What AC Dual Band Router?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sailfishx, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. sailfishx macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013

    I'm looking for a new router, that will stream 1080p video over WiFi, to my Apple TV3. It should also be as fast as possible, since I'm also converting an old desktop to a FreeNAS.

    I have just read cNet's article "Best 802.11ac routers". I feel like this narrowed down my choices, but I'm totally lost in which of the remaining options I should choose.

    What AC Dual Band Router do you think would be my best choice?
  2. Mugwumper, Feb 20, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014

    Mugwumper macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    Temecula, CA
    Linksys EA6900?

    I was in the same situation a few weeks ago, and bought the Linksys EA6900. What I've noticed is the connection to the ATV3 seems to be much stronger (the router is in another room on the same floor, but a bathroom in between), and I've had fewer connection problems with rMBP, iPhone and iPod Touch in other rooms throughout the house. I've also installed a NAS, but haven't had time to transfer files to it, or move my iTunes library to it.

    Just one data point . . . ;^)
  3. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    My 6th gen. AirPort Extreme is a wonderful and rock solid router! It does have Gigabit ports for the LAN and WAN, and it hasn't dropped yet. Unfortunately, only AirPort Utility 6 can be used to manage it, but I haven't found a reason to discourage someone from buying it yet.
  4. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    I received many advice on Asus routers. Though I would still be wary of any Asus-branded hardware given their tendency to fail pretty early, something must be interesting about them.
  5. steveh552 macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2014
    I have the latest AirPort Extreme and I stream netflix at 1080p to my atv while my son is watching a neotv at 720p with no issues either way.
  6. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    I recently updated my home WiFi network with one 2T Time Capsule (AC) and two AirPort Extremes (also AC). They have been working flawlessly for all the OSX, iOS, and other devices (Mac mini, iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPhones, iPad Air, aTV2, HP wireless 175a color airPrint printer) in my home.

    The Mac mini and iMac are backed up to the Time Capsule with the Time Machine.

    My suggestion is obvious: Time Capsule and/or AirPort extreme depending on your needs.
  7. sailfishx thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2013
    Great to hear that you have good experiences with your new router!
    Have you done any real-world testing?

    The AirPort Extreme looks very slick, but still I get quite discourage from buying it, when I read the cNet article. The fact that Apple has decided to limit its possibilities in such a degree, that it really only works with Apple products. E.g. the only formats supported on any USB-drive that you connect, is NFS+ and exFAT. NTSF is not supported at all. Maybe not that surprising, but still, I would think that it is more important to allow for some cross-platform usage in routers, then in computers...:rolleyes:

    Dude, that had to be crazy expensive! :eek: Why did you need so many? How are your experiences? Have you done any real-world testing?

    I briefly thought about the 2TB Time Capsule, for the exact same reason as you, but since I'm converting my old desktop into a FreeNAS, I will have all the storage capacity in the world to both set up Time Machine, for computer backup, and use the rest for regular NAS :)

    I love to bring up the fact that I'm very lucky to live in Norway, because of our 5-year consumer protection. This applies for all store-bought products, both physical stores and internet stores! :D This differ from "Guarantee", by the fact that it is a law protected consumer right, and not an offer from the manufacturer. The manufacturer guarantees are very often quite limited, and basically revolves around the idea that the manufacturer is so sure that their product will not fail in their chosen areas, that they are willing to offer a guarantee.

    Actually our consumer protection is so beneficial for the customer, that multiple companies, including Sony, Samsung, Nokia and Pioneer, sued the Norwegian government! :eek: They meant that it was totally unrealistic to demand that a cell phone has to work for a minimum of 5 years, even if the owner is careful. Of course, if you smash your phone into the ground on purpose the consumer protection does not apply, but as long as you don't handle the product differently from the manufacturer guidelines, your good for 5 years:)

    Maybe an ASUS Router would then not be such a big risk?

