Archive for Linksys

Linksys SEEMS To Be Rolling Out Updated Router Firmware To Stop Routers From Getting Pwned

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 16, 2017 by itnerd

You might recall that I recently told you about vulnerabilities in numerous Linksys routers that were found by a security researcher which if exploited could end up in the router becoming part of a botnet among other things. Linksys was apparently working on updated firmware and it SEEMS that updated firmware is rolling out. I use the word seems for reasons that will become clear momentarily.

If I do a search of the Linksys download site for the latest firmware for the EA9500 which is one of the affected models, I see this:

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Please note the highlighted section. A new firmware dated May 8th has been posted. I also verified that the previous firmware on this page was from early March of this year. I went to the release notes and saw this:

Firmware version:   1.1.7.180968
Release date:       May 8, 2017

- Update for compliance of the latest CE requirements (European models)
- Resolved intermittent issue of MAC filtering on wireless network not working properly
- Resolved issue of IPv6 incompatibility when prefix is not 64-bit (e.g. British Telecom)
- Resolved issue of DHCP reservation feature not working properly if user changes local network configuration
- Enhanced system stability
- Various security fixes

So it has “various security fixes”, but it isn’t clear if they are the fixes for this issue that was so widely reported. And if you search the Linksys website, there isn’t any additional info. So you have to assume that this is the updated firmware that affected Linksys router owners should install without delay. It would be nice if Linksys could clarify this and reinforce the urgency of installing this new firmware so that they ensure as many owners of their routers as possible get this fix. Plus it would close the loop on this issue.

More info as it comes as I have reached out to Linksys and IOActive (the group that found these issues) for comment.

UPDATE: I got this from Linksys late today (May 18th):

UPDATE #2: The release notes have been modified:

Firmware version:   1.1.7.180968
Release date:       May 8, 2017

- Update for compliance of the latest CE requirements (European models)
- Resolved intermittent issue of MAC filtering on wireless network not working properly
- Resolved issue of IPv6 incompatibility when prefix is not 64-bit (e.g. British Telecom)
- Resolved issue of DHCP reservation feature not working properly if user changes local network configuration
- Enhanced system stability
- Addressed IOActive security issues
- Additional security fix
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Flaw In Linksys Routers Can Be Used To Create Botnet

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Security researchers and Linksys are warning that multiples models of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers have vulnerabilities that might be exploited to create a botnet. Here’s a list of the affected routers:

WRT Series
WRT1200AC
WRT1900AC
WRT1900ACS
WRT3200ACM

EAxxxx Series
EA2700
EA2750
EA3500
EA4500 v3
EA6100
EA6200
EA6300
EA6350 v2
EA6350 v3
EA6400
EA6500
EA6700
EA6900
EA7300
EA7400
EA7500
EA8300
EA8500
EA9200
EA9400
EA9500

A security advisory was issued by Linksys today which includes a workaround for customers until final firmware updates are posted in the coming weeks….. Though I would classify some of what they are recommending as common sense, but here’s the workaround:

  1. Enable automatic updates: I don’t like to do that as updates sometimes cause issues. Thus I like to wait a day or two to see if anything is reported on the Internet before I update.
  2. Disable WiFi Guest Network: This is something that I recommend that you do as a matter of course as guest networks can be used as an attack vector.
  3. Change the default Administrator password: This falls under the category marked “duh” as there is no reason on God’s green earth why you should be using the default administrator password for any device ever.

If you want an idea of what the issue is that is prompting this reaction from Linksys, IOActive who are the researchers who found this issue have a great write up that you can read right here.

Linksys Ships Max Stream EA8300 Router

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 6, 2017 by itnerd

Linksys is now shipping its new 802.11ac Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router. The Linksys Max Stream EA8300 is an AC2200 Tri-Band MU-MIMO router priced at $249 CAD, giving users MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output) technology and up to double the performance of a dual-band router for even faster speeds and efficiency for downloading, streaming, gaming and surfing.

