This is now the fastest and most fully-featured router to hit the PC&TA Labs, and thus, it goes straight to the A-List. However, prospective buyer’s need to be aware that much of its performance comes via MU-MIMO technology, and that is still rare in devices – where it’s needed to exploit the full potential of this router. To help address that, Linksys has simultaneously released a MU-MIMO USB adaptor (Max-Stream AC600 MU-MIMO Adaptor $59), so you can plug that into your laptop/tablet/whatever and realise speeds up to 700Mbps. There’s also a new MU-MIMO range extender (Max-Stream AC1900+ MU-MIMO Range extender $199).
MU-MIMO allows peak performance for each device in an environment where several devices operate, without compromising other connected devices. To maximise this, Linksys has included two 5GHz bands to compliment the 2.4GHz band. Theoretical peak performance is 2,166Mbps for 5GHz and 1000Mbps for the 2.4GHz band. But even so, in testing with standard non-MU-MIMO devices the Wi-Fi signal was strong almost a hundred meters and three concrete walls away from the router, and the signal was still useable after walking 400 meters down the street. Impressive.
Another nice premium price-justifier is the inclusion of eight Gigabit LAN ports. Almost every other consumer router available has but four.
The interface and setup is reasonably good. We like the media prioritisation mode, allowing easy drag and drop configuring of media devices and their importance in the bandwidth pipeline.
Be aware that this thing is huge. It has the footprint of a 13-inch laptop, and its very large set of eight antennas aren’t easy to ignore.
While mass MU-MIMO support is still slowly edging forward, this is still a stonkingly quick and well featured 802.11ac router. For now, if you can use the twin 5GHz + single 2.4Ghz bands, and have a need for the outstanding range and reception then it’ll serve you well now, and you’re hedged for the future.
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