802.11ac vs gigabit adapter

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by AppleHater, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. AppleHater macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    Now with my brand-new rMBP, I'm trying to setup the best way to connect. I'm wondering if I should upgrade my router to AC or buy a thunderbolt gigabit adapter. The price doesn't matter and I have access to LAN close to where I'm going to use my Macbook mostly. I only care about the speed. If AC gets me almost gigabit performance in real life, I'll take AC. Otherwise, I'd rather be wired.

    Anyone has ran the test comparing these two connection methods? Thanks a bunch.
  2. Barney63 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2014
    Bolton, UK.
    I've just changed my BB supplier, with the new Fibre BB I got an ac modem/router with GBit ethernet too.
    Best of both worlds. I use my NAS on the gigabit and laptop on the ac.

  3. whitedragon101, Feb 15, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014

    whitedragon101 macrumors 65816

    Sep 11, 2008
    Wireless AC won't get you gigabit speeds. Not even close :(

    Pretty much the best I have seen is 500Mb/s at close range. Some have posted 600Mb/s using UDP but that doesn't seem to realistic for normal use.

    Realistically you are looking at 300Mb/s .

    I review network hardware for Magazines in the UK and I think they are trapped by a marketing monster of their own making. 802.11ac is great but their marketing people lied about the speed of 802.11n and so they have to lie a bigger number to state the speed of 802.11ac .

    For gigabit LAN you get an honest real world 950Mb/s . It will be awesome when we get this over wifi but its not for another couple of generations.
  4. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    Since it's unlikely that your internet provider can give you anything close to gigabit speeds, I assume that you are concerned with the connection speed between your Mac and other computers in your house. For this, I highly recommend using wired connections to a gigabit switch/router. My understanding is that AC wifi will only approach gigabit speeds over short distances under ideal conditions.

    Rather than use the Apple Thunderbolt adapter, I prefer to use a USB 3.0 gigabit Ethernet adapter. It's cheaper, and since I connect it to my USB hub, it's one less wire dangling from my laptop. I'm probably limited by disk speeds, but I do see speeds approaching 1 Gbps when transferring large video files between my PC and my rMBP.
  5. AppleHater thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    Would there be speed difference between thunderbolt vs USB connection? It's mostly to connect my rMBP with iMac. My ISP is pretty good but no where near a gigabit like most of us in US.
  6. simon48 macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    What? Gigabit internet speeds are really rare in the US, the average US internet speed sucks compared to what other big tech countries. What is your internet speed?
  7. KevinC867 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 8, 2007
    Saratoga, CA
    Theoretically? Perhaps. Practically? No. USB 3.0 has a maximum bandwidth of 5 Gbps, so it has plenty of bandwidth available.

    The price difference is just $10, so it's really just a matter of preference. I have the Thunderbolt adapter, but I found myself annoyed by the extra dongle hanging off my computer, so I bought the USB 3.0 adapter, plugged it into my USB hub which also handles my external hard drives and I'm very happy with it.
  8. mneblett macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2008
    I went a similar, but slightly different route to get the same result (i.e., only one USB connection to the MBP): I purchased a USB 3 hub with a built-in Gigabit Ethernet port, so no separate USB/GigE adapter needed.

    For me, this is a stop-gap arrangement -- at some point Apple will *finally* release the next Thunderbolt display. That will provide Ethernet/USB hub functionality with only two cables (TB2/recharge) instead of the current three (mini DP/USB/recharge).
  9. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    Biggest question is what your home network traffic is like.

    For streaming content, wireless is just fine. The bottleneck there is YOU - as in, it takes you 2 hours to watch a 2 hour movie.

    If you're routinely copying large (multi-GB) files from one computer to another, then yes, wireless ac makes a big difference over wireless N, and gigabit makes a big difference over wireless ac.

    If you're doing a lot of work (like video or photo editing) over the network, then yes, you want a wired connection, but for most users, most of the time, there's no practical difference between wireless N, wireless ac and wired.
  10. Turbocharged macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2013
    I have the labelled "fastest AC wireless router" AC1900 Asus AC68U. I suppose to be able to connect at 1300 on 5GHz, but with my 13' rMBP, it's @ 800-1000 most of the time when I'm in the same room where the router is, with walls in between, it drops to around 300 fast. it's still way faster than N network under similar conditions, but it is no match for wired connection.

    so if cable and a dangle don't bother you much, a 30 dollar adapter is obviously much cheaper than a 200 dollar AC router when you need speedy network, and it performs much better, much faster and more stable. however, the 30 dollar thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter produced by Apple is known to break easily, just read the reviews on the apple store website, mine stopped working last month, got it replaced in an apple store with no hustle.
  11. Mr. Wonderful macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2009
    A lot of the current AC devices out there are using first or early second generation 802.11ac chips, and we should see a marked improvement in AC devices this year.

    My answer is both, unless you're OK being wired all the time, then just ethernet. There's nothing like ethernet though.
  12. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    It has always been that way. After all the overhead, you generally get about 1/3 of the advertised max theoretical speed.
  13. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    Besides overhead, you always need to pay attention to MIMO setup on both ends (access point and device) to get the whole picture of advertised capabilities.

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