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AC1900 Smart Dual-band Gigabit WiFi Router
At a glance
ProductTenda AC1900 Smart Dual-band Gigabit WiFi Router (AC15)   [Website]
SummaryUnder $100 Broadcom-based AC1900 class router
Pros• AC1900 class for under $100
• Surprisingly good storage throughput for the money
Cons• Routing features may be too basic for some
• Only three LAN ports
• Not Wi-Fi Certified

Typical Price: $0  Buy From Amazon


Updated 2/25/16 - Router performance retest due to measurement process error

If you have been looking for an 802.11ac router with only $100 to spend, you had to settle for AC1750 class or lower or refurbished products. But now Tenda's AC1900 Smart Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Router aims to let you step up to AC1900 class for under 100 bucks.

The AC15 is a Broadcom-based router using components very similar to products from better-known vendors. So we'll see how the AC15 stacks up against the better-knowns We'll also take a look at the feature set and user interface, since this is the first time we've reviewed a Tenda router.

The AC15 is fairly large measuring 8.9 x 7.07 x 3.02 in (226 x 179.5 x 76.6mm). For those with limited desktop real estate, you'll be happy to know the AC15 is designed to stand almost vertically using the optional mounting foot that tilts the body to the rear by a few degrees. The total specified depth includes the depth of the mounting foot.

The black glossy case has a molded quilt pattern on the front panel. The top and the rear of the router have vent holes to provide good ventilation. The three antennas on the top of the router are 3 dBi dual band antennas. They aren't replaceable, so you can't upgrade to higher gain antennas.

As shown in the callouts below, the LED status indicators are arranged in a line across the top of the router. You can turn off all the LEDs except Power via a companion app. The web-based UI further allows scheduling LED on / off times.

Tenda AC15 front panel callouts

Tenda AC15 front panel callouts

The image below shows the top and rear panels of the AC15. Across the top are buttons for WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) and a Wi-Fi on/off switch. There is also a pin reset hole that returns the router to factory defaults when depressed for 8 seconds.

Across the bottom of the rear panel, (left to right) there's a power on/off switch, power jack, USB 3.0 port, Gigabit WAN port and three Gigabit LAN ports. The AC15 is powered by an external 12 VDC 2.5A power supply. It's unusual to see only three LAN ports on a router; most have four. It's particularly surprising since the Broadcom SoC has built-in support for five Gigabit ports, which competitive products assign as one WAN and four LAN.

Tenda AC15 top and rear panel callouts

Tenda AC15 top and rear panel callouts


We opened the router after testing to get a better photo of the main board than found in the FCC certifications docs. The Broadcom SOC is on the left center of the board. The 5GHz radio is in the center of the board and the 2.4 GHz radios is to the right. All key parts have thermal pads coupling to the RF can tops (removed for the photograph).

Tenda AC15 component side of themain PCB

Tenda AC15 component side of the main PCB

The image below, taken from the FCC certification photos, show everything covered by a massive heat sink.

Tenda AC15 FCC photo showing heat sink

Tenda AC15 FCC photo showing heat sink

Table 1 below summarizes the key components of the Tenda AC15 and three products we'll be using for performance comparison later. All are Broadcom based designs. Note the Tenda uses the other and less powerful BCM4708A instead of the BCM4709A.

  Tenda AC15 Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 TP-LINK Archer C9
CPU Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4709A
Switch in BCM4708A in BCM4708A in Broadcom BCM4709A in Broadcom BCM4709A
RAM 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
Flash 16 MB 16 MB 128 MB 16 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Richwave RTC6649E 2.4 GHz Power amp (x3) Also looks like LNA and 2.4 GHz switch chips (x3 each)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks 2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM4360
Skyworks SKY85710-11 5 GHz WLAN Front End (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Table 1: Key components for the Tenda AC15 and products being used for comparison

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