Wireless Performance - more
For the 5 GHz downlink test, the RT-AC56U was clearly the hands-down winner. The Buffalo starts out with high throughput similar to the ASUS at the strongest signal level. But throughput falls off quickly and the connection is essentially dead at only 39 dB of attenuation.
5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation
Finally, for the 5 GHz uplink tests, the ASUS is again the best of the bunch, with the Buffalo tracking with the other two routers until connection drops at 39 dB of attenuation, indicating shorter range once again.
5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation
Initially, just looking at the Broadcom componens that matched those used in
our top performing $160 ASUS
RT-AC56U, I thought that the $120 Buffalo WZR-1166DHP might be a reasonably-priced
alternative. However, the ranking as the top of the router ranking chart remains
unchanged. The ASUS is still #1 followed by the $70 Edimax
BR-6478AC. The WZR-1166DHP was good enough to capture the #3 total router
ranking and to bump the D-Link
DIR-860L down to #4.
Buffalo WZR-1166DHP Router Ranking
The chart below shows that the Buffalo WZR-1166DHP earned its #3 overall ranking. It ranked #3 in three of the four performance categories. And, as we saw from the four performance vs. attenuation plots above, it clearly didn't earn a #3 ranking for wireless range. In fact, in all four of the tests, the Buffalo router dropped its connection with less attenuation than the other three routers in the comparison.
Buffalo WZR-1166DHP Router Ranker Performance Summary
In the final analysis, it all comes down to making a purchasing decision. If your budget is in the $160 range, pass up the ASUS RT-AC56U and spend the extra $10 to buy the ASUS RT-AC66U - the top performing AC1750 class router. If you're working within a tight budget and don't need a USB port on your router, the Edimax BR-6478AC, ranked #2 is an excellent choice. If you're somewhere between those two extremes, you're probably looking at either the D-Link DIR-860L or the Buffalo WZR-1166DHP. Priced at $120, the Buffalo device is still above the AC1200 class average, and represents a $25 premium as compared to the D-Link DIR-860L.
For me, choosing between the Buffalo WZR-1166DHP and the D-Link DIR-860L is a fairly easy choice. I'd save the $25 and buy the D-Link. Even though the DIR-860L dropped to #4 overall, the wireless performance of the D-Link pretty much tracked the performance of the WZR-1166DHP with the D-Link holding a slight performance advantage at higher attenuation levels. Both the D-Link and the Buffalo routers feature USB 3.0 ports, though the Buffalo outperformed the D-Link on the FAT32 tests. However, the Buffalo router doesn't support NTFS - a feature missing on most Buffalo routers.
The final deciding factor for me is Wi-Fi certification. The DIR-860L has it and the WZR-1166DHP doesn't. But it's not just about having a logo as a checkbox feature. The DIR-860L passed both the 40 MHz coexistence test and the Fat channel intolerant tests. You have to pass both of these tests to be Wi-Fi Certified. Unfortunately, the Buffalo WZR-1166DHP failed both of these tests. Given the choice, I'd prefer to be a good RF neighbor. I would hope that my neighbors would too.