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Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router review

Gordon Kelly

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Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router
  • Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router

Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Pros

  • Breathtaking wireless performance
  • Elegant design
  • Highly intuitive to setup
  • Industry leading UI
  • Notably cheaper than its nearest rival

Cons

  • Currently limited support for Turbo QAM
  • Still early days for AC1900 routers

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Key Features

  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi
  • Turbo QAM support
  • Smart WiFi Cloud platform
  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0
  • WPS, WPA/WPA2 security
  • Manufacturer: Linksys
  • Review Price: £169.99

What is the Linksys EA6900?

This is Linksys’ most important router of the year. It features an upgraded chipset enabling the company to tout ‘AC1900’ speeds and finally go head-to-head with Asus’ all conquering RT-AC68U. Linksys is going all out with the EA6900 adding external antennas for the first time in the series and, unusually, being very aggressive on price.

For those wanting uncompromised wireless performance could this be the new router to beat?

Video: How to improve your home's Wi-Fi network

SEE ALSO: 802.11ac vs 802.11n Wi-Fi: what's the difference?

Linksys EA6900: Design

Out the box the EA6900 looks very similar to its predecessors, the EA4500, EA6500 and EA6700 but look closely and there are a couple of significant changes.

For Linksys itself, the most significant is its name is now front and centre on the router and spelt out in capitals. This is because Belkin has completed the purchase of Linksys from Cisco and Belkin, perhaps wisely, hasn’t plastered its logo on instead preferring to let the established Linksys brand do the talking. This makes sense given Belkin plans to continue its own branded routers and allow Linksys to operate without interference as its own unit.

As before the Linksys logo has a white light that flashes slowly to indicate booting, WPS is running or during firmware upgrades while it remains steady at all other times.

EA6900 3

The second significant change is the aforementioned inclusion of three external antennas. This results in three screw fixings for the bundled antennas, but Linksys has still managed to cram in all the ports and buttons you’d expect (more below) including a power button missing from the US version because it is mandatory under EU rules.

From a design perspective what is most impressive is the EA6900 still looks great despite the addition of the antennas – an aspect which has always given Asus’ routers a more aggressive look. The build quality is rock solid and because it doesn’t switch to an upright form factor like most new AC routers it is still wall mountable, a deal maker for some. All in all it is a very nice looking product.

SEE ALSO: 10 best routers you can buy

EA6900

Linksys EA6900: Features

But looks are not where primary interest in the EA6900 will lie. The big news is its inclusion of the Broadcom BCM4708A chipset that brings ‘Turbo QAM’ – a proprietary technology that boosts theoretical 802.11n speeds from a previous maximum of 450Mbps to 600Mbps. This when combined with the 1300Mbps theoretical maximum of 802.11ac gives us the 1900Mbps figure also touted by the Asus RT-AC68U when other routers are stuck at 1750Mbps.

The obvious upside in this is the potential from Turbo QAM to give the older wireless n standard a useful kick, though compatible chipsets are thin on the ground at present with just the Asus PCE-AC68 currently aboard. That said, the Broadcom chipset claims to boost wireless n and wireless ac performance regardless and the chipset brings the same hefty jump in horsepower to the EA6900 that the RT-AC68U received. Namely a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processor clocked at 800MHz, a healthy 256MB of DDR3 RAM and 128MB of flash storage.

Aside from this Linksys has integrated a small PCB into each of its amplified external antennas to add some additional logic to the Beamforming in the 802.11ac spec. Linksys has also started to build its own firmware stack giving it greater control over the chipsets it and other manufacturers licence. This is implemented through its Smart WiFi Cloud platform, which allows users to remotely monitor and control their router settings through any PC, tablet or smartphone with an Internet connection.

Crucially, security obsessed users no longer need a Smart WiFi account to use a Linksys router, but it offers a superb differentiator and remains by far the most fully realised Cloud router platform currently on the market. Slowly but surely third-party apps for Smart WiFi are growing too with parental control (Block the Bad Stuff), remote media access (HipPlay) and device monitoring (Device Monitoring!) apps particularly useful.

