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Linksys EA6900 Wireless AC Router SMART Wi-Fi Dual Band AC1900 Reviewed

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Wireless AC Router SMART Wi-Fi Dual Band AC1900
At a glance
ProductLinksys EA6900 Wireless AC Router SMART Wi-Fi Dual Band AC1900   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based AC1900 class router with Gigabit ports, USB 2.0 & USB 3.0 drive and printer sharing and optional cloud features
Pros• USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports
• High routing throughput
Cons• Guest network for 2.4 GHz only
• Doesn't function as a wireless bridge or support WDS
• Poor 2.4 GHz performance
• USB sharing problems

Typical Price: $170  Check NewEgg  Check Amazon

Introduction

My AC1900 First Look: NETGEAR R7000 & ASUS RT-AC68U has been a popular read since it posted about two weeks ago. Since then, ASUS still hasn't delivered a driver for its PCE-AC68U card that enables TurboQAM and its firmware remains a work in progress. NETGEAR, on the other hand, seems content to stand pat with its first firmware.

I still haven't gotten around to testing the TurboQAM feature of any of these three routers and frankly, I'm in no big hurry to do so for the reasons I described in AC1900: Innovation or 3D Wi-Fi?. I'll probably do a separate article covering all three, once things have settled down and Broadcom and ASUS get their TurboQAM client-side acts together. So, please note this review of Linksys' EA6900 tests it as an AC1750 router.

Linksys has stuck with the basic look of its other EA series routers for the 6900. The main differences are the three external, upgradeable (RP-SMA) dual-band antennas. The Cisco logo has finally been banished, replaced by a bright white Linksys.

Linksys EA6900 front panel callouts

Linksys EA6900 front panel callouts

All link activity lights have been banished to the back panel and integrated into the Ethernet jacks. Unfortunately, this means there are no wireless indicators of any kind. Both USB jacks (2.0 and 3.0) are nestled next to the WAN port. (The one with the blue insert is 3.0; it's not labeled.)

Linksys EA6900 rear panel callouts

Linksys EA6900 rear panel callouts

The EA6900 is designed to sit flat on a table or desk. If you want to hang it in a wall, there are mounting slots on the bottom side. But they are at the left side of the router, so it will hang with all connections pointing right.

There is a user manual posted on the EA6900's support page. It describes the main router admin features using a How To approach. Less experienced users may find this more helpful than the usual describe-the-screenshot "What"-centric approach taken by most router manuals.

One thing you won't find in the user manual is any mention of the SimpleTap easy-connect feature. Since there was no SimpleTap card in the box either, it looks like this feature has been relegated to the seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time pile.

Following the trend adopted by many new routers, the EA6900's installation doesn't require running a CD. (Oddly, there is one in the box, but it contains only a user guide that you can download anyway.) All you need to do is plug in your modem cable, power it up and try to hit the internet with a browser. You'll get redirected to a setup wizard that will get you up and running in no time.

Inside

Like NETGEAR and ASUS, Linksys has also temporarily suppressed the inside photos in its FCC filings. So I opened it up after testing to find a design an interesting mix of the NETGEAR's and ASUS designs.

The most notable finding is that the EA6900 uses the Broadcom BCM4708A. This leaves the NETGEAR Nighthawk as the only AC1900 router using the 1 GHz Broadcom BCM4709A. The key components for all three routers are summarized in Table 1 below.

Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 (Nighthawk) ASUS RT-AC68U
CPU Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
Switch In BCM4708A in BCM4709A In BCM4708A
RAM 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
Flash 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz Power Amp marked 397 649e 230(x3)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- SiGE 5023L 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Table 1: Component summary

Here's a look at the top of the EA6900 board with its RF covers removed so you can see the two BCM4360 radios. Both radios have the same outboard Skyworks 2.4 and 5 GHz amplifiers used in the Nighthawk.

Linksys EA6900 board top

Linksys EA6900 board top

All three routers use dual-band external antennas that require combining the two radios' RF before they hit the antennas. But Linksys keeps the two radios completely separated instead of putting them all into a single compartmentalized RF enclosure as ASUS and NETGEAR did.

There are a few more internal photos in the gallery below. The EA6900 has the least amount of heatsinking of the three AC1900 designs.

For easy comparison, here is the NETGEAR Nighthawk gallery

And the ASUS RT-AC68U gallery.




