When you’re looking for a router, most people just want something that works. Linksys’ AC1900 Max-Stream does everything in its power to achieve just that. It keeps things simple, and while that simplicity might irk some-power users, the results are just consistent and impressive enough to be worth it. When all is said and done, it’s a product that more-or-less just works.
What’s more, the AC1900’s design makes it look easy. It’s a clunky hollow box (257 x 184 x 56mm in size) with grates on all sides. There’s a single plastic panel on top that lights up when the device is active and three flexible antennas that adorning the back edge. The AC1900 boasts five gigait Ethernet LAN ports (four outgoing plus one for internet access) along with both a traditional USB port and a USB 3.0 slot. Still, these external characteristics give the AC1900 both a more dynamic silhouette and a little more character than most other routers but could potentially lead to cabling or spacing issues depending on your setup.
All said, the AC1900 is not too shabby when it comes to connectivity. It’s not as slimlined as some other routers but it feels probably as compact as you could expect a router with this level of output to posses. It’s a dual-band device, which means it offers up two bands of coverage and connectivity – allowing you to allocate your older and less internet-dependent devices to the lower 2.4GHz band while higher-end devices are free to thrive on the 5Ghz band at 1300Mps.
Setup is as elegant and streamlined as Linksys promise it is. Same goes for getting the AC1900 properly integrated with the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi App. Through either the web portal or the app, you can configure all the usual setting and manage stuff like device prioritisation and guest access with relative ease. All told, the AC1900 took us less than ten minutes to go from plugging the power pack in to using it as we would any other router. Simply put, it doesn’t take a lot of messing around for you to make the most of the AC1900’s various bells and whistles.
One such bell is the router’s support of Multi-User-Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output connectivity. Parsed more simply as MU-MIMO, this tech allows the AC1900 to talk with up to 12 devices simultaneously, rather than one at a time. While it’s a feature that might initially sound like overkill, in practice it feels likely to make a much bigger difference than you might expect.
For example, if your household has four people living in it and each of those people has their own phone, tablet and computer you’re already hit at that upper limit. For a traditional router, this scenario would lead to all sorts of latency and disconnect issues but with the AC1900 it’s pretty much smooth sailing.
Linksys says the AC1900 will offer up to twice the speed of a non MU-MIMO router. In reality, it very much depends on what your current home or office setup looks like. We found it definitely improvements compared to standard router but in terms of the speed, the difference didn’t feel all that significant. However and obviously, this will vary.
In action, the AC1900 delivers. The only thing we found issues with was the display on the top of the router. It lights up when active but doesn’t give any information about your network status beyond that. There’s no indicator for seperate connections, nor the status of your WLAN. It’s not the most major of issues but it’s certainly something with potential to cause headaches down the line.
It is maybe a little more expensive than a router usually is, but that extra cost is netting you a platform on which great 4K video and gaming experiences can be built. Routers are rarely this easy to recommend – let alone premium ones like the AC1900. If you’re going to spent $300 on a router, this si the one to get.