Elsewhere the EA6900 ticks all the right boxes. There are four Gigabit Ethernet ports, 2x USB (1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0), support for IPv6, WPA/WPA2 and WPS security, Guest access and QOS. The antennas themselves can also be unscrewed and replaced with third party alternatives.

EA6900 setup

Linksys EA6900: Setup

Asus, D-Link and Linksys have long been leagues apart from the rest when it comes to ease of setup and the EA6900 continues this fine tradition. Simply plug in the EA6900, connect it to your modem and whatever peripherals you want physically tethered and switch it on.

No password or CD is needed on the initial connection to the Linksys 2G and 5G SSIDs, but on first connection a new tab is automatically opened in your default browser. A wizard starts that lets you setup your router and wireless passwords (as well as changing their SSIDs) and detects your connection type (manual setup lets you specify any settings you want). After that you’re done.

EA6900 UI

When it comes to managing the EA6900, Smart WiFi remains leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. It is a widget-based UI with drag and drop functionality that can be done from any location (or locally from 192.168.1.1 if you disable Smart WiFi) and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone it would confuse. D-Link’s mydlink and Asus’ ASUSWRT are also well laid out, but they are both getting long in the tooth and cannot compare to the Smart WiFi user interface at this point.

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Jedibeeftrix

December 4, 2013, 8:53 pm

will this do the new high-speed DSL standard that is being rolled out across the UK right now? maybe i missed it, but there is no mention of DSL speeds....

Keith

December 4, 2013, 9:06 pm

One thing that would put me off this router is the fact it's a SOHO device. In the past I got totally fed up of Belkin / LinkSys / Netgear, all of these SOHO devices would lock up / drop connections and you would have to reboot them constantly. The components are cheap and nasty, I personally think the brand Linksys is an embarrassment to there parent company Cisco. Now for about the same money you could get a very decent business router like the Draytek 2860n, although not having the ac speed, another review site points out speeds of 68.1Mbits/s. Personally I would live without the 802.11ac and have a router than just works without missing a beat. My last Draytek was such a godsend, unfortunately upgraded to Fibre to Box, so had to get rid of it, the ISP has given me a ZyXEL and to be honest it's not too bad, but the WiFi is rubbish and it's not got replaceable antenna's, so in the market for a descent replacement, but it won't be this Linksys. I miss my old Draytek, for it's reliability so I think the 2860n looks the ticket.

Keith

December 4, 2013, 9:20 pm

I believe this is just a wireless router, so you will also need a VDSL modem too that you plug into the yellow Ethernet port. Another reason I think I'll go for the Draytek, for this price I can't believe it's not got built in modem.

Gordon Kelly

December 6, 2013, 12:11 am

Interesting points Keith, we have some Draytek samples headed our way since it has been neglected on the site as of late.

I do think, however, that you're living a little in the past when it comes to the amount of premium you're prepared to pay for reliability. We keep a hold of benchmark routers and live with them. If any problems arise over time we update the reviews.

Nothing we've lived with over the last 12 months... the Linksys EA6500, EA6700, D-Link DIR-868L, Asus RT-AC66U, Asus RT-AC68U and now the Linksys EA6900... has caused us to need to update their reviews. Each ran for between 2 and 4 months depending on when they lost their top dog status and they've all been rock solid.

Certainly I wouldn't be looking to drop the remarkable ac performance you'll get from these devices to rubber stamp reliability. As far as we're concerned, these routers all deliver it in spades.

Gordon Kelly

December 6, 2013, 12:15 am

Sorry for the late reply Jedibeeftrix, as Keith points out this is a router without a modem. We'll always indicate what modem is in a router in the review if it is there, but the vast majority these days are router only.

