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Tested: Netgear R6300 802.11ac router

First AC router tests results are in

The Netgear R6300 is the first 802.11ac router we have tested. As the first router of a new generation, the Netgear R6300 can definitely be called a success. Granted, 1.3 Gbps is still quite a way away, but there are clear performance gains compared to 802.11n. Speeds of up to 500 Mbps are possible with this router, and also at longer distances the 802.11ac outperforms 802.11n comfortably.

If you're into wireless networking, 802.11ac is the buzzword of 2012. After demonstrations by manufacturers at various different shows and events, the first routers using this new 802.11-standard are hitting the shelves now.

The lab boffins at Hardware.Info tested and reviewed one of these new routers, the Netgear R6300, which boasts a wireless signal theoretically capable of sending and receiving 1.3 gigabit per second. The current maximum theoretical throughput for 802.11n is a measly 450 megabit per second, so the increase in performance should be measurable. Note, however, that 802.11ac only applies to the 5 GHz band, and does nothing whatsoever for your transfer speeds on 2,4 GHz. 2,4 GHz still is 802.11n, and will continue to be so for some time. See also: Group test: what's the best wireless router?

The tests carried out by Hardware.Info do indeed show that the R6300 is capable of delivering much more bandwidth (i.e. speed) than the previous standard. At a range of two metres, the R6300 has a throughput of 500 Mbit/s, which is much faster than we have been used to until now. At longer ranges, speeds aren't less impressive when compared to 802.11n-performance. At ten metres, the throughput still is 360 Mbit/s, which doesn't decrease all that much when the distance is increased to twenty metres. See also: Group test: what's the best modem router?

If you want these kinds of wireless speeds (and, let's be honest, who doesn't?), there are several things you should bear in mind. The first one is that 802.11ac is not the answer to your problems with the range of you current router. The new standard still transmits with the same power, and still uses the 5 GHz band, which means that the limited length of the waves that make up the signal still deteriorate rather quickly. The advantage of 802.11ac over 802.11n is that the bandwidth is much higher, so you get much higher speeds, even at longer distances.

Netgear R6300 AC router

The second point to make about the new standard is that it doesn't seem to be doing anything for the throughput to 802.11n clients, which basically means every wireless device you currently own. As such, you need an 802.11ac bridge or USB adapter in order to benefit from it. As these aren't available for the R6300 yet, your options are limited to using devices made by other manufacturers, or buying a second R6300, which you can then configure as a 802.11ac bridge. Given the fact that the R6300 isn't a cheap router by any stretch of the imagination, the latter probably won't appeal to most people.

If you want to know more about the Netgear R6300 and/or the new 802.11ac standard, you can read the entire review on Hardware.Info

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