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Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 Tri-Band MU-MIMO ROUTER (EA8300)

The Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 is outfitted with Next Gen AC Wi-Fi technologies such as Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) and Tri-Band that work in concert to deliver powerful Wi-Fi at the same time and same speed to multiple connected devices including TVs, gaming consoles, wireless printers, laptops plus others at combined speeds up to 2.2 Gbps. The Linksys Max-Stream AC2200 provides easy setup options to get a home office up and running quickly along with the exclusive Linksys app that provides added control of the EA8300 Wi-Fi Router from anywhere at any time using a mobile device. The Max-Stream EA8300 Wi-Fi Router also features a robust set of advanced offerings:

  • Tri-Band AC2200 – Up to 2.2Gbps (867 Mbps 5Ghz + 867 Mbps 5GHz + 400 Mbps 2.4 GHz)
  • MU-MIMO Wave 2 for simultaneous 4K Streaming on multiple devices at the same time
  • Memory: 256MB DDR3 RAM, plus 256MB flash memory
  • Four active high performance antennas with six high power amplifiers to provide the best performance and coverage
  • Five Gigabit Ethernet Ports (4 LAN + 1 WAN)
  • USB 3.0 Port: connecting shared network storage devices as well as a range of other peripherals.
  • Linksys Advanced Beamforming technology: Maximizes Wi-Fi coverage for both 2.4 and 5GHz radios while enhancing the performance and coverage
  • Airtime Fairness enables faster devices to transmit at faster speeds while the slower device will not impede the speed of Wi-Fi network
  • “Smart Connect” band steering: balances your 5GHz Wi-Fi connections and intelligently chooses the best radio band for your devices and the best Wi-Fi performance of your network
  • Seamless Roaming with Max Stream range extenders provide room-to-room Wi-Fi with one network name
  • Linksys App: Remote manage, monitor, and control your Wi-Fi from anywhere, anytime
  • Linksys Auto Firmware update: Linksys automatically pushes the software update to your router overnight and seamlessly bring the latest features and security to your home network
  • Amazon Alexa support: Three new skills including turning guest access on and off, obtaining guest Wi-Fi credentials, as well as getting main network credentials read back to the user.
  • SPI Firewall and DoS Protection provide the best in class network security

Availability

The Linksys AC2200 Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router (EA8300) is available immediately on Linksys.com and at stores across Canada for $249.99 CAD ($199.99 US).

Review: Linksys Velop

Posted in Products with tags on January 3, 2017 by itnerd

Let’s say you have a large home and need to have WiFi accessible everywhere. You likely need to either cover your home in WiFi range extenders, which may or may not help you get WiFi where you need it, or accept that you will have dead spots in your home. Or let’s say that you have my use case which is a condo with thick concrete walls. They play havoc with WiFi as I get amazing speeds in my bedroom and den, but significantly lower speeds in my living room and on my balcony. In either case, getting top notch speeds via WiFi is a problem. Linksys now has a solution for you called Velop.

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Here’s a Velop node. It doesn’t look like WiFi gear does it? You could actually put it on a shelf and nobody would have a clue what it is.

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Here’s the back side of the Velop unit. There’s a lot of holes for ventilation which no doubt will help to keep it cool.

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Underneath you get a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports. You can plug in your wired gear into them, or plug in your cable and DSL modem into one of them. If you look at the bottom right corner, you can route your cables through there to keep things neat and tidy.

Here’s the deal. Linksys calls this “Whole Home WiFi”. By that they mean that this isn’t a router or a range extender. It’s basically a new category of networking gear that combines both into one product. I got three of these which I was able to create what is called a “mesh network.” In short, the Velop nodes can connect to each other over wired or wireless links, and will choose the best path to route data between a client and the internet. If a node loses connection to another node, the remaining nodes will self-heal and re-establish internet connection through other nodes in the network. Besides that, no matter where you are in your home, you can move freely between each node’s coverage area and maintain a stable, uninterrupted connection. And you don’t have to worry about managing them individually as they all communicate with each other to ensure that all settings are synced.

