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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tyft86 - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - linkWhen are we going to see some reviews of the new AC routers hitting shelves? eg: Netgear Nighthawk, Asus AC68U?
althaz - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - linkThis! I need a new router, but it's kinda hard to decide which one to get.
Mayuyu - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - linkTry SmallNetBuilder. They're the standard in wireless reviews.
nathanddrews - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - linkI second this. To answer the OP, the Nighthawk is the clear winner on performance by a wide margin.
juhatus - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - linkAnd looking at the 1star comments on amazon, wait for Netgear to fix firmware before buying..?
In the mean while I'd rather recommend Asus RT-ac68u, been good so far.. on stock firmware.
Maltz - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - linkI've had a Netgear router... I'll pass. The hardware was great, but the firmware was atrocious. And remained so for over two years after the model first shipped. I finally gave up waiting and got an ASUS. I've been very happy with it.
stunta - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - linkI have been using the Nighthawk for a couple of months now. No firmware issues. Best domestic router on the market IMO. Deserves an AT review.
coolhardware - Monday, January 27, 2014 - linkI had WiFi connection issues with the Nighthawk, specifically some of my devices would connect at much lower speeds than with other routers (we're talking 54mbs vs. 300mbs). I had very high hopes for SAMBA after reading the smallnetbuilder review, bit alas SAMBA would flake out during transfers involving many small files. I found the traffic reporting feature to be subpar compared to other manufacturers and that is an important feature for me (as I have a monthly GB transfer limit). The final nail in the coffin was that even general web usage (on my admittedly slow connection) was subpar compared to my previous router. Thus the Nighthawk* was returned to Amazon and I reverted to my trusty last-gen ASUS router.
*I could handle these quirks/bugs on a cheap router but not a high-end one.
kmmatney - Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - linkI have the NightHawk as well. I haven't had any WiFi dropouts,and it has been generally stable. To be honest I haven't really noticed much of a performance gain over my old $25 refurbished WNR2000, although it does seem to handle more connections (I have about 20 devices in the house) and has a stronger signal. I don't have any AC drevices yet, so I guess I shouldn't expect any improvement. I think most of the problems with the NightHawk have been more of the advanced features (like USB storage) that I don't use, but do want to try eventually. The problem with reviews is that they normally test things in a controlled environment, and not with 20 random devices, all at different speeds, connected to it. It will have to last me a long time to make it worth the money. For now, the only real benefit for me is the strong signal - much stronger than my old router.
DanNeely - Friday, January 24, 2014 - linkThat table looks like it would be a great reference if I intended to use a stock firmware; but since I'd be flashing my new router to DD-WRT as soon as I was confident it didn't have an out of the box problem that'd require a warranty claim, it falls well short of what I need.