How we tested
Testing was performed in a three-storey, Sydney townhouse. On the ground floor was our wireless router which was connected via Ethernet cable to our Alienware Alpha test PC. The first thing we did was update the firmware on each router. We then performed three sets of speed tests: next to the router, in a bedroom one floor up and finally two floors up in a second bedroom. In addition to the three main routers we also used our existing router, an older $350 D-Link AC3200 DIR-890L (which has just one 5GHz channel and no MU-MIMO) for comparison.
Both D-Link routers offer a Smart Connect feature whereby only one network is displayed and the router chooses the fastest way to connect to it (the user doesn’t see if it’s 2.4GHz or 5GHz). As this is the default setting we left it as is for this test. The Netgear and Linksys routers have similar features but they only work on the 5GHz bands. Netgear’s is off by default while Linksys’ is always on. Again, we used the default settings.
Note too the DIR-895L's MU-MIMO function is still in Beta. As we've seen elsewhere, though, we don't expect this to make much of a difference.
We ensured that each test was stable and ran it again if it was not (unless otherwise stated).
In order to test the MU-MIMO technology, we added other equipment to each network: we had an old iPad 2 playing V for Vendetta on Netflix (by the router) and Tinkerbell and The Lost Treasure playing on Netflix on an Xbox One upstairs in the second bedroom. We also performed tests on an empty network from the one-floor-up bedroom for comparison.
We then transferred a 2GB movie file across the networks using both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands (we let the D-Links decide for themselves). We did this using both the native WiFi adapter in a Surface Pro 3 – a Marvell AVSTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller – and then we disabled that and ran the tests using the Surface Pro 3 with a Linksys MU-MIMO Max-Stream AC600 Wi-Fi Micro USB Adapter. All computers were running Windows 10.
Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: How we tested
Page 3: Results
Page 4: Netgear Nighthawk AC5300 X8 review
Page 5: D-Link DIR-895L AC5300 MU-MIMO Ultra Wi-Fi Router review
Page 6: Linksys EA9500 Max-Stream AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router review
Page 7: Conclusion