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Linksys EA6900 AC1900: Performance, Value & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

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Linksys EA6900 AC1900 router

Summary

Our Score:

10

Linksys EA6900 Performance

EA6900 acIt is perhaps embarrassing for Linksys that currently the only wireless adaptor able to fully test the EA6900 is rival Asus’ PCE-AC68, but the company assures me this will change in the near future. More embarrassing is that Linksys has also been left trailing in the wake of Asus’ recent run of top-notch routers, but the EA6900 fixes that in perhaps the most comprehensive fashion we’ve ever seen.

At our test distances of 2m and 10m line of sight and an increased distance of 15m behind two standing walls (which we brought to push these increasingly powerful routers even harder), the EA6900 blew us away. Using 802.11ac we recorded speeds of 76.4MBps (611Mbps), 72.3MBps (578.4Mbps) and 46MBps (368Mbps). 802.11n 5GHz hit 41.9MBps (335.2MBps) 37.4MBps (299.2Mbps) and 22.8MBps (182.4Mbps) while 802.11n 2.4GHz managed 17.2MBps (137.6Mbps), 11.4MBps (91.2Mbps) and 7.95MBps (63.6Mbps).

EA6900 5GHzWe mention these in a group because, aside from the final 802.11n 2.4GHz 15m figure, these are all new benchmarks – a quite remarkable achievement. In fact, even the final 7.95MBps result is second only to the 8.94MBps we got from the Asus RT-AC68U and both are nearly double what we’ve attained from any other router at this distance.

Starting with the 802.11ac results, the EA6900 brings a near 50 per cent speed boost compared to every 1750Mbps router we have tested. Only the Asus RT-AC68U can live with it having managed greatly improved speeds of 74.4MBps (595.2Mbps), 64.3MBps (514.4Mbps) and 41.2MBps (329.6Mbps) in a fresh round of testing following several firmware updates since our initial review back in early September (original review updated).

To put this in perspective these speeds are approaching figures we saw from NAS with wired Gigabit Ethernet connections only last year.

EA6900 2.4GHzAnd yet proportionately these figures are blown away by what the EA6900 produced from our 802.11n 5GHz tests. Its performance at 2m and 10m nearly doubles what we had previously seen from many routers, while only the RT-AC68U was able to stay within two thirds of its speed at 15m.

Other routers all failed to hit double figures, despite being tested at 13m – this includes Linksys’ previous flagship, the EA6700.

Lastly the EA6900’s 802.11n 2.4GHz performance was also hugely impressive. As mentioned, the RT-AC68U and its Turbo QAM support actually managed to top the EA6900 at 15m, but the EA6900 inches ahead at 10m. At 2m the EA6900 really shows off being 20 per cent faster than the RT-AC68U and nearly 70 per cent faster than other 802.11ac routers we’ve tested. This is great for legacy hardware and shows that AC1900 routers currently stand significantly from the pack.

Lastly, we come to USB performance, a notably weak spot of Linksys routers in the past. Linksys has gone a long way to rectifying this with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 speeds of 16.7MBps (133.6Mbps) and 12.5MBps (119.2Mbps) speeds respectively. This puts it right beside the best speeds we’ve seen from the Asus routers that have dominated this category but, while some way ahead of the rest, it doesn’t quite top them. USB 3.0 also remains a curious novelty for now, often slower in tests (the claim has been made it causes interference), and with speeds on both nowhere near USB 2.0’s limit.

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Should I buy the Linksys EA6900?

With this level of performance the answer is clearly ‘yes’, but the final cherry on top is Linksys has broken from type with aggressive pricing. The EA6900 has an RRP of £169.99, which makes it far from an impulse buy, but that is £20 less than the Asus RT-AC68U and within £10-20 of other premium AC1750 routers.

Furthermore, Linksys debuted the EA6700 at £169.99 originally, which shows it is making a conscious effort to cap pricing. How this will affect the rest of the Linksys range remains to be seen, but they are all left eating the EA6900’s dust.

In fact there are only two caveats we can find with the EA6900 and neither are directly its fault. The first is that getting the very best 802.11n speeds out of it requires a Turbo QAM compatible WiFi adaptor and they won’t be plentiful until into 2014. Secondly, Netgear’s AC1900 rival, the R7000 ‘Nighthawk’, will launch in the UK before the end of the year. Some will want to see it in action before making their pick, though Netgear’s UI is traditionally a weak point, especially compared to Smart WiFi.

Verdict

The EA6900 sets new performance benchmarks for us in virtually every test and won most by significant margins. The Linksys EA6900 also looks great and remains wall mountable, unlike many routers which have moved to vertically standing form factors. Smart WiFi is a fantastic differentiator and the price, while undoubtedly premium, still offers real value for money compared with the competition. It's a class act.

Next, read our round-up of the 10 best routers currently available

Overall Score

10

Scores In Detail

  • Build Quality 9
  • Design 9
  • Features 10
  • Performance 10
  • Usability 10
  • Value 8

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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