As noted at the top of this review, I tested wireless performance using our standard wireless test process, which can test only up to AC1750 class routers. The R7000 is not Wi-Fi Certified, but the RT-AC68U is for 802.11a,b,g,n and ac.
Each 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 was set for 5 GHz. The test client was connected using WPA2/AES encryption.
The router were positioned 8" from the chamber antennas in the 0° and 180° test positions. Because of the width of both products and the tight quarters in the test chamber, the closest antenna in the 90° and 270° positions was more like 6 to 7 inches from the chamber antennas. The 0° position for both routers had the front facing the chamber antennas.
The R7000's Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations. Its 96 Mbps Average 2.4 GHz downlink places it one spot below the ASUS RT-N66U in that benchmark chart, while its 90 Mbps average uplink moves it a bit lower to the #4 spot below the N66U, ASUS RT-AC66U and TP-LINK Archer C7.
NETGEAR R7000 Benchmark Summary
Average 5 GHz results are a different story, with the R7000 taking top places in both downlink and uplink charts with results of 248 Mbps and 232 Mbps, respectively. It also topped the 5 GHz UpDown benchmark chart with a new high of 649 Mbps—40 Mbps higher than the second-place D-Link DIR-868L.
The RT-AC68U's Benchmark Summary below shows its 80 Mbps Average 2.4 GHz downlink. This slots it at #8, far below the 99 Mbps of the RT-N66U that occupies the top position. When you look at the uplink rank, however, you have to scroll down pretty far to see the 43 Mbps uplink average. This is sure to throw some cold water on some prospective buyers...at least for awhile.
ASUS RT-AC68U Benchmark Summary
Average 5 GHz results get the AC68U back in the game with 243 Mbps downlink average, which puts it right below the R7000's 248 Mbps. 5 GHz average uplink also has the two routers sitting right next to each other in that chart, albeit with the AC68U a bit lower at 221 Mbps vs. the R7000's 232 Mbps. A second buzzkill for ASUS fanboys is the 5 GHz UpDown benchmark. The AC68U came in far below the R7000 with only 432 Mbps of total throughput vs. the R7000's 649 Mbps.
But the real fun comes when looking at the throuhput vs. attenuation plots, which provide a much better view of relative performance. I included each product's AC1750 class sibling in the charts, i.e. NETGEAR's R6300 and ASUS' RT-AC66U.
The 2.4 GHz downlink profile shows similar performance with low attenuation (higher signal levels). It looks like ASUS still has some tweaking to do with link rate selection in the strong-to-medium signal range since both the AC66U and AC68U have significant throughput dips in that part of the curves.
There is a clear difference between the products using the BCM4360 as the 2.4 GHz radio once attenuation passes 30 dB or so. Both the RT-AC66U and R6300 begin to fall off sooner, which puts them 30 Mbps or so below both the AC68U and R7000 after 51 dB of attenuation. Note that the two AC1750 class and AC1900 class products track together pretty closely as attenuation increases above 50 dB.
2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation
The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows three of the four products tracking remarkably closely up to 30 dB of attenuation. The RT-AC68U clearly has a problem with this benchmark, which I assume ASUS will be able to straighten out via a firmware update. So I'll probably be taking the AC68U through another tour in the test chamber for the full review.
This time, it's the older RT-AC66U that tracks with the newer R7000 as signal levels drop.