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Wireless Reviews

AC1900 Router Retest 2

Introduction

I have found that 5 GHz band range measured by the new V8 process is less than produced by the previous V7 process. While many products made it all the way out to 45 dB attenuation without disconnecting in the V7 process, most products don't make it past 39 dB in the V8 process.

This is primarily due to the increased distance between router and chamber antennas (8" to 18"), which reduces the received signal level. We also now rotate the router under test while the test is running. As the router rotates, its throughput varies and under high attenuations (low signal) the connection tends to break.

Since the most accurate comparisons are made among products tested with the same process, I went back and retested all five AC1900 class routers previously tested. This will make comparison with new AC1900 routers more accurate going forward.

The firmwares and routers in this retest are:

  • ASUS RT-AC68U: 3.0.0.4.376_1663
  • Linksys EA6900: 1.1.42.161129
  • Linksys WRT1900AC: 1.1.8.161917
  • NETGEAR R7000: 1.03.60
  • TRENDnet TEW-818DRU: 1.0.8.0
The ASUS RT-AC68U was retested again. New results are here.

Average Throughput

Let's start by comparing average up and downlink throughput. The charts below show the average of all values measured over a 0 to 63 dB range on the 2.4 GHz band. Values measured with the new V8 process are on the left (magenta colored bars) and the old V7 process on the right (grey bars). You won't find the old data in the charts. I generated these charts using an offline database.

The new NETGEAR R7000 standard test client is an AC1900 class device. So average downlink throughput is generally higher, reflecting a moderate throughput improvement over the old AC1750 class ASUS PCE-AC66 standard client. Average uplink throughput results, however, are mixed. Only one product, the TRENDnet TEW-818DRU had higher average throughput.

Note also that products shifted position from the V7 to V8 results. Two Linksys products, the EA6900 and WRT1900AC now have the highest average downlink and uplink throughputs, respectively.

2.4 GHz Average Throughput - original and retest

2.4 GHz Average Throughput - original and retest

The 5 GHz average throughput results are mixed. The TRENDnet again shows the most improvement, more than doubling average downlink throughput from the V7 results! The top-ranked ASUS RT-AC68U from the last process shows a slight decline in average throughput for downlink (315 Mbps to 294 Mbps), but a significant reduction in average uplink (300 Mbps to 235 Mbps).

5 GHz Average Throughput - original and retest

5 GHz Average Throughput - original and retest

Throughput vs. Attenuation - 2.4 GHz

So much for looking backward. We'll now look at how products stack up using the new test method. 2.4 GHz downlink throughput vs. attenuation for all five products is plotted below. You can now generate these plots for up to six products, up from the four previously possible.

Yes, the 2.4 GHz downlink plot is busy, but it's clear the ASUS RT-AC68U and Linksys WRT1900AC stay above the other routers from 27 to 54 dB of attenuation. The WRT1900AC, however, falls off sharply at 57 dB, letting the NETGEAR R7000 Nighthawk track the ASUS from that point onward.

Throughput vs. Attenuation - 2.4 GHz downlink

Throughput vs. Attenuation - 2.4 GHz downlink

Switching to 2.4 GHz uplink, the Linksys WRT1900AC looks like the only one of the bunch to make the most of the higher throughput possible with the QAM-256 modulation enabled in the 2.4 GHz band in AC1900 products. The WRT1900AC has the highest throughput with strong signals from 0 to 24 dB attenuation. After that, though, the ASUS RT-AC68U once again stays above the others, with the NETGEAR R7000 tracking right along until it disconnects at 63 dB.

Throughput vs. Attenuation - 2.4 GHz uplink

Throughput vs. Attenuation - 2.4 GHz uplink

If you look at the curve slopes, the ASUS, WRT1900AC and R7000 would all have essentially the same 2.4 GHz range both up and downlink. Using the same analysis method, the TRENDnet TEW-818DRU and Linksys EA6900's range would be slightly less.

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