Who Says An AC Router Needs Gigabit Ports?

Photo of author

Tim Higgins

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.

Related posts

Can 802.11g APs Handle the Load?

Ever wonder if the extra money you pay for an "enterprise" access point is buying the ability to handle heavier traffic loads than the $100-or-so AP on your local retailer's shelf? We did too until we put six 802.11g APs through some pretty heavy load testing, with some surprising results...

Uh Oh: Netgear and Rayspan’s Metamaterial Antennas Not That New?

I need to tune my newsfeeds a bit, since I missed last week's press release about Ruckus Wireless suing Netgear and its new antenna design partner Rayspan.

Order From Chaos: SmallNetBuilder’s Classification System for Wi-Fi Products

It's getting harder to tell Wi-Fi products apart. Here is how SmallNetBuilder is approaching the problem.