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Netgear R6300 review

Verdict

A promising start for 802.11ac, but with few compatible devices, it won’t revolutionise your home network

Review Date: 1 Oct 2012

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £150 (£180 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £127
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
6 stars out of 6

The transition from 802.11g to faster 802.11n Wi-Fi was among the slowest, most drawn-out upgrades in the history of technology. It was only officially ratified by the IEEE standards committee in 2009, but before that, we had years of unofficial “pre-n” and “draft-n” products released as manufacturers and consumers lost patience.

Thankfully, it looks as if its successor – 802.11ac – will go through the process far more quickly. Although still at the “draft 2” stage, it’s predicted the standard will be finalised by the end of 2012, with manufacturers already delivering new hardware. This Netgear R6300 cable router is the first supporting the new standard we’ve seen.

Netgear R6300

The 802.11ac standard is intended to boost wireless speeds and range. It only operates in the 5GHz band but is backwards-compatible with 802.11n devices, which means if you buy an R6300 now you’ll be able to connect any dual-band laptop, smartphone and tablet over 5GHz just as you would any regular dual-band 802.11n router. The Netgear R6300 also sports a 2.4GHz radio, allowing concurrent 802.11n and 802.11ac connections.

Over 802.11ac, the potential speed gains are significant. This Netgear R6300 router has a theoretical maximum throughput of up to 1,300Mbits/sec, almost three times the 450Mbits/sec claim you’ll see on the fastest 802.11n routers, and there’s also headroom in the standard for speeds far in excess of this.

Netgear R6300

These speeds are achieved in two key ways. First, the 802.11ac has support for wider channels. While 802.11n supported a maximum channel bandwidth of 40MHz, 802.11ac goes right up to 160MHz. Second, the standard supports the use of more MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) spatial streams, up to eight from four in 802.11n. With a single spatial giving a maximum possible throughput of 433Mbits/sec on an 80MHz channel, there’s potential for throughput of up to 6.93Gbits/sec.

That’s the theory, but as we’ve found over the years, such figures are rarely achievable in real-world use. So we set about putting the R6300, which supports 80MHz channels and three simultaneous streams, through our usual battery of wireless tests.

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User comments

But...

Does it actually work? PC Pro has reviewed Netgear routers in the past and once on sale they've presented owners with many, MANY, issues.

I owned the N600 and it would not hold a stable connection.

As with ALL Netgear devices wait at least a month, check the Netgear support forums and if you're feeling lucky, then buy the device.

By rhythm on 1 Oct 2012

Thanks for the review

Thanks for the detailed review of this new generation of upcoming routers. I really hope that your prediction of 802.11ac being ratified by the end of 2012 is correct. It would be refreshing if the IEEE were to ratify it so soon.

The official timeline at

http://www.ieee802.org/11/Reports/802.11_Timelines
.htm

Unfortunately shows a very different picture.

I look forward to such devices being available.

Thanks.

By Jimbo762 on 1 Oct 2012

@rhythm

Seconded.

By JohnHo1 on 2 Oct 2012

But REAL transfer speeds

I am deeply sceptical.
My router has official speeds of 108Mbps, but I rarely achieve a twentieth of that.
I suspect the numbers here will be as meaningless.
But maybe I'll get 10Mbps.

By Tony_Yeah on 4 Oct 2012

Doomed to fail

As if the available channels in the wifi spectrum (both 2.4 and 5GHz) were not congested enough, now we have not only MIMO triple-channel use, but four times the channel width . .. anyone else see a problem here?

Collision-based technologies such as wifi suffer badly from co-channel interference, which the numpties at ISPs seem to either fail to understand or to ignore completely - e.g. BT and its 3 wifi networks on the same channel (by default) in the same router!

This router seems capable of occupying virtually the whole available spectrum by itself, which will only make the problem orders of magnitude worse, not to mention the "elecrosmog" issue that was rather patronisingly covered in a recent issue by someone who clearly doesn't understand the physics of the matter.

By onanymouse on 4 Oct 2012

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