Testing - Network File Transfer
For our attempt to verify the advertised 450ft coverage range, we placed the router in as far in the corner of our yard as we could (150ft) and we still showed a full signal. A walk down the street with a multitude of walls and object in-between us and the RT-N66U put the rough range at about 350ft... remarkable. You can cover some serious ground in an office, large public areas, or even large multi-floor houses.
We used the "Network" benchmark included in the Passmark Performance Test suite to test throughput between computers using several different adapters. For wireless tests, we used a multitude of devices ranging from standard integrated laptop wireless N of an HP Envy 17 w/ Gigabit ethernet, ASUS' EA-N66 3-in-1 adapter (2.4/5 GHz 802.11n-capable) and using a second RT-AC66U in bridge mode for AC testing. We placed them in a number of rooms around our home to simulate a typical home or sprawled SOHO setup. The home has very thick, insulated walls, so should do a good job at testing the range capabilities of the RT-AC66U. The router was placed on the top of a desk and the test different locations are described below:
Location 1: 9 feet away same room (typical 2nd workstation location). This should give us optimal performance.
Location 2: One floor down, directly underneath (thick basement floor, similar to an office floor)
Location 3: 50 feet away through 3 walls (cross-office / home, many routers don't do well here)
Location 4: 70 feet away, through floor and 3 walls (typically very difficult to get good coverage here)
As a quick primer, we'll first take a look at the Location 1 tests, which is in the same room about 9 feet away from the RT-AC66U connected to desktop with a Realtek Gigabit NIC, which should give us optimal performance. We've also showed the wired tests to show a benchmark against wireless performance and the speed of the Gigabit NIC on the HP Envy 17 which we used for our various location testing.
This immediately gives us some very interesting (and fantastic) results. The UDP results show that we are maxing out the performance of Wireless N, which is specified to be 450 Mb/s. Also note that the AC speeds are maxing out our Realtek Gigabit NIC, as we are running into hardware limits on the motherboard, and not the wireless router or wireless technology. Every time we ran this test it ran into exactly the same "wall" as the wired performance. A great result. We also see the TCP giving great performance for the AC speeds as well as for the wireless N devices.
NOTE: 2.4 GHz is accomplished by the RT-AC66U via 802.11a/b/g/n, and is not 802.11ac. As we mentioned earlier in our primer about 802.11ac, the certification agencies and developers of 802.11 have decided to go with only 5GHz wireless because of reduced interference and more channel design space to play with.
The first thing that will jump out to you here is that the AC performance (AC1300 5 GHz) is fantastic. Even in our demanding location through a floor and 3 walls, we still saw well over 100Mbps which is downright stellar. While the RT-AC66U has 802.11ac as it's primary feature, keep in mind that it's the follow-up to one of the most anticipated and awarded routers to date, the RT-N66U, and we should expect (and demand, really) great wireless N performance as well. And that is delivered, with the same room performance pushing near 100Mbps.
Locations 3 & 4 presented a challenge the the EA-N66 at 5 GHz and we struggled to get a reliable signal on 5 GHz with the integrated wireless of the HP Envy 17 because of the lower penetration of a 5 GHz signal. This is because the reduced wavelength of a 5 GHz signal versus a 2.4 GHz signal will make it more susceptible to any obstructions in-between the devices. Even so, the RT-AC66U still dished out pretty good overall performance on the 2.4 GHz bands on Wireless N in locations that have been notoriously difficult to get a good signal, and the AC performance was still fantastic with over 100 Mbps speeds.
Almost all the way through the UDP performance tests we see the RT-AC66U maxing out (or coming very close to it) the Gigabit NIC in our HP Envy 17. Again, the unique design of the EA-N66 seems to struggle in Locations 2 and 3 for the 5 GHz 802.11n testing and even the integrated wireless on the HP Envy 17 held on and gave pretty good results in the tough spots. Again, nothing but glowing results and it's an awesome feeling to see your computer being maxxed out by your wireless hardware.
Serious gaming on wireless is a holy grail for many, especially LAN-goers and planners, and the 5GHz connection is a big step in that direction. Latency can make-or-break a battle in fast-paced FPS' and RTS', so we wanted to see how our pings compared to wired performance. I've gamed wirelessly on the RT-N66U and RT-AC66U for a couple months now and have no real complaints, and the fact that it has been almost entirely absent in my mind that I'm gaming wirelessly is a testament to its capability to deliver lag-free and low-latency gaming. Using SpeedTest.net to the nearest server, we measured the pings using various devices. Across the room, we only see the pings dipping by 1-3ms over a wired connection which is hardly enough to notice and, as I've mentioned, I've had absolutely no qualms about gaming. 802.11ac only dipped 1ms over wired, so maybe it's time you re-think all the CAT5 cable you've got strung all over the place and start cutting wires.