This is because the modem part still costs a lot (£50+ onto the price tag) and manufacturers don't have to second guess whether to supply DSL, VDSL, cable, etc. It also simplifies the setup process for users just looking to boost their wireless speeds and coverage.

Keith

December 6, 2013, 2:34 pm

Hi Gordon, thanks for the reply. I must admit not used a SOHO device for a while now for obvious reasons, so you might be right about reliability. Unfortunately I can only go by my own experiences, and going from constant lock ups / drop outs to having consistent reliability I'm not sure I would like to risk it for a possible 10% increase in speed. I'm also not sure 2 - 4 months is a good indication of reliability, anyway I've made my point!, if people still buy and get burnt, they can't say I never said anything.

Be interesting to see your reviews of the Draytek though, hopefully not there SOHO range. :)

Gordon Kelly

December 6, 2013, 2:39 pm

Thanks for your reply Keith. In all honesty I've never seen an 802.11n device get anywhere near 70MBps in a real world environment so I'll be seriously impressed if that is actually the case. I think we're talking about 2-3x speed improvements (especially at range) from 802.11ac.

I agree that 2-4 months isn't that long, but at the same time is it about 18 months between lots of different models with no problems...

I wouldn't attack any tech market today for where it was 5 years ago. That's like not wanting to buy a Nexus 5 because you weren't a fan of the 2G restrictions in the original iPhone!

Clive Richards

December 9, 2013, 11:19 pm

It used to be that companies provided both types of router, one with and one without a model so why the change. Most domestic installations are starved of power sockets as it is without adding another device. At least why don't they manufacture a compatible bolt on ADSL modem as an extra so that at least it shares the same power supply. I am looking for a modem/router with good range and all the extras (usb sharing of large external drive, DNLA etc.) Price is less of an object than having something that is powerful and reliable

Gordon Kelly

December 9, 2013, 11:51 pm

I believe the same reason any product line changes happen: market forces. Modem-less routers simply plug and play which those with modems require more configuring and had that appealed to the masses and they sold by the bucket load they'd still be on sale now. It's a shame.

Robin

December 12, 2013, 9:05 am

Morning Folks
Any ideas where I can buy one of these?
Robin

Cyrus

December 22, 2013, 11:57 am

Where can you buy this? I have searched everywhere and none available apart from one guy called "Pudsey Computers" seems to be selling them on amazon uk at a discount to RRP! This strikes me a little odd... would love to know if anyone has managed to pick one up.

Josh

December 28, 2013, 1:41 am

I found mine at BestBuy in Honolulu, HI.

nate call

February 1, 2014, 4:30 am

i do think belkin purchased linksys and cisco is no longer owner. i do not know what to think when it comes to brands personally i have bad stuff from all except msi. many routers have fallen in this house.. its time for one that does not need to be robooted

Shmerls

February 17, 2014, 5:40 pm

Keith. you seem to know a good deal about routers. I'm a bit of a newbie. I have had a D-LINK DIR-655 for 7 years and it's never failed me until getting an iPad Air and upgrading my WiFi devices to iOS 7. Now whenever I stream for approx. 2 hrs, not necessarily in a row, I get throttled down to .6 Mbps download! It's not my Cable company because I checked against my original iPad on iOS 5 which never did this. Apple feels after much trouble shooting the best suspect to try now is a new router saying that older ones can overload. Plus it's only one channel. Amazon has a 30 day return policy so it's certainly worth the experiment. If same prob then it's Apple's problem to fix. But my question to you is I've seen so much great reviews for the ASUS RT-AC68U 1900. On some review pages way better than the Linksys. It's hard to go by the reviews. I've never heard of ASUS until now, so I have no clue but wonder if you know if it and feel it's worthwhile. I definitely want a 2 channel WiFi and and ac for forward compatibility since I tend to hold on to hardware a long time and eventually ac devices will be more prevalent. Thoughts on ASUS. I need to research Draytek which I'd not heard of until your raves. But WiFi is very important to me. Thanks very much.