    These are some specs, compared between the "Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router" and the "Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station":
    ASUS/Apple (Sustainable real-world speeds)
    802.11ac, 5GHz (15ft): 521.4Mbps/287.2Mbps
    802.11ac, 5GHz (100ft): 336Mbps/204.6Mbps
    802.11n, 5GHz (15ft): 202.8Mbps/202.3Mbps
    802.11n, 5GHz (100ft): 176Mbps/132.1Mbps
    802.11n, 2.4GHz (15ft): 225Mbps/79.4Mbps
    802.11n, 2.4GHz (100ft): 211.4Mbps/38.4Mbps
    Link: http://reviews.cnet.com/routers/asus-rt-ac68u-dual/4505-3319_7-35828165-2.html

    Actually, now that I have summarized the specs, it is quite more clear which router offers the best performance. When the prize is about the same, I think the ASUS gets the advantage. Still, I have to admit, the Apple Extreme Base Station is much more sexy :p

    What do you guys think?:)
  8. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I'm still using an older TC and Extreme combination...It performs well, rock solid and all my devices ( and that's a lot ) work flawlessly.....I'm not thinking about upgrading yet as my current setup provides connections for:

    Two ATV 3's
    Iphone 5
    Ipad 4
    2 Smart TV's
    2 Smart Blu-Ray Players
    2 AV Units

    All work perfectly.

    So if I was buying, I'd buy Apple.
  9. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    To the OP: Because of cement walls, to get a good reception, I have to use three routers with the TC as the main and two AEs as extensions.

    I did not take measurements, but the reception is very good everywhere in my home (5 rooms + kitchen + bathroom).
  10. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I used a Time Capsule (1st Gen) until it died. It got replaced free but I picked up an AEBS and used that for 3 or 4 years. Before using Apple routers, I found myself resetting my routers at least once a month. I had tried routers from Zyxel, Netgear and Linksys (the infamous WRT54G v5). All had some issues.

    In fall of 2013, I noticed I was having to reset my AEBS about every other month. Then on Christmas morning, when we were hosting the big family dinner at our house, I had to reset it again. That was the last straw. I had already been upset at the dumbing down of Airport Utility so it didn't take much to push me away.

    I went to smallnetbuilder and found the top-ranked router, an Asus AC66U. It cost more than the current gen AEBS but I had grown tired of the locked down oversimplified Airport Utility. I've had it for a couple of months now and no resets. Meanwhile, I have VPN so I can get to my Mac using screen sharing from anywhere in the world. There was a security scare for Asus routers recently but happily I wasn't affected because I never shared a usb disk on the internet or used the Asus cloud features. I coughed up 20 bucks extra for a 2 year extended warranty so if the Asus starts needing monthly resets, I can return it and get something better. I usually don't buy those warranties but with a half dozen routers lying around my basement, I know I'm picky enough to require an extra safety net.

    If you're looking for a router that you can set up from any web browser that has advanced features and the ability to run third party firmware, go for the Asus. If you're looking for simple setup and don't mind limitations, Apple makes a fine router that should give you years of trouble free service. Sadly I cannot think of any router you can buy that will go much past 3 or 4 years unless you are willing to shell out major money for enterprise class hardware.

    BTW, I don't care what the thing looks like. Perhaps the AEBS is more "sexy" but unless you are putting your router on your fireplace mantel, go for the one that works best!
  11. DSL Steve macrumors member

    Nov 12, 2005
    Get an AirPort Extreme. Apple products work best with Apple routers.
  12. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005

    Also check out reviews on SmallNetBuilder. They have very through router reviews. The newer Asus AC routers seem to consistently score good in their tests.
  13. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    Wait a minute. I skimmed the article you linked, and it appears to me that those performance results were obtained "with Asus' PCE-68U add-on Wi-Fi adapter, which supports TurboQam." That adapter is a PCI-E card and external antenna. The only Mac it would work in (to my knowledge) would be a Mac Pro. http://www.asus.com/Networking/PCEAC68/

    Is a Mac Pro connection your primary concern? Because I wouldn't expect that kind of performance with a MacBook Pro or iMac that doesn't have the "TurboQam" support.

    I think it's pretty misleading to take a matched wireless router/adapter pair with special enhancements and compare its performance to other routers with a non-matched adapter. If you compare the Apple performance to all the other routers (aside from the Aus) it actually performs quite well, I think.

