The Netgear A6200 USB dongle allows you to experience some of the performance of the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. Some care seems to have been taken over the design of this adaptor, making it stand out against much of the competition. See all Wi-Fi and Networking reviews.
The Netgear A6200 uses high-quality plastics with many triangular-shaped vent holes on the back. The front of the body can be pulled outwards to extend the receiving area from the laptop. And the USB connector itself can be rotated, allowing the adaptor to stand up vertically when attached to a laptop’s USB port.
More mounting options are available thanks to a 1 m USB extension cable with a small stand to fix the adaptor vertical and raked backward. The stand may not have the premium feel of that found with Asus’ USB dongles but it does provide the necessary functionality. There’s a single button on the device to make connections using WPS rather than the safer password-only setup.
While this adaptor may follow the current draft wireless 802.11ac standard, it will never reach the maximum speeds of this technology, since the specifications suggest it only has two antennae inside, and it follows the slower USB 2.0 standard rather than USB 3.0.
To test the performance of the adaptor, including performance at range, we devised three tests. Firstly a maximum throughput test to determine the highest data rate at short range, conducted at a distance of 1 m.
Second test was outdoor at a distance of 18 m in free space. This was achieved by placing the router in a 5th floor window and venturing 10 m outside on the ground (total distance 18 m). In the final test the adaptor was moved 82 m from the router to determine its performance at extreme range.
In the first test the A6200 allowed a data rate of 184 Mb/s, identical to the that achieved by the built-in 802.11n of our test laptop. So at short range you may not notice much difference in speed between this 11ac dongle and a decent three-antennae 802.11n setup.
Things changed in the second 18 m test where the Netgear A6200 sustained a speed of 140 Mb/s which was considerably higher than the 67 Mb/s reached by the 11n laptop alone. So at greater range this adaptor significantly improved our wireless data throughput.
In the final 82 m test the adaptor maintained its speed of 140 Mb/s which is inline with the other best-performing adaptors we tested. This speed was much greater than the 86 Mb/s acheived by the 802.11n test laptop.
Go to the next page to read the review from PCWorld.com