[OVERCLOCK LABS] Kasda Networks KA1900 Wireless Router Review

WilliamGayde
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Pros: DD-WRT firmware, Good range, Lots of customization options, Price

Cons: Finicky setup, Average throughput performance

Kasda Networks KA1900 Wireless Router Review

Wi-Fi should be something you barely think about. Picking the right model for your needs can be a difficult task given all the options to choose from. With some consumer units costing upwards of $250, it's important to understand the market and what type of unit you are looking for. Kasda Networks, a newer value oriented brand, has models across the spectrum. Today I'll be taking a look at their new KA1900 model. We'll go through usability, performance, and overall recommendations on the product. Thanks to Kasda for sending this unit out for review. Let's get started with the KA1900.


Unboxing and Overview
Packaging is fine with a few key specifications listed. The KA1900 is an AC1900 class router. That means its theoretical max speed it 1300Mbps for the 5GHz band and 600Mbps for the 2.4GHz band. Both can run at the same time to support all devices. There are 6 antennas on the inside of the unit. We’ve seen a trend to move the antennas outside of the main housing to allow for longer range and less interference, but at least for the KA1900 model, they remain inside. External antennas are more often seen on higher end and faster spec'd units.



The box includes exactly what you'd expect and nothing more. A power cable, the router, some documentation, and a networking cable. The wall adapter is slightly bigger than I would expect but as long as you have a spare outlet next to the router’s one, you should be fine. The included Ethernet cable felt a little cheap and flimsy. It reminded me of surgical tubing, but again that won't matter at all for connectivity and performance.



Here is the router itself. It's glossy black on the front and matte black on the back. The sharp angles remind me of Netgear's Nighthawk router. The vertical stance allows it to fit easily behind a monitor or in other tight spaces. The base is plenty wide and I never worried about it tipping over. Aside from the large Kasda logo and a few status LEDs, the front is empty with a mirror-like appearance. The LED's are basically useless though since they are all the same color and reading their function is nearly impossible. They should either have had different colors or more legible writing on what they mean. From left to right we have power, connectivity for the 4 LAN ports, internet status, what I assume is an missing LED because there's no symbol for what it does, the 2.4GHz radio, the 5GHz radio, and USB status.



The back of the unit is almost completely filled with ventilation cutouts. It gets a little warm back hear but as long as it's not buried in the carpet, it'll be fine. In terms of I/O, there is a USB3.0 port, a USB2.0 port, a WAN port, 4 LAN ports, power jack, and a power switch. I love the power switch as it makes power-cycling very easy instead of having to reach for the cord. I wish all manufacturers had this. The addition of both a USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 port is nice since not all devices may work between generations. These ports are good for a network printer or file server.



The bottom of the unit shows technical information about each unit as well as details useful for setup. Strangely the wall mounting holes are located on the bottom as well. They should definitely have been on the back since putting them on the bottom means the internal radios will be pointing into the ground if you mounted that way. If you plan on wall mounting it, you'll want to make sure it faces the right way.



Usability
Setting up the KA1900 took a bit longer than it should have. I had to hard reset the router a few times when standard settings would not work. After a while I was up and running though. Another notable thing I observed was the time it takes to boot or change configurations. My unit took nearly 5 minutes to acquire a connection from the time I plugged in the network cable. Most other routers take just a few seconds. I'm not sure what caused this slowness but it's really only an issue during setup or network troubleshooting. The final notable issue I observed was that the router would sometimes have up to 3 different IPs for itself. This could have caused confusion on the network and may have contributed to the previous issues.


The KA1900 runs the free Linux based DD-WRT firmware. This is wonderful and I wish more manufacturers did this since it's a tried and tested software system. Most other vendors lock down the router's functionality to none but the most basic settings. DD-WRT unlocks all of those features and other cool modes for the router. It can be a little overwhelming for new users since there's so much you can change, but most of it you’ll never need to touch. The quick setup is fine for basic installations but more advanced users can tweak just about every aspect to their needs. Especially useful are the wireless modes like Access Point, Bridge, Repeater, and multiple SSIDs. Pictured below are just a few of the dozens of pages of customization for the KA1900



Performance
Now on to the final part of the review; the performance tests. I started with signal strength and quality. I tested using a standard AC capable mobile phone as my client. The KA1900 is a cheaper model but I'll be comparing it to two other well-known industry players. I tested in the same room as the router, one room away, and two rooms away on a different floor. Strength is measured in dBm and is a negative quantity, but I have just taken the absolute value to make it easier. A value closer to zero indicates a better signal. You can clearly see that while 5GHz is much faster, its range is much less. You typically want to stay below 80dBm for basic connectivity, but anything network intensive will require a strength of 65dBm or below. The channel optimization is very good and thus the Kasda performs surprisingly well here.



Below are the signal graphs over a 5-minute window. The KA1900 2.4GHz is yellow, the KA1900 5GHz is salmon colored, the Trendnet 2.4GHz is red, the Trendnet 5GHz is brown, the D-Link 2.4GHz is green, and the D-Link 5GHz is blue. You can see general trends here. The 5GHz signal on the KA1900 was a bit spotty and often dropped out completely even just one room away. This is why signal strength and raw speed numbers don’t tell the full story. You need a stable signal or you won’t get anything.


The last thing I tested was network speed. I was able to transfer a file over Wi-Fi to the same AC client at an actual speed of about 70Mbps. It's a bit low and it’s hard to know what the bottleneck was here, but this should be fine for most wireless home internet connections. Wired USB speed from a network drive was around 90Mbps which is a bit low too.


The market for AC1900 capable routers is pretty big. There are models from around $80 all the way up to nearly $200. At under $70 from Amazon, the KA1900 is a bargain. Signal strength is good but it cut out at times so for larger houses, two units with one in a repeater mode may be a good solution. For smaller and more budget conscious use cases, the KA1900 is a good option. It won't be the fastest but it will definitely get the job done.


Here is a link to the forum post for discussion and comments.

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