Over the past few months, 802.11ac has begun to filter in and take over the wireless market. Though many devices don't include support for this technology, those too are beginning to trickle in, with devices like the Nexus 5 from Google supporting it.
The biggest differentiator between 802.11n and 802.11ac is that 802.11ac is a 5 GHz only technology, which has subsequently added another band: the 80 MHz band. Beam forming has also been added to the list of mandatory technologies used in 802.11ac, whereas with 802.11n, the technology was an option very few manufacturers used in their products.
The wireless router we have in-house comes from Buffalo Technology: the WZR-1750DHP. The 1750DHP is as the model suggests; it is capable of 1300mbps on the 5 GHz band, and 450mbps on the 2.4 GHz band.
Features encompassed with the Buffalo include NVIDIA Gamestream certification, along with Symantec Norton security controls. You can also change the device from an access point to a wireless bridge, with the flip of a switch on the back of the unit.
Pricing and Availability
As of this writing, the Buffalo Technology WZR-1750DHP carries a price of $134.99 with high availability; the warranty on this wireless router is set at three years.
Buffalo AirStation 1750DHP Router
The Buffalo WZR-1750DHP was delivered to our door in it full retail packaging. The box carries much of the same design concepts we have seen from previous Buffalo products. The front of the box carries a touch of marketing information, along with an image of the device to the right.
The scope of delivery for the Buffalo 1750 includes an Ethernet cable, power adapter, reading materials, and of course the router itself.
The front of the router houses the AOSS button, which allows one touch secure setup of the routers wireless connection. Further down, we have a set of LEDs for activity.
The backside of the router houses many connections and options. From the top down, we have the AP/WB switch, the USB eject button, along with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports. Five RJ45 Ethernet ports allow for modem hookup, with four reserved for LAN.
Internally, the Buffalo uses a Broadcom design with thermal protection, and EMI protection covering a few of the ICs.
Router Setup and Management Interface
The first connection to the Buffalo AirStation asks for username, and password. Language options are available above.
Above, we have the landing menu in basic tiled form; there is an option for the advanced menu.
Above, we have the basic options for the wireless bands.
The WAN setup menu provides multiple options for setting up the internet connection on your router.
The LAN side setup starts with the default address of 192.168.11.2. Advanced DHCP settings are made available by ticking the box.
The advanced menu for the 2.4 GHz band allows you to change the SSID and the output power.
The advanced menu for the 5 GHz band again allows you to change the SSID and the output power.
Here, we have security and firewall settings for the AirStation.
The Buffalo includes an eco-mode that allows you to schedule wireless access throughout the week.
From the system administration, you can change the admin password, and also configure management access.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup
Test System Setup
As wireless networking has proliferated in homes and offices around the world, and network vendors keep releasing new devices on a regular basis, you now have so many options that it's hard to make a choice. The truth of the matter is: regardless of how many features a wireless router or access point has, the two most important things about it are its speed, and its range.
We test throughput and range in a dual-node network environment consisting of a Custom PC with a GIGABYTE Z77UP5 TH, Intel Core i5 3570K Processor operating at 3.3 GHz with 16GB of DDR3, featuring the Startech.com ST1000SPEX42 quad port gigabit network adapter, and a single HP ProLiant DL380 G5 Server with Windows Server 2012 R2, and a second Startech.com ST1000SPEX42.
Wireless throughput is tested using the ASUS PCE-AC68 PCI Express Network Adapter. Range is tested with a HP ProBook installed with an ASUS USB-AC56 adapter through USB 3.0.
We perform all tests in a real-world environment. You may get better range and throughput results in a spacious facility with few internal walls, or outdoors. Our tests provide a benchmark for estimating the range and throughput of wireless networking devices in an indoor setting, with some obstacles.
Benchmarks - Wired Throughput
LAN to LAN throughput of the AirStation peaked around 850 mbps, which is similar to what we found with the D-Link 868L.
