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WD My Net AC1300 HD review: Just another 802.11ac router

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The true dual-band My Net AC1300 HD router completes WD's Networking portfolio, filling in the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard slot that's been left open sinceWD entered the networking market in June, and enabling WD to rank among major networking vendors.

WD My Net AC1300 HD
6.8

WD My Net AC1300 HD

The Good

The <b>Western Digital My Net AC1300 HD</b> dual-band router offers 802.11ac support with overall decent performance. It also comes with useful entertainment and security features for home users.

The Bad

The My Net AC1300 HD doesn't offer any unique features of its own or anything to make it worth the wait compared with its peers. Its performance and range could also use some improvement.

The Bottom Line

The Western Digital My Net AC13900 HD is a good router but not good enough for it to stand out among the crowd of a handful 802.11ac networking devices on the market.

And that's about the biggest accomplishment of this router. In my testing, it proved to be just another 802.11ac-enabled router for the most part, rivaling a handful of its existing peers, such as the Netgear R6300, the Asus RT-AC66u, and the D-Link DIR-865L, but not offering anything else of note. The My Net AC1300 HD basically performed as expected, offering decent data rates and range. Being a high-end router, it does have a few notable features, including a well-organized user interface, comprehensive parental controls, and an effective customized QoS feature called FastTrack. But these have been available in previous models of the My Net family, such as the already-reviewed WD My Net N900 HD.

That said, if you're looking for a well-designed, high-end router that supports all existing Wi-Fi clients and is also future-proof, even at the relatively expensive price of $190, the My Net AC1300 HD makes a decent choice. Hopefully the price will come down soon as 802.11ac becomes more popular. In the meantime, you should also check out the Asus RT-AC66u or the Netgear R6300. Note that, since there are currently no 802.11ac hardware clients, for now, the My Net AC1300 HD, as well as other 802.11ac routers, is about as good as an N900 router for most situations.

Design and ease of use
The My Net AC1300 HD looks almost exactly the same as the My Net N900 HD except it's now slightly more compact. This is because while the N900 HD comes with seven gigabit LAN ports, the new AC1300 HD has just four, rather standard for most routers. Since it's not that much smaller, I find this more of a downgrade, especially since it costs about $50 more than the N900 HD.

Physically, the lack of extra LAN ports is about the only difference between the two routers. The number of LAN ports determines how many wired networking devices (such as desktop computers or a printers) you can use with the router before having to resort to getting a switch or a hub.

The My Net AC1300 HD (top) is slightly more compact than the My Net N900 HD, but now offers only four LAN ports instead of seven.
The My Net AC1300 HD (top) is slightly more compact than the My Net N900 HD, but now offers only four LAN ports instead of seven. Dong Ngo/CNET

All of the My Net AC1300 HD's ports are on its back, where you'll also find a gigabit WAN port, a reset button, an on/off switch, the power connector, and two USB 2.0 ports. These USB ports can be used to host external storage devices or printers.

On the front the router has four small LEDs that show the status of the router's power, wireless network, Internet connection, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), the button for which is also on the front. WPS lets you quickly connect a WPS-enabled client to the network simply by pressing the button on the router and then on the device within two minutes.

On the bottom the router has four large rubber feet to help it stay put on any surface; unlike the My Net N900 HD, the My Net AC1300, is not wall-mountable.

In all, the new My Net AC1300 HD looks like a trimmed down version of the My Net N900 HD. And the two routers share a similar setup process, which is very easy.

First you connect the router to the power, then connect its WAN port to your broadband modem and one of its LAN ports to a computer using network cables. After that, from the connected computer, launch the Web browser and you'll be greeted with a Web-based wizard that walks you through the rest of the short setup process. (Later on, you can always go back to its Web interface to further customize the router's settings by pointing a browser to http://wdrouter or http://192.168.1.1, and log in with the default log-in credentials admin and password.)

Similar to other My Net routers, the AC1300's Web interface is very organized, responsive and friendly to mobile devices. When opened from a mobile browser, the interface looks somewhat like a native app. This allows users to actually use a phone or tablet to handle the managing and customizing the router's features and settings.

Features
The My Net AC1300 HD router is a true dual-band router that offers Wi-Fi signals on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands at the same time. For existing Wi-Fi devices, the router offers a connection speed of up to 450Mbps on each of its bands, making it effectively an N900 router. (To find out more about Wi-Fi and networking basics,check out this post.) However, if you happen to have a device that's compatible with the new 802.11ac standard, which only works on the 5Ghz band, you'll be able to also enjoy a wireless speed of up to 1.3Gbps. In real-world usage, the actual connection speeds tend to be much lower than the speed caps above, and vary a great deal depending on the range, environment, and the Wi-Fi standard used by connected clients.

The My Net AC1300 offers an excellent QoS features called FastTrack QoS.
The My Net AC1300 offers an excellent QoS features called FastTrack QoS. Dong Ngo/CNET

In addition to 802.11ac support, the other top features of the My Net AC1300 include its FastTrack QoS, the comprehensive parental controls, and the support for external storage devices.

The FastTrack QoS is a custom Quality of Service (QoS) feature designed to prioritize the Internet bandwidth for different devices on the network. While most routers offer QoS, you generally have to manually set up these features, which is a rather cumbersome process. FastTrack helps simplify this by offering preconfigured settings that you can just turn on or off via a click. These settings are set based on the four types of Internet traffic, including Video, Audio, VoIP calling, and Gaming. Each of these types can be turned on or off separately and when on will have traffic priority for all connected devices. Also, users can also set up up to 19 QoS rules to fit their needs. Each of these rules can be defined to prioritize the Internet traffic based on many different criteria. I tried these out and they all worked fine. Note that QoS only helps prioritize the Internet traffic; it can't make the Internet connection faster. The quality of Internet service depends first and foremost on how fast of a pipe you have.

