These two routers have similar theoretical throughput and have loads of features, but the hardware inside is really what sets the two devices apart.
TP-Link Archer C7 vs. Linksys WRT1900ACS tech specs
|TP-Link Archer C7||Linksys WRT1900ACS|
(450 Mbps + 1,300 Mbps)
(600 Mbps + 1,300 Mbps)
|Frequency||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz|
|Wireless standards||802.11ac/n/a (5 GHz)
802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
|802.11ac/n/a (5 GHz)
802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
|Dual-core 1.6 GHz|
|Memory||16 MB Flash
128 MB RAM
|128 MB Flash
512 MB RAM
|Ports||Two USB-A 2.0||One USB-A 3.0
On paper, the Linksys WRT1900ACS beats out the Archer C7 in almost all performance specs. It has higher theoretical throughput at AC1900 compared to AC1750, but it's important to note that only the 2.4 GHz band is higher, while the 5 GHz band on both routers maxes out at about 1,300 Mbps. If you're searching for a router to handle gaming and streaming — which are best handled on the 5 GHz band — you might not see a big difference in raw speed.
Connecting multiple devices and streaming data will no doubt be more efficiently handled with the WRT1900ACS thanks to a dual-core CPU and 512 MB of RAM (compared to the Archer C7's single-core CPU and 128 MB of RAM). If you have a lot of devices to connect or you're looking to add external storage through ports on the back of the router, the Linksys router is the better choice, especially when you consider it has faster USB-A 3.0 (compared to USB-A 2.0) and eSATA ports.
Both routers have three spatial streams and can cover a standard home in Wi-Fi. Range will vary based on the layout of your home and how much the signal has to pass through before arriving at your device, but know that the WRT1900ACS has beamforming capabilities that will better target devices for a stronger, faster signal. Overall, the WRT1900ACS is the better performer here, though with a price that's about $100 more than the Archer C7 it simply might not be worth the money, especially if you're not interested in local file sharing or don't have many devices to connect to Wi-Fi.
Both of these routers have a standard set of features that most people expect, including guest network, parental controls, easy setup, an intuitive app for management, and both can be used with open-source firmware like OpenWRT. Thanks to more RAM in the Linksys router, you'll no doubt be able to do more as an advanced user, plus the WRT1900ACS has OpenVPN support built right in with no need for custom firmware.
The Archer C7 has two USB-A 2.0 ports on the back, allowing you to connect a couple of external drives for local file sharing. These ports are common when it comes to external drives, but the 2.0 standard is slower than the USB-A 3.0 and eSATA ports found on the back of the Linksys WRT1900ACS.
Warranty and support are important when buying a router since they generally are expected to last for years. The TP-Link Archer C7 comes complete with a two-year warranty and 24/7 technical support should you run into any issues, while the Linksys WRT1900ACS has a one-year warranty and 24/7 support.
Finally, the look of these routers is quite different. The Linksys has a blue and black color scheme that will undoubtedly stand out, which for some is either a pro or con. The Archer C7, however, is a uniform black color and not quite as large, making it easier to hide.
The Archer C7 can save you a lot of money
The Archer C7 is a great budget router that will work for a lot of people. It has the range to cover a standard home, it has 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios, and it costs only about $70. If you don't plan on extensive local file sharing, using custom firmware, or simultaneously connecting a ton of devices, it should prove quite useful.
For better performance, stick with Linksys WRT1900ACS
If you need better theoretical throughput on the 2.4 GHz band, faster ports for local file sharing, and better hardware inside for superior performance, the Linksys WRT1900ACS is a good pick. Its price, however — about $100 more than the Archer C7 — will no doubt play a big part in your final decision.
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