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LAN & WAN Features

The last time we improved our product research tools was back in 2011, when we introduced Product Finders, Custom Performance views and Wireless Radar plots. These improvements have helped thousands of people research router, NAS, wireless and powerline products every day.

But as good as these tools are, they require clicking through too many pages and don't deliver a bottom-line answer. They also aren't much help to people looking at products on store shelves, because they aren't mobile friendly.

The other significant change since 2011 is the introduction of 802.11ac. While this new standard holds the promise of higher wireless throughput, it has lengthened our test process by adding another set of tests that require using yet another test client. As a result, running the complete test suite on a draft 11ac router with our current process requires up to three test clients and over seventy test runs. This takes way too long and limits the number of products that we can test.

So we are making a series of changes in our product research and selection tools, which we hope you'll find more helpful in your search for "just right" networking products.

Consolidated Charts

We have changed to a new wireless test process that uses a single, new test client. The client will be an "AC1750" class product, otherwise known as 3X3 dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. This new client will be capable of testing all the classes of N and AC products that we see coming over the next few years.

We're going with a 3X3 client, even though the 802.11ac standard allows for 4x4 products, because we doubt you'll ever see any of those in widespread use and certainly not in client form.

This single client will be able to support all current wireless link rates, so it will not limit the throughput of any wireless router that it is used with.

So that we can show products measured with the old multi-client test process along with products tested with the upcoming single-client process, we are introducing a new chart system that has only four consolidated wireless benchmarks:

  • 2.4 GHz Downlink
  • 2.4 GHz Uplink
  • 5 GHz Downlink
  • 5 GHz Uplink

Each of the new consolidated benchmarks will be populated with the highest-throughput benchmark for products that have been tested with multiple clients. So you'll always see the best-possible wireless performance that a product can produce.

The rules for each consolidated benchmark's selection are shown in priority order below.

New 2.4 GHz Downlink Benchmark

  • 2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput - N450
  • 2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput

New 2.4 GHz Uplink Benchmark

  • 2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput - N450
  • 2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput

New 5 GHz Downlink Benchmark

  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput -AC1300
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput -AC867
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput -AC433
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W - N450
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput - N450
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W
  • 5 GHz Downlink Throughput

New 5 GHz Uplink Benchmark

  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput -AC1300
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput -AC867
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput -AC433
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W - N450
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput - N450
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W
  • 5 GHz Uplink Throughput

Note that 2.4 GHz 40 MHz Bandwidth benchmarks are not used in the consolidated benchmarks and will not be measured going forward. The reason for this is that there are very few cases where 2.4 GHz products can operate in 40 MHz mode, given both spectrum over-crowding and proper implementation of 40 MHz coexistence in Wi-Fi Certified products.

40 MHz mode benchmarks are used in 5 GHz, due to the larger number of non-overlapping channels there (at least until 802.11ac equipment use becomes more widespread).

Two examples of the benchmark consolidation are shown below, so that you can see how the rules are applied.

Example 1:
The ASUS RT-N66U (AC1750 class) has data for all benchmarks because it was tested with N300, N450 and AC1750 clients.

  • 2.4 GHz Downlink = 2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput - N450
  • 2.4 GHz Uplink = 2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput - N450
  • 5 GHz Downlink = 5 GHz Downlink Throughput -AC1300
  • 5 GHz Uplink = 5 GHz Uplink Throughput -AC1300

Example 2:
The Cisco Linksys EA3500 (N750 class) was tested with N300 and N450 clients. But it supports N300 class operation only on the 2.4 GHz band.

  • 2.4 GHz Downlink = 2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput
  • 2.4 GHz Uplink = 2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput
  • 5 GHz Downlink = 5 GHz Downlink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W - N450
  • 5 GHz Uplink = 5 GHz Uplink Throughput - 40 MHz B/W - N450

New Chart Tour

A screenshot of the new chart is shown below. It has some new features, so let's take a brief tour.

New Router Chart - Wireless Benchmark

New Router Chart - Wireless Benchmark

You still use the Select Benchmark dropdown to choose a benchmark. But now there are only eight benchmarks to choose from—four for wired routing performance and four for wireless:

  • WAN to LAN Throughput
  • LAN to WAN Throughput
  • Total Simultaneous Throughput
  • Maximum Simultaneous Connections
  • 2.4 GHz Downlink
  • 2.4 GHz Uplink
  • 5 GHz Downlink
  • 5 GHz Uplink

The Filters are have been expanded. You can now filter the view with these controls:

  • The Bar checkboxes filter products by bar color (test method)
  • The Company selector (shift-click to for multiple companies) filters by company
  • The Class selector (shift-click to for multiple classes) filters by product class. Select None for wired-only routers. The wireless classification system is described here.
  • The Band selector filters by frequency band.

All the previous version chart features carry over into the new charts, including the ability to look at wireless throughput by overall average of all tested locations, maximum, minimum and each test location.

If you really need to access the old charts to see the complete set of benchmarks, just follow the Old Chart links that you'll find up in the nav bar LAN & WAN section.

As with any major rework, there are sure to be bugs, errors and omissions. So please help us track them down by letting us know if you find anything strange, or just can't find what you're looking for.

We hope you like the new charts!

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