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Belkin has big plans for its Linksys acquisition, and it includes positioning the brand as an enthusiast name. More than just lip service, Linksys announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it's bringing back one of the best selling routers of all time, the WRT54G, and giving it a makeover for the modern day Internet. Now known as the WRT1900AC, this dual-band wireless router wields a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM-based processor inside its familiar blue and black stackable chassis.
It also sports four removable antennas, USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports (one each), and an eSATA port. Why both connectivity options? Linksys tells Maximum PC that it decided to also include an eSATA port because it isn't as CPU intensive. Low power ARM processors tend to get overburdened by heavy USB 3.0 access, and the end result is that eSATA ends up being twice as fast as USB 3.0 (we wonder if this is also due to the host controller).
Just like the popular WRT54G, the WRT1900AC will feature support for open-source firmware such as DD-WRT, Open WRT, and Tomato. It will also have 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of DDR3 RAM.
"Our new Linksys WRT1900AC Wireless Router will be the most powerful router in its class on the market. We have spared no technology expense to make this router a prosumers’ dream," said Mike Chen, vice president product management for Linksys. "The launch of the new WRT router is not only a celebration for the Linksys brand but for our customers too. We have brought back the WRT because our customers have asked for a router that had the reliability, functionality and open source capabilities but with today’s AC wireless technology. The WRT1900AC is the result of all these requests."
Indeed, Linksys has gone all out. As hinted by the model name, it supports speeds of up to 1.3Gbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. You can't actually add them together for a super connection of sorts, but router makers like to market the combined speeds, hence 1900AC (1900Mbps total, 802.11ac).
Look for the Linksys WRT1900AC to debut in the spring for $300 MSRP. Will it be worth it? You can bet we'll do our best to get our hands on one for a formal evaluation.