Illustration of man confused over two routers

Linksys WRT1900AC vs WRT1900ACS

Linksys happens to be one of the most respected companies that deals with networking equipment, and specifically wireless routers. In fact, more than once, Linksys has been able to make history by facilitating the introduction of open source firmware. Basically, their routers (like the popular WRT54G) allowed users to load custom firmware on them. This allowed them to fine-tune the routers in a way they deem ideal.

However, after the success of the WRT54G, Linksys has been keen on creating routers that give their users the sense of control that they need. Two such routers to have equally made headlines were the Linksys WRT1900AC and the Linksys WRT1900ACS.

From their names, it is easy to infer that the two are from the same family. Beyond that, people find it hard to know which one would be ideal for them and why. Both routers aren’t what we would typically call “new”. Linksys introduced the WRT1900AC in 2014 while the WRT1900ACS came in a year later.

Even though people had fallen in love with the WRT54G before the WRT1900AC hit the market, everybody instantly turned attention to the WRT1900AC. It was both visually appealing and powerful for a router in its class.

In 2015, the WRT1900ACS followed and people believed it was a slight improvement over the WRT1900AC. Linksys did not really focus on the router’s maximum speed since the WRT1900ACS also had the same maximum speed as the WRT1900AC (1900Mbps).

However, Linksys had bumped up other aspects of the WRT1900ACS’s hardware that made it more superior. This included installing a 512MB RAM chip on it rather than sticking with the 256MB RAM that powered the WRT1900AC. The processor architecture, on the other hand, remained the same, but Linksys improved on the clock speed to a new final value of 1.6GHz.

Similarities Between the Linksys WRT1900AC vs WRT1900ACS

As we had earlier mentioned, both of these routers look visually similar. They both have the same number of antennas and include the same peripheral ports too. Since their boxes usually indicate their maximum speeds first, one could also easily assume that they perform the same since both have maximum speeds of 1900Mbps. Both have USB 3.0 ports which was wise on Linksys’ part because it made these routers relevant even in 2019.

In addition, they all have four Gigabit Ethernet ports and an additional eSATA which makes it convenient to attach your SATA hard drive to. Since both are open source ready, you also get to choose which custom firmware you wish to install on them. Since they support the 802.11AC standard, you can squeeze from them as much performance as you would like because their hardware lets you do that and much more. You can also swap most of their detachable components with each other.

Differences Between the Linksys WRT1900AC vs WRT1900ACS

The two notable differences between the two routers lie in the hardware – RAM and CPU. The WRT1900AC has a CPU with a clock speed of 1.2GHz while the WRT1900ACS has a clock speed of 1.6GHz, and this obviously makes the WRT1900ACS more powerful of the two in terms of processing power.

For Linksys routers, such a difference can be huge mainly because their routers allow you to load custom firmware. So, if the additional 0.4GHz seemed laughable to you, it would be crucial especially when you want to instruct the custom firmware you loaded onto it to handle certain features in your network better. The RAM is equally important, and Linksys packed in twice as much RAM on the WRT1900ACS.

This means that it can be running multiple processes simultaneously and with ease. 512MB on a wireless router that came about in 2015 is something to marvel at.

Linksys WRT AC1900 Dual-Band+ Wi-Fi Wireless Router (WRT1900AC)

Basic features of the Linksys WRT1900AC router
Linksys WRT AC1900 Router (Image courtesy: Linksys)

Because of the wide success of the WRT54G that paved way for custom router firmware, the WRT1900AC also had to be a router of its kind, and Linksys made sure of that. Regarding speed, 1900Mbps might seem low especially when you compare this to the speeds of high-end routers today since they easily go over 3000Mbps. Performance-wise, you can see that Linksys focused on improving hardware, and more specifically the CPU speed and the amount of RAM. During the era of the WRT54G, Linksys hardly commented about the hardware specifications of the router. So, having the WRT1900AC with some decent specifications was a big improvement.

Speed of The WRT1900AC

The WRT1900AC can manage maximum theoretical speeds of 1900Mbps. True, with Gigabit Internet being the craze these days, it would make sense to have a wireless router that is fast enough to give you the performance you deserve. However, in real-world scenarios, you could get about 1300Mbps on this router on the 5GHz band i.e. 802.11AC Wi-Fi standard. As you can see, the WRT1900AC’s day-to-day speeds are still well above the 1Gbps mark, and this means that you can hook it up to a Gigabit internet source and enjoy Gigabit speeds. Its speed is also affected by the processor which happens to be a dual-core processor with a clock speed of 1.2GHz. Such a processor really kicks in when you overload the wireless router as it will handle all users request simultaneously without letting any user on the network suffer.

Performance of The WRT1900AC

Because its speed is impressive, it also goes without saying that its overall performance would also be impressive as well. First off, it has four detachable and high-speed antennas that have been engineered to enhance dual-band Wi-Fi signals. When you consider the fact that it equally has beamforming technology, you can already see why the WRT1900AC is not just any router that you would treat lightly. Beamforming enables the WRT1900AC to direct Wi-Fi signals in the direction that a connected Wi-Fi device is located. As such, it allows you to be physically far away from the router but get the same fast speeds that someone who’s seated next to it gets. Beamforming also makes the router power efficient as it works by broadcasting the Wi-Fi signals in the direction of the device and not just radially.

