Buffalo AirStation 1750: Performance
Due to the current dearth of any laptops or other mobile devices with 802.11ac facilities, we were not able to test this router in standard fashion by measuring data throughput from router to notebook computer.
Buffalo loaned us a second unit, a Buffalo AC1300/N450 Gigabit Dual Band Media Bridge (£110) with which to test the AirStation 1750’s 802.11ac performance.
This bridge unit, also known as the WLI-H4-D1300, is essentially the same as an AirStation 1750, with WAN port removed and slightly different software.
Linking the two units for radio connection, we used Buffalo’s WPS one-button system, which it calls AOSS. Linking just requires pressing one button on the router, then on the bridge and waiting one minute for the units to sync.
We ran close- and long-range tests, at 1m and 9m with two plaster walls between host and client, using zPerf to measure data throughput.
At 1m, and with the 11ac units tried in various parallel and perpendicular orientations to each other, the best result we recorded was 417 Mbps. By 11n standards, that would be a good result that approaches the given speed of 450 Mbps. But when 1300 Mbps was promised, you would be forgiven for thinking something was amiss.
We tried experimenting with even shorter distances, to see if closing the gap could bring out better results.
With no other wireless tech broadcasting on the 5GHz band, there’s little excuse about unwanted RF interference. But to be sure, we also disabled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 2.4GHz radio sources at the test location.
Moving the units closer together, we measured a data transfer speed of 443Mbps, averaged over 30 sec and at a range of 10cm.
Slighty better performance was found with a second pair of router/bridge units, which gave best results of 461Mbps, at 1.0m. That was over a 10 sec slot; averaged over 30 sec the result was at 432Mbps.
Speed at the 9m distance held relatively well, at 345Mbps. That suggests a more consistent connection at the greater distance; 11n on 5GHz tends to drop rapidly in performance after around 5m.
Buffalo AirStation 1750: Back to 11n
Until 802.11ac becomes available for laptops, tablets and smartphones, the AirStation 1750 is likely to be used as much or more in legacy 11n mode.
We measured data throughput using the AirStation and an Apple MacBook Pro Retina as client, making use of the Mac’s Broadcom 4331 chipset with three-stream capability.
At 1m over 5GHz, we saw best figures of around 300 Mbps, with the Mac indicating a nominal Transmit Rate of 450.
At 1m over 2.4GHz, the best the combination could muster was 137Mbps.
Moving to 9m, data throughput was up to 152 Mbps over 5GHz. We were unable to test over 2.4GHz due to some network flakiness from the setup; either the Buffalo SSID would vanish, or the zPerf benchmark tool would quit.
There was one final test we ran, again in a bid to find the maximum possible speed for the Buffalo’s all-11ac connection at minimum range. We disabled the WPA2 encryption, to see if this was creating any overhead that could slow performance. There was a tiny increase, only very slightly to 462Mbps, within the bounds of error of the initial result.