After 18 months of frustration with my D-Link DIR-890L, I took advantage of Amazon's Black Friday sales and upgraded to a Linksys AC5400 router and their AC1900+ (RE7000) Range Extender. The D-Link keeps dropping internal connections, even Ethernet ones.
The Linksys seems to have solved the dropout issues.
A big advantage of this router is that all three bands (and those on the extender) can use one single network name (SSID). Thus, you can roam seamlessly about your house as the router automatically chooses the best access point and band. The AC5400 also has eight gigabit ports on the back (most other routers have four), and two USB (2, 3) ports, so it can serve as a network storage device.
I tried following the Linksys setup wizard. I opted to try their Smart WiFi Tools to let me remotely manage my router, but got stuck at the following screen:
However, that link goes to a totally useless page. I finally found a page that purports to tell yow to set this up, but the instructions do not work for the AC5400. There is only a firmware download on the AC5400 Web page. And the first thing the router did during the setup process was to install this firmware. So I opened a chat window with Linksys support (run by Belkin). The support lady had a system lockup, so it took a few tries to get through to her. Apparently, this router has a special support line, and she assured me that someone would call me within 8 hours. I am still awaiting this call.
Nonetheless, managing a router remotely is probably a bad idea from a security standpoint. The setup wizard did make me change the default router admin password, which is good. The above router management option tries to redirect you to their remote management screen, which will; not work (because of the above issue). The usual simple http://192.168.1.1 login always gets redirected to
which fortunately has a button to allow you to manage the router locally. Once you click it, you get a proper router login screen, which has an option to manage it remotely again.
Then you are taken to a nice overview dashboard:
Notice that all my networks have the same name. And I have given priority to my music and TV streaming devices. However, there is a limit of three such devices.
Some of the features need work. The speed Test did not work on either Chrome or Safari. It gives a message that it needs Flash Player. Google Chrome has Flash in it, but Flash is rapidly being abandoned for security reasons, and it was a poor choice to require Flash to run the speed test.
The Network Map is particularly frustrating, especially if you have many devices:
First notice that there is a second page of devices. The AC5400 does a particularly poor job of identifying devices, com,pared to say, the Fing app on my phone. I had to click on most of the devices and edit them so that I can tell which is which. But some are still a mystery. What is the Shenzen Bilan device? And each time you edit a device on page 2, you are returned to page 1. A simple list would be much easier than the cute picture. In fact, there is such a list under Troubleshooting, but you cannot edit things there:
I am still quite unsure of several of these identifications, and in addition, I believe that the wired/wireless status is also not correct. In addition, some of the devices I have are missing from the list. But it all works, which is the important thing!
The most important issue of course is the performance of the router. Although you can set it to a particular 2.4GHz channel, I am using automatic channel selection. Yesterday it used channel 11. Today it is using channel 10 to (i presume) get less interference with the neighbors. Notice there are 2 lan4116 signals, one from the router, and one from the extender. The lan24116 signals are from an old Linksys WRT610N that I am using as a repeater. It is hard-wired to the AC5400. I may replace it with another AC1900+ Extender.
Let me explain the problem I asm trying to solve. My second floor is shaped like a L, with the router at the end of the lower leg, and my bedroom tv and Squeezebox at the top of the vertical part of the L. The WiFi signal has trouble penetrating two exterior walls, which probably have aluminum foil-backed insulation in them. Thus, I put the AC1900+ Extender at the corner of the L to serve as a relay between the two legs of the L. The AC1900+ setup page has a convenient Spot Finder to assist you in locating it at the optimum point. As you can see, the extender (about 40 ft from the router) is at the edge of the optimum range.
Note that using an extender cuts your maximum bandwidth in half compared with a direct connection to the router. In my bedroom, I see 4 lan4116 signals:
The situation is interesting. First of all, because this is at the front of the house, I see many more interfering signals. This is a fundamental issue for "automatic" routers because the must choose channels without knowing the situation at the receiver locations.
But there are 4 signals for lan4116 instead of 2. There should only be 2 signals, one from the router, and one from the extender. I think this is an artifact of WiFi Overview Pro.
Notice that my phone is connected to Channel 36 (automagically), which is on the 5 GHz band, and I am getting 87 Mbps throughput, which is quite respectable. The router required a reboot to clear the network map (why?) and after the reboot, is now parked on Channel 3. About 8 ft from the router, the speed is 130 Mbps.
There are some bugs and issues with the firmware however:
- The USB storage did not work for me when the drive was formatted with NTFS. It did work using FAT or HFS+. It did not work, and gave an "unsupported" error message when I tried to use ExFAT.
- There is no way to change the default "WORKGROUP" as the Windows Workgroup. Thus, you may not see the router storage if you changed your Workgroup name. This would be a trivial thing to implement, and is a huge oversight by Linksys. It is also unclear whether or not the Router is fighting to be the WINS Master.
- The speed test requires Flash to work. Flash is being retired almost universally because of its many security holes. Surely Linksys could have found some other way to support this.
- Linksys's advanced support never manages to call back (to discuss the above issues). My cell rang once and they had hung up.
- Unlike all other routers I have tried, there are no indicator lights for the router's various functions. There is just a set of unlabeled vertical bars that only convey that the AC5400 is booted and ready to go.