Buffalo AirStation AC1300 / N900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WZR-D1800H review: Buffalo AirStation AC1300 / N900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WZR-D1800H

Other than that, the AirStation WZR-D1800H offers a standard set of networking features commonly found in other routers, such as QoS, port forwarding, and VPN pass-through. It does lack guest networking, however, a feature offered by many other routers that makes it possible to create separate wireless networks for guests.

... And the back.
... And the back. Dong Ngo/CNET

Performance

The AirStation AC1300 WZR-D1800H was by far the most challenging router to test I've yet encountered. Again, the router supports both Wireless-N and the new 5G Wi-Fi standards, as does the wireless media bridge. The problem is, neither device comes with a setting to ensure that they use the new 802.11ac connection. When they are connected, you just have to trust that they will automatically communicate using 802.11ac, and not the slower 802.11n.

The good news is the media bridge comes with software called Ethernet Converter Manager that displays the status of the wireless connection. Using this, I was able to rest assured that I was testing the router using 802.11ac.

The real reason I wasn't sure at first and needed to resort to the software was that during the initial tests the connection, though quite fast, wasn't noticeably faster than that of other Wireless-N devices I've reviewed. After a little bit of tweaking, by changing the channel to higher than the default 143MHz, I was able to get consistent connection speeds of around 29MBps (or 233Mbps) at the close range of 15 feet. This was the fastest wireless speed I've seen and well ahead of even the fastest Wireless-N router (which capped at around 21MBps in my testing). However, it was in no way close to the promised 1.3GBps (abpit 160MBps).

When I increased the distance to 100 feet, the router's 802.11ac connection now registered about 18MBps (about 140Mbps), again, very fast yet even further below the 802.11ac cap. That said, the WZR-D1800H was indeed so far the fastest router I've seen when used with a 801.11ac client. Since it's the first 802.11ac router on the market so far, we'll have to wait for the near future to compare it with its peers.

One thing was pretty clear, however: the new 802.11ac standard, while faster, is very similar to Wireless-N, in terms of how different the actual real-world speed is from the ceiling theoretical speed. This gap remains very large. And again, since the WLI-H4-D1300 media bridge was the only 802.11ac client on the market at the time of testing, it's unclear if the 802.11ac performance I experienced was that of the router or of the media bridge itself.

I also tested the WZR-D1800H as a regular N900 router and it did very well on the 5GHz band. When used with 450Mbps clients, it scored about 22MBps at 15 feet and 15MBps at 100 feet. When used with regular 300Mbps clients, the router scored around 16MBps and 11MBps for close range and long range, respectively.

It was quite a different story with the 2.4GHz band, however. Regardless of what type of client I used (450Mbps or 300Mbps), the router offered just about 5MBps for the 15-foot range test and .9MBps for the 100-foot range test. These fall among the slowest data rates I've seen from Wireless-N routers.

It's important to note, however, that I tested the router at CNET's offices where there are many other Wi-Fi networks that might interfere with the AirStation AC1300 WZR-D1800H's signal. The 2.4GHz band is known to suffer significantly more from interference than the 5GHz band.

5GHz Wireless-N performance (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H (with 802.11ac client)
144 
233.6 
Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H (450Mbps N client)
120 
172 
Cisco Linksys E4200v2
35.8 
148.5 
Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H
91.2 
126.3 
Asus RT-N56U
76.2 
112.6 
Asus RT-N66U
97.8 
109.6 
Netgear WNDR4500
41 
109.4 
Cisco Linksys E4200
79.1 
100.48 
Cisco Linksys E3200
53.8 
95.3 
Belkin N750 DB
74.64 
92.32 
Netgear WNDR4000
63.9 
89 
D-Link DIR-825
36.48 
80.96 
Linksys E2500
70.2 
77.2 
Trendnet TEW-692GR
49 
71.9 
Amped Wireless R20000G
64.9 
71.3 
Cisco Linksys E3000
48.8 
65.4 
Linksys WRT610N
54.8 
64.8 
Netgear WNDR3700
40 
60 

2.4GHz Wireless-N performance (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Netgear WNDR4000
23.9 
67.8 
Cisco Linksys E4200
46.9 
61.4 
D-Link DIR-825
38.8 
61.3 
Cisco Linksys E3200
40.4 
57.44 
Asus RT-N56U
34.4 
57.2 
Cisco Linksys E4200v2
21.4 
56.6 
Netgear WNDR3700
29.44 
55.44 
Trendnet TEW-692GR
31.1 
52.1 
Amped Wireless R20000G
17.8 
50.2 
Belkin N750 DB
26.6 
50 
Amped Wireless R10000G
20.2 
47.4 
Cisco Linksys E3000
32.8 
43.5 
Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H
7.2 
40 
Asus RT-N66U
29.4 
37 
Linksys E2500
10.7 
36.5 
Linksys WRT610N
28.8 
35.76 
Netgear WNDR4500
12.5 
28.6 

Service and support

The WZR-D1800H comes with a three-year warranty, which is very good for a router. On Buffalo's Web site there's a section dedicated to the router, where you can find all you need to know about the device and learn more about the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

Conclusion

The Buffalo AirStation AC1300 WZR-D1800H router is an exciting product that offers a taste of the new 5G Wi-Fi standard. Unfortunately, when coupled with the only 802.11ac client on the market at the time of this review, it didn't show the type of performance that 5G Wi-Fi promises. That, plus its lackluster performance on the 2.4GHz band, its limited support for external hard drives, and especially the current dearth of available 5G Wi-Fi adapters, means that for now, this router is not clearly better than a solid N900 Wireless-N router that costs the same. Early adopters with mostly 5GHz wireless clients, however, shouldn't be disappointed if they decide to invest in the Buffalo.

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Where to Buy See All

Buffalo AirStation AC1300 / N900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WZR-D1800H

Part Number: WZR-D1800H-US
MSRP: $179.99 Low Price: $272.69 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 18 oz
  • Data Transfer Rate 1300 Mbps
  • Connectivity Technology wireless
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 networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.