In today’s lifestyle of hyper-connectivity, prosumers all over the world are demanding a higher quality product for their WiFi needs. In my home alone, there are four cell phones, seven computers, two gaming consoles, and two tablets all competing for WiFi bandwidth. Ever since our kids got Minecraft, our router needs have skyrocketed. Whilst playing on servers, or even hosting LAN parties, our household has anywhere from 1-4 players on Minecraft at any given moment. On top of that, we are a stream-happy family. The kids stream some of their lessons, such as art history, and Facebook (much to my chagrin) has started automatically streaming video when it comes across the feed.
The amount of data going to and from this home is outrageous, and we have overloaded our last two routers so many times, we’ve been forced to upgrade to a powerhouse of connectivity. Our solution has been the Linksys WRT 1900 AC. This is a clear recreation of the early 2000s WRT, complete with nostalgia-inducing looks. It was a bit of an experience, though, as Jenny and I are not networking gurus.
Our first (pleasant) surprise was the Media Prioritization feature on Lynksyssmartwifi.com. This feature allows the network administrator to prioritize up to three computers, and specific programs, letting you get the connectivity to go where you want it when it’s especially important (like when I’m completing living world events in Guild Wars, because what’s the point of powerful connections if you can’t game like a boss?). This also means that our son’s habit of learning more about Minecraft by watching YouTube videos will no longer be such a drain on the performance of our other devices. Don’t get me wrong: YouTube playlists are amazing, but streaming video just to listen to a great playlist? Not the best use of the entire family’s bandwidth.
Our first hang-up was network cables. We’ve been using Ethernet over twisted-pair cables for years. Our current cables are eight years old. Obviously, such an outdated cable cannot handle the 4 gigabit tech, so we had to upgrade our cables. All of them. Result? Totally worth it. The router functioned just fine with the older cables, but with the new ones we saw a notable difference in speed. We were bowled over. Before getting this router, we never knew that up-to-date cables was such a huge factor in networking. Now we know better (but seriously, duh). Using the router’s testing methods, we found that updating our cables gave a more-than-noticeable boost to upload and download speeds. And that’s with our generic cable ISP. If we had fiber or other power-speed connections, I still probably couldn’t use enough data to bother this router.
Our second great surprise? Parental control features. Don’t want the kid to stay up all night watching YouTube videos? Set their device(s) to have restricted connections during certain times of the day. This won’t keep them from switching to something off-line, but the “OMG must do it now” mentality of gaming and the “just one more” video watching habits will be nipped in the bud.
The WRT 1900 also comes standard with four antennae, which are removable so that they may be upgraded at a later date. These antennae can be oriented in different directions, allowing a better coverage for the home wifi system. Unfortunately, the router cannot optimize all four at once, still utilizing the 3×3 format. Belkin has hinted at significant compatible upgrades which may come sometime this summer though, so we may see higher performance at that time.
As far as practical use goes, we are still swooning over the maximum number of connected devices. With a maximum of 155 devices connected at any time, we will never have to worry about how many devices we are using at once. This is a critical feature for us, since (as of this post) we have a whopping 20 devices connected to the network. Thankfully, most of them are passive, such as the gaming consoles, and don’t affect the speed at all times. With a guest network cap of 50 users, we also don’t have to worry about how many people are using the guest network. I just made a card with the appropriate information on it, and guests can connect at their leisure.
To test our connectivity, we turned on everything. Literally everything. With twenty devices running a high bandwidth program, we saw little strain on the network. We had devices running Guild Wars 2, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Spotify, and Pandora. The only time we had hiccups is when we ran several on the same devices, which can be attributed to processor needs, rather than connectivity limitations.
The best part? This easy-to-install router has the best speeds of ANY router I’ve ever come across.
The worst part? The high costs associated. At $249.99, this is one of the more expensive routers on the market. Thankfully, the network cables are being practically given away by Belkin.
Take away? Totally worth it. Serious bang for your buck means that installing this router will mean you won’t need to upgrade for a very long time.
Note: I received a sample for review purposes.