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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance - Overview

This product has been retested with the Rev 7 wireless test process. See this article for the results.

As mentioned earlier, I conducted wireless testing in two rounds. The first round measured 5 GHz, 80 MHz bandwidth mode (draft 802.11ac) with pair of R6300s running V1.0.0.68_1.0.16 firmware. One was configured in its normal router mode, while the test "client" was configured in client bridge mode. I also ran a full set of two-stream N tests in 2.4 and 5 GHz using our standard two-stream client, an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 in a Acer Aspire 1810T notebook running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit).

As is our standard practice, all tests were run using WPA2/AES encrypted connections with Channel 1 used for 2.4 GHz tests and Channel 36 for 5 GHz

For the second round, I updated both R6300's with the latest V1.0.2.14_1.0.23 firmware. I reran the 5 GHz, 80 MHz mode tests, since NETGEAR said the latest firmware contained some tweaks to improve its performance. I also ran a full set of three-stream N tests in both bands using our standard three-stream client, an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 in a Lenovo x220i Thinkpad running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit). I didn't rerun the two-stream tests, since the new firmware doesn't affect its performance.

Each entry in the Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

NETGEAR R6300 benchmark summary

NETGEAR R6300 Benchmark Summary

Table 5 summarizes the highest wireless throughput measured out of all locations in the 20 MHz mode test runs. In most cases, highest throughput was measured in Location A. Note that the Dn/Up result is for simultaneous up and downlink tests in Location A.

The R6300 appears to perform about the same as other three-stream routers for performance improvement between two and three stream modes. As is typical, best improvment is in the up/down test that uses two simultaneous traffic streams, coming in at 33% for 2.4 GHz. Up/down test improvement for the 5 GHz band is lower, only 21%. More notably, however, is that the 5 GHz two-to-three stream change is in the expected direction, i.e. higher, vs. the Buffalo WZR-D1800H, where three stream throughput was actually lower.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 67 56 80
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 82 71 106
5 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 64 53 77
5 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 72 61 93
Table 5: Highest Throughput, 20 MHz mode

Table 6 summarizes highest 40 MHz mode throughput. Gains here are much more modest with the highest improvement only 13% for the 5 GHz up/down benchmarks.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 82 77 121
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 87 86 131
5 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 75 74 105
5 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 80 82 119
Table 6: Highest Throughput, 40 MHz mode

Table 7 calls out the draft 11ac mode best case throughputs. % gains from the 5 GHz, 3 stream 40 MHz benchmarks are 98% (down), 78% (up) and 99% (up/down).

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
5 GHz, 3 stream, 80 MHz 158 146 237
Table 7: Highest Throughput, 80 MHz mode

Wireless Performance - Draft 802.11ac

As noted earlier, I reran the draft 11ac mode tests with V1.0.2.14_1.0.23 firmware loaded into a pair of R6300s. The "client" R6300 was set to its client bridge mode found on the Advanced > Advanced Setup > Wireless Settings page. The connection on channel 36 was secured with WPA2/AES.

It appears that NETGEAR's tweaks have improved the 80 MHz mode performance. The pair of R6300s now outperform the Buffalo WZR-D1800H / WLI-H4-D1300 pair in locations A and C running downlink. But while location D throughput has improved significantly from 63 Mbps to 84 Mbps, the Buffalo still wins in this location. (Click here for the old downlink comparison plot.)

Draft 802.11ac throughput vs. location - NETGEAR R6300 vs. Buffalo WZR-D1800H - downlink - retest

Draft 802.11ac throughput vs. location - NETGEAR R6300 vs. Buffalo WZR-D1800H - downlink - retest

The improvement isn't as dramatic for uplink, with a slight gain in location A widening the lead over Buffalo and a similar one in location C allowing the R6300 to now just squeak past the Buffalo by 5 Mbps. A 14 Mbps gain in location D, however, still leaves the Buffalo as winner there, by a very comfortable margin.(Click here for the old downlink comparison plot.)

Draft 802.11ac throughput vs. location - NETGEAR R6300 vs. Buffalo WZR-D1800H - uplink

Draft 802.11ac throughput vs. location - NETGEAR R6300 vs. Buffalo WZR-D1800H - uplink

When I sanity-checked these results with NETGEAR pre-review, they were surprised at the location D throughput, which they expected would be higher. But NETGEAR runs its tests on the U-NII-3 channels (149 - 165), where the maximum power limit is 1W vs. the 50 mW limit on my standard test channel 36.

I have rerun tests in the past using the high 5 GHz channels and found little throughput change. This is because clients are typically unable to increase power as much as APs on these higher channels, so can't "shout louder" back. But since the pair of R6300's used in this test are both capable of higher transmit power, I would expect to see higher throughput and that's what I got.

I repeated the location D test, using channel 157 instead of 36 and measured 118 Mbps down and 107 Mbps up, which is a significant increase from the 85 Mbps down / 77 Mbps up measured using channel 36. So in this case, using the higher group of channels does indeed provide higher throughput and, I would expect, increased range. But since my test standard is channel 36, those are the numbers you see entered in the Router Charts for apples-apples comparison.

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