802.11ac Wi-Fi Router Testing: Interference And Workloads

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jacobian

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In "How we tested" you didn't specify what kind of wi-fi hardware the test clients had. Was it PCIe or USB network adapter? What kind of MIMO setup, e.g. 3x3 or 2x2?

 

CaedenV

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This was a much better test setup, and a really interesting read. Only complaint was that the nighthawk may have an unfair advantage in the interferance tests compared to the other units as it went up against the 66U instead of another nighthawk. Perhaps you could dig up a 5GHz N router to act as a standard interference device next time? Or find a cheap AC router? It would make it a much better apples-to-apples comparison.

At any rate, great article! I will certainly send this to my more tech-savvy friends who are looking to upgrade from N right now. I have the 66U in my own home and this seems to be spot-on which what I experience relating to distance and obstructions. It is not necessarily the fastest router on the market, but it is nice an consistent which has merits.
 

dgingeri

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Home router security is so poor, I wouldn't even think of using one. Let me guess, they all have WPS, right? HUGE security hole that nobody ha made one little tiny step in fixing, and is "featured" on nearly every home router.
 

Larry Litmanen

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I use to have constant WiFi issues, one day i went out and got the best router i could, still had issues. Calling them for support was hell, 45 minutes on the phone just to be told "Sorry sir but there's nothing wrong with our router, your internet is down".

I found out that my cable/internet company provides a free router, they hooked it up..............no issues since. Heck they just gave me a free AC router that can be controlled from internet.

I will not be buying any more routers.
 
G

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@dgingeri, I've never seen a router that didn't have the option to disable WPS. And WPS is better than nothing for non-technical people.

Cool article.
 

dgingeri

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WPS can't be turned disabled by software. That's the big problem with it. My last two routers and one AP got hacked through WPS, even though it was disabled in software. That's when I learned that it doesn't actually get turned off. The only way to protect against the WPS security hole is if the software running the router or AP doesn't support WPS. This can be done by either getting an AP or router without that feature (quite difficult and rather expensive) or putting an opensource software on your router that doesn't have support for WPS (more difficult, but somewhat less expensive.)

As for "better than nothing for non-technical people", that's pretty much asinine. That's like saying "someone can't operate the key, so we'll leave this side door open."
 

dgingeri

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Did you know the ISP free routers have a back door for support purposes. They couldn't support them if they didn't have that back door. The big problem with that is that every support person, and former support person, for that company knows that back door. A vengeful or malicious former employee could easily hack into any customer's router and insert tracking software or "listen in" on the internet traffic, capturing all your passwords. They also have other massive security holes. ISPs patch their router firmware for bugs or security holes even less often than home router manufacturers. They aren't safe.

 

liquidpower

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this is the most important part of the Client how could you not included it?
In "How we tested" you didn't specify what kind of wi-fi hardware the test clients had. Was it PCIe or USB network adapter? What kind of MIMO setup, e.g. 3x3 or 2x2?
 

bikeracer4487

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So in the "Performance without Encryption" section, in the very first test you test how long it takes to copy a 2GB folder, with the results measured in seconds. The AC66U wins with the lowest time, and the R6300 having the SLOWEST time...and yet you wrote this: "The exception is the R6300, which takes a 10% to 20% jump. This is a strong enough leap to propel it into first place in our test. Could it be that the R6300 is in fact a far more capable speedster being held back by encryption processing? Or is it just luck and variable ambient test conditions?"
 

Gurg

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Curious as to why you are comparing the older Asus 66u (which I own) with newer routers costing $50-60 more (Microcenter) when there is a newer faster Asus 68u costing the same price as the other three (ie $189/199)? It wasn't until page 8 that things started to get interesting for home use: in a subdivision with a page of competing neighbors wifi signals, distance from router on different floors through walls with multiple devices. My devices show a page of competing neighbor wifi signals. My wife and I have nine devices that connect to the router and many of which are coming in and out of use with varying demands simultaneously.
 

dgingeri

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The one in this review is the AC66u. I think you're thinking of the N66u. The AC66u is the updated, AC capable version of the N66u.
 

razor512

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For those errors in ixchariot, you have to increase the file size in the throughput test script, if you fail to do so then any network where the throughput will randomly boost for a short period of time, e.g., a very high max speed and very low minimum speed, then during those spikes, you will end up with those errors.

