NETGEAR is trying another draft 11ac link rate to see if it will stick.
NETGEAR isn't going out of its way to promote the AC1450 Smart WiFi router that has quietly appeared on its site. Although it is classed as one of the company's "Ultimate Performance" wireless routers, the product doesn't appear on the index page.
The AC1450 has all Gigabit ports, one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. Its web page touts a "dual-core 800 MHz processor", which would mean a Broadcom BCM4708 lies underneath its glossy black plastic exterior.
As the chart below shows, you can think of the AC1450 as an "R6300 minus" (this is why I don't work in marketing), since it is a 3x3 design vs. the all 2x2 R6200 or mixed 2.4 GHz 2x2 plus 5 GHz 3x3 R6250.
NETGEAR "Ultimate" Routers
Perhaps not wanting to degrade the top-of-line R6300's pricing any faster than necessary, NETGEAR is locking down the 5 GHz radio on the AC1450 to a top 975 Mbps link rate vs. the usual 1300 Mbps 3x3 draft 11ac rate. They do this by preventing use of the two top 256-QAM modulation schemes in the draft 802.11ac MCS index.
This protects the R6300 as NETGEAR's sole AC1750 class router along with its top (~$200) price, even though the AC1450 might be more appealing given its USB 3.0 port. At a $159.99 MSRP, however, folks could be mighty tempted to give up 325 Mbps (25%) of top potential link rate to get an otherwise top-of-line router for $40 less.
Unlike ASUS' marketing ploy with its recently-outed "AC1900" RT-AC68U, NETGEAR isn't doing anything proprietary with the AC1450. So if you have an AC1300 class client, it will work fine with the AC1450, albeit reaching only the maximum 975 Mbps link rate.
When asked about the product, NETGEAR said "We do not plan any press release on this product, it is available today, so you could consider it announced". While that may be true, it's not currently found online and only at Costco, according to NETGEAR.