    Or, am I misunderstanding the test?
  14. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I am fairly familiar with Airport Extremes (having own a couple of generations of them and used some in bridge mode as well along with setting them up for friends) and find that they are pricey for what one gets and not the all time best performer.

    Though the original scenario was for WiFi to ATV3, most know that the bitrate as compared to say a true blu ray level file is considerably less. In my world, often proves wiser to buy a bit more than one thinks they might need as over time, we may see Apple's offering of higher bitrate movies and other items that require considerably more 'bandwidth.' A reasonable conclusion would be that the Airport Extreme may not be the best choice and certainly is behind on security settings/access. The Asus is a good example of a superior performer. The question is does it consistently work and remain trouble free. There are other routers out there that perform better than the Airport Extreme but not quite as well as the Asus. Again, consistent performance should be considered as well (along with ease of hands on managing of the router settings including security).

    I would imagine that a fine place to start would be smallnetbuilder site. They review, present tests and provide their conclusions. As well they did a ranker list which placed the AE in slot 6 out of 10 but yet it was the second highest priced router.
  15. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Maybe you'd want to like wether your chosen router supports dd-wrt or Tomato? Most high-quality routers do support it, and some manufacturers may even use it as a salespoint. These alternative firmwares will give you far more functionality than stock ones.

    Aren't products sold there crazy-expensive? And how do you make a manufacturer comply with local law once its own 1-yr warranty is over?

    Not in that kind of legal environment, admittedly.

    How long did it take to die? And how could you have a replacement free outside of warranty?

    Sure, but it's extremely expensive as well. Plus Asus' dubious reliability. Definitely a risky strategy in any country that doesn't provide reasonable consumer protection. Two years for a router is still low.

    Been using my trusty WRT54GL since 2006. Only since a year it started to show weird behavior I can't yet classify as hardware or software-related.
  16. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    As with any piece of consumer grade hardware, the average life span is a couple of years. All Linksys routers I have used that had substantial loads all their lives died within 2.5 years. I slam a huge load on my AirPorts and none have even fathomed giving up the dust. ASUS gives great performance, decent configurability, and decent affordability. However, the AirPort is more stable in my setup than any other router money can buy under $200. If I went with expensive Cisco routers it would be all good, but for the price of the AirPort and the fact I know what it is and what it's not, I have no qualms.
  17. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Should I consider mine to be an exception? This WRT54GL sustains high loads daily, and has done so since it was installed. It also went through modifications and overclocking. I bought it at the time because no other consumer-level router supported MLPPP connections on DSL, and, given a wired gigabit switch, haven't found any compelling reason to change it, even as MLPPP isn't necessary anymore.

    There's a reputation around AirPorts they have substandard configurability, absolutely needing a Mac for any adjustment, and they're really, really expensive for what they give. I can't speak first hand, but this is the perception I have.

    Asus hardware is mostly unreliable, although giving high performance during their short lives. But I disagree, the AC66U is a really expensive router.
  18. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Ironically, I have never had an ASUS die at all on me. Out of curiosity, what do you define as a "high load"? I think our definitions are different and that will greatly affect what readers think. AirPorts have paled in configuration options since Lion at least.
  19. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040


    Aug 8, 2007
    Takamatsu, Japan
    Nor have I.

    I recently upgraded to the Asus RT-AC68U and can recommend it highly. :)
  20. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2006
    The Asus AC66U has been rock solid for me, and has really performed well - I've noticed much better transfer speed over wireless and wired on my network.

    I've had various Asus products over the years, and haven't broken down on me.
  21. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    I use tons of ASUS motherboards and do not ever experience failures. However, some have a different experience with their networking hardware and I respect what they say. However, some people will argue that they are perfect where I am sure many customers had some duds.
  22. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    High load, such as consistently using max available Internet connection speed (granted, that's not very fast given our lack of competition) 24/7.

    Relax, the AC66U is a pretty young router. Give it time to fail :D

    I used one, daily, and it failed within two years of building the machine. Another one failed within 3 months. An Asus laptop I briefly owned already had troubles within 8 months. Plus other ones I had been called to debug. Sure there are duds from any brand, but it seems quite weird to me to find so many ones.
  23. kelub macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    A few years ago, after setting up my home media server, I went through 5-6 different brand N routers trying to find one that wouldn't stutter the 1080p (or even 720p) video on just one client. I finally gave up and went wired.