Inside each Velop node, you get the following:

  • Quad Core ARM Cortex A7 CPU
  • 4GB of flash storage and 512 GB of DDR-3 RAM
  • Three 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi radios (one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz) to
    balance the wireless workload.
  • MU-MIMO: For devices that support this standard, they will operate with greater efficiency.
  • Beamforming support.  This precisely adjusts, steers and monitors the direction and shape of Wi-Fi signals for better performance with any wireless device. Client devices that support explicit beamforming will see even greater speed and range.
  • Six internal antennas
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE. We’ll get to why that’s there in a second.

This isn’t low end hardware by any means.

I managed to set up a three node Velop system in my condo in under 30 minutes. Here’s what I had to do:

  1. I plugged in my cable modem into the first Velop node via Ethernet and plugged it into AC Power.
  2. I installed the Linkys Smart WiFi app on my iPhone.
  3. The Linkys Smart WiFi app was able to find it via Bluetooth 4.0 LE and walk me through the setup which included naming my network and making sure my Internet worked. It then asked me where the Velop node was physically located. In my case, it was in my living room.
  4. It then offered to add a second Velop node. I did so and upon finding it, the Velop note automatically setup onto my network. It then asked me where this node was located. In this case, it was in my den. I then plugged in my NAS box into the Ethernet port.
  5. I repeated step 4 with the third Velop node which was in my bedroom. I then plugged in my VoIP phone into the Ethernet port.
  6. Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

You can only set up the Velop system via the Linkys Smart WiFi iOS or Android apps. If you want to use the Linkys Smart WiFi website, you’re out of luck. I must admit that I prefer the website to the app as from my experience, I can do a lot more via the website in terms of tweaking the configuration of a Linksys router to the way I want it, plus rebooting it if you have to. But other than that gripe, I really had no issues with the setup process as it was easy.

Now the next question is how fast is the Velop. Fortunately the Linkys Smart WiFi app has a built in speed test that uses OOKLA’s speed test technology that tests the Velop from the Velop itself. That in theory should give you a very accurate speed test result. This is what I got via my gigabit connection to the Internet:

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Now, this isn’t as fast as I have gotten in the past as my Linksys AC5400 WiFi router consistently got into the low 900 Mbps range for a downstream connection. But it is a result that I will not complain about. In terms of the quality of the WiFi, I was able to get excellent coverage across my condo thanks to the fact that I was able place each node in places where they could do the most good. Thus I was able to get full signal strength in places that never had anything close to that before. On that front, the Velop is an #EpicWin.

There is one thing that I noted. None of the MacBook Pros that I used for testing never connected to the Velop above 867 Mbps as per this:

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I was able to replicate this result on a PC with an 802.11ac card as well. By contrast, the Linksys AC5400 was able to hit a Tx rate of 1300 Mbps as long as you were in the same room as the router or near enough to it. I believe that this is likely caused by a combination of having to work in an environment where the Velop nodes had to compete for channel space with other WiFi gear, not to mention cordless phones and baby monitors. Such as my condo development which may have dozens of these things in a small space. I confirmed this by using the Linksys Smart WiFi app Channel Finder function to optimize the performance of the Velop to get this result. Thus a less crowded environment may yield better results. Handoffs between each node was seamless. And general usage of the Internet seemed fine. The only thing that I noticed in the way of abnormalities was that when I played Team Fortress 2 where lag was present. The lag only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to affect my ability to pwn the competition. In fact, when the lag disappeared, I was typically pwned by the competition. Again, I attribute this to the crowded wireless environment that the Velop has to operate in as I have seen the same behavior with the Linksys AC5400 router. One of the things that I am planning on doing is doing a test in a environment that has less wireless gear for it to compete against to see how well the Velop does. Watch for that in the coming weeks.

Velop also supports Amazon Alexa. While I did not test this as I do not have an Amazon Alexa, this sounds intriguing as it would allow you to do things like enable guest WiFi on the fly without having to open the Linksys Smart WiFi app to do it. That’s not only a time saver, but it lowers the complexity of managing Velop.

