Netgear R6300 802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit Router review
The Netgear R6300 802.11ac Dual Band Gigabit Router is a genuinely exciting router. It has claimed wireless speeds of up to 450Mbit/s on the 2.4GHz band and up to an incredible 1300Mbit/s on the 5GHz band. It also has two USB ports to which you can attach USB drives and printers, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and DLNA media sharing so you can share music and videos with other devices on your network. You can also run the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, maximising compatibility with wireless devices.
Demand for 802.11ac has come from the changing way people use Wi-Fi in the home. From wireless web browsing a few years ago, people are now streaming HD video from the internet and their NAS drives, communicating with friends and family via Skype and downloading music and films from iTunes. A whole family using this much bandwidth is enough to strain even the best 802.11n routers, and super-fast cable and VDSL broadband is also more than many wireless routers can handle.
The R6300 is the second 802.11ac router we’ve seen. The first was the Buffalo WZR-D1800H, which gave us huge data transfer speeds of 210Mbits, so we were naturally eager to see what speeds the Netgear R6300 could produce. Unfortunately, there are no Wi-Fi adaptors that currently support the 802.11ac standard, so we used a second R6300 router in bridge mode to conduct our standard Wi-Fi tests.
Initially, we tested the R6300 on the 5GHz band just using our Centrino 2 laptop’s built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor. Even with this relatively standard setup, the speeds amazed us. We got a data transfer speed of 93.2Mbit/s at 1m, the same speed at 10m and an outstanding 48Mbit/s at 25m. That’s the fastest speed we’ve ever seen under these test conditions - most routers manage less than 20Mbit/s at 25m.
When testing with our wireless bridge in 802.11ac mode, the speeds got even higher, with 279.6Mbit/s at 1m, 288.9Mbit/s at 10m and 195Mbit/s at 25m. The 802.11ac standard is designed to provide phenomenally high speeds at a far distance, but even so, we were so surprised by the high 25m speed that we had to re-run all our tests to check.
You don't need to wait for 802.11ac adaptors to take advantage of the router's speeds, though. Even when connected to the R6300 via our Centrino 2 laptop's built-in Wi-Fi adaptor on the 2.4GHz band, we still enjoyed some good speeds.
At 1m we saw 29.4Mbit/s and at 10m 28Mbit/s. These are far from the highest speeds we’ve seen under these test conditions, but our transfer speed at 25m was a truly remarkable 24.7Mbit/s. At that distance, most routers either produce 5-10Mbit/s or fail to hold a stable connection, which makes the R6300 the perfect router if you have a big house or use your laptop or tablet in the garden.
If you plug a USB drive in to one of the router's two USB2 ports you can share the drive's contents across your network. You can create network folders on the drive and assign usernames and passwords to each. You can also stream media from attached drives thanks to the R6300’s built-in media server. We had no problem accessing attached drives as shares or configuring network folders. You can also plug in USB printers to share them over the network.
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