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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The OnHub was tested using our V8 Wireless test process with 7077.122.4 firmware. Since OnHub doesn't allow setting channels or bandwidth modes, I had to take what I got. Using a Wi-Fi scanner, I determined the OnHub chose Channel 1 in 2.4 GHz and Channel 36 in 5 GHz. Link rates indicated the 2.4 GHz band was using 20 MHz bandwidth mode.

As usual, I tested with a WPA2/AES secured connection. I was able to manually steer the test client to the desired band because that's the way it works anyway. Here's what OnHub looked like in the test chamber.

OnHub in test chamber

OnHub in test chamber

The Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput calculations.

Google OnHub Benchmark Summary

Google OnHub Benchmark Summary

To put these results into better perspective, I filtered the Router charts for AC1900 products and ran average profile plots for both bands and directions. The OnHub was at or near the bottom for all four benchmarks.

Average Throughput comparison - AC1900 routers

Average Throughput comparison - AC1900 routers

For the throughput vs. attenuation plots, I pulled in three top-ranked AC1900 routers: NETGEAR R7000; ASUS RT-AC68U; and Linksys WRT1900AC.

The 2.4 GHz downlink plot shows the OnHub (TP-LINK TGR1900) starting lower and staying there throughout the tested range. The only good news is that it didn't disconnect early; this indicates it should have decent range.

2.4 GHz Downlink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

2.4 GHz Downlink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

2.4 GHz uplink shows the OnHub starting closer to the rest of the pack, but falling off more quickly than the NETGEAR and crossing below it at 18 dB attenuation onward.

2.4 GHz Uplink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

2.4 GHz Uplink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

5 GHz downlink show a similar start-low-stay-low pattern seen in the 2.4 GHz downlink test. Disconnect is again not super early, but not as good as the ASUS.

5 GHz Downlink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

5 GHz Downlink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

5 GHz uplink shows the OnHub once again with the lowest maximum throughput, but duking it out with the Linksys WRT1900AC for bottom slot at the higher attenuations.

5 GHz Uplink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

5 GHz Uplink throughput vs. attenuation comparison

Closing Thoughts

With disappointing wireless performance and only one of the three wired routing benchmarks measurable, it's no wonder the OnHub ranks #10 out of 10 AC1900 class routers in our current Router Ranker. Please keep in mind that these results were obtained with band-edge channels 1 for 2.4 GHz and 36 for 5 GHz instead of our normal center-band channels 6 and 153. Band-edge channels often have slightly lower power to meet certain FCC limits, so that could have skewed the results. The bottom line here is, despite other reviewers' reports to the contrary, the OnHub is unlikely to knock your Wi-Fi socks off.

As this review was being posted, Google offered a special test image that should allow running our full set of tests. Stay tuned for a upcoming retest article in a week or so.

Much OnHub coverage has touched upon concerns about letting Google be at the heart of your network. It's also a favorite topic for reader comment and forum conspiracy rants. Google is trying to address the concern directly via this help topic that describes the data collected and how to opt out. If you're among those of us who like to trust, but verify, just wait awhile. I'm sure hackers are already sniffing OnHub traffic to see if Google is really walking the talk and will scream bloody murder if they find anything untoward.

I'm not worried about OnHub sniffing network traffic. Google's AdSense beacons and cookies already know plenty about our internet travels and its ubiquitous search box adds even more to our online profiles. OnHub is more interested in learning about your Wi-Fi environment, most likely to improve its Location Services. But you can opt-out of that too, by appending _nomap to your Wi-Fi network name (SSID).

In the end, Google's OnHub is a pretty-to-look-at AC1900 router with disappointing wireless performance that takes an appliance approach to handling your network. You just plug it in, set a network name and security key and let it worry about how to connect all your wireless gadgets and keep them running smoothly.

If you are a router geek, don't even bother. You're going to hate OnHub. For those who regard wireless routers as a necessary evil and just want them to work, only time will tell if Google has the keys to that kingdom.

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