Gripes? Only one. The Velop nodes have a light at the top of them that can fill a room because it is so bright. That means if you drop one of these nodes in a bedroom, you’ll get a blue glow that will make it difficult to sleep. Now other Linksys hardware has the ability to disable the lights on their routers to avoid this. But you can’t seem to do this with the Velop. Hopefully Linksys adds that functionality in the form of a software or firmware update.

The Velop comes in one, two and three node units. That allows you to buy the number of nodes that fit your use case. For example, three units will cover 6000 square feet of real estate. Conversely, you could get away with a single node for an apartment. Maybe two if you have my use case. A three pack will go for $520 USD. A two pack will go for $370 USD. Finally a single Velop node will go for $199. If you need to cover your entire home with WiFi in a way that is easy to set up and gives you good performance, the Linksys Velop is very much worth looking at as it covers all of these bases with ease.

 

 

 

Linksys Announces WRT3200ACM Router

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 7, 2016 by itnerd

Linksys today announced the next generation of its one and only WRT™ router — the WRT3200ACM.  The new Linksys AC3200 WRT Gigabit MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router features Tri-Stream 160 technology creating the fastest Dual Band router available and MU-MIMO technology for simultaneous Wi-Fi connections to multiple devices at the same time. It is open-source ready with OpenWrt or DD-WRT for complete flexibility and customization of networking functions or for optimizing the router for specific use cases, such as privacy, VoIP, and small office applications. The newly updated Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app allows users to manage and monitor their home or office Wi-Fi via the cloud from their mobile device, anytime, anywhere.

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MU-MIMO

Linksys offers the largest portfolio of working MU-MIMO solutions including routers and range extenders.  The new WRT3200ACM extends the MU-MIMO lineup in a high performance, feature rich solution ideal for homes or small business.  MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output) is the next generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, which helps improve overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices as if they have their own dedicated router. With MU-MIMO, the whole household and small office can enjoy 4K and HD TV streaming or other high bandwidth applications to multiple devices all at the same time.

Tri-Stream 160

Almost all of today’s current home routers max out at 80 MHz channel width, – however the new WRT3200ACM is Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) certified to allow operation at 160 MHz channel width in the 5 GHz band.  For example, an AC1900 router uses three streams at 80 MHz channel width. Each stream tops out at 433 Mbps each; resulting in a total of 1.3 Gbps.  The WRT3200ACM uses three streams at 160 MHz channel width to drive data at 867 Mbps per stream, providing up to 2.6 Gbps – which is up to 2X faster.

Tri-Stream 160 on the WRT3200ACM supports 3 streams at 160MHz each – 867Mbps x 3 = 2.6 Gbps

AC1900 class such as WRT1900ACS uses 3 streams at 80 MHz each – 433Mbps x 3 = 1.3 Gbps

 

Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS)

DFS Certification is a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) mandate for radio systems operating in the U-NII-2/U-NII-2 extended 5 GHz band to be able to avoid other radio transmissions considered mission critical, such as military, terminal Doppler weather, or airport radars.  DFS certification allows operation at 160MHz channel width and also increases the available channels at 80MHz so the WRT3200ACM can operate in the clearest, uncongested Wi-Fi airspace that other routers aren’t allowed. With less congestion or interference, data is able to move faster and more efficient resulting in better overall performance.  

Open Source Ready

The WRT3200ACM is open-source ready for complete flexibility and customization of networking functions or for optimizing the router for specific use cases such as gaming, security, advanced users/IT administrators or for commercial applications: 

Gamers:

  • Replace the full-featured factory firmware with a stripped down firmware so the router’s power is solely directed to moving network traffic instead of running other services like parental control or cloud services.
  • Optimize advanced routing settings for low latency

Enhanced browsing privacy/security:

  • Build virtual private networks (VPN) for secure data transfers
  • Access TOR Networks for anonymous browsing
  • Completely strip ad tracking
  • Employ network intrusion detection

Networking Professionals

  • Create a web server
  • Capture and analyze network traffic
  • Do Voice over IP calling (VoIP calls)
  • Perform advanced network traffic management

