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Wireless Performance - more

For a look at full throughput vs. attenuation plots, I plotted the only other AC1600 class router currently tested, the Linksys EA6300v1 / EA6400.

The 2.4 GHz downlink profile shows the two products running neck and neck, swapping leading positions throughout the test range. Note, however, that the R6250 could not run the test at the 60 dB attenuation we use for our "Location F" equivalent. The Linksys was able to complete the test at that signal level with 8 Mbps of average throughput. Neither product could run the test at the full 63 dB of attenuation. This means that the Linksys could have a slight edge over the NETGEAR with very low signal levels.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows generally very closely matched performance. But the Linksys is penalized with low throughput at its highest signal levels. Note again that the NETGEAR could not complete the tests at 60 and 63 dB attenuations.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Since the R6250's 5 GHz radio is the same AC1300 class radio in AC1750 class routers, I pulled the top-ranking ASUS RT-AC66U into the 5 GHz comparisons. The downlink profile below shows the R6250 besting the other two routers with 361 Mbps at 0 dB attenuation, our "Location A" equivalent point. As signal levels drop, the NETGEAR generally tracks above the Linksys.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz uplink plot again shows the R6250 with the highest 0 dB throughput of the three at 333 Mbps. And it again tracks above the Linksys as signal levels drop.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

It's interesting to see the spread between the throughput profiles among the four router positions that we test. For the R6250, the difference was most drastic for the uplink runs. For the 2.4 GHz band, the test run in the 180° position was best.

Four test runs - 2.4 GHz downlink - NETGEAR R6250

Four test runs - 2.4 GHz downlink - NETGEAR R6250

This is much clearer to see with the uplink plot below. I have no idea why the spread is so wide for uplink, but not for downlink. The test routine runs the up/down test first at 0 dB. It then runs uplink, then downlink at each attenuation level. So the router isn't touched between up and downlink tests.

Four test runs - 2.4 GHz uplink - NETGEAR R6250

Four test runs - 2.4 GHz uplink - NETGEAR R6250

The spread is a bit wider for 5 GHz downlink. In this band, I entered the 0° position results into the Charts database.

Four test runs - 5 GHz downlink - NETGEAR R6250

Four test runs - 5 GHz downlink - NETGEAR R6250

The reason for using the 0° position is once again clearer looking at the uplink runs.

Four test runs - 5 GHz uplink - NETGEAR R6250

Four test runs - 5 GHz uplink - NETGEAR R6250

Closing Thoughts

It is still early days for the second round of draft 11ac routers. And the R6250 is actually the first "official" AC1600 class router we have tested. Still, since the Linksys EA6300v1 is actually a re-branded EA6400 and operates as an AC1600 class router, it's fair to compare.

Between the two, the R6250 ranks in the #1 position for AC1600 class routers in our Router Ranker. The details below show it sweeping the ranking sub-categories, despite its #2 ranking for 2.4 GHz range. As you recall, the router failed to complete the tests at the 60 dB attenuation point that we use for the 2.4 GHz range benchmarks. But this was not enough to tip the total ranking score in the Linksys' favor.

NETGEAR R6250 Router Ranking Summary

NETGEAR R6250 Router Ranking Summary

The wireless performance differences aren't huge between the two products (or most other draft 11ac routers for that matter) given the similarity of designs. But the R6250 has a significant lead over the EA6300v1 / EA6400 in storage file copy performance. Despite both products having USB 3.0 ports, the NETGEAR's read performance is more than 50% better than the Linksys and its writes have at least as much of an edge. At that's for both FAT32 and NTFS formatted drives.

As the new crop of draft 11ac router hit the shelves, you're going to see a lot of price tweaking. The lower class AC routers (AC1600, AC1310, AC1200, etc.) are basically attempts to test the prices that consumers are willing to pay by throwing together different combinations of radios to see what sticks.

The price vs. performance plot below I just ran showing the AC1750 and AC1600 routers currently in the SmallNetBuilder Charts database shows that price isn't necessarily determined by the AC class that you're buying. I've circled the two AC1600 class routers in yellow; all the others are AC1750.

NETGEAR R6250 Router Ranking Summary

NETGEAR R6250 Router Ranking Summary

Pricing changes daily (if not hourly on Amazon), but you see that there is less than $20 difference between NETGEAR's top-of-line R6300 and the R6250. And you can pick up three AC1750 class routers for less than the R6250, with the WD My Net AC1300 at least temporarily sitting $40 cheaper!

But if for whatever reason you think an AC1600 class router is the one for you, the NETGEAR R6250 is currently the best of the (rather small) bunch!

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