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Wireless Performance - more

The 5 GHz downlink profile shows a similar trend among the routers plotted, with the WRT doing generally better than the EA6900 as throughput declines. It's tough to call a clear winner by just looking at the plot. But using the average of all values measured for this benchmark, we find the ASUS with 315 Mbps, NETGEAR with 308 Mbps and WRT with 292 Mbps, which is an 8% spread. Pretty close.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For 5 GHz uplink, the plots are again closely intermingled. Averages here result in the same ranking, i.e. ASUS with 300 Mbps, NETGEAR with 281 Mbps and WRT with 255 Mbps. The spread here of 18% is more significant.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Closing Thoughts

The WRT1900AC ranks #3 out of five tested AC1900 routers with a tie for first between the NETGEAR R7000 and ASUS RT-AC68U. The ranker performance summary below shows the WRT1900AC's main weaknesses are in the 2.4 GHz band, with some #4 ranks in 5 GHz. Total simultaneous (wired routing) throughput also earns a #4 rank, but it is certainly high enough to not influence a buying decision.

WRT1900AC Ranker Performance Summary

WRT1900AC Ranker Performance Summary

A more interesting comparison is between the WRT and the router it essentially replaces, the EA6900. By looking at the sub-ranks, we see the EA6900 gets its higher ranking from higher routing throughput, 2.4 GHz average throughput and higher range ranking except for 5 GHz downlink. Going by these results, the WRT1900AC does not outperform the EA6900 enough to justify an $80 price premium.

WRT1900AC Ranker Performance Summary

WRT1900AC Ranker Performance Summary

One place the WRT1900 clearly sets a new standard is in storage performance, and that's without eSATA results. As I said earlier, the WRT's filecopy performance is high enough to have it replace a standalone single-drive inexpensive NAS.

So what's the bottom line? Even with its lower ranking, the WRT1900AC doesn't have any major performance faults vis-a-vis the current Broadcom-based ASUS and NETGEAR market leaders. But it doesn't distance itself from the pack either, except in storage performance. I'm going to have to beat on it (and its competition) a bit more before passing final judgement. (Update: Beating on done. See the result.)

For those contemplating trying the WRT1900AC, I think you should go ahead. There is growing dissatisfaction with ASUS' continued firmware instability, despite Merlin's valiant efforts to fix bugs as fast as ASUS creates them. And NETGEAR appears to have its disgruntled customers, too, as all router companies do.

My tests can only tell so much. And what they tell me is that the WRT1900AC is in the race. Whether it comes in win, place or show will depend on Belkin's commitment to the product (especially OpenWRT and the router hacking community), bugfix speed and how it performs in the real world. It seems like a solid platform to build on. Now we need to see where it goes.

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