Which 802.11ac router should I get?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by poe diddley, Nov 27, 2014.

  1. poe diddley macrumors regular

    Jun 5, 2005
    greensboro nc
    So im in the market for a new router. I want to get a nice one that includes 802.11ac for future compatibility. I've looked at quite a few, and the only things holding me back from getting the Aiport Extreme are
    1. Only 3 lan ports (why, Apple?)
    2. Reported lack of advanced options in settings

    I'm considering the following brands/models:
    1. Netgear Nighthawk R7000, R7500, R8000
    2. Asus AC68u, AC87u, AC66u
    3. Linksys wrt1900ac
    4. Apple AirPort Extreme

    Just looking for some feedback from anyone who may own or have owned any of these listed. I know the Airport will be a super simple set up and all, but I need the ability for some advanced setup options, and im not sure what all you can or cannot do with it.
  2. jday7757 macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2012
    I have the Linksys wrt1900ac and it is a great router and very configurable. I highly recommend it. However, if you really want the AirPort Extreme, you can always buy a network switch to add additional wired ports. They are relatively inexpensive. In fact, even with my Linksys, I need additional wired ports and use a switch.
  3. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I have and use the Asus and Netgear routers and they are excellent, lots of features and good performance.

    I haven't used Linksys in a while, so I can't comment on how good they are these days.

    I also have an Apple AirPort Extreme, but in terms of customization, features, and performance, it's pretty terrible. Main issue is the lack of performance especially for the price. For the price you can get many other options on the market with a lot better range and speed. Even lacking most customization and options. For example AirPlay speakers functionality requires an AirPort Express (which to me makes no sense). You can't even attach a USB drive anymore and use it for Time Machine; you need to buy the Time Capsule for that! I know on the Asus, you can attached an USB drive and use it as a Time Capsule functionality with no additional software required. That's just pathetic.
  4. AllergyDoc macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2013
    Utah, USA
    I have a new Extreme I've attached a USB drive to that functions just fine as a Time Machine backup for 2 rMBPs.
  5. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I got a Time Capsule (newest version) for backing up the Macbooks, and I use a couple of Netgear managed switches for the rest of what I need.

    I've been very disappointed by the 5 GHz / ac performance. When I'm in my workroom, about 30' from the TC, I see network connections to my rMBP in the 60s and 70s (ac on 5) but twice that with n on 2.4. I don't know why this is -- I'm not that far away. Maybe it's defective.

    When it's time to replace, I won't get another. Not worth it.
  6. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005


    Look over the reviews and forums at Smallnetbuilder. They do very through reviews. Unless you need Time Machine support, there is very little to recommend with the Airport Extreme. In objective testing it performs worse than the others in its class. And as you mentioned, it is very feature poor.

    I would focus on the Asus AC68U and the Netgear R7000. They have been out longer than the newer models and the firmware is more mature. The updated wifi modes of the newer models are not supported on any current client devices anyway, so you are paying for wifi speeds you will never achieve.
  7. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    I would go with the AirPort Extreme or the Linksys WRT1900AC. I use an Extreme as the main router of a network of twelve AirPort Expresses (access points) at school serving over 150 clients a day without a hitch! The AirPort Extreme also offers native support for Time Machine to USB hard drives.

    The Linksys is going to be a more configurable and faster router in benchmarks. The Extreme is going to offer fantastic stability, reliability, and speed at the loss of some configurability. That being said, most users do not need additional features that are not found in the Extreme except in certain environments. I am quite happy with the Extreme at home and at school, and would not have any issues recommending it despite the shortcomings. The downfall of the Linksys is the lack of "set it and forget it" mentality that comes with the Extreme.

    Are you referencing the sixth generation AirPort Extreme (tower style)? If so, you are misinformed on the capabilities of the Extreme. While the Express is the only AirPort to indeed offer AirPlay, the AirPort Extreme officially supports Time Machine to USB drives as of the sixth generation. Owners of previous generation Extreme's have had luck getting Time Machine working, however it was always unsupported. The ASUS support for Time Machine is not official, and the support can be broken with any update to either the router or OS X. In my tests, the AirPort Extreme is a solid performer but does lack the configurability of the ASUS.
  8. UKgaryb macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    Manchester, UK
    Smallnetbuilder tests things under very odd lab type conditions and they are way to biased.

    Linksys have a slight problem of being pretty rubbish in terms of security and vulnerabilities : http://arstechnica.com/security/201...inksys-routers-with-self-replicating-malware/

    Not used the Asus but i can say for 1 thing: The Airport Extreme CAN be used as a time machine backup point with a USB Hard Disk, don't listen to fud by other people. They run NETBSD and are generally regarded as some of the most secure consumer grade routers.

