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Wireless Reviews

Dual Band Wireless AC1200 Router
At a glance
ProductEnGenius Dual Band Wireless AC1200 Router (ESR1200)   [Website]
SummaryQCA-based AC1200 class router with Gigabit ports, USB 2.0 storage sharing and VPN servers.
Pros• Good FAT32 storage performance
• PPTP, L2TP and IPsec VPN Servers
• IPv6 support
Cons• Unimpressive 2.4 Ghz and 5 GHz range
• No bridging / repeating
• Not Wi-Fi Certified

Typical Price: $139  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

Updated 10/1/13: Corrected inside component information

Our last look at an EnGenius router was the EnGenius ESR750H last August. With EnGenius' launch of its 802.11ac routers, it's time to take another look. We'll start with the ESR1200 AC1200 class router and follow up with a review of the top-of-line ESR1750 in a week or so.

EnGenius has dubbed its new line the "pod" routers and given them the "smoke detector" design usually reserved for access points. Where this format works well to hide access points in plain sight mounted on ceilings and walls, it doesn't really do much for a router that usually sits on a table. It's hard to be inconspicuous when you have a power cord and five Ethernet cables sticking out of you...

The callout diagram below describes all the lights, ports and switches.

EnGenius ESR1200 callouts

EnGenius ESR1200 front panel callouts

The front panel LEDs show separate 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz traffic, Power, WAN Status and WPS Status.

Inside

Updated 10/1/13: Corrected inside component information

We throught the ESR1200 was going to be the first QCA-based 11ac router we reviewed. But NETGEAR's R6100 snuck in and took us by surprise.

We initially didn't take apart the ESR1200 and instead relied on the FCC ID photos that had close-ups of all the key components. It turns out, that was a bad idea because the actual products are very different from the product shown in the FCC ID internal photos.

The FCC ID photo shows three antennas and components loaded in all three RF chains. The actual board shown below has only two antennas per radio and all different QCA devices. It appears that instead of using the same exact hardware as the ESR1750, the ESR1200 actually is an AC1200 design.

EnGenius ESR1200 board (actual)

EnGenius ESR1200 board (actual)

Since this design is built with 2x2 radios, my original theory that EnGenius used AC1750 hardware locked to AC1200 rates was wrong. Note that EnGenius didn't point out the error in my theory when I originally asked them why the same hardware was used in both products. I suppose this is fair game, but a bit too cute for my taste. At any rate, I apologize for my error

The ESR1200's key components are summarized in Table 1 beside the NETGEAR R6100, which is included as currently the only other AC1200 class router using QCA devices. The designs are quite different.

EnGenius ESR1200 NETGEAR R6100
CPU QCA9557 dual-band, 2-stream 802.11n system-on-chip Atheros AR9344
Switch QCA8337 In Atheros AR9344
RAM 128 MB 128 MB
Flash 16 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - In QCA9557
- SST 12LP15A 2.4 GHz power amp (x3x2)
- In Atheros AR9344
- Possible power amps (x2)
5 GHz radio - QCA9882
- Unidentified 5 GHz power amp (x2) marked 15E3WPK
- QCA9882 2x2 802.11ac/a/b/g/n radio
- Skyworks SE5003L 5 GHz power amp (x2)
Table 1: Component summary

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