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Storage Performance

Now comes the fun part: performance tests. I thought I was prepared to test all three connection flavors—USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and even eSATA—using my standard Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station [SATDOCKU3SEF] with a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive.

However, after multiple attempts with the drive formatted both FAT32 and NTFS, the WRT's USB connection screen kept reporting that the drive had an invalid format. Since I had reported this problem in the EA6900 review, you would think the problem would not carry forward to the WRT1900AC. But apparently it has.

I fell back to successfully using a 500 GB WD My Passport (WDBKXH5000ABK-01) to run tests [NAS test details] with the drive formatted in FAT32 and NTFS and connected to both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. Testing the eSATA port will just have to wait.

Updated 4/15/14: After further experimentation and consulting with Linksys, I discovered a badly formatted drive in the Startech dock was causing my previous failed attempts. It looked ok to Windows' Storage Manager, but it reported an odd mix of filesystem types to the WRT1900AC. I swapped in another WD Velociraptor that did not have the problem and was able to run all tests, including eSATA. The tables have been updated with the new test results.

Table 4 summarizes USB 2.0 performance and includes the WRT1900AC's AC1900 competitors. The WRT1900AC clearly wins in this comparison, with essentially 30 MB/s performance both read and write and both formats.

  Linksys WRT1900AC Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 ASUS RT-AC68U
Processor Marvell MV78230 Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 28.7 14.5 24.8 11.8
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 31.0 21.0 27.8 24.0
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 30.1 17.2 27.9 23.7
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 30.8 21.2 27.9 24.2
Table 4: File copy throughput - USB 2.0 (MBytes/sec)

Switching to USB 3.0 results, the WRT smokes the competition with a 20+ MB/s advantage in all tested modes over the now next-best NETGEAR R7000 Nighthawk. With 60+ MB/s performance, the WRT could comfortably be used instead of a dedicated inexpensive NAS.

  Linksys WRT1900AC Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 ASUS RT-AC68U
Processor Marvell MV78230 Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 61.1 15.6 33.4 11.7*
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 76.5 22.1 57.4 21.6*
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 66.7 17.4 36.8 23.6*
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 75.1 22.4 57.7 24.3*
Table 5: File copy throughput - USB 3.0 (MBytes/sec)
* = "Reducing USB 3.0 interference" setting enabled

Finally, the eSATA results, which are comparable to USB 3.0, for the most part. For those thinking using an SSD would improve these results, forget it. The drive and dock used are capable of testing well over 100 MB/s.

  Linksys WRT1900AC
Processor Marvell MV78230
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 56.0
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 78.0
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 65.3
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 75.8
Table 5a: File copy throughput - eSATA (MBytes/sec)

Routing Performance

Routing throughput was measured using our standard router test process with the router using 1.1.7.160177 firmware. Table 6 summarizes the results and once again includes the Linksys EA6900, NETGEAR R7000 and ASUS RT-AC68U for comparison.

All these routers have plenty of routing throughput, but the WRT1900AC comes in with the lowest total simultaneous throughput. Not that 975 Mbps is that shabby, by any means! The 30,557 simultaneuous connections represent the ever-shifting limit of our test. (BTW, I'd be happy to change the test method for this test, if I could find a reliable one that didn't require test gear costing $100K+!)

Test Description Linksys WRT1900AC Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 ASUS RT-AC68U
WAN - LAN 631 Mbps 923.6 Mbps 931.4 Mbps 754.5 Mbps
LAN - WAN 926 Mbps 844.2 Mbps 941.7 Mbps 824.6 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 975 Mbps 1135.1 Mbps 1378.3 Mbps 1226.8 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 30,557 15,833 38,793 33, 263
Firmware Version V1.1.7.160177 V1.1.42.155232 V1.0.1.22_1.0.15 3.0.0.4.374_205
Table 6: Routing throughput

The IxChariot unidirectional composite plot for the WRT1900AC shows LAN to WAN throughput has a sizable lead over WAN to LAN.

Linksys WRT1900AC routing throughput unidirectional summary

Linksys WRT1900AC routing throughput unidirectional summary

The WRT1900AC simultaneous up/downlink benchmark plot shows a definite preference for LAN to WAN among the widely varying throughput in both directions.

Linksys WRT1900AC routing throughput bidirectional summary

Linksys WRT1900AC routing throughput bidirectional summary

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