Commercial applications:

  • Create a Hot Spot (Captive portal) for internet cafes or other retail environments to provide customers with Wi-Fi
  • Smaller regional internet service providers looking for custom firmware solutions for CPE routers
  • Use the WRT as a Linux-based development platform

Linksys, Marvell and the OpenWrt project have been collaborating to provide full open source support for the WRT3200ACM in OpenWrt’s stable and development branches. OpenWrt is a modular system, where users can select and install additional features on top of pre-compiled firmware images from the open source community. This modularity allows networking-savvy users to fully customize the feature set of their router to better suit their particular needs. Some of the recent highlights in OpenWrt include full support for IPv6 networks, better support for multi-core systems in the network stack and enhanced support for 3G/4G modems. 

Information on pre-built images based on OpenWrt’s “Chaos Calmer” 15.05 branch are available immediately for the WRT3200ACM on the OpenWrt wiki page: https://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/linksys/wrt_ac_series

For more information on DD-WRT support visit: http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index

WRT3200ACM Hardware Specifications

  • Enterprise-grade 80211.ac Wi-Fi radios (backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Speeds up to 2600 Mbps on the 5 GHz band
  • Speeds up to 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band
  • Dual-Band 3×3 with Tri-Stream 160 Technology
  • MU-MIMO
  • Enterprise-grade 1.8GHz dual-core ARM-based CPU
  • 256 MB Flash
  • 512 MB DDR3 RAM
  • DFS certified to operate in the clearest Wi-Fi airspace
  • SOHO-grade 5-port Ethernet switch
  • 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 Gigabit WAN port
  • 1 x eSATA/USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 port
  • UPnP Server
  • Four detachable external antennas

WRT3200ACM Software Features

  • VPN Support (5 Open VPN Tunnels)
  • PPTP
  • IPsec pass-through
  • Browser-based setup for installation from device PC/Mac, smartphone or tablet
  • Can be configured as: router, access point, range extender (aka repeater) or wireless bridge
  • Ability to hide SSID broadcast
  • Setup wizard sets up two SSIDs, one per radio band
  • Linksys Smart Wi-Fi can be accessed from a browser or the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app for iOS and Android
  • Built-in DLNA-compatible media server and FTP server to share files
  • Drag-and-drop media prioritization to prioritize bandwidth for devices, applications or games
  • Parental controls to prevent access to websites or block access during certain hours
  • Dynamic DNS services supported: No-IP, DynDNS and TZO
  • Built-in speed test to test broadband upload and download speed
  • Open source ready

Pricing and Availability

The new Linksys WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router will be available starting November 7 at major retailers across Canada at an MSRP of $329.99 CAD.

Review: Linksys Max-Stream ​AC600 USB Adapter

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 31, 2016 by itnerd

If you have a computer that you want to add WiFi to, such as a desktop computer, so that you can place the computer wherever you want, or to upgrade a laptop with a slower WiFi adapter, the easiest way to add WiFi is to use a USB adapter. Today, I’m looking at the Linksys Max-Stream AC600 USB adapter which only works with Windows PCs ( Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 operating systems only.  Windows 8 is not supported). Thus I had to borrow three Windows 10 laptops to conduct my tests. It’s a tiny USB adapter that supports everything up to 802.11 ac and occupies almost no space. It support both the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands and supports MU-MIMO technology. More on that in a second.

Setup is easy:

  1. Pop the CD into your computer and run the setup application.
  2. Wait until you are prompted to plug the USB adapter into the computer.
  3. The drivers will get installed and the setup is done. Declare victory and have a beer.

Once installed, I was able to do some speed tests and I was able to figure out that this adapter maxes out at 400 Mbps when I tested this adapter with the Linksys Max-Steam AC5400 Router that I tested earlier this week. That’s acceptable given that these are USB adapters and as a result they have small antennas that limit the speeds that they are capable of. That was kind of interesting. But I went a step further. I wanted to find out if MU-MIMO really worked.