Shmerls

February 17, 2014, 5:43 pm

Hi Gordon. For home use, but wanting the top notch, of all the routers you mention, which would you say has the best WiFi performance and easiest set up on logical UI?

Keith

February 27, 2014, 12:24 pm

>> Now whenever I stream for approx. 2 hrs

Now this is were I think SOHO devices struggle. If all you ever wanted to do with a Router was browse the web, then I think most SOHO devices work fine. Steaming on the over hand is a different matter, and is maybe why every SOHO device I've bought just blew it's brains out. I used to do a lot of streaming with MCE and later XBMC. btw. this is not just external streaming like YouTube, but internal high-def streaming, that takes way more bandwidth.

Now my theory is simple, SOHO devices use cheaper components for obvious reasons, these will work fine for short bursts, but put under constant pressure they start to get very warm, I've had SOHO routers in the past were I'm sure I could cook an egg on them. Business router often have specialised hardware components, as such they don't seem to get half as warm when pushed.

Saying all this, I now ironically don't use WiFi routers at all. Homeplug's are now so cheap, and way more reliable. You can even have Homeplugs with built in WiFi access points that make getting WiFI all around the house or even in your garden shed way better. So my advice is don't even bother getting a router with WiFi built in, but just get a modem/router, and use homeplugs for home networking. Advantages here, if later another V/ADSL standard comes out you can just replace the modem/router, if another WiFi standard comes out replace the WiFI homeplugs. etc. You could even go one further and get a separate Modem & router.

Cyrus

March 1, 2014, 4:26 pm

I regrettably bought this router in the end - utterly useless and worse than my virgin media super hub i bought it to replace. I am astonished and bemused as to how this received a 10/10 rating from trustedreviews! 5ghz speed is average when close by and has the worst range I have ever experienced from a router.

Furthermore the router is unstable, regularly cutting out and needing to be rebooted, the UI is very clunky and painful to use, port forwarding doesn't work properly and regularly resets, and DD-WRT can't even be stably installed as an alternative.

If only I could find a way to return this piece of junk! Never again going with Linksys.

John Anderson

March 16, 2014, 6:12 pm

can I use this instead of my Sky unit?

Guest

May 11, 2014, 11:26 am

I actually read this review and bought it yesterday, but am still regretting it. I haven't used a router that requires the user to edit the Host file on my computer before the setup page can function.

Unfortunately here in Hong Kong consumer rights are non-existent so I can't return it, so it spent me a full hour doing research on the web to solve this bug.

RusRiver Man

May 23, 2014, 10:02 pm

Terrible support, terrible router, constantly goes down and has to be reset. It is easily one of the worst recent experiences with Tech Support.

RussJH

June 9, 2014, 8:14 am

Wireless range not very good at all, very disappointing

Vivek Bhalla

August 20, 2014, 10:18 am

I too am looking for a one-stop shop modem router. It seems the Netgear N600 is a good shout for ADSL2+ lines (but not so for ADSL 1). Hope this helps!

raj

March 23, 2015, 1:02 am

Reviews seems to be completely wrong -- Terrible support, terrible router, constantly goes down and has to be reset. It is easily one of the worst recent experiences with Tech Support.

Wayne Adams

August 8, 2015, 12:51 pm

The interface is designed for morons who need stupid widgets to find their way around. For the serious power user, it is a pain in the a** to navigate. Every so called improvement in software always involves a dumbing down aimed at the increasingly ignorant user.

The range stinks. I have had to use the E3000 that it replaced as a repeater to get coverage on the far side of the house. I'm very disappointed at the signal strength around the house. In fact, my neighbor's router has a stronger signal inside my house at the far end than does my router.

This is another loser from Linksys. It is not worth the price.

Sean

January 2, 2016, 5:17 am

Why is your hosts file set to redirect or block 192.168.1.1 lol.

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