Please note that I received this router from Linksys in exchange for my honest feedback. Again, I received this router from Linksys in exchange for my feedback and review.
The Linksys Max-Stream AC1900 EA7500 router is a dual-band Wi-Fi router, allowing operation at 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz represented as two separate Wi-Fi connections. It says on the back of the box that the 2.4 GHz channel can reach up to 600 Mbps whereas the 5.0 GHz channel can reach up to 1300 Mbps. Together, they can reach up to 1.9 Gbps combined. It's coverage is optimal for mid-sized households, and it can connect up to 12 devices without lag or buffering. It's dual-core CPU at 1.4 GHz allows for fast transfer speeds, and with the Smart Wi-Fi access, you can control your router from anywhere.
I write this review today after spending some time setting up the router and running some tests with it. To be clear, I'm comparing this against my old VDSL router, which hosts 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity at the 2.4 GHz band. The equipment inside the box includes the router, AC adapter, three antennas, a very short Ethernet Cable, a CD-rom, and a quickstart guide.
For the initial setup, it really was rather simple. I just disconnected my old router, attached the antennas, turned on the power, and plugged in the internet cable. Following the instructions for the smart-WIFI setup, it was easy to open my browser and set up the admin password. The physical properties of the router were a great leap forward compared to my old router, given that the AC1900 has three antennas and an actual off switch. I am glad that it has a switch. My old router lacked one. This was the first time I set up my own network, and the experience wasn't nerve-wracking. The antennas were easy to attach, though when I tried to adjust the black
part, the terminal that attaches to the router twisted loose as well, so I had to twist it back in tightly. Make sure they're securely fastened before adjusting the black antennas. The CD-rom does not contain software. Rather, it holds only PDFs of the user guide and other important legal information such as warranty. The user guide just gives an overview of the router, basics of setting up, how to use the Smart Wi-Fi, and basic troubleshooting. It doesn’t go in depth into the hardware specifics, but it does come in dozens of languages from Russian to Chinese, which is nice.
LinkSys Smart WiFi Dashboard:
Viewing the Smart WiFi dashboard was rather interesting. I can get there by following the instructions in the quickstart guide by going to LinksysSmartWiFi.com or by typing in the IP address. After I configured my router, I was able to get on to the dashboard, and I was amazed at the various features. The dashboard allowed me to view the devices connected to the router and their relative signal strength for each channel. I really liked how the options allowed me to do lots of stuff with the router, such as prioritizing devices, adding external storage for sharing amongst the devices connected to the router, parental controls, etc. There are so many features here, and it's hard to list them all. I especially like how you can fine-tune each Wi-Fi connection to allow only a specific Wi-Fi protocol, specify a specific channel frequency, and increase the channel bandwidth.
One issue I have is with the Smart Home Wi-Fi dashboard's speedtest. I couldn't get it to work. It says that it requires Adobe Flash 8, and I have Adobe Flash Player 21 enabled in my browser. However, it couldn't detect it even with two different browsers. Nevertheless, this wasn't a big deal to me. Another issue is that I need to be connected to the internet to access the dashboard to adjust my router settings, whether wireless or not. Luckily, when I try to access the dashboard, I can either log in with my Linksys Smart Wi-Fi account or I can access my router using the password I set up. This is helpful in trying to change settings to one or many devices.
I tested this router by running a speedtest using Ookla at various locations in my house and using an app on my phone to check the signal strength for connectivity issues. Range wise, at the far end of my house, I was approaching around -70 dBm at 2.4 GHz and -80 to -83 dBM at the 5.0 GHz channel. Using Ookla Speedtest, the results varied, but I managed to get around a 1.3x to 5.5x speedup compared to my old router. This test wasn't the most accurate, but it did show that the new router was better. On the 5.0 GHz channel, I got up to 47 Mbps, so that was very surprising. However, I was surprised to learn that the speedtest through one of the Ethernet ports was slower than my old router. I was getting up to 19.76 Mbps whereas with my old router, I got 49 Mbps for download rates. My family uses only Wi-Fi, due to the router placement, so this isn't a big issue.
However, as time went by, I found some quirks with it that I would like to address. While the 5 GHz channel is very fast, it's important that you take the time to figure out what hardware is compatible with 5 GHz. I thought my family's game system would be able to connect to the 5 GHz channel, but it wasn't rated for it. In another instance, Chromecast uses 802.11n at 2.4 GHz only, which forced my devices to also be on the same 2.4 GHz channel for it to work. Be sure to understand what channel each device uses. It would help if there was a guide on the CD-ROM explaining the different Wi-Fi protocols and how to determine what your device has.
The next issue is the range of the signals. I had to do some research due to my unfamiliarity of the difference between the two frequencies to learn that 5 GHz is rated for a shorter distance than 2.4 GHz. Having the router placed on the first floor of the house caused some issues to happen at rooms on the second floor. My family’s Wi-Fi devices worked fine at 2.4 GHz. They claimed that the new router lets them have speeds just as fast as 4G-LTE, which was a big improvement over my old router. However, for me, being situated at approximately 60 feet from the router, I have connectivity issues. The 5.0 GHz channel is out of range, reaching at most 19 Mbps while the 2.4 GHz channel reaches at best 104 Mbps and 54 Mbps on average. As I tried to browse the internet on the 2.4 GHz channel, some web pages wouldn't load like Yahoo and Google. I found that performing a reboot on the router made the connection better, and I got a 9.06 Mbps download speed which is a 3x improvement over my old router. I believe the lesson here is to reboot your router every time you make a change to your settings and when you first configure your router.
This brings up my next issue: switching between the two channels. It's a bit confusing and troublesome, but when switching between channels, I have to disconnect from the old channel before switching to the new channel. Once I am not connected via Wi-Fi to any channel, I can switch to the other channel. Normally, I would just double click on the channel SSID, but it can't switch automatically. Whenever I tried to do so, it just tells me that it can't connect. It's not a deal breaker, but it's something to be aware of.
Overall, the router is a step-up from my family's old router. Having one band for 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz is good to have, though research must be done for each device’s Wi-Fi capabilities to get the most out of your router. The overall speedup shows that the router is much faster than my old one. However, be aware of range issues with the router, though the issue can hopefully be resolved by rebooting. I highly recommend this router for the average household as well as tech enthusiasts and first-time buyers. Once again, this is a reminder that I received this router from Linksys in exchange for my honest feedback of the product.