Related Items:

Linksys Announces AC1900 Router
AC1900 Router Wireless Retest
TRENDnet TEW-818DRU AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router Reviewed
Is AC1900 Worth It?
AC1900 Router Retest Redux

User reviews

Average user rating from: 4 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
3.9 Features :
 
3.8 Performance :
 
4.0 Reliability :
 
4.0
 
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Turbo qam does not work on this router

Overall rating: 
 
3.3
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by eddie
November 04, 2014
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The setup was easy but after that problems. Basically I got it on sale for 180 at sams's club. I also ordered the asus pce-ac56 for my pc. After I got everything setup I noticed my link rate was stuck at 300Mbps. I called asus and after trouble shooting it was determined that the router was stuck at 20MHz and turboqam was not turned on.

I called linksys and there was no way to force the 2.4GHz radio into 40MHz only an auto setting. The tech support didn't even know about the turboqam feature. Finally they told me there was no setting to enable turboqam either. This router is ac1900 in name only and a huge waste of money. At best it's a ac1600 router. I was using firmware 1.1.42.161129 the latest I could find.

The asus pce-ac56 worked like a dream. Using the ea6900 alone I had 3 bars in my man cave but after installing the pce-ac56 it was a solid 5 bars. My ping time also went from 22-29 to 4-7 range. I will say that the ea6900 did improve my video playback from my nas to my ps3. Before on wifi using DLNA. Movies use to stutter badly at AVC rates over 12Mbps. Now I have seen AVC rates hit over 20Mbps it does stutter around 25Mbps with AAC 5.1 sound briefly.
I am ordering the Linksys AC Media Connector (WUMC710) that should fix the issues. The ea6900 also handled everything no problem. I have two smart tv's/6 smart phones/3 laptops/1 pc/1 nas/2 ps3's,xbox one/ps4/printer and a xbox 360 hooked up with no issues. I gave my nas/pc and psn priority. I never used the guest networks.
I have not used the usb ports only plugged in a usb stick and they worked. The ethernet ports are very fast. When I sent a movie file to my nas using my laptop hooked up hardwire I got a 8 gig movie done in under 30 seconds. The smartphone app worked good for both ios and andriod. Lastly there is NO 3rd party firmware for this router either.

I will be taking this back and getting the netgear r7000.

 

Excellent Router

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Kaio
April 16, 2014
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This is an excellent Router. I tested the Asus Rt-Ac68U and Netgear R7000 and Linksys is very good. The main reason is the stability of the router, at the first start there's no lagging or long wait until the config get saved. Also with this router when you change most of the config it does not cut any connection or reboot. I also saw some video on youtube that show any ping loss during a change in the router. The 2,4 ghz is always stable and the 5ghz also if i compare to the other router like Asus or Netgear. The range is also equal or even a little better than the 2 other. Always make sure to use a channel that no other router is on because it can result of some disconnecting. The main reason Linksys is a little better than the 2 other is the stability and all the little things Linksys have than the 2 other lack of. A few example would be like firmware update always take the last one, as Asus it says its already uptodate but on their website its 2 firmware away or when you decide to change your main ip adress on the router Linksys work within secondes as Asus or netgear takes forever and their OS sometimes freeze up. So stability, reliability and performance are top notch.

The bad things about the router is that he is getting hot sometimes when on heavy loads. You will not get problem with this if it’s not in a closed area. Linksys OS is great but lack in term of feature like IPtv or vlan settings like the Asus have. Try the 3 best routers on the market and you will see why other sites who tested the 3 at the same time always take Linksys at the end.
So my Overall rating would be 4 out of 5 because the lack of feature out of the box.

 

Mine works great

Overall rating: 
 
4.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by jgiddyup
January 16, 2014
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Replaced a Cisco EA4200 V1 which was rock solid for two years. This has great range in the 5ghz band and has not needed any tweaking since initial setup 1 month ago.

Streams Make MKV Blu Ray rips without stuttering to two ATV 3's simultaneously without problems (3 made it start to stutter). My network is mostly wired except for laptop/tablet/phone, but I wanted to test it anyway.

Solid purchase for me and if it continues to operate as it has in its first month then I will not need a new router for quite some time.

 

It's ok

Overall rating: 
 
3.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by Marcus Millspaugh
October 29, 2013
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Speeds seemed pretty good and range was pretty good on a horizontal plane. After went up the stairs, I could barely check my email.

 
 

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