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Wireless Reviews

AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router
At a glanceAC Router Performance
October 2015
ProductNETGEAR AC1750 Smart Wi-Fi Router (R6400)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based AC1750 class router with Gigabit Ethernet ports and USB 2.0 & 3.0 storage and printer sharing. Replaces R6300.
Pros• Supports VLAN and WAN bridging
• OpenVPN support
Cons• Can't upgrade antennas

Introduction

NETGEAR contacted us shortly after the R6400 review posted, saying our results differed significantly from theirs (they also have an Octoscope test setup). NETGEAR cited the early production sample submitted for review as a possible cause and also said a new firmware revision should provide improved performance.

So I had NETGEAR send a new factory-fresh sample direct from Amazon. Firmware was upgraded to V1.0.0.26_1.0.14 and wireless tests only were re-run.

The router was first reset to factory defaults, then Channel 6 and 20 MHz bandwidth mode set for 2.4 GHz and Channel 153 and 80 MHz bandwidth mode (to enable draft 802.11ac link rates) set for 5 GHz. The test client was connected using WPA2/AES encryption.

The router's antennas were centered on the turntable. The 0° position had the router front facing the chamber antennas. NETGEAR asked us to position the outer two antennas at 45° for the retest; their recommended position. The photo below shows the router in position for retest in the test chamber. The only difference from the original test is the outer antenna 45° angle. The original test had all three antennas pointing straight up.

NETGEAR R6400 Retest - chamber

NETGEAR R6400 Retest - chamber

The retest Benchmark Summary below compares the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations from the retest (left) and original (right) tests. I've circled the wireless results, which are the only change. Average throughput improved in all four wireless benchmarks.

NETGEAR R6400 Retest Benchmark Summary

NETGEAR R6400 Retest Benchmark Summary

For the throughput vs. attenuation profile comparison, let's look again at the same AC1750 class products from the original review, i.e. TP-LINK Archer C8, ASUS RT-AC66U and NETGEAR R6300v2 . I'm going to show only the new plots because trying to compare the two heaps of spaghetti isn't very illuminating. The original plots are available in the original review.

2.4 GHz downlink shows the Archer C8's curve staying above the other three routers for most of the tested range. The R6400 runs somewhere between low-to-mid position for the test. Frankly the curves are so similar, it's doubtful you'd see a significant performance difference in actual use.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows much more difference between the products. The R6400 is much improved over the R6300v2, running about equal with the Archer C8. But it doesn't overtake the ASUS RT-AC66U.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz downlink test summary shows the R6400 with the highest initial throughput of 544 Mbps. But throughput falls off more rapidly than the other three products. By 18 dB of attenuation, the R6400 has dropped below the Archer C8. The C8 also disconnects last, after the 39 dB test. Note the difference between the R6400 and the R6300v2 it replaces.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz uplink plot again has the R6400 at the top of the heap at the start with 503 Mbps. It then again falls off more rapidly than the other products, but tracks more closely once it joins the TP-LINK and ASUS at 18 dB onward. It's again clear the R6400 is much improved vs. the R6300v2.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Closing Thoughts

The Router Ranker Performance Summary comparison of the retest (left) and original (right) results shows the difference in sub-ranks that contribute to the R6400's position as the new #1 ranked AC1750 class router, moving TP-LINK's Archer C8 to #2.

SmallNetBuilder Ranked #1

The Archer C8 is clearly stronger in 2.4 GHz performance and on the 5 GHz side, only bested by the R6400 in Maximum throughput. But the R6400's strong wired router showings for maximum simultaneous connections and LAN to WAN throughput, plus 5 GHz Max and Average throughput rankings bumped it up to the #1 slot.

NETGEAR R6400 Retest Router Ranking Summary

NETGEAR R6400 Retest Router Ranking Summary

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