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Best bang for your buck: AC1900 Wireless Routers

Best bang for your buck: AC1900 Wireless Routers
If you're on the market for an AC1900 Wi-Fi solution, read on as we pit the best of the best against each other!
By: Tyler Bernath | Routers & Access Points in Networking | Posted: Jun 22, 2017 1:17 pm

Introduction

 

With the introduction of 802.11ad and 802.11ax on the way, the consumer wireless market has shifted to make room for new technologies. At this point, we have plenty of "classes" for consumers to wrap their minds around, this means solutions under the AC1900 class really have no place in the market as vendors have dropped prices so much - what was once the top-end enthusiast solutions are now entry-level.

 

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Seen in the chart above, I was able to gather up several routers from a few vendors, retest them all under our current wireless router platform seen below. Most of these platforms use similar hardware, there are revisions of course mostly on the Broadcom platforms, while the EA7500 stands out as our only Qualcomm AC1900 solution. The DIR-879 from D-Link is a low-cost Realtek platform. Above all, each of these solutions are AC1900-class devices with 600 Mbps 2.4GHz band and 1300 Mbps for the 5GHz band.

 

 

Tyler's Test System Specifications

 

 

 

The Routers

 

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The EA6900 is a first-generation Broadcom platform, dual band 600 / 1300 and part of the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi lineup. MSRP of this solution is hovering around $119.99.

 

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Synology launched their first router in 2016 in the form of the RT1900ac. Specs of this solution are some of the highest in the AC1900 class with a dual-core SoC and 4GB of flash. MSRP sits at $149.99.

 

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NETGEAR has a strong lineup of wireless routers, and it all started with the original Nighthawk, the R7000. This solution houses a powerful dual-core Broadcom chip at 1GHz with 256MB memory and 128MB NAND flash. MSRP now sits at $159.99.

 

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The TEW-818DRU was one of the first 802.11ac solutions we reviewed, way back in 2014. This too is a Broadcom platform, two cores at 800MHz and an MSRP at $114.99.

 

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The D-Link EXO AC1900 is one of the only Realtek platforms I have had in the lab. It features two cores at 1GHz and 128MB for memory and flash. This is the only solution we tested that does not have storage functionality. MSRP sits at $119.99.

 

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The EA7500 is a Qualcomm IPQ platform that houses two cores at 1.4GHz and 256MB of memory. MSRP of this solution is at the higher-end at $159.99.

 

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The Archer C9, like many others, is Broadcom based. However, it has very different specs. Memory comes in at 128MB slightly lower than the standard 256MB, while flash sits at 16MB compares to the normal 128MB. MSRP of this solution sits at $119.99.

 

 

Wireless Throughput

 

I split up the performance tests into several categories. I tested the routers in a small home throughput similar to a college dorm or loft apartment along with a large home scenario at 30Ft. Also, all routers were tested for their file performance.

 

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At 15Ft, the Qualcomm-powered EA7500 comes out on top at 853 Mbps while the Archer C9 is right behind it at 852 Mbps. The slowest router was the TRENDnet 818DRU at 738 Mbps on the 5GHz band.

 

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Moving out to 30Ft, the EA7500 held more throughput than any of the competitors at 780 Mbps. The rest huddled up from 600 to 700 Mbps with the slowest being the D-Link EXO.

 

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Once again, the EA7500 comes out on top in testing. At 68 MB/s read and 32 MB/s write, we have a combined 100 MB/s storage throughput for the EA7500. The next best is the Synology RT1900ac at 96 MB/s combined. The worst was the D-Link EXO with no storage capabilities at all.

 

 

Bang for your Buck: The Results

 

For the most part, results top to bottom for many of these tests are minuscule. Factoring in price adds a hard metric for consumers to think about when making their purchase decision. Hopefully, these charts given the direct comparison and MSRPs listed above can aid that decision-making process. So, without further disruption, let's look at the results.

 

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Storage performance was extremely close, adding in cost the Archer C9 is the best AC1900 class router when focusing on storage alone. The Synology RT1900ac and Linksys EA7500 were right behind - a few MB/s more could seriously shift the results of this chart.

 

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Small homes will enjoy the performance of the Nighthawk R7000 as I found it to be the best AC1900 class router in this category. This includes an aggregate of 2.4 and 5GHz performance with the cost of the router added in. Right behind is the EXO from D-Link followed by the recently reviewed RT-1900p from ASUS.

 

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Moving out a bit further and tackling larger homes and spaces the Linksys EA7500 topped out the charts as the best router. Right behind we have the Archer C9 less than a percent separating and behind that the Nighthawk R7000.

 

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Perhaps the most anticipated result is the above, the overall best AC1900 router. As you can see this honor goes to the Linksys EA7500 with its exceptional performance in both 2.4 and 5GHz testing and its enthusiast-class storage performance.

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