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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The Edimax BR-6478AC is not Wi-Fi Certified. It defaults to Auto channel mode on both 2.4 and 5 GHz radios upon power-up. The 2.4 GHz radio defaulted to Auto 20/40 channel width as did the 5 GHz radio to Auto 20/40/80. The SSIDs default to the same name (edimax.setup) for both wireless bands. However, you are prompted to change SSIDs and wireless security settings during the initial setup proceedure.

WPS tests produced mixed results. We successfully got a WPA2/AES secured connection to the 2.4 GHz radio after being prompted for a PIN by a Win 7 client, but WPS did not work on the 5 GHz band. I also tried the WPS pushbutton method to connect my WDTV Live media streamer. I pressed the WPS/Reset button for 5-6 seconds. That seemed to be too long, as the router reset. After it reset, I pressed the button for about 2 seconds and a WPS connection was negotiated.

The Fat Channel Intolerant test failed because the BR-6478AC did not switch to 20 MHz link rates when the bit was set. However, the router passed the 40 MHz coexistence test. It switched immediately to 20 MHz mode when set to Channel 8 and switched back immediately when moving back to Channel 6. (The "neighboring" network was on Channel 11.) This is a first, since we usually find that the Fat Channel test passes when 40 MHz coexistence passes.

All tests were run using our current wireless test process and version 1.14 (upgraded) version firmware in the router. The router was first reset to factory defaults and Channel 6 was set for 2.4 GHz and Channel 153 for 5 GHz. 20 MHz bandwidth mode was set for 2.4 GHz and 80 MHz mode (to enable draft 802.11ac link rates) was set for 5 GHz. The test client was connected using WPA2/AES encryption.

The router was positioned 8" from the chamber antennas in all test positions. The 0° position had the router front facing the chamber antennas. The benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

Edimax BR-6478AC Benchmark Summary

Edimax BR-6478AC Benchmark Summary

For our comparison, I selected the D-Link DIR-850L, DIR-860L, and the TRENDnet TEW-811DRU. I omitted the NETGEAR N6100, included in the chart at the top of the review, as the throughput vs. attenuation graphs are limited to four devices. Comparing the N6100 also isn't really fair, since its 5 GHz AC throughput is limited by its 10/100 Ethernet ports. I included the TRENDnet since it previously held the lowest cost title and included the DIR-850L since it uses the same Realtek chipsets as the Edimax. I threw in the DIR-860L as a premium-priced AC1200 with a street price just above $100.00.

To help make sense of all of the benchmarks, I created a summary comparison of the four products in the chart below. Cells highlighted in yellow indicate the best performance for the corresponding test in the left column. What I found surprised me.

Benchmark Summary Comparison

Benchmark Summary Comparison

The highlights in the Edimax column tell an interesting story. The BR-6478AC outperformed all of the other devices compared for all 2.4 GHz benchmarks, and was a clear winner on the 5 GHz uplink test. But average performance tells only part of the story. Equally important are the Performance vs. Attenuation benchmarks that are intended to show how a router performs over a full range of signal levels from super strong to where the signal drops.

Not surprisingly, in the 2.4 GHz downlink tests, not only did the BR-6478AC have better average performance, it also performed better with higher attenuation, i.e. lower signal levels. The TEW-811DRU and the DIR-850L both lost connection at relatively early 48 dB of attenuation. At that level of attenuation, the Edimax was still getting 37 Mbps of throughput - more than enough for HD video. And, the Edimax stayed connected throughout the entire 63 dB test range.

2.4 GHz Downlink Performance vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Performance vs. Attenuation

For the 2.4 GHz Uplink test, the Edimax held a similar advantage. At attenuation levels greater than 21 dB, the Edimax maintained a significant advantage over the other products throughout the rest of the attenuation range. At 48 dB, both the TRENDnet and DIR-850L again lost connection while the Edimax was still delivering 39 Mbps of throughput. Both the uplink and downlink results indicate that the Edimax should have superior 2.4 GHz range compared to the other routers.

2.4 GHz Uplink Performance vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Performance vs. Attenuation

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