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AC vs. AX Performance - NETGEAR RAX120

NETGEAR's RAX120 is also a Wi-Fi 6 lone wolf in this round-up, using Qualcomm's Wi-Fi 6 platform. It's also unique in its use of a 5 GHz 8 stream radio that produces only four-stream link rates. The 2.4 GHz side uses a straight four-stream AX architecture.

From here on, I'll be showing only results using the AX200 w/ Windows driver to measure Wi-Fi 6 performance and Qualcomm-based Pal to show what a two-stream N/AC STA can do.

The 2.4 GHz downlink plot shows that the AX client fails to produce the expected higher throughput. The test script also runs netsh wlan show interface on the STA every few seconds and logs it to a CSV file. That command reports receive and transmit link rates, both of which were the expected 287 Mbps. So throughput should have been up around 200 Mbps, as the same test on other products has shown.

NETGEAR RAX120 2.4 GHz - downlink

NETGEAR RAX120 2.4 GHz - downlink

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows the expected higher AX throughput, with both AC and AX STAs showing generally clean plots.

NETGEAR RAX120 2.4 GHz - uplink

NETGEAR RAX120 2.4 GHz - uplink

The 5 GHz downlink plot shows the AX STA with lower throughput than the AC STA, even though the AX STA reported the expected 1201 Mbps link rate at the strongest signal levels. The good news is that the AX STA maintains mugh higher throughput than the AC STA as signal levels drop.

NETGEAR RAX120 5 GHz - downlink

NETGEAR RAX120 5 GHz - downlink

5 GHz uplink again shows results similar to downlink; lower throughput at higher signal levels, higher throughput at lower levels. But the Qualcomm-based AC STA has an even greater throughput advantage over the Intel-based AX STA at high to medium signal levels.

NETGEAR RAX120 5 GHz - uplink

NETGEAR RAX120 5 GHz - uplink

AC vs. AX Performance - NETGEAR RAX80

The last two products give Broadcom's BCM43684 AX radio a chance to show what it can do, starting with NETGEAR's RAX80.

The 2.4 GHz downlink plot shows the expected throughput advantage that AX link rates bring over AC.

NETGEAR RAX80 2.4 GHz - downlink

NETGEAR RAX80 2.4 GHz - downlink

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot also shows AX's throughput advantage, except at the lowest signal levels.

NETGEAR RAX80 2.4 GHz - uplink

NETGEAR RAX80 2.4 GHz - uplink

The 5 GHz downlink plot shows an RvR curve very similar to the one produced by the ASUS GT-AX11000, which uses the same radio SoC.

NETGEAR RAX80 5 GHz - downlink

NETGEAR RAX80 5 GHz - downlink

Unlike the ASUS, the NETGEAR's 5 GHz uplink plot is better behaved, but again shows the AC STA having a throughput advantage at strong to medium signal levels

NETGEAR RAX80 5 GHz - uplink

NETGEAR RAX80 5 GHz - uplink

AC vs. AX Performance - ASUS RT-AX88U

Finally, we end as we began, with a Broadcom-based ASUS router. ASUS' RT-AX88U is basically the same design as the GT-AX11000, but with only one 5 GHz radio and no 2.5 Gbps Ethernet port and around $100 cheaper.

The 2.4 GHz downlink plot is similar to the GT-AX11000's for the AX STA, but better behaved with the AC STA.

ASUS RT-AX88U 2.4 GHz - downlink

ASUS RT-AX88U 2.4 GHz - downlink

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows no surprises.

ASUS RT-AX88U 2.4 GHz - uplink

ASUS RT-AX88U 2.4 GHz - uplink

The 5 GHz downlink plot once again shows an unusual curve, but it's the same as the other two Broadcom-based routers. It looks like Broadcom has some work to do here.

ASUS RT-AX88U 5 GHz - downlink

ASUS RT-AX88U 5 GHz - downlink

The 5 GHz uplink plot is better behaved than the GT-AX11000's, but the AX curve drops quickly, then flattens out and the AC curve has a roller-coaster shape. Not what you'd want from a $300 router.

ASUS RT-AX88U 5 GHz - uplink

ASUS RT-AX88U 5 GHz - uplink

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