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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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Routing Performance

Our new Revision 10 process focuses on performance and includes tests for Bufferbloat and reduced throughput due primarily to Cut Through Forwarding being automatically disabled when particular routing features are enabled. If you haven't already, I suggest you read through the process description or even open it in another tab or window for reference while you read the commentary to follow.

The GT was tested with firmware. The RT was upgraded to and had a full retest for routing and wireless performance.

Test Description ASUS GT-AC5300 ASUS RT-AC5300
WAN - LAN Throughput (Mbps) 719 937
LAN - WAN Throughput (Mbps) 713 941
HTTP Score - WAN to LAN (%) 68.1 57.8
HTTP Score - LAN to WAN (%) 68.4 57.6
Bufferbloat Score- Down Avg. 450 518
Bufferbloat Score- Down Max. 317 382
Bufferbloat Score- Up Avg. 227 363
Bufferbloat Score- Up Max. 162 232
CTF Score (%) 64.5 35.4
Firmware Version
Table 2: Routing performance summary

The WAN - LAN and LAN - WAN throughput benchmarks are the least meaningful, since most products can hit these numbers due to the common use of Cut Through Forwarding. But it's interesting that the GT with the more powerful processor has lower throughput measured in our WAN - LAN/LAN - WAN Throughput iperf3 tests.

Both GT and RT did much better in our HTTP Score than the NETGEAR R7000 and R7000P. The legend obscures the 759 KB file size results, which were 99.4% and 99.9% for the RT and GT, respectively. You can see the GT also hit the 100% mark with the 108 KB file size.

HTTP Score comparison

HTTP Score comparison
Plot key file size: [A] 2 KB, [B] 10 KB, [C] 108 KB and [D] 759 KB file

Both routers did pretty well with Bufferbloat. For reference, 5 ms of delay equals a score of 200 (1/5 x 1000) and higher numbers mean lower delay. Using that as reference, the GT's maximum upload bufferbloat was around 6 ms and its average was 4.4 ms.

Finally, the Cut Through Forwarding tests showed the RT took more of a worst-case throughput hit than the GT. The biggest throughput drop was experienced by the RT, which ran at only 35% of its highest throughput on uplink when Adaptive QoS was enabled (941 Mbps to 333 Mbps). The GT's biggest throughput stealer responsible for the GT's 65% score was also adaptive QoS running uplink. It reduced normal uplink throughput of 713 Mbps down to 460 Mbps. But the GT's score was higher than it would have been, had its normal throughput been 941 Mbps instead of 713 Mbps.

Wireless Performance

The GT-AC5300 and RT-AC5300 were tested with our Revision 10 wireless test process loaded with and firmware, respectively. Each router was reset to factory default after upgrade, then set to Channel 6 and 40 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz and Channel 40 and 80 MHz bandwidth for the low band 5 GHz radio. The high band radio was set to Channel 153, but was not tested. WPA2/AES encryption was used for all connections. The Revision 10 process still uses 20 MHz bandwidth for 2.4 GHz tests for throughput vs. range, but uses 40 MHz for peak throughput tests. These settings are enforced by the octoPal test client.

The router body was centered on the test chamber turntable with all antennas vertical as shown in the photo below. The 0° position for the router had the front facing the chamber antennas. Although you see four chamber antennas in the photo, only the center two are used for throughput vs. attenuation testing, which is done with the octoPal set to operate as a 2x2 AC device. The two antennas at photo left will be used in MU-MIMO testing, once that process gets sorted.

ASUS GT-AC5300 in test chamber

ASUS GT-AC5300 in test chamber

Since four routers have now been tested with the Revision 10 process, I figured I'd throw them all into the throughput vs. attenuation plots for comparison.

The 2.4 GHz downlink profile shows the GT with superior throughput with strong to medium signals. But as signals grow weaker with higher attenuation, the throughput lines converge. As a result the range rankings, which use the 45 dB attenuation value, all end up the same.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz uplink shows all products running in a very tight group. The main difference here is disconnect points, with both NETGEARs hanging on to their connection a bit longer than both ASUSes.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz downlink clearly shows the ASUS RT and GT performing essentially the same and both with better performance than both NETGEARs.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz uplink has a tighter race, with the ASUS GT on top, the RT and NETGEAR R7000P closely matched, then the original R7000 Nighthawk joining up from the 21 dB attenuation point onward.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For our peak wireless performance tests, the octoPals are configured as 4x4 AC devices and left to negotiate their best connection, with 10 dB of attenuation applied on 2.4 GHz. The latter is necessary so the 2.4 GHz octoPal isn't overloaded. After some initial head-scratching over low throughput, I figured out the octoPal front end was being overloaded on 5 GHz too. So 10 dB of attenuation was also added for the 5 GHz tests.

Since the octoPals report connection link rate, I saw 600 Mbps transmit and 800 Mbps receive link rates for both routers for the 2.4 GHz tests. For 5 GHz, 1733 Mbps link rates were the norm. These represent maximum rates for 256 QAM; the octoPal client does not support 1024 QAM.

Test Description ASUS GT-AC5300 ASUS RT-AC5300
2.4 GHz Peak Downlink (Mbps) 662 632
2.4 GHz Peak Uplink (Mbps) 432 432
5 GHz Peak Downlink (Mbps) 941 932
5 GHz Peak Uplink (Mbps) 943 948
Table 3: Peak Wireless throughput

I didn't test MU-MIMO or Smart Connect.

Closing Thoughts

Although the GT-AC5300 now sits atop the Revision 10 Router Ranker, it's too early to award it a Ranked #1 performance award. That may come after I get a few more routers through the new process. For now, it's the top performing router tested with the new Revision 10 process. But it's also the most expensive, too. For best price/performance, just sort the table by ascending price and you'll find the NETGEAR R7000 takes that honor.

Large, expensive single node routers are losing market share to multi-node systems. But investing almost $400 in a single router can still make sense for some users. That said, if you already have an ASUS RT-AC5300, you'd have to be really motivated to trade up to the GT-AC5300. While the GT has better storage throughput and won't lose as much wired routing throughput if you're using adaptive QoS, wireless performance is pretty much the same. You might notice higher 2.4 GHz speeds from the GT with strong signals, but you're not going to get significantly more range than you're already getting from the RT-AC5300.

On the other hand, eight gigabit ports vs. four might be enough for some to justify spending the extra bucks for the GT.

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