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Wi-Fi AC1900 routers: Are they worth it? Why not just get an AC1750 one?

In previous reviews, we talked about the latest routers from ASUS and NETGEAR with Wi-Fi AC1900. The main difference between these and the AC1750 is that we can get speeds of up to 600Mbps in the 2.4GHz band thanks to the TurboQAM technology available –as of now- only in Broadcom interfaces. There’s a small issue, however: you can only get these speeds with compatible devices, and those aren’t exactly everywhere.

The current Wi-Fi AC1750 cannot be updated to AC1900 via firmware since the hardware won’t support it. The new AC1900 use Broadcom BCM4360 with 3-stream 802.11ac for both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. The AC1750 routers use 802.11N chipsets for the 2.4GHz band and 802.11ac for the 5GHz one.

Although the main feature of the TurboQAM is its 256-QAM modulation, updates through firmware won’t be possible. The 600Mbps limitation has been set by the maximum bandwidth of the 2.4GHz band: 40MHz, and not 80MHz (or more) like the 5GHz band.

The only way to get 600Mbps in the 2.4GHz band is by:

  • Using 40MHz of bandwidth in the 2.4GHz band.
  • Using an AC1900 router
  • Using a router, bridge or Wi-Fi card with SoC Broadcom 802.11ac in the 2.4GHz.

The only Wi-Fi card –as of now- capable of this is the ASUS PCE-AC68, the successor of the ASUS PCE-AC66 that cannot be updated via firmware because it uses 802.11N in the 2.4GHz band.

However, there’s still another problem: the channel width in the 2.4GHz band, since, like you may remember from our previous reviews, we have to consider the HT 20/40 Coexistence. In case you forgot: if the router detects a nearby Wi-Fi network, it will automatically work at 20MHz to avoid interference and not bother our neighbors when detecting their Wi-Fi signals. This means using 40MHz of band in places with a lot of wireless networks is impossible, unless this feature can be disables by the firmware.

This is why we don’t think a Wi-Fi AC1900 is worth it unless it has some extra features the AC1750 routers don’t have, like:

  • A more powerful processor with support for high-speed file transfers via USB 3.0
  • Better overall performance
  • Better firmware and additional features (Torrent client, download manager, VLAN Tagging etc).

All of this, of course, assuming most AC1900 routers are more expensive than the AC1750 routers. The AC1900 routers that are already available are the ASUS RT-AC68U, the NETGEAR R7000 and the Linksys EA6900.

Will you get a Wi-Fi AC1900 router?

One Thought on “Wi-Fi AC1900 routers: Are they worth it? Why not just get an AC1750 one?

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