    Ask yourself, what 'advanced' features do you need that the airport can't do?

    If you want advanced I highly recommend getting a setup like my own:
    Router - Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite
    Access Point - x3 Apple Airport Extreme 802.11ac currently sat 3 rooms away with a PHY of 585Mbps
  9. kanewtz macrumors member

    Nov 10, 2014
    Northern Ontario
    I know this is late...but I've been searching and trying to find out which router was best to buy.

    I ended up buying the following:
    - Airport Time Capsule (2GB)
    - Airport Express

    - Netgear Nighthawk R7000

    I figured, since I couldn't decide...I will purchase both and test them in my house.

    I have a 2 storey (~2400sqft) home with an unfinished basement. Office + bedrooms are on the 2nd storey. Router was placed on the main floor against the back wall in the centre of my dining/living room.

    Apple Router
    I hooked up the TC to the modem and then bridged an Express on my 2nd storey to get full wireless coverage. While it was great and working quite well, I couldn't justify spending $400+ to have full wireless coverage to my iPads, iPhones, rMBP, Chromecast, etc.

    Netgear Nighthawk R7000
    This router actually took the same amount of time to hook up as the TC. I only have this router running right now and I get full speed anywhere in my house. Pretty impressed with it. While it is significantly larger (and cooler looking, IMHO) this router has so far been working excellent for me. I would recommend it if you can get it for a decent price (I paid $150, in Canada).

    I will continue to test and report back in week!

  10. MasterRyu2011 macrumors 65816

    Aug 22, 2014
    Are you on Tmobile? If so, as a Tmobile customer, you can order the AC68U for free. It's rebranded as the Tmobile cellspot. I just did it and received mine yesterday. talk about a $180 savings! That's my Blackfriday deal.

    Oh, and it's fast!
  11. AtomicGrog macrumors regular

    Jul 25, 2011
    How many ports do you need? is it just the 1 more or lots?

    And what are the advanced options you're looking for?
  12. MkVsTheWorld macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2010
    This is a good option even if you aren't a T-Mobile customer. Last I heard you can get the router online for $99 on their prepaid site.
  13. pierrox macrumors regular


    Jun 19, 2015
    Paris, France
    Interesting thread. Where do we stand 2 years later?
    I'm in the market for an AC router - since I use a MacBook 12" and an iPhone 7 which can both do it.
  14. Weaselboy, Nov 12, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016

    Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Each year the site Smallnetbuilder does an overview of the router market along with some recommendations. Their latest just came out and is here. Interestingly, for the home user, they still recommend the AC1900 class as the best bang for the buck for most people.

    The two routers I mentioned up in post #6 are still good choices in that AC1900 class and are reasonably priced.

  15. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    I used to be a Cisco/Linksys guy, but lately I use only ASUS routers.
    So +1 for ASUS.
  16. pierrox macrumors regular


    Jun 19, 2015
    Paris, France
    Thanks guys, just read several articles on SmallNetBuilder, and indeed those seemed the best choice. And the good news is that their price dropped since this thread opened!
  17. pierrox macrumors regular


    Jun 19, 2015
    Paris, France
    Thanks to Black Friday, I got a R7000 for less than $100. I've installed Tomato firmware on it, with default settings, and did a couple of bandwidth tests. Please to see that the results were 4x higher than when connected in N mode.
    Now I have to learn more about vlan to integrate it better in my setup.
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    So where did you pick up the r7000 under 100 dollars?

    Btw, while ac is awesome, you'll find most likely that 802.11n devices have improved speed on that router. In many cases, an 802.11ac router does "n" better than an "n" router.
  19. pierrox macrumors regular


    Jun 19, 2015
    Paris, France
    Thanks for the hint.
    Amazon.fr did it on Friday, €94.
  20. MacBH928 macrumors 68030


    May 17, 2008
    I got the R7000, so far so good, 0 complaints, GUI is easy to setup.
    I heard once that Netgear routers tend to die after a couple of years, not sure if rumor or true, but everyone on Amazon gave this router 5 stars
  21. Forum-User macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2009
    T-Mobile still offers the ASUS AC68U rebranded as Wi-Fi CellSpot Router for $99 with a current promo code WIFI40 for $40 off. The router comes configured to prioritize Wi-Fi phone call bandwidth, but otherwise works similar to the $150+ non-T-Mobile version.

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