Introduction and performance
The XAC1900 is almost identical to the EA6900, and is basically a small update to this previous model from Linksys, with an average retail price of £199 (around $299, AU$385). The main unit looks exactly the same, with its flat silver and dark grey chassis, and three short, stubby external antennas. The only real change is the addition of an included DSL modem in the XAC1900.
Linksys has taken a quite novel approach though, building the modem into the external power supply unit, rather than just adding a port to the router itself. This makes sense for the firm's business model, as it slightly reduces manufacturing costs. They make physically identical hardware, half of which are destined to be EA6900 units, and the other half are XAC1900 units, with the supplied modem.
There's a potential practical benefit too. The power unit lies on the floor positioned slightly further from the modem, so you'll have a bit more room for manoeuvre when connecting the modem to your phone socket.
Inside the XAC1900 is a dual-core processor which worked very well with the EA6900, but with the XAC1900 a few pages are a bit slow to load.
It has a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port on the back, four gigabit Ethernet ports and an internet port, which either connects to the external modem, or to a cable device, so the XAC1900 can be used with any type of connection.
Linksys' software allows for the usual local use, but also lets you manage the router remotely, which might be useful if you're adjusting another device on your network and need to open ports, for example.
The same widget-based UI system seen on other Linksys routers is used here to good effect. On the front page you can control the guest network or parental controls, check the internet connection status and look at external storage. The display of your wireless password right on the front page is a handy addition, surely one of the main reasons many people might log in to a wireless router's software.
Most of the usual functions are included. It's a dual-band model, so outputs both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks, and it allows media prioritisation, a fancy term for QOS settings, plus there's a decent drag-and-drop interface to manage it.
The XAC1900 performs admirably, although some modern 802.11ac routers I've tested recently really push the limits of 802.11ac performance.
Here are the results for this model:
Linksys XAC1900 802.11n 2.4GHz Wireless Performance (client to server)
- One metre: 157 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 74 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 67 Mbit/sec
Linksys XAC1900 802.11n 2.4GHz Wireless Performance (server to client)
- One metre: 160 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 105 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 85 Mbit/sec
Linksys XAC1900 802.11n 5GHz Wireless Performance (client to server)
- One metre: 331 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 89 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 87 Mbit/sec
Linksys XAC1900 802.11n 5GHz Wireless Performance (server to client)
- One metre: 339 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 281 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 253 Mbit/sec
Linksys XAC1900 802.11ac Wireless Performance (client to server)
- One metre: 441 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 259 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 186 Mbit/sec
Linksys XAC1900 802.11ac Wireless Performance (server to client)
- One metre: 570 Mbit/sec
- Five metres: 520 Mbit/sec
- Ten Metres: 440 Mbit/sec
Both of those models cost less than the XAC1900, so while the majority of the router's main functions are absolutely solid, the performance lets it down somewhat.
The Linksys XAC1900 boasts an impressive feature set, and comes with a DSL modem included over and above the EA6900. This means the XAC1900 can handle both your home wireless network and manage your internet connection, potentially replacing two devices with one. It also has a useful mobile app, and the software lets you manage the router remotely.
Unfortunately, times have moved on since the EA6900 hit the shelves, and 802.11ac is now more mature, with many affordable alternative routers on the market which the new XAC1900 now struggles against in terms of performance. Linksys really needed to have pitched this device at a more competitive price point given its performance figures. It's also worth noting that performance is also sluggish at times in the router's user interface.
The XAC1900 is a smart enough router with a solid design and feature set, but there's a definite issue with the price tag. If Linksys was selling the XAC1900 for less, it would appear more impressive and I could forgive the middling performance, but at its full retail price, the simple truth is that competitors offer better performing models.