MU-MIMO Performance - Triangle
The first test used the triangle configuration, with about 6 feet between the router and each phone. This arrangement is intended to maximize the router's ability to get optimum beamforming for each client by maximizing client-to-client separation at short range. Simply put, the better the beamforming, the better throughput to each client can be optimized.
Due to test space limitations, I had to position one client in front, one in back and one on the right side (facing router front). All were about 6 feet from the router.
The chart below shows throughput difference between MU-MIMO disabled and enabled for each client and for all three total. Throughput siginificantly improved for each client, with a total overall throughput gain just shy of 200%.
MU-MIMO Throughput change - Triangle
The IxChariot plot below shows the test run throughput plot with MU-MIMO disabled. (Note the All Pairs value in the IxChariot plots will not equal the total values shown in the throughput change charts due to the way IxChariot calculates the average throughput of a group of tests. Individual test average values are used for my throughput difference calculations.)
MU-MIMO Throughput - Triangle configuration - MU-MIMO disabled
The MU-MIMO enabled plot shows more consistent and relatively even throughput distribution. Just like MU-MIMO is supposed to provide.
MU-MIMO Throughput - Triangle configuration - MU-MIMO enabled
The Linksys EA8500's MU-MIMO throughput distribution was better, but this could be due to the different MU-MIMO client used.
MU-MIMO Throughput - Triangle configuration - MU-MIMO enabled - Linksys EA8500
The "All Front" test is meant to be a MU-MIMO torture test because it minimizes client-to-client distance. When clients are close together, it should be more difficult to optimize beamforming for each client.
The test positions all three devices on a rack in front of the router about 6 feet away. This doesn't look like much of a torture test, with higher individual and total throughput gain than the "ideal" triangle arrangement. Total throughput gain was over 4X!
MU-MIMO Throughput change - All Front
The last test looks at how MU-MIMO might work in a more real-world home situation with devices in different rooms. This test kept one phone on the rack in the same room as the router, the second phone moved to a nearby bedroom about 25 feet and a few sheetrock walls away and the third located on a table at the far end of an adjacent hallway.
MU-MIMO 3 Room test floorplan
Once again, the Archer C2600 passed the test with flying colors, providing individual client and just over 3X overall throughput gain! Throughput gain was highest for the in-room device, which is expected since it would have the strongest signal. But the gains in the other locations indicate those clients are still operating in MU mode.
MU-MIMO Throughput change - Three Room
More Connections Per Client
Qualcomm says MU-MIMO throughput improvement is even better with multiple connections per client, as might happen when your web browser launches a lot of simultaneous connections in its effort to quickly render a page. I reran the three test scenarios with three connections per client.
The results show more modest overall throughput gains. But all clients and all connections showed higher throughput with MU-MIMO enabled. The "ideal" triangle configuration yielded 154% total throughput gain.
MU-MIMO Throughput change - Triangle - 3 connections / client
The "torture test" All Front configuration once again turned in the best total throughput improvement, 166%.
MU-MIMO Throughput change - All Front - 3 connections / client
Finally, the three room test showed gains in all cases with 147% total throughput gain.
MU-MIMO Throughput change - 3 room - 3 connections / client
With three AC2600 routers in the charts, it's time to call a SmallNetBuilder Ranked #1 award. And the ranker calculations put the Archer C2600 in the #1 position.
The Ranker detail shows stronger 2.4 GHz performance than 5 GHz, mainly due to its higher maximum throughput, which also contributes to its higher average throughput rank. The only #1 rank earned in 5 GHz is actually a tie with the Linksys EA8500, which has an overall #2 rank.
Router Ranker Performance Summary
The Archer C2600's MU-MIMO performance is the best example I've seen yet of how MU-MIMO is supposed to work. All scenarios and all connections showed improvement with MU-MIMO enabled, even in the toughest multi-room test. Neither the Amped Wireless RTA2600 nor Linksys EA8500 could consistently produce improved throughput.
Before you rush to buy, remember you need at least two MU-MIMO devices to reap the improved total wireless bandwidth yield of a MU-MIMO router and those devices are still essentially MIA here in the U.S. But if you just gotta have an AC2600 class MU-MIMO router, the TP-LINK Archer C2600 looks like your best buy for now.