You may be wondering why I'm testing a Wi-Fi 5 router like the Mercusys AC1900 Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit Router. After all, it's 2023, and Wi-Fi 7 routers are coming out this year. Well, the truth is, this router (also known as MR50G) is cheap. You can get it for S$49, and we all know that's not buying a whole lot of stuff nowadays. So if you're looking for a decent budget router for a shop or rental apartment, the MR50G fits the bill.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 (AC1900)
- 1x Gigabit WAN port, 2x Gigabit LAN ports
- Parental controls and firewall protection
The folks at Mercusys have been busy over the past year. When I tried a Mercusys router last year — the budget Wi-Fi 6 MR70X — it felt like a blast from the past, lacking features that we take for granted nowadays. For example, it didn't have a mobile app, and you couldn't update the firmware directly via the internet. Well, out of the box, you still can't update the MR50G's firmware via the internet, but it gains that feature after an update. So for this initial firmware update, you'll have to download the firmware file from the Mercusys support page, and upload it in the router's web-based interface. Subsequently, you can easily update the firmware through the router interface.
This firmware update also adds support for the Mercusys app. This means that, like most routers, you'll be able to configure the MR50G router using the app. But out of the box (before the firmware update), you'll have to set up the MR50G the old-school way. This involves connecting to its default network with a browser to configure your network settings. In short, you can get the latest router features with the MR50G. You just need to do a couple extra steps before that. I prefer using the Mercusys app, which is similar to TP-Link's Deco app (Mercusys is TP-Link's budget brand). It's more convenient to use than the browser interface, though the browser interface offers more features. In terms of its hardware, the MR50G has three Gigabit ports, but no USB ports. The router itself is light and made of plastic. No mounting holes at the bottom, though.
The MR50G uses the older Wi-Fi 5 standard. Hence, its maximum theoretical speed (1.3Gbps) is much lower than newer Wi-Fi 6 routers (2.4Gbps for a typical dual-band AX3000 model). In our usual test, the MR50G managed a middling average download speed of 452Mbps using a laptop a few metres away. In a distant bedroom, this dropped to 40Mbps. These results aren't surprising for a cheap router, and similar enough to the Mercusys MR70X. While the MR50G uses an older Wi-Fi standard, it's not entirely lacking in modern features. For starters, it supports the latest WPA3 security protocol. There's also Smart Connect, which combines 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands into a single network name (SSID). Other more standard features include parental controls, a guest network, and IPTV support.
The Mercusys AC1900 Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit Router is available at a very affordable S$49 (Lazada and Amazon SG). Besides its limited speeds, I have no complaints about its performance. The router and app felt responsive enough. It would have been nice to have one more Gigabit port, or a USB port. But the features are largely on a par with other routers in this price range. Get the MR50G now from Lazada, Amazon SG, and Shopee.
Note: Review unit provided by TP-Link.
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