Linksys is back and with the helpful hand of Belkin is now returning to the form that made the company famous. Their new WRT1900AC router is the best device of its class we have seen yet, and it has even more potential lurking in the case.
I will be the first to admit that I had no idea Belkin bought Linksys from Cisco’s neglectful oversight last spring, but if the WRT1900AC is an indication of the future it is a good thing. This router is really different from everything else you have seen in the class not to mention being open for modifications. In short it looks like the spiritual successor to the old WRT54G that made them famous.
It may be big but it is powerful
First off the Linksys WRT1900AC stands out from the pack by running a very unexpected CPU, an Intel Atom. Yes this is an x86 router running at 1.2Ghz but unfortunately the Belkin staff didn’t have specifics about the CPU at the time. Given the Silvermont architecture the core count will be a multiple of two, and this is likely the first Rangley Avoton to break cover. SemiAccurate will post the details if we get more specifics. RAM is a generous 4Gb so it shouldn’t choke on lots of open sockets like lesser devices.
Update Jan 8, 2014: It is not an Intel Atom in the WRT1900AC, it is a 1.2GHz ARM of one sort or other. We misheard the Belkin spokesperson in the noisy hall we were in, sorry about that.
Connected to Rangley is a Broadcom 802.11AC radio so this is a 3×3 MIMO rig. If you did the math you might notice there are four antennas but only three channels so something is a bit odd. In this case that difference of one is a good thing, the WRT1900AC will pick the best three antennas at any given time and use them. It is a very cheap way to get better signals in a noisy environment, and quite clever too. Better yet the router is dual band 2.4 and 5GHz simultaneously, not either/or.
On the back of the device there are four GbE ports, a GbE WAN port, USB3, a combo USB2/eSATA, reset, reboot, power plug, and an off switch. In short it has everything you would expect plus a few nice features aimed at tinkerers. What would that be? How about running DD-WRT for an OS and not locking anything down? Yes it looks like Belkin actually understands what the word “open” means and why. Yay!
Last up is a nuance of the design, notice the rather odd angled top and the high feet that you can’t see above? The idea is that WRT1900ACs stack nicely with a line of companion products that aren’t talked about yet. You can picture how a switch, storage box, and other useful home or SMB products would literally fit right in here.
Belkin would not say exactly when the WRT1900AC will launch but did give April as the intended launch month with beta testing starting fairly soon. The router will run for $299 which may sound like a lot until you consider the specs and the very high quality construction. Between that and the open nature of the software stack, sign me up to buy the first one. If you lament the cheap crap currently sold as routers, the Linksys WRT1900AC just might be the box you were hoping for.S|A
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