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Tested: We push six 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapters to the limit

Michael Brown | Jan. 30, 2014
So you just bought a new 802.11ac router (after reading our grueling roundup, of course). Great! What kind of wireless adapter are you using to connect your client PC to that router? If the client doesn't incorporate an 802.11ac adapter--relatively few machines do--you won't get the maximum benefit from that new router. I just finished benchmarking six of the newest 802.11ac Wi-Fi USB adapters and found striking differences in performance.

Netgear's A6200 delivered a strong second-place finish overall. In fact, it was just 2 mbps slower than the Asus, and it performed particularly well at longer distances. The D-Link DWA-182 finished third overall, with Buffalo's AirStation WI-U2-866D close behind.

I will no longer rely on the Linksys WUSB6300 for testing 802.11ac routers, because it finished in fifth place in this field of six adapters. And then there's the Trendnet TEW-805UB, which produced the slowest performance in three of my four test locations. Finishing dead last overall, it was 39 mbps slower than the fifth-place Linksys adapter, and 122 mbps behind the first-place Asus product. I could cut Trendnet some slack because its adapter is street-priced at just $40, but I found Buffalo's far-faster WI-U2-866D selling for the same price online.


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