Reviewing Linksys EA7500 v2 AC1900: Excellent hardware, so and so firmware!

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

We have not reviewed any Linksys wireless routers for some time, and when we got the chance to test the Linksys EA7500 v2 AC1900, we quickly accepted. It is a mid-range wireless AC1900 router with promising specifications that claims to provide excellent WiFi for HD and 4K video streaming. If you want to know how well it performs and whether it is a good choice for you, read this review:

Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900: Who is it good for?

Linksys EA7500 v2 is a suitable choice for:

  • Medium-sized homes that need fast WiFi on the 5 GHz band
  • People who want a router which they can remote control from anywhere on the internet
  • Users which want a fast USB 3.0 port on their router, to connect USB devices to the network

NOTE: We received the Linksys EA7500 v2 wireless router for testing, from Gearbest.com. It is an online shop that offers excellent prices and international free shipping. You can buy this router at a discount price, from here.

Pros and cons

Linksys EA7500 v2 has many positives to consider:

  • Stunningly fast WiFi on the 5 GHz band
  • Unlike some routers from other brands, Linksys EA7500 v2 delivers fast WiFi speeds both for the download and the upload
  • The USB 3.0 port on this router is high-speed
  • The mobile app from Linksys looks good and works well
  • You can remote control the router from anywhere on the internet, as long as you have a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Account
  • Great multilingual support
  • It can be mounted on walls

There are also several downsides to consider:

  • When working with USB devices, this router does not accept exFAT or Linux file systems like ext4
  • If you try to load the administration interface through HTTPS, your browser alerts you that it uses an invalid certificate
  • It lacks the security features that competing routers offer at a similar price
Product Rated
4/5

Verdict

Linksys EA7500 v2 AC1900 wants to conquer the busy market of mid-range wireless routers, that promise fast WiFi connections and work well for 4K and Full HD streaming. On paper, this router looks great, and its hardware is excellent. It managed to impress us with how fast the wireless connectivity is on the 5 GHz band and the speed of its USB 3.0 port. We also loved the Linksys mobile app and how well it works for administering your router remotely, from anywhere on the internet. The firmware though has a few bugs that need fixing, like the invalid HTTPS certificate that it uses or the fact that it needs Adobe Flash player for running speed tests. It also lacks the security features that you get from competing AC1900 routers at a similar price. If you value WiFi speed and mobile remote management over security and other advanced features, Linksys EA7500 v2 AC1900 may be one of the best choices you can make.

Unboxing the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 wireless router

Linksys EA7500 v2 comes in a large cardboard box that features a picture of the router on the top. You can also see some of its essential characteristics. On the back and the sides, you see all the hardware specifications of this router, as well as a detailed description of its features.

When you unbox everything, you find the following items: the router itself, three external antennas, the power adapter, an Ethernet cable, the quick setup guide, a disc with documentation, the warranty, and other leaflets.

A nice touch is the fact that Linksys has bundled plug adapters for the power adapter. This way, you can buy your Linksys EA7500 wireless router from anywhere in the world and use it in any country you wish.

Linksys EA7500 v2 offers a quick and pleasant unboxing experience. You get all the accessories you need to set it up and use it, as well as plug adapters for different regions, which is a nice touch.

Hardware specifications and design

Linksys EA7500 v2 has a dual-core Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 processor running 1.4 GHz, 256 MB of RAM and 128 MB of storage space for the firmware. It is a dual-band wireless router with support for the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and 3x3 MU-MIMO.The total theoretical maximum bandwidth is of 600 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps for the 5 GHz, leading to a total of 1900 Mbps.

The antennas are detachable, and they can be mounted in any position you wish. The top side of the router has a glossy area where the Linksys logo is placed. While it looks good, it is also a fingerprint magnet. One difference from other routers is that this one does not have LEDs for signaling whether the WiFi works and other details. It only has the Linksys logo lit up. Luckily, it can be turned off if you do not want any lights on. On the bottom of the router, there are slots for mounting it on walls. Some users might find this feature useful.

On the back, we have the following items: one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, the WPS button, the Reset button, the Ethernet port for connecting the router to the internet, four Ethernet ports for the local network (all running at 1 Gbps), the Power jack, and the Power button.

Regarding size, Linksys EA7500 v2 has 10.12 x 7.24 x 2.2 inches or 257 x 184 x 56 mm in Length x Width x Height, making it a medium-sized router. The weight is 20.74 oz or 558 grams without the antennas.

