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Performance - more

The 5 GHz downlink plot shows very similar performance at lower attenuation (higher signal levels) for all products except the Linksys AE6000. The Buffalo's odd upward bounce at 18 dB isn't a fluke; the results shown are the average of two test runs. The Edimax EW-7811UTC and TRENDnet TEW-804UB are again the winners in this comparison since they disconnect last.

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz uplink plot puts the products to their hardest test since it reflects product transmit performance. The ASUS starts out with the highest throughput and has a slope similar to the TRENDnet. But it disconnects before the TRENDnet, which appears to be the overall winner of this benchmark. The Edimax again disconnects at the same point as the TRENDnet, but at 9 dB its throughput drops to a lower level than all the other adapters.

5 GHz uplink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz uplink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

Since the 5 GHz-only Edimax EW-7711ULC has been absent from these comparisons, let's give it a special look. Comparing with the dual-band and physically larger EW-7811UTC, both start out at about the same throughput and follow a similar plot curve. But the 7711 disconnects at only 18 dB of attenuation, while the 7811 makes it out to 27 dB.

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation - Edimax adapters

For uplink, the 7711 has surprisingly higher maximum throughput. But the 7811 again hangs in at lower signal levels for the win.

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink - Throughput vs. Attenuation - Edimax adapters

Closing Thoughts

If you want to see whether your spiffy AC router can give new life to old laptops you have lying around, an AC580 USB adapter is a cheap way to do it. For under $20 either the TRENDnet TEW-804UB or Edimax EW-7811UTC will do the job, but work best with strong signal levels. Sure, you could spend $40 or so for the ASUS USB-AC51 or NETGEAR A6100. But for over twice the money, you're not going to see 2X better performance.

Keep in mind before trying any of these, however, that AC routers can goose performance for N adapters you already have. If your notebook already has a dual-band 2x2 (N600) adapter, it's unlikely you're going to get better performance by switching to 1x1 AC.

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