MU-MIMO works like this. Normally, each device on a WiFi network gets serviced one at time. MU-MIMO can service each device simultaneously. Clearly the latter is more efficient. To test this, I took three Windows 10 laptops with the AC600 adapter installed and started streaming three different 1080p videos from YouTube while I monitored the speed of the connections coming into the PCs. If MU-MIMO works, there should no stuttering of the videos. And that’s what exactly I saw. To make sure that this wasn’t a fluke, I used the built in 802.11 AC adapters that were built into the Windows 10 laptops which did not have MU-MIMO and I noted that the playback wasn’t nearly as smooth as stuttering was present on all the laptops from time to time. Is this a scientific test. No. But it is how the average user will tell if MU-MIMO is working or not. And it clearly works.

The Linksys Max-Stream AC600 USB adapter goes for $70 Canadian. It clearly a quick and easy way to get a PC or a laptop running Windows 802.11 ac and get MU-MIMO compatibility as bonus. Pair them with a MU-MIMO compatible router and you can really have a WiFi network that is capable of doing anything that you need it to.

Review: Linksys Max-Stream AC1900+ WiFi Range Extender

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 30, 2016 by itnerd

If you want to extend your WiFi network to eliminate dead spots in your home, you need a range extender. The range extender that I am looking at today is the The Linksys Max-Stream AC1900+. It has a lot going for it:

  • It works with ANY router. But if you have a Linksys router that supports Seamless Roaming, you get this bonus. Your device will automatically switch to the strongest Wi-Fi signal as you move around your house without any intervention from you.
  • It support MU-MIMO which allows simultaneous streaming and gaming on multiple devices.
  • It has an gigabit Ethernet jack which allows you to add a wired device, or you can run a cable from a router that would allow you to turn the AC1900+ into an access point.

To test this, I set it up with the Max-Stream AC5400 router that I reviewed yesterday. Setup was almost trivial:

  1. Plug the range extender in.
  2. Use a laptop or a smartphone to connect the range extender’s WiFi network which is typically “Linksys Range Extender – DB5”.
  3. Open a web browser and go to extender.linksys.com
  4. Enter an admin password of your choosing.
  5. Pick the WiFi network that you want to extend and enter the password for that network. In my case it also detected that the WiFi network supported Seamless Roaming.
  6. A graph called the “Spot Finder” will then appear showing if you have the range extender in the right place. As long as it’s in the green zone, you’re good to go.
  7. It will then check for firmware updates. In my case, it found an update and installed it.
  8. The device will then reboot. If everything is good to go, you will see a steady green light. I didn’t see that initially as I got a solid orange light which meant that the signal from the router was weak and I had to find a better location for it. Digging into why, I logged into the range extender and I discovered that the 5 Ghz band was weak. I also found that the “Spot Finder” graph that was within the green zone in step 6 was now outside the green zone. This was weird. I ended up moving the range extender to several locations before I got a green light. I logged into it and found the graph to be in the green zone.

Here’s the problem. I had to move to a location where I didn’t need the range extender. It really seemed that it struggled to get a decent 5 Ghz signal in my use case. Likely because of the amount of concrete in my condo. So, in the interest of science, I made some notes about the speed in both the location were I could not get a green light, and in the location where I could. In the location were I could not get a green light, I got this speed rating:

505 Mbps

It was better than what what I usually get in this location by a factor of two. Now when I moved it into an area where I got a green light, here’s what I got:

695 Mbps

It did much better in this location. But my testing seems to indicate that Linksys may have a problem with their firmware as the “Spot Finder” graph had the range extender inside the green zone during the setup process, but was outside when the setup process was complete. Linksys should really look at fixing this in a future software update as the average user would be really frustrated with the setup process if they were in my situation and this will likely generate tech support calls for Linksys.

My assessment is that the Max-Stream AC1900+ can help you get a better WiFi signal in areas that that have weak WiFi signals as in either case, I got an improvement over what the router could do alone. Though you may struggle with the setup in some use cases. It goes for $180 Canadian and is worth a try if you have WiFi dead spots in your home that you want to eliminate.