Amped Wireless: 802.11ac WiFi with High-Gain Antennasby Jarred Walton on January 21, 2014 8:49 PM EST
It’s been a while since we last looked at Amped Wireless, a company with a primary goal being the development of higher quality and longer range WiFi products. Wireless testing being what it is – namely, a pain in the rear – I haven’t completed any of the 802.11ac router reviews yet, but the AC1200 Amped Wireless router I’ve been testing has worked well. Amped now has several newer products coming out that supersede the AC1200 router, with an AC1900 router topping their lineup and providing four stream 2.4GHz support (600Mbps) and three stream 5GHz support (up to 1300Mbps on 11ac, or 450Mbps on 11n). They’ve also added a USB 3.0 port to several of their routers to provide high-speed access to network storage, which is a potentially useful feature.
The wireless routers are now dressed in black, while the repeaters/range extenders use similar hardware that’s tuned for a slightly different workload and their casings are white. Amped also has access points available, which are more for business, with the highest model currently being AC1200 (two stream 2.4GHz/5GHz), which comes in a steel-grey color. The AC1200 RTA15 router has been shipping for a few months now with an MSRP of $190, while we’re still waiting for the new AC1900 model to begin shipping. Similarly, the REA20 range extender is currently shipping with a $200 MSRP, and we’re waiting for availability on the AC1900 range extender.
Along with the routers, repeaters, and access points, Amped has a couple new 802.11ac client adapters. One is the ACA1, an AC1200 USB WiFi adapter with USB 3.0 connectivity that supports two streams (300Mbps/867Mbps) and can be used with any suitable laptop or desktop. USB 2.0 compatibility is provided as well, but performance will potentially be lower due to the limited bandwidth offered. The second client adapter is the PCI20E, and AC1200 WiFi PCI-E adapter, which has similar performance but comes with a PCI-E x1 expansion card for use in your desktop. The ACA1 is already shipping with a $90 MSRP, while the PCI20E is currently on pre-order with an MSRP of $80, and availability is expected in March.
The potentially fastest routers at CES support up to four streams 802.11ac (1733Mbps), but the only four stream solution currently available comes from Quantenna. Considering most of Amped’s other products use Realtek chipsets, they may not bother with a four stream 11ac router, so the AC1900 line is likely to be the highest performance router and range extender from Amped for the time being.
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azazel1024 - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - linkUhhh did I miss something here? I was unaware that any of the AC1900 routers were 4 stream 2.4GHz capable. To the best of my knowledge, they all use "Turbo QAM" in the 2.4GHz space, which is effectively an extension of 802.11n allowing a 256 character QAM encoding scheme to increase per stream speed to 200Mbps from 150Mbps on 40MHz. Normally 802.11n uses 64 character QAM.
So I think that the intial opening describing the router is incorrect.
azazel1024 - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - linkAlso ditching your GbE cables is probably a pipe dream. Clients are going to be rare that have that many antennas, ignoring the bandwidth bit.
I think where 7GHz capable 802.11ac is going to come in is MU-MIMO. Have 4 867Mbps clients...great, each one can get 2 antennas dedicated to it and you can actually utilize most of that 8 stream bandwidth that the router/AP has in store.
Its a rare laptop that has more than 2 antennas in it and smaller devices are not even that common that have 2 antennas in them.
I doubt we'll see more than 2 antennas in anything smaller than a tablet and frankly I think more than 2 in a tablet is also going to be rare. Just isn't that much real estate.
If you were thinking of doing more than 2 antennas anyway, you'd probably be served going with two BIGGER antennas in the client device than you would be with trying to cram a 3rd antenna in there (at least for most applications).
Even if you were bridging and could bring to bear that >5Gbps of theoretical bandwidth, being 5GHz, in the same room you might hit 3Gbps, downhill with a tail wind. You'd probably hit 1Gbps two rooms over and dropping further from there. The wider the used bandwidth, the lower the long range performance is (in 2.4GHz, at high attenuation/range, 20MHz provides both better throughput and longer range than 40MHz does. In 5GHz the same principle applies. So 802.11ac at 20Mhz has better range and performance at long ranges than 802.11ac does at 80MHz and I imagine more so with 160MHz).
Beyond that, by the time anyone is seriously consider AC7000 routers, I'd imagine 10GbE copper is going to be reaching at least enthusiast pricing levels, if not exactly current GbE pricing and adoption.
My 10GbE wire speeds will crush your theoretical AC7000 wireless speeds :-P
trivor - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - linkStay away from Netgear - I bought (at the time) the highest end dual band (WNDR 3700) and had nothing but problems with it - dropping connections, rebooting the router 1-2 times/week. I replaced it with an ASUS RT56u and it has been superb - especially in comparison to the Netgear. Netgear has lost my business for good.
coolhardware - Monday, January 27, 2014 - linkTrivor, I had the same bad experience with Netgear and I reverted to my old trusty ASUS :-)
tygrus - Saturday, January 25, 2014 - linkThe problems are: the reduction in available bandwidth dependant on location (country regs and local interference); real world installation is affected by many neighbours using the same frequencies for wireless or wanting overlapping reception between routers for coverage of a larger premises; even with a promised 300Mbps I get 10% usable with a 30Mbps / 3MBps transfers.
richard1941 - Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - linkHigh gain antenna? What is the gain, in dbi? When they talk about a high gain antenna, I envision a dish or a yagi that must be pointed at the target. This maximizes the signal in the desired direction, while reducing the interfering signals in other directions. That is what you need to access a distant WiFi, like the McDonalds that is about 200 yards from me.
There is a relation between gain and beam width that is based on the physics law of conservation of energy. It is preposterous to call the antennas shown here as "high gain".
Note that the FCC has specific rules related to high gain antennas. However, even with the required power reductions, the range can be greatly extended.