back in the early 2000s: the infamous WRT54G. If you signed on to the internet anytime between 2002 and 2005, you either owned one of these or knew someone who did. And their popularity was well-deserved, as many consider the 1900ACS’ older brother to be the current pinnacle of everything a router should be. For another product by this brand, check out the Linksys Velop Mesh router.
For Linksys, going with what they know has paid off in spades, and the 1900ACS feels like a welcome successor to its purple-on-black older brother. The style of the router itself has been accented with modernized lines that make it almost seem aerodynamic, as though the amount of speed you get out of it could somehow be increased by its sleek, undetectable-by-radar corners.
Like many other modern routers, the “AC” in the Linksys’ name means one thing and one thing only: it’s going to be fast as all get out.
Just as we discovered in our D-Link AC3200 review, the Linksys absolutely maxed out our cable internet connection as fast as it would go on multiple devices, including a new iPhone 6s at distances of 10ft, 20ft, and 50ft on both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz channel. Although we could bore you with the nitty-gritty of the slight number of jumps between these markers, overall there was never more than a loss of about 5Mbps down/1Mbps of difference no matter how many ways we tried to shake it.
This router didn’t drop a frame no matter what was thrown in its path, and worked just as consistently if you were in the next room as it did if you were visiting the next-door neighbors. We’ve seen fast routers at this price point and routers that worked at long distances, but the combination of all these factors layered with the Linksys seal of reliability puts the 1900ACS that extra notch or two above the rest.
Put quite simply: the 1900ACS is the best router that Linksys has ever built. Given their storied history in the industry and their humble beginnings, that’s saying a lot, but so does this router. Speedy, beautiful, and mind-numbingly easy to use, the 1900ACS tops all previous efforts by the company with the perfect combination of power, price, and steadfast reliability.
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