Linksys EA6900 Smart WiFi Wireless AC Router AC1900 review: Powerful hardware plagued by QA issues

The router's USB ports can be used to host a printer or an external hard drive of any capacity. In my trial, unfortunately, its USB 3.0 port didn't recognize any portable drives I tried it with, while the USB 2.0 port worked just fine. This means you can't really take advantage of the faster USB 3.0 speed. When a drive is recognized, you can share its content with other network devices, either via regular file-sharing protocol or streaming. The router supports UPnP and DNLA streaming standards. You can share data to everyone or use a more advanced method in which you can create accounts with access restriction.

The EA6900 has all the other common features and settings found in most new routers, such as IPv6, DynDNS, a firewall, WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption methods, and so on.

Fast performance plagued by overheating
I used two units of the Linksys EA6900 for the reviews and experienced the same consistent performance, as well as issues, with both.

First of all, the Linksys EA6900 is both the fastest and the hottest Wi-Fi router I've seen. In fact, I believe its overheating issue keeps it from being the great router it could potentially be. The router gets hot very quickly after being turned on and during heavy loads, it was actually too hot for me to rest my finger on its underside for longer than a few seconds. During my stress test, in which the router was set to transfer a large amount of data back and forth between multiple Wi-Fi clients, its 5GHz frequency band would cut out by itself after just more than an hour. While I'm not sure why this happened, I assume that was because the router was overheated.

Note that since by default the router comes with two Wi-Fi networks (one for the 2.4GHz band and the other for the 5GHz band) that share the same name and password, most users might not notice the disappearance of the router's 5GHz Wi-Fi network at all. CNET Labs always names two networks with two separate names during testing.

During the period that the router was working well, it was the fastest at close range. When used with compatible 802.11ac clients, at a close range of 15 feet, it offered a sustained speed of 72MBps (or some 550Mbps), the fastest I've seen. When I increased the distance to 100 feet, it still offered 31MBps (or 251Mbps).

CNET Labs 802.11ac performance score (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

When used with regular 802.11n clients on the 5GHz band, the EA6900 registered 208Mbps and 87Mbps for close and long range, respectively.

CNET Labs 5GHz Wireless-N performance score (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Most impressively, on the 2.4GHz, which is the band that benefits the most from the Broadcom TurboQAM Wi-Fi chip, at close range the EA6900 scored 241Mbps, by far the fastest. At 100 feet out, however, it then registered just 96Mbps.

CNET Labs 2.4GHz Wireless-N performance score (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

In all, the router excelled at close range but didn't impress as much further out. It did offer stellar range overall in my testing, comparable to those of the Asus RT-AC68U and the Netgear R7000 with the effective range being some 200 feet away. I was able to pick up its signal much further than that -- up to 300 feet away -- but at over 200 feet, the signal was not strong enough for a reliable Wi-Fi connection.

Note that I tested the router at CNET's offices, where there are walls and many Wi-Fi devices that are out of my control. Generally, walls shorten the reach of a Wi-Fi signal, and other Wi-Fi devices create interference. As with all Wi-Fi routers, your results may vary depending on where you live.

The router passed my 48-hour stress test with no problem on the 2.4GHz band. As mentioned above, its 5GHz band couldn't last for more than a few hours before turning off by itself.

Since I wasn't able to make the router's USB 3.0 port work with any of the portable drives, I used its USB 2.0 port for the storage test. Via a Gigabit connection, the router offered about 14MBps for writing and 14.5MBps for reading. That's fast enough for most casual data sharing and media streaming needs.

CNET Labs NAS performance scores -- via wired Gigabit Ethernet connection (in megabytes per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Seagate Central
Netgear R7000
Asus RT-AC68U
Linksys EA6900
Asus RT-N56U
D-Link DIR-868L
Asus RT-N66U
Asus RT-AC66U

The Linksys EA6900 seems to have to all the requirements for a great router. Unfortunately it fails to deliver due to quality-assurance problems. The router seems to be buggy and not fully tested for the market. Hopefully this will be fixed via future firmware updates. For now, there are many 802.11ac routers on the market that offer similar performance, and better features, but without the issues, at the same or lower prices.

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