If you would like to see the official specifications of this router, visit this page: Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900.

Setting up and using the Linksys EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 wireless router

To set things up, you must use the setup wizard in a web browser. When you load it, you must first accept the license terms of using Linksys software. Then, the setup wizard detects the type of your internet connection and asks for the appropriate connection details.

After the Linksys EA7500 v2 is connected to the internet, the setup wizard automatically checks for firmware updates and installs the latest version. This means that you have to arm yourself with some patience and wait for everything to be done. However, this is a positive, proactive approach on Linksys's part.

After the firmware is updated, you get to set the wireless networks that are broadcast by the router. We found it strange that we could change the name of the wireless network on the 2.4 GHz band but we could not personalize it for the 5 GHz band. Also, we could not set two different passwords for the two frequencies. This approach will not please some users, and it is not good from a security perspective.

For the next step, you are asked to set the password for administering the router, but you cannot change the name of the user. Again, this is not a good approach from a security perspective.

The next step involves the setup wizard giving you a summary of your settings. After you press Next, you are asked to create or sign in with a Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Account. This is a fancy name for an online Linksys account, which allows you to remote control this router, and other Linksys device, from anywhere on the internet.

You can create an account, sign in with one (if you already have it) or skip this step. After that, you get to see the administration user interface, which is similar to what you get on other Linksys routers. As you can see below, the user interface looks good and gives you access to several sections of settings. On the homepage, you have several widgets that you can move around, enable or disable as you wish, depending on what interests you. Click the section that you want to navigate and all its settings are loaded, split into tabs.

Most settings are easy to understand but the more technical stuff is not explained in the user interface, so you have to read the user documentation. Luckily, there is a Help button on the top toolbar. The user documentation is well made and explains what you need to know without being difficult to understand.

One bug that we noticed is that, when you set the administration interface to load using the secure HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP, all web browsers complain that it uses an untrusted certificate and do not let you access it. Linksys should fix this issue if they want to promote secure connections.

Another negative is that, if you want to use the Speed Test feature of the firmware, you cannot, unless you have Adobe Flash Player installed. Linksys should update its firmware so that it stops using an insecure and deprecated technology like Flash Player.

There are positives too, like the good multilingual support. The user interface is available in 22 languages, some of which you can see below.

While it takes some time to get used to the user interface, after a while, you should not have issues in knowing where to find everything. A positive that we appreciated is the fact that Linksys automatically checks for firmware updates, and informs you when a new version is available.

There are also some quirks that some people might not appreciate. For example, some changes require a restart, and that means that you have to wait about two minutes until your settings are applied. Also, you can enable two different guest networks, one for each wireless band, but you cannot set two different passwords. Both have to use the same password. Another issue is that, when working with USB devices, Linksys EA7500 accepts just a few file systems: NTFS, FAT32, FAT (who uses it anymore?) and HFS+. It does not allow exFAT or Linux filesystems like ext4. Some users might not appreciate this limitation.

After we learned how to set up everything we wanted about the Linksys EA7500 v2, we started connecting our devices to it. We connected about fifteen devices to the network, including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, one wireless printer, two smart plugs, one smart bulb, and an Xbox One console.

We enjoyed excellent download speeds, good signal strength, and stable connections. After the first two days of use, we were impressed with the performance offered by Linksys EA7500 v2.

During our initial testing period, our Xbox One console stopped connecting to the wireless network. No matter what we did, it wouldn't connect to the two wireless networks broadcast by the router. This issue was encountered by other users too. See this discussion here: Xbox one suddenly won't connect to ea7500. After we published our initial review and complained about this problem, Linksys released a new firmware version that solves the problem. Therefore, we decided to install the 2.0.5.186189 version of the firmware and see whether Xbox One and other smart home devices can connect to the network. This time, everything worked smoothly and we enjoyed stable online gaming on our Xbox One, as well as high-quality HD streaming.

One improvement that we would like to recommend Linksys is to offer download links on their website to all their firmware versions. This way, if new firmware has a bug that impacts users, they can revert back to any older version by downloading it from the Linksys support website.

The hardware of the Linksys EA7500 v2 wireless router impressed us with its speed and performance. However, the firmware that Linksys developed for it has some quirks and issues, that lower the user experience. Also, it lacks security features that you get on competing AC1900 wireless routers.

If you would like to learn more about the real-life performance of this wireless router and our benchmarks, read the next page of this review.