THE LINKSYS XAC1900 is quite a large router, which is not unusual for an 802.11ac device. Its size was still a surprise considering the ADSL2+ modem is separate from the main router and is integrated into the power brick. The router has three replaceable antennas, and there are mounting points on its base if you want to attach it to a wall.
The large power brick modem connects to your telephone line as well as a power socket and your router via the WAN port. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet ports. Thanks to the WAN port you can also use the XAC1900 purely as a wireless router, without using the ADSL2+ modem function; useful if you find yourself changing from an ADSL internet service provider to a cable or fibre service.
There are two USB ports on the back of the router, one of which is USB3. These ports can be used for sharing external storage across the network over SMB or FTP, and you can also create a DLNA media server to stream media files to compatible devices such as tablets or set-top boxes. You can also connect a printer to one of the USB ports and add it to your local network. You’ll need to install Linksys’s printer-sharing utility on each connected computer and you may have to install your printer’s drivers manually. After going through this process our Samsung Xpress C1810W laser printer worked perfectly.
Setup is easy thanks to Linksys’s easy-tounderstand web interface. Unlike some of the company’s other routers, the XAC1900 lets you create a guest network on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and you can limit the number of devices that connect to each. The XAC1900 can broadcast simultaneously on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and both networks have a default password set up straight out of the box. The 2.4GHz band has a theoretical throughput of 600Mbit/s, while the 5GHz band’s maximum is 1,300Mbit/s.
While other router might struggle on the congested 2.4GHz band, the XAC1900 showed excellent speeds when tested with our test laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor. On 2.4GHz at 10m we saw 64.8Mbit/s, which is one of the best results we’ve seen. This dropped to 24.8Mbit/s at 25m, which is still well above average. Switching to 5GHz, we saw speeds of 167.8Mbit/s at 10m and 104.9Mbit/s at 25m, again some of the best speeds we’ve seen.
The router also impressed once we switched to Linksys’s WUSB6300 Wireless-AC USB3 adaptor (£37 inc VAT from www.ebuyer. com). With the router in 802.11n mode we saw speeds of 195.7Mbit/s at 10m and a huge 181.8Mbit/s at 25m. The router wasn’t quite so far ahead of the pack in 802.11ac mode, where we saw 209.7Mbit/s at 10m, but a 25m score of 181.6Mbit/s puts the XAC1900 among the best routers we’ve tested. The Linksys XAC1900 has excellent performance whether you use your laptop’s integrated adaptor or a Linksys USB model. If you want a router with a built-in modem and the ultimate in performance and don’t mind spending a packet, it’s a great choice.