Pros of The WRT1900AC

  • You can fully customize the WRT1900AC depending on your needs. Since it is open source ready, you can install custom firmware and tweak certain aspects of the wireless router
  • It has an eSATA port which is useful if you intend to use an external hard drive with the router. The eSATA port is much faster than the USB 3.0
  • Beamforming enables the WRT1900AC to transmit wireless signals farther away and in the direction of a connected device
  • It also includes a USB port for those who would want to connect thumb drives on the router

Cons of The WRT1900AC

  • It is an expensive piece of hardware compared to what other manufacturers are offering
  • The availability of the WRT1900ACS makes this router more of a weaker duplicate
  • It is bulky for a wireless router

Best Use for The WRT1900AC

As its power lies in the hardware and not just its ability to transmit wireless signals faster and farther away, the WRT1900AC is suitable for streaming content online and playing online games (both multiplayer and streaming from the cloud). This also makes it ideal for regular everyday use, but because of its high price, there are chances that people might go for cheaper alternatives and forego the many customization features that the WRT1900AC gives them.

Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Open Source Wi-Fi Wireless Router (WRT1900ACS)

The Linksys WRT1900ACS
Linksys WRT 1900ACS Router (Image courtesy: Linksys)

Along the way, we might have dropped several spoilers about what to expect from the WRT1900ACS. On the surface, it is practically similar to the WRT1900AC. The only exception is a bigger RAM and a slightly faster CPU speed. Because of this, it is easy to assume that the WRT1900ACS’ performance and speed are doubled. However, this might not be necessarily true. The real debate lies in how the performance improvements on the WRT1900ACS will make your life better. We will thus be reviewing the different aspects of the WRT1900ACS and then comparing them with that of the WRT1900AC. Afterwards, we will explain how this difference would benefit you in a real-world scenario.

Speed of The WRT1900ACS

The WRT1900ACS is clearly faster of the two. The 1.6GHz dual-core processor coupled with the maximum throughput speed of 1900Mbps makes it more ideal if speed is a big concern to you. However, it is worth pointing out that you will not see a considerable difference in speed. This is true especially if you intend to be an average internet consumer even though you have the WRT1900ACS. As such, this speed is more important if you actually needed that extra power.

This model also gives you at most 1.3Gbps on the 5GHz band and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. You can have many devices on the 5GHz band without fearing that your network will be slower. This is all thanks to the CPU clock speed and RAM capacity. In addition, its 2.4GHz band also outperforms that of many other routers. The secret lies in the WRT1900ACS’ CPU which works on each user request simultaneously. Speed is greatly affected by the speeds your ISP is giving you. So, don’t expect to get the high speeds we’re talking about if your ISP’s speeds are not up to par.

Performance of The WRT1900ACS

The performance of the WRT1900ACS is equally better than that of the WRT1900AC because its hardware is superior. In fact, you are more likely to find the WRT1900ACS faster when it has the same load as the WRT1900AC. It has more room to handle user requests faster and more efficiently. You shouldn’t also forget that this model is backed up by the better CPU and RAM specifications. You thus get more from its high-powered amplifier, and you get even stronger signals. This is thanks to its beamforming technology that we had earlier discussed in the WRT1900AC section.

Users who noticed performance dips in the WRT1900AC will greatly appreciate the WRT1900ACS but up to a specific point only. Of the two, the WRT1900ACS can handle custom firmware better. This is because it gives the firmware a lot of hardware resources to use at its disposal. This means, some features such as VPN are bound to work better on the WRT1900ACS. Despite its prowess with multitasking and its ability to handle bigger loads, you shouldn’t push it over the limits.

Pros of The WRT1900ACS

  • It is a high-performance router
  • It is easy to install
  • It allows custom firmware installation
  • It has a USB 3.0 and an eSATA and USB 2.0 combo port
  • Its superior hardware specifications make it a better choice over the WRT1900AC

Cons of The WRT1900ACS

  • It is also expensive just like the WRT1900AC
  • It is physically large and some users might find it somewhat bulky for a router

Best Use for The WRT1900ACS

The WRT1900ACS is more or less useful in the same areas that the WRT1900AC is. The only difference is that this router would be far more convenient if the WRT1900AC was not serving you adequately.

Why You’re Better with The WRT1900ACS vs The WRT1900AC

You will always be better off with a device that has better hardware specifications. This is why the WRT1900ACS takes the lead here. If you currently own a WRT1900AC, it would be unwise to spend an extra $150 for a “better” router. If you are tech-savvy though, you are probably likely to get the WRT1900ACS even though you currently own the WRT1900AC. An extra 256MB coupled with an additional 0.4GHz are capable of raising eyebrows. With competitors close behind Linksys, it might not be easy to switch from the WRT1900 to the WRT1900ACS. However, if you do, it certainly won’t disappoint.

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