Five 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers not to pick for your home

CNET editor Dong Ngo picks the bottom five 802.11ac-enabled Wi-Fi routers. These are the ones to avoid when choosing a home router.

By now you should have heard about the new 802.11ac (AC for short) wireless standard, which offers up to 1.3Gbps Wi-Fi speed to compatible clients. ( If not, check out this post. ) Since the new standard is available only on the newer 5Ghz frequency band, all AC routers on the market are true dual-band (also supporting the older 2.4Ghz frequency band) to work with all existing Wi-Fi clients. Most of them are regarded as high-end routers.

In all, AC Wi-Fi is great but not all home routers supporting this new standard are worth your hard-earned cash. Following is a list of five AC routers that you want to avoid, for one reason or another. None of them is a totally loss, however, they are just below my expectations for what they're supposed to offer. This list is sorted by the review order with the latest review on top, and will be updated when more similar routers are found.

Note that these routers are considered not recommended at the time of review. Generally, routers can get better, sometimes significantly better, via firmware updates. That said, there's a chance these routers are better now than they once were.


Dong Ngo/CNET

Linksys EA6900 Smart WiFi Wireless AC Router AC1900
Belkin's good-looking Linksys EA6900 is the latest in Linksys EA series of Smart Wi-Fi router. It's also the first Linksys router that no longer bears the Cisco logo ever since Linksys was sold to Belkin back in March . Among a long list of issues, in my testing, the router's 5Ghz frequency generally quit after an hour or so of working, possibly due to overheating. And since 802.11ac only works on the 5Ghz band, this makes the router about as good as a single-band 2.4Ghz router. For this reason alone, the EA6900 is way too expensive for what it has to offer. Read the full review of the Linksys EA6900 Smart WiFi Wireless AC Router AC1900.


Dong Ngo/CNET

Amped Wireless RTA15 High Power Dual Band AC 700mW Wi-Fi Router
The RTA15 is the first 802.11ac router from Amped Wireless, a networking vendor that focuses on Wi-Fi coverage. In my testing the RTA15 indeed offered very long range, but unfortunately with very low Wi-Fi signal quality. In other words, the signal is there but it's hard for clients to connect and remain connected to it. On top of that, its performance wasn't on par with other similarly configured routers. Read the full review of the Amped Wireless RTA15 High Power Dual Band AC 700mW Wi-Fi Router.


Dong Ngo/CNET

Netgear R6100 WiFi Router
The R6100 is not at all a bad router, in fact, it's a quite decent router and is one of the most affordable 802.11ac routers you can find on the market. The problem I had with it is the fact that it lacks support for Gigabit Ethernet. And this means you won't have a fast wired network with it and you can't really take advantage of its AC Wi-Fi speed in many cases. This is because the router's Wi-Fi speed, by specs, is much faster than that of its network ports. In my testing it also offered very short range. In all, despite the support for 802.11ac, it's as good as a regular true dual-band N600 router at most. And for the money, you can get an N600 with much better range and more features. Read the full review of the Netgear R6100 WiFi Router.


Dong Ngo/CNET

Linksys EA6500 Smart Wi-Fi Router AC 1750 HD Video Pro
The Linksys EA6500 is the first in the Linksys EA series that support 802.11ac, preceding the Linksys EA6900 above. In my testing it was disappointing, even after a major firmware update, in most categories. In fact, it was inferior to the lower-end Linksys EA6400, which has been the only decent 802.11ac router in the Linksys EA series. Read the full review of the Linksys EA6500 Smart Wi-Fi Router AC 1750 HD Video Pro.


Dong Ngo

D-Link DIR-865L Wireless AC 1750 Dual Band Cloud Router
The DIR-865L is the first 802.11ac router from D-Link, and it didn't live up to expectations. The router offered slow performance on the 2.4Ghz band, very slow storage speed when coupled with an external hard drive. Its cloud features, which are its selling point, were rather limited and fragmented. D-Link recently launched the much better DIR-868L, all the more reason you should skip the DIR-865L. Read the full review of the D-Link DIR-865L Wireless AC 1750 Dual Band Cloud Router.


And now, if you're feeling a little disappointed and wonder if there's hope, check out this list of excellent 802.11ac-enabled routers.

About the author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

 

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