For the script, I use " size = file size (10000000) " and a fixed time test of 2 minutes for basic testing. This makes it transfer 10MB of data to generate a single timing record

10MB records are enough to work with networks such as 2 teamed 10GbE adapters being benchmarked.
 

reggjoo

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Router performance, should be measured by distance, the power of the signal, at said distance, the ability for the signal to circumvent obstacles, and client load. As long as you have the standard 4 port, plus usb setup, for residential, you can get along with this. Extras, are not that important, but performance at these 4 points are.
 

mikeebb

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ISP backdoors on their "free" routers: yes, they exist. The admin password is usually on a sticker on the router - and you can change it using your local management infterface. But then, if you need service, and if changing that password disables their backdoor, they won't help you.

That said, considering how many of those "free" routers are out there, it might be interesting to compare, say, the top 2 here with some representative cable and fiber/telco routers. You might have trouble finding a telco router that's better than N, though.

The point about multiple clients is real. Thanks for testing with interference. Consider my place (certainly not a high-end establishment): 2-4 computers (perhaps one wired, depending on where it's being used, and at least 2 on all day), 3 phones (all using wifi at home), PS2, PS3, Wii. Since I use AntennaInAttic for a TV provider, no wifi there, but that will almost certainly change when the TVs are replaced. The telco router only has 4 wire ports, so even if I wanted to do the electrical work for it wiring would be of marginal use absent downstream switches. Then there's the fact that almost everybody in the neighborhood has wifi too - my computer frequently lists (in addition to my router) at least 3-4 access points that have enough signal strength to matter.
 

Gurg

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ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless-AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Router $199.99 After Rebate

 

Zar81

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In your introduction you stated that wired connectivity is not tested. I realize some might use wireless completely wireless but I have yet to meet anyone who does not have some for of wired connection. How many use the wireless for their rooms/gaming zones while the family uses the wired section in the living rooms for Netflix and other tv shows? Or in my case I am the one connected wired while everyone else uses the wireless. I know I would be very interested in knowing this and how it effects gaming while someone uses Netflix.
 

jacobian

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Step it up. Test the MU-MIMO routers with MUMIMO clients. Another is to test the Tri-Band routers with the dual 5Ghz radios.
To me, MU-MIMO and Tri-Band routers sound more like an up-selling pitch through a bunch of hacks, rather a genuine improvement over an ordinary dual-band AC1750 class router. The reality is that everyone's wireless performance is limited by client hardware, and this means a two stream 2x2 802.11ac for most mid to high-end clients, and 3x3 for the very high end clients, like Apple's MacBoo Pro, very few others, or external USB. Neither tri-band nor MU-MIMO is going to change that limitation. And in fact, MU-MIMO will be a pretty useless technology for some time to come, because you need MU-MIMO clients, which mostly exist on a drawing board right now. And MU-MIMO apparently works only for downlink transfers, so it's not all that groundbreaking or game changing. There is a review of the first MU-MIMO router on smallnetbuilder.

 

jacobian

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In your introduction you stated that wired connectivity is not tested. I realize some might use wireless completely wireless but I have yet to meet anyone who does not have some for of wired connection. How many use the wireless for their rooms/gaming zones while the family uses the wired section in the living rooms for Netflix and other tv shows? Or in my case I am the one connected wired while everyone else uses the wireless. I know I would be very interested in knowing this and how it effects gaming while someone uses Netflix.
Smallnetbuilder tests both wired and wireless performance, and they have tested most of the popular routers. I can forgive this to Tomshardware because this site does not focus solely on networking.
 

zodiacfml

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Not exactly. If you have a few clients of around of less than 8, then the difference is small. Greater than that, these latest WiFI routers improve the speeds for everyone.


Step it up. Test the MU-MIMO routers with MUMIMO clients. Another is to test the Tri-Band routers with the dual 5Ghz radios.
To me, MU-MIMO and Tri-Band routers sound more like an up-selling pitch through a bunch of hacks, rather a genuine improvement over an ordinary dual-band AC1750 class router. The reality is that everyone's wireless performance is limited by client hardware, and this means a two stream 2x2 802.11ac for most mid to high-end clients, and 3x3 for the very high end clients, like Apple's MacBoo Pro, very few others, or external USB. Neither tri-band nor MU-MIMO is going to change that limitation. And in fact, MU-MIMO will be a pretty useless technology for some time to come, because you need MU-MIMO clients, which mostly exist on a drawing board right now. And MU-MIMO apparently works only for downlink transfers, so it's not all that groundbreaking or game changing. There is a review of the first MU-MIMO router on smallnetbuilder.
 
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