After teasing the industry with a preview earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Asus today officially launched its RT-AC87 dual-band wireless router. It's the first Wave 2 802.11ac router for consumers and it's powered by Quantenna's QSR1000 4x4 Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) chipset, which gives your home network a bit of future-proofing.
Netgear today announced what it claims is the industry's first AC3200 tri-band Wi-Fi router, the Nighthawk X6. That claim is born from the fact that this is the only consumer tri-band router that's available to purchase today (in pre-order form, with shipping expected in July) -- Asus has its RT-AC3200 on tap as well, though it doesn't look like it will beat Netgear's newest unit into homes.
This is the fastest rated consumer Wi-Fi router yet
Router makers aren't messing around these days. Taking full advantage of the 802.11ac spec, which incidentally is no longer in draft form, Asus today announced the RT-AC3200 wireless router. Asus is billing the RT-AC3200 as the world's fastest Wi-Fi router, and as far as we're privy to, that's an accurate claim. Of course, like all other high-speed routers, Asus is taking liberties with nomenclature to describe the speed.
New Wi-Fi routers from D-Link come in four different color options
Some of D-Link's newer Wi-Fi routers already sport a distinct aesthetic with a cylindrical design that's somewhat reminiscent of Apple's Mac Pro (but smaller). Someone decided D-Link's routers still needed more flair, so the company released a new and colorful line of AC750 routers. D-Link's new DIR-818LW model is available in red, teal, black, and white, each of which features the familiar cylinder design and AC750 Wi-Fi connectivity.
Another high performance router option in the 802.11ac space
If you've been putting off upgrading your home network, now is a good time to finally upgrade your hardware, starting with your router. Wireless-AC is here (still in Draft form, but we've run into very few quirks with the routers we've tested to date) and it can make a world of difference in your home network, even if you own a Wireless-N router. You have a growing number of options to choose from, including Trendnet's new TEW-818DRU dual-band router, which is the company's new flagship consumer model.
For the past several years, we’ve been testing routers at Maximum PC Lab North, a 2,800-square-foot home located on 10 acres of what was once a dairy farm. The new location is Maximum PC Lab Midwest, a 1,400-square-foot home flanked by houses on either side, a yard extending into a wooded area out back, and a semi-busy road in front. The new location offers a harsher, more real-world testing environment.
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of the magazine.
The transition to Wireless-AC networks is happening at a pretty brisk pace. We just recently wrapped up a roundup of several 802.11ac routers (you'll find it in the upcoming March issue of Maximum PC), and as CES kicks into full swing, even more AC routers are being announced. Buffalo just added three to the growing pile of options, including the AirStation Extreme AC 1900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WXR-1900DHP, AirStation 1200 Dual Band Wireless Router WHR-1166D, and the AirStation AC433 Wireless Travel Router WMR-433.
If you haven't already, this will likely be the year you upgrade your home network to the 802.11ac spec. The market is quickly becoming littered with 802.11ac router options, including a new flagship model from Asus, the RT-AC87U. Asus jointly announced its new flagship part with Quantenna Communications, whose QSR1000 4x4 Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) powers what both companies claim is the world's fastest 802.11ac home router.
Now might not be the best time to upgrade your home networking equipment to 802.11ac since a final standard has yet to be ratified, but if you're gung-ho to make the leap anyway, there are plenty of companies that will oblige. Count Netgear among them. Not only is Netgear offering an upgrade path to 802.11ac, it's new R6100 dual-band router is $100, a relatively cheap price tag considering it's a next-generation router.
Netgear's latest router is for those who value 802.11ac over 802.11n performance.
The new R6520 Smart Wi-Fi router from Netgear is the company's newest product to support the 802.11ac wireless standard, and it's designed specifically for people who care more about the draft specification than with having the fastest 802.11n Wi-Fi performance in the 2.4GHz band. It's armed with a dual-core 800MHz engine to enable combined Wi-Fi connections at speeds up to 1600Mbps.