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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance - 2.4 GHz

Our new test process lets us see how throughput varies over a wide range of signal levels. So we've added another comparison tool to our Charts toolset, the Performance vs. Attenuation Plot. To access it, just go to the Router Charts and select one of the "Profile" benchmarks you'll now see in the Benchmark selector. You have four to choose from—up and downlink in both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. To get you started, here's a link to the 2.4 GHz downlink profiles.

Note that these Profile views are available only for products tested with the new Revision 7 test process. We now have three AC1750 class products tested or retested, so I included the retested ASUS RT-AC66U and Linksys EA6500 for comparison in the plots.

Here's what the plot looks like for 2.4 GHz, downlink (router to client). The ASUS doesn't have as many plot points because it was retested when I was using 5 dB steps. So I've entered only the values that correspond with 3 dB test points that I now use.

Despite the fewer plot points, you can clearly see that the ASUS maintains higher throughput than both the WD and Linksys as attenuation increases, i.e. signal level drops. The WD has a steadier throughput level out to 24 dB of attenuation, but then both products fall off at an uncannily similar rate.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

All three products have about the same maximum throughput, between 114 and 118 Mbps. These throughputs are higher than we found in the recent Linksys EA6300 review, because it has only a 2x2 radio with 130 Mbps maximum link rate in the 20 MHz bandwidth mode we test with.

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot is next. Maximum values are similar to downlink and fall between 114 and 119 Mbps. The ASUS still maintains higher throughput as signal levels drop, but this time both the WD and Linksys curves are very well matched over the entire attenuation range.

Simultaneous uplink/downlink throughput in the strongest signal "Location A" (or with 0 dB attenuation) came in at 167 Mbps for the AC1300.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz

Best case 5 GHz downlink throughput of 352 Mbps with 0 dB attenuation ("Location A") was about 40 Mbps better than both the Linksys and ASUS delivered. Note, however, that the Linksys and WD curve once again generally track each other. Also again, the ASUS maintains its throughput edge over the tested attenuation range.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

The 5 GHz uplink plot is the only one of the four plots to show a distinct separation among the three products, with the ASUS highest, the Linksys lowest and the WD in between. Best case "Location A" / 0 dB throughput for the AC1300 came in at 290 Mbps.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation comparison

Simultaneous uplink/downlink throughput in the strongest signal "Location A" (or with 0 dB attenuation) came in at an impressive 555 Mbps total throughput. This is the highest among the three routers tested; the results for the Linksys EA6500 was 491 Mbps and the ASUS RT-AC66U was 484 Mbps.

Time for a few IxChariot plots. Here's a composite 5 GHz up and downlink plot with 0 dB attenutation. The delayed throughput upshift that seems to be a signature of Broadcom's draft 11ac technology is once again clearly shown.

5 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

5 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

There appears to be the same effect in the uplink trace in the equivalent 2.4 GHz composite plot shown below.

2.4 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

2.4 GHz IxChariot plot - 0 dB attenuation

Closing Thoughts

Given the similarity of designs, the first crop of draft 802.11ac routers have tended to be more alike than different. Among the three AC1750 routers tested or retested with our new wireless test process, the WD My Net AC1300 clearly performs more like the Linksys EA6500 than the ASUS RT-AC66U. Of the three, the ASUS has the edge in both wired routing and wireless performance, and sits in the #1 position in the Router Ranker for AC1750 class routers.

Between the Linksys EA6500 and the My Net AC1300, the Linksys does a bit better for wired routing throughput, but ranks behind the WD for both wireless throughput and wireless range.

Where the WD shines however, is in value. Both Linksys and ASUS are keeping their offerings up closer to $200, while you can pick up the My Net AC1300 for closer to $150.

With lower price, comparable performance and easy-to-use remote access to files stored on a hosted USB drive via WD 2go, the WD My Net AC1300 could be the router for you if you're looking for a top-end draft 802.11ac router.

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