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Asus' RT-AC1900P wireless router reviewed

The Dark Knight legacy continues

Remember when all home routers looked pretty much the same? Without fail, they were rectangles that sat mostly flat on our desks and blinked quietly at us while we worked and played. Nowadays they look like anything from dangerous weapons to art pieces. Asus's RT-AC1900P sits somewhere in the middle of those extremes, sporting a contemporary, subdued look coupled with a non-traditional form factor that's sure to solicit divided responses.

We'll take a look first at what lies inside and outside the router, and then dive into Asus' firmware. After that, we'll see how the RT-AC1900P performs, particularly in comparison to the latest router we checked out, Synology's RT-2600ac.

What's this thing made out of?
The most basic description would pin the RT-AC1900P as an 802.11ac router with file sharing functionality, sporting a comprehensive set of features worthy of the breed. There's also beamforming on tap, though MU-MIMO support is omitted.

Under the hood, it looks like the RT-AC1900P is a minor upgrade of Asus' RT-AC68U—not that that's a bad thing at all. Compared to its predecessor, the model at hand sports a slightly upgraded processor with clock speed up to 1.4 GHz, and double the flash memory, going from from 128 MB to 256 MB. The wireless radios are also unchanged, although the 5 GHz signal amplifier got a little boost from the previous model, possibly improving the signal further on this frequency. As an AC1900 router, the RT-AC1900P promises 600 Mbps throughput on the 2.4 GHz band and 1300 Mbps on the 5GHz band.

On the outside, you'll find a device that looks very similar to the RT-AC68U and features the same carbon-fiber-meets-stealth stylings as the other "Dark Knight" routers. The router measures in at 6.2" tall by 8.6" wide by 3.2" deep. Three removable antennae extend from the top, and 10 blue LEDs dot the bottom of the router's face. The lights can be disabled with a button located around the back in case you find the strong blue glow as eye-searing as I do. The backlit Asus logo on the RT-AC86U is gone on the RT-AC1900P to begin with.

Along with that button, the back side has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a WAN port, one each of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, and a power button. The router's right side has a WPS button and a Wi-Fi toggle button. Both USB ports can play host to external hard drives or other USB storage, cellular networking devices, and printers.

The router looks pretty svelte at first glance, although it has a pretty severe mounting limitation that some router geeks are going to find a turnoff. The router sits vertically, and the stand that holds it up is not detachable unless you own a Dremel and a dose of courage. There aren't any mounting holes on the router, either. This thing wants to sit up straight and on a flat surface. That's ostensibly for improved performance, but it's an unusual restriction compared to to many other routers out there that can be placed in at least two orientations.

Although the RT-AC1900P can be laid flat, I'd be leery of doing so since only the back of the unit has vents. Although they won't present challenges for everybody, these characteristics made the RT-AC1900P a tight fit in my router cabinet, and they're worth noting before you go out and grab one. To its credit, the router is fairly discreet and wouldn't look too out of place with other home electronics.