Talk about two of the giants of the wireless home networking industry.
Linksys and NETGEAR have become synonymous with bringing digital home entertainment to all of your connected devices through the use of the wireless routers.
If you find yourself in the market for one of these feature-packed routers, then you've come to the right place.
The latest wireless technology, labeled as 802.11 ac, is operating on the 5GHz band. You may also hear this referred to as 5G. Wireless routers are always rated at theoretical speeds but theoretically, AC is 3 times faster than the former wireless standard of 802.11 n. It is capable of speeds up to 1300 Mbps. So if you want the fastest router options available then AC is the way to go.
When it comes to smart home integration, both the Linksys and NETGEAR are compatible with Amazon Alexa. In addition, both routers use MIMO technology which stands for multiple input, multiple output. In short, MIMO allows your router to handle communication with multiple devices sending and receiving data at the same time. Your smart home is sure to have a number of devices beyond just your entertainment. In this case, you will want your router to be able to handle as many devices as possible without completely draining your bandwidth.
Before you whip out your credit card though let's take a good look at two of the top wireless routers available today and the features that you need to consider before you buy. Advances in technology are growing faster than we can create acronyms to describe them so shopping for a new router can become a daunting task. So, grab your thesaurus and hold on tight as we explore the powerful world of wireless networking.
The Quickest Route to Buying
If you’ve already reached the point where you might just flip a coin to decide which one to get, here is the short list of reasons to purchase each one.
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router
- Features a sleeker design and less “in your face” color scheme.
- You want dynamic Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize bandwidth to certain devices.
- You want more advanced configuration options.
Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router
- If you want the latest advancements in processors then go with the Linksys.
- Shows slightly better performance and range.
- You want the simplest setup and configuration options.
Key Features - NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router
The Nighthawk series from NETGEAR has established itself as one of the more reliable, multi-purpose routers available. It is more than capable of handling the workload of the modern digital household.
It features ample processing power from its dual-core 1GHz processor. It also has 128 MB of Flash memory and 256 MB of RAM. All of this horsepower results in top transfer speeds of 600 Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1300 Mbps at 5GHz.
This router comes pre-loaded with stock firmware so it will require you to flash DD-WRT onto it if you so desire. This shouldn’t deter you from considering this router as a viable option though. The installation is fairly intuitive and the Nighthawk is a supported model on the DD-WRT website. Just make sure to take your time and follow the instructions to unleash the power of this NETGEAR router.
To manage the bandwidth utilization across multiple devices, the NETGEAR Nighthawk utilizes Dynamic QoS. This stands for Quality of Service and represents the performance seen by the users of the network. With Dynamic QoS, the Nighthawk can prioritize network traffic to ensure uninterrupted streaming of certain applications such as NetFlix.
If you have younger members of your household that are frequently on the Internet then you will enjoy the parental controls feature available with the Nighthawk. Teaming up with Disney, NETGEAR has made the Circle application available with its routers so that you can manage the content available to your family as well as the time they are allowed online. You have the ability to control this by an individual user or by a specific device. You can keep your young children from accessing any device after bedtime or just lock down certain devices that they may want to use after hours such as gaming consoles.
Speaking of gaming, the NETGEAR Nighthawk is a strong choice for a router to take your online gaming to the next level. The combination of the powerful 1GHz processor and the upstream dynamic QoS will make gaming on your Xbox or other gaming consoles an uninterrupted pleasure. By prioritizing content to the gaming console, your online adventures will no longer be slowed down by other devices on the network. The router also utilizes Beamforming+ along with its 3 external antennas to send targeted Wi-Fi to your devices that can improve your mobile speeds by as much as 100%.
With its available USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, you can connect your hard drive directly to your Nighthawk and backup files and precious photos from any device on your network. With the ReadyCLOUD app, you can access these files or photos from anywhere. This gives you your very own simple yet secure cloud storage through your Nighthawk and a connected USB hard drive.
Finally, as the name states, this router comes with the Nighthawk app which allows for easy configuration and management from one convenient source. The user interface is intuitive and offers a variety of features to simplify the ownership of the NETGEAR router. With its lower price point, all of these features make this router an attractive option.
Key Features - Linksys AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router
With three antennas and a professional grade 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, this younger sibling of the WRT3200 model packs plenty of power in its own right. It is more than capable of handling multiple users and multiple devices within your household.
The three antennas work together to give optimal coverage of your homes square footage with the maximum possible signal strength at all times. The router utilizes dual band coverage for 2.4GHz and 5 GHz which takes care of dead spots and avoids spotty coverage areas within your home’s network.
The dual wireless bands can also deliver a lightning fast 1.3 Gbps along with a high-power amplifier that helps transmit the signal in multi-story homes.
This Linksys router utilizes Wireless AC technology and takes advantage of features such as Beamforming. The result is a router that can strengthen the signal to specific devices as opposed to just scattering a broad-based signal. This Linksys model can reduce the interference received from other devices and strengthen the Wi-Fi connections which will allow you to enjoy much faster network speeds.
The WRT1900 also has multiple ports at your disposal. In addition to USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, this router has an eSATA port as well. You can directly connect a SATA storage device or other USB storage device to store important files from multiple network devices. With the direct connection, you will get much better data transfer speeds when storing photos, videos, and other important files.
Specific to DD-WRT capabilities, this model will also require you to flash the firmware to your Linksys router. This is a supported model, so you should be able to accomplish this with relative ease but again be sure to carefully follow the instructions to avoid “bricking” your router.
If you have a larger area to establish your wireless network around you can actually pair one WRT1900 with another one using Wireless Repeater Mode and Wireless Bridge Mode. With the Wireless Repeater Mode, you can extend the signal on both the 2.4GHz band and the 5.0 GHz band. Wireless Bridge Mode lets you extend one or the other. Regardless of which option you choose, you can use the WRT1900 as an effective signal extender.
Linksys provides a convenient Smart Wi-Fi app that lets you control all of this right from your smartphone. You can use it to monitor your network’s performance, setup new guest passwords and control specific devices from the palm of your hand. You can even use it to set parental controls so that your kids aren’t watching the wrong content while you are out on that rare date night. With the prioritization controls, you can make sure your gaming console is getting priority service while that BitTorrent download stays in the background.
The bottom line here is that both of these routers are more than capable of handling all of your home wireless networking needs. They are comparably priced so that is not a significant differentiator either. Both companies have long histories of success and innovation in this industry so you can trust Linksys and NETGEAR to deliver quality.
If you are more concerned with buying your router, taking it out of the box and plugging it in, then the Linksys is going to be the better choice for you. The basic configurations that are available will provide most home network users everything they could ever want. The setup process is short and simple which means you can have your network up and running in no time.
However, if you have a little geek in your blood then you will want to go with the NETGEAR router and take advantage of the advanced configuration. Whether you stick with the stock firmware or flash your router with DD-WRT, you will have the capability to run your home network like the one you have at your business.
Now that you know all about the latest in wireless technology, get out there and take your home into the next generation of the digital age.