    Fast forward a couple years, we moved and I just didn't feel like running cable everywhere, so I bought a the latest gen Airport Express to use as my primary wifi router. It worked flawlessly. No more stuttering, and I could have multiple clients streaming off of the server without any issue.

    Last year we moved yet again and I retained the same setup for a while, but about 2 months ago I really wanted to extend my wifi a bit further, so I picked up the latest AEBS. I don't have anything in the house that can use AC but I liked that it was future proofed; plus the MIMO having 3 antennas increased throughput to my iMac and other devices. I used the express to extend the wifi out to the backyard shed without having to run any cable out there. I can still stream HD videos to multiple clients without a single hiccup - I have 3 kids, my wife, and myself, and often there's at least 3-4 different things being watched on the weekends at the same time. Not an issue. I *highly* recommend an Apple router for your purposes.

    I'm not sure what difference it makes re: the file system unless you really want to hang a USB stick off your router - it's not a feature I have any interest in using.

    The CNET article is a joke IMO. It's like Consumer Reports ripping Jeeps because they aren't passenger cars. Wrong audience. So often I see the criticism of Apple's products being that they aren't granular enough for the "geek" class to appreciate. So what. I'm an IT guy and have been a computer aficionado since I was 8 (mid 30s now) and nowadays, frankly, I don't really care if I can't dive down into the deep recesses of the router settings. I have to do that stuff all day for work - when I come home, I just want my crap to work with minimal tinkering. I'm more interested in USING the tech to achieve a purpose than picking apart the tech itself just because.

    tl;dr: if you want a router that will stream video flawlessly, go with an Apple brand; if you want to tinker with it, look elsewhere but be prepared for it to possibly not stream as well.
  24. jtara, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014

    jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    Give the Apple TV a wired connection if at all possible.

    I put in an Ethernet cable from my office (spare bedroom) to behind the TV in the living room, because that's a big cluster of high-bandwidth devices. I mean, I have a 6-port switch full behind the TV...
    I am shopping for a new router myself, because my Cisco WRT610-N V1 router behind the TV (for macbook, iPad, iPhone, etc.) seems to have died. (Or, it only lives for a few minutes after you power it up.) While I don't have concrete walls, neither the Cisco which had been previously in my office, or the D-Link DIR-825 I now use in the office make it to the living room with reliable performance. So, I use a second router in the living room.

    The comments above about range make me think maybe it is time to try an AC router in the office. Maybe it will make it to the living room. If not, I can move the DIR-825 to the living room.

    An absolute requirement is that I need to be able to run OpenWRT on it and have full driver support. (not some limited support without AC, or with limited bandwidth, etc.)

    (I used DD-WRT on the Cisco, since OpenWRT isn't available for it. I much prefer OpenWRT.)

    One enhancement from this would be better VPN performance. I run a VPN on my router, and have a good high-speed cable connection to the Internet (Cox). My VPN bandwidth - though decent - is limited by the CPU in the DIR-825. Newer routers should have a CPU that can handle the VPN at full speed.

    Anyone here have experience with OpenWRT on AC routers?

    Edit: It looks like the Asus RT-AC68U *ships* with OpenWRT! I see they use a proprietary UI called ASUSWRT, so have to assume it's openWRT under the hood.

    Edit 2: Ugh! Apparently not supported, though, by the OpenWRT open-source project. I'm guessing Asus spun OpenWRT without sharing the result (bad behavior, whether compliant with license or not, IMO...) and so you are stuck with the ASUS version of OpenWRT.

    Can anyone confirm that it ships with some proprietary version of OpenWRT? I guess that is OK, I suppose I don't mind the inevitable NSA implant...
  25. ToomeyND macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2011
    Okay, serious noob question:

    Can I attach any external usb 3.0 drive to one of these routers (like the AC1900) and my laptop will recognize the drive? Or do I need specific external drives for them to properly work when only attached to a router?

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