When you shop for a new wireless router, it can be a challenge to decide which one will be the best for your home. There are a lot of similarities between competing brands. In fact, all three in this review offer the AC1900 speed standard. All of them are excellent for large homes. Let’s take a look at each one to help you choose the one you need.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000) with Open Source Support
The NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000 is one of the first wireless routers to make use of the Broadcom BCM4360 chipset that is capable of 802.11ac speed on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios. Of course, to get the maximum rated throughput of 600Mbps, you’ll need a wireless client capable of 802.11ac as well as 40MHz bandwidth.
What does all that mean? If you’re buying this router to replace an AC1750 model, it may not be worth the upgrade unless you also have a corresponding wireless card that can get that blazing fast speed, too. But if this is your first wireless router, it’s a great choice, and hopefully a way to be ready for upcoming technology for a few years.
The Nighthawk R7000 is compatible with a wide range of mobile devices (a/b/g/n/ac) on two bands so you can use both older and newer devices to get online. Plus, you can hardwire your TV, game consoles, Apple TV or PC into one of the 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports.
If you want to backup your files over your home network, the Nighthawk R7000 comes ready for both Windows PCs and Apple’s Time Machine. To surf safely and anonymously, use the OpenVPN connect app that’s already part of the software, too. Plus, NETGEAR includes their Kwilt program that makes it simple to view and share Facebook and Instagram photos online.
Plug in a printer to the USB 2.0 port and use the R7000 as a print server so you can print from any device, not just your computer. Connect an external hard drive or flash drive to the USB 3.0 port and stream your movies and music all over your home.
NETGEAR’s three internal and three (removable) antennas plus their Beamforming technology help your home wireless signal stay strong through floors and walls. Their SmartConnect automatically selects the fastest connection for each device. The QoS (Quality of Service) lets you decide which type of transmissions have priority, such as gaming over surfing.
In conclusion, if you have the right hardware on your mobile clients as well as a fast enough Internet connection from your Internet provider, you can enjoy up to 600Mbps + 1300Mbps speeds with the Nighthawk AC1900 router.
More features of the NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 wireless router:
- NETGEAR offers a 1-year warranty on hardware
- Free basic tech support for 90 days
- NETGEAR Genie phone and tablet app to manage settings
- Guest Network plus double firewall protection against intrusions
- Supports WEP, WPA, WPA/WPA2-PSK
Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Smart Wi-Fi Wireless AC Router (2.4 + 5GHz) – (Certified Refurbished)
The Linksys WRT1900AC wireless router makes use of the same Broadcom BCM4360 chipset capable of 802.11ac speed on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios. This means it is capable of 600Mbps plus 1300Mbps speeds on its 2.4Ghz and 5.0GHz radios (hence the AC1900 designation).
Like the NETGEAR Nighthawk, this Linksys router supports both old and new devices with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac. It offers four Gigabit Ethernet ports to hardwire in a computer, TV, game console, Roku, or Apple TV. There are also USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports for a printer and external hard drive.
But it has one unique feature that the other two routers in this review don’t have: an eSATA port to connect an eSATA external hard drive. It’s shared with the USB 2.0 port, but it’s much faster than USB 2.0.
While the other routers allow you to set up a Guest Network for visitors, this router handles up to 50 separate Guest Network connections. Parental Controls allow for filtering access to sites online and limiting hours of usage.
As for ease of use, the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app makes controlling router settings super simple on either Android phones or iPhone. You don’t even need to be inside your home to manage things.
More features of the Linksys WRT1900AC wireless router:
- Won PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award
- 4 external antennas are detachable
- 90-day warranty on refurbished routers
ASUS (RT-AC68U) Wireless-AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router, AiProtection with Trend Micro for Complete Network Security
Finally, we’ll take a look at the ASUS RT-AC68U wireless router. Like the other two described above, it’s based on the Broadcom BCM4360 chipset, so it’s capable of 802.11ac speed on both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios. This means it is capable of 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz radio plus 1300Mbps on the 5.0GHz radio as long as it has 40MHz bandwidth and the wireless client has the right hardware, too.
With its powerful signal and three external antennas, the RT-AC68U is great for large homes. It supports connecting just about any mobile device, even older ones, because it handles 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards and WEP, WPA, WPA/WPA2-PSK, WPA/WPA2-Enterprise, and WPS. The WPS is handy because it’s the one-button-push way to connect some devices like printers.
Speaking of printers, you can plug one into the USB 2.0 port and print to it over your home network. Use the USB 3.0 port to attach an external hard drive or pen drive to backup files and share them.
ASUS includes software for streaming multimedia files like music and films. The RT-AC68U is ready for Time Machine backups, too. It comes with client and server software for a variety of VPN setups including PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN.
If you have another wireless router at home, you can use the RT-AC68U to extend the other router’s range or create an access point or media bridge.
More features of the ASUS RT-AC68U wireless router:
- ASUS offers a warranty based on the region of purchase
- 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports to wire in a Smart TV, game console, and more
- Guest Network and Parental Controls available
- Trend Micro software for network protection
One way to choose between these three popular wireless routers is based on their available ports. All of them have USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, but only the Linksys WRT1900AC has an eSATA port for an external hard drive.
Another consideration is VPN support. The ASUS RT-AC68U has the best selection of built-in clients and servers.
Finally, the Kwilt software bundled with the NETGEAR R7000 can help you organize, share, and enjoy the thousands of digital photos you probably have scattered across several devices.