As the headline indicates, this is a review of Netgear’s new mid-range 802.11ac router, the R6400. But the most interesting discovery I made during benchmarking is how much TP-Link’s Archer C8 802.11ac router has improved—at least at close and medium range. I updated the firmware in all four of the routers before benchmarking them, and the TP-Link’s close-range TCP throughput with an 802.11ac USB Wi-Fi adapter jumped from 262Mbps to a very strong 411Mbps.
Netgear’s R6400 turned in a disappointing performance of just 240Mbps at close range (with the client laptop located in the same room as the router, nine feet away). That put it in last place in this group. The R6400 performed much better at a distance, delivering TCP throughput of 309Mbps when the client was in my great room, 35 feet from the router with one insulated wall and a number of appliances in between. That was good enough for a second-place finish, but it was still 1Mbps slower than the TP-Link.
I retested the four routers represented in the charts because I’ve simplified my benchmark methodology. Previously, I would test each router by placing the client PC in four different rooms in my home. But four test locations meant performing a dozen benchmark runs on each router, because I’m evaluating 2.4GHz 802.11n performance, 5GHz 802.11n performance, and 5GHz 802.11ac performance with a USB Wi-Fi adapter. Scenarios where the router manufacturer sends a second router that I can configure as a wireless bridge increases the number of benchmark runs to 16 per router.