WAN to LAN throughput tests the routers ability to pass traffic from the internet to the switched ports. Here, we see the Buffalo manage near 800 mbps.
Benchmarks - Wireless Throughput
In our first wireless throughput test (the 2.4 GHz band at 20 MHz width), we have the AirStation starting out around 80 mbps, and topping out near 112 mbps.
Increasing the channel width to 40 MHz had the Buffalo starting around 80 mbps once again, but topping at 180 mbps towards the end of the run.
Moving to the 5 GHz band at the 20 MHz channel width, we find all routers tangling up. Peak rate for the Buffalo came in at 175 mbps.
We had left TX beam forming on throughout testing, as it is enabled by default on the AirStation. In this case, you can see how the router starts off around 150 mbps, then shoots up to 250 mbps after the beam forming learns the location of the connection.
The Buffalo AirStation in 802.11ac started out at 200 mbps; performance then increased, topping out at 380 mbps.
Benchmarks - Wireless Range
For wireless range, we need to refer back to the Network Infrastructure chart on page four of this article. Each chart herein is based on the locations on the table. To make it simple, Location One is the closest, and within line of sight, while Location Four is the furthest away, with many walls in between. Location Five tests the routers ability to generate enough signal strength to penetrate to the second floor of a home.
2.4 GHz 20 MHz testing had the Buffalo right alongside our previous routers through the first three locations. We then have the Buffalo dropping off slightly at Location Four, but resuming back to full strength at Location Five.
Moving to the 40 MHz channel width, we find the Buffalo and D-Link providing similar range.
The Buffalo seemed to excel above previous testing solutions at the 5 GHz band.
5 GHz 40 MHz again shows the Buffalo with the best range across tested devices.
5 GHz 80 MHz increased range through the first three locations. In Locations Four and Five, the Buffalo stays right with the Amped Wireless.
Benchmarks - Link Speed By Location
Link Speed by Location
Link Speed by Location offers valuable insight into the working throughput of the router at specific locations.
At the 2.4 GHz 20 MHz band, the AirStation came in at 144 mbps in the first three locations; connection rate drops to 130 mbps in the last two locations.
Moving to 40 MHz, the Buffalo mirrored the D-Link in connection rates across all locations.
The 5 GHz 20 MHz band allowed the Buffalo to connect at 176 Mbps at Locations One and Two. Following this, the router dropped off severely with Locations Three and Four; eventually returning to 176 Mbps at Location Five.
5 GHz 40 MHz was able to connect at 400Mbps for the first two locations; dropping off to 200 mbps at Location Three and 50 mbps at Location Four. The speed returned at Location Five.
Firing up the 5 GHz 80 MHz band, we have the AirStation connecting at 867 mbps, dropping to 600 mbps at Location Three, and ending at 80 mbps at Location Four. Location Five showed the speed to jump back up to 867 mbps.
If you are in the market for an 802.11ac upgrade solution, there are no shortage of options available. The Buffalo AirStation 1750DHP is one of these options, and to be honest, it might just be the most complete solution I have seen to date. The router's build quality is superb, with durable plastics used in construction, and the internal components chosen have been proven to perform.
Performance of the router was quite exceptional; in most cases it leads the chart among the three AC routers we have seen. The management interface is clean and simple using the basic mode. For users that want additional options, the included advanced mode enables those. One feature that I found while browsing through the router, which I failed to mention previously, was the ability to send WOL magic packets straight from the routers menu.
This is a feature that can come in handy for users of multiple PCs. As this router is based on Broadcom design, it also leaves the option open for third party firmware. Even further, Buffalo has a history of using DDWRT with some of their other products, so I wouldn't be surprised to see something like that for this, or the next router to come out of Buffalo Technology.
Market pricing of the Buffalo AirStation 1750DHP has the unit at $134.99. Comparable routers in this segment are the D-Link 868L at $149.99, the Netgear R6300 at $179.99, and the ASUS RT-AC66U at $169.99.
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