The My Net AC1300's parental control feature, though not perfect, is one of the best among home routers. Basically, this feature allows the restriction of connected clients from accessing the Internet or certain type of Internet content. This feature allows you to block individual connected clients' access to the Internet based on predefined time slots or the total time of usage per day. For example, you can block Jon's computer from accessing the Internet from 8 p.m. to midnight, or you can just allow him to use the Internet 4 hours a day at most. With the latter, he'll be blocked when those 4 hours are up, regardless of what time it is. On top of that, you can also restrict connected clients from accessing up to eight URLs or keywords. For example, you can choose to block the URL https://www.facebook.com/ , or block the keyword book. With the latter, though, but any URL that contains the world "book," such as book.com, booking.com, and so on, will be blocked, not just Facebook.

The reason the parental control feature isn't perfect is that it doesn't allow for even more refined rules, such as being able to block a computer from accessing Facebook just from 8 p.m. to midnight. However, to make up for this, the router offers an easy way for admin users to quickly change the rules that are supported. When a computer tries to access a blocked Web site, it will display a warning that the site is being blocked and a button that leads to the router's parental control settings section for those who can sign in with the admin account.

The My Net AC1300 HD's support for external storage device is also very well designed. In my trials, it was able to support two bus-powered portable drives at the same time, though it did take a long time (up to a minute) to recognized the plugged-in drive. You can plug in drives that already contain data, including those not made by WD. After that you can easily share the data across the network. By default, the content of the drive is shared -- with full access -- with everybody, but you can restrict the access via user account. Other than sharing data, you can also use the router to stream digital content to DLNA-enabled network media players, such as the WD TV Live Hub. There's no easy way to connect to the router's shared storage via the Internet, however, other than the FTP feature, which is generally not easy enough for home users to use.

Other than that, the My Net AC1300 HD also supports IPv6 and has a good set of other common features, such as port forwarding, firewall, DMZ, DynDNS, Guest networking (with two networks, one for each band) and so on. For security, the router supports all variation of WPA and WPA2 encryption standards for the 5GHz band, and just WPA2 on the 2.4GHz band. It also offers MAC filtering where connected clients are restricted via their MAC address.

Performance
The My Net AC1300 HD offered decent performance overall, about the average among its peers. I tested the router with both Wireless-N clients and the 802.11ac-enabled My Net AC Media Bridge that was introduced together with the My Net AC1300. This was similar to the rest of the 802.11ac routers, all of the were tested with an included media bridge from the same vendor.

On the 5GHz band, at close distance, about 15 feet away, the My Net AC1300 offered 802.11ac speed at some 214Mbps, about the average among 802.11ac routers. when I increased the distance to 100 feet, this was reduced to about 147Mbps. When used with Wireless-N clients, the router now offers 163Mbps at close range and 111Mbps at 100 feet.

On the 2.4GHz, the router's performance was again about the average among 802.11ac routers I've reviewed, scoring 55Mbps at the 15-foot range and 32Mbps at the 100-foot range.

The My Net AC1300 HD's range wasn't very impressive in my trials. Note that the router was tested at CNET office where there are many other Wi-Fi devices that could interfere with the router's signal. That said, so were other routers I have reviewed. In my trials, it offers about 250 feet of range on the 2.4GHz band about about 200 feet on the 5GHz band. Realistically, it should be used within 150 feet or shorter, which is also the real-world stable range of most routers, however.

The My Net AC1300 HD did very well in the stress tests, where it was set to transfer a large amount of data back and forth between clients, using both of its bands. The router didn't disconnect once during 48 hours of the test.

On the other hand, its network storage performance was just acceptable. When coupled with a portable drive and connected to the test machine using a Gigabit connection, the My Net AC1300 HD scored about 10MBps for both writing and reading. These were not slow but still only fast enough for causal data sharing, media streaming needs.

5GHz Wireless-N performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Cisco Linksys EA6500
41.3 
275.5 
D-Link DIR-857
172.4 
214.6 
WD My Net AC1300 (with 802.11ac clients)
146.7 
214.1 
Asus RT-AC66U
166.6 
208.2 
Belkin N900 DB
138.2 
189.6 
Linksys EA4500
176.8 
186.8 
Cisco Linksys E4200 v.2
122.2 
185.6 
Asus RT-N66U
155.3 
181.8 
Netgear R6300
144.8 
178.8 
WD My Net AC1300
110.6 
162.6 
D-Link DIR-865L
121.6 
147.6 
Trendnet TEW-692GR
105.8 
116.1 
Belkin AC 1200 DB
79 
116.1 

2.4GHz Wireless-N performance (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Trendnet TEW-692GR
31.3 
77.8 
Netgear WNDR4000
23.9 
67.8 
Linksys EA4500
41.6 
62.4 
WD My Net N900 HD
16 
58.1 
Asus RT-N66U
45.5 
55 
WD My Net AC1300
31.8 
54.5 
Netgear R6300
41.6 
51.2 
Belkin N750 DB
26.6 
50 
Cisco Linksys EA6500
33.6 
48.8 
D-Link DIR-857
29.6 
47.8 
Netgear WNDR4500
31.1 
45.3 
Asus RT-AC66U
15.2 
36.8 
D-Link DIR-865L
22.1 
36 
Belkin AC 1200 DB
9.6 
33.5 

Conclusion
With decent performance, nice design, good Web interface and some useful features, the WD My Net AC1300 HD makes a decent 802.11ac router for those who can afford its expensive price. Since it was released much later than others but offers nothing new, this also means that it's not really worth the wait.

WD My Net AC1300 HD
6.8

WD My Net AC1300 HD

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 7Performance 6Support 8