Having been at the consumer network product review game for close to 15 years now, I confess that I long ago lost the ability to see these products as average buyers do. And I also admit that SmallNetBuilder can skew toward the esoteric at times with its constant focus on high performance.
So it’s always refreshing to get a sanity check, which I recently did in response to my review of NETGEAR’s R6100 AC1200 class router. The sanity checker is someone in the business (not from NETGEAR), who knows whereof he speaks.
The focus of his information was my moaning about the 10/100 ports on the router limiting its Router Rank, but more importantly its potential sales. Here are the bullet points he made in response:
• An increasing number of homes actually have nothing but the modem plugged into their router. A recent informal survey by my source of "connected" homes with adults between 20-35 years old showed nearly all of the homes were completely wireless (iPads, Notebooks, Roku boxes, etc.). No wired NAS, workstations, and in some cases, printers in the home, whatsoever.
• For at least the past year, the biggest selling router in the U.S. is N600 class with 10/100 ports. Next biggest is N300, followed by N150. N600 as a whole (10/100 + Gigabit) is larger than N300 by a respectable margin. N600 10/100 outsells N600 Gigabit by just about 2-to-1.
• Most U.S. buyers spend $60 – $70 for their router.
• Most LAN-side (non-internet) transfers in the home are wireless-to-wireless. The wireless-to-wired transfers that do happen are at rates below 100 Mbps. Even a lot of internet-based streaming video traffic occurs at rates around 5 Mbps peak.
That said, my informant says router makers are pushing strongly toward 11ac, but with a focus on providing higher throughput to mobile devices with 1×1 (AC580) or at most 2×2 (AC1200) radios. The key to satisfying this need, however, will be getting routers under the all-important $100 price point.Today however, AC1300 (2.4 GHz @ 450 Mbps; 5 GHz @ 867 Mbps) is the best seller, with AC1200 (2.4 GHz @ 300 Mbps; 5 GHz @ 867 Mbps) not far behind.
So, score one for NETGEAR. You’re better off with a standalone Gigabit switch if you need one anyway, to keep its additional heat load out of the router.