Netgear releases one 802.11ac router, announces another

The next upgrade to the Wi-Fi standard is nigh, and Netgear is getting its ducks in a row. Earlier this afternoon, the company released one 802.11ac router, announced another, and teased a USB-to-802.11ac adapter for notebooks.

Starting today, folks should now be able to purchase the R6300, an 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with a top speed of 1.3Gbps and full backward compatibility with 802.11 a, b, g, and n devices (at up to 450Mbps). The device has other perks, too, including Netgear Genie network management tools, a couple of USB ports for printers and hard drives, and DLNA media server capabilities. The R6300’s goodies come at a price, though, and it’s not particularly cheap: $199.99.

Left: the R6300. Right: the R6200. Source: Netgear.

Users looking for a more affordable alternative will have to wait until next quarter. That’s when Netgear plans to introduce the R6200, a scaled-back model with a lower price—$179.99—and slightly lower top speeds—900Mbps over 802.11ac and 300Mbps over 802.11n. The R6200 will also shed a USB port, leaving it with just one. Other features and software capabilities will be identical, though.

The A6200. Source: Netgear.

Also in the third quarter, Netgear plans to release the A6200, a slim USB-to-802.11ac adapter for notebooks (the first of its kind, Netgear claims). The A6200’s USB connector will sit on a hinge, so you’ll be able to swivel the antenna as needed. And… that’s about it, as far as highlights go. It looks pretty elegant, though, provided you don’t mind having a USB adapter jutting out of your notebook in the first place. Asking price: $69.99.

The 802.11ac standard uses a 5GHz frequency and 80-160MHz channel bandwidth, which allows for a peak speed of 1.3Gbps (163MB/s or so). By comparison, 802.11n usually operates at 2.4GHz (though it supports 5GHz) with 20-40MHz channels, and its peak transfer rate is 450Mbps. Netgear points out that, because the new standard sidesteps the commonly used 2.4GHz band, it will help reduce interference and maximize performance. The firm expects the first 802.11ac-enabled notebooks to come out either late this year or early in 2013.

Comments closed
    • fantastic
    • 7 years ago

    Opportunity for a TR poll here? Maybe something like:
    Which features are you most concerned about in your next firewall/router?
    VPN endpoint/passthrough
    Dual stack IPv6 WAN and LAN
    Rock solid stability
    Wireless signal strength and speed
    Routing speed and latency
    High security

    or the marketing version
    Fancy shaped plastic
    BLUE LEDS SO BRIGHT!
    Colored packaging
    Ads everywhere
    Xtremus Maximus Super Fidelity

    • Forge
    • 7 years ago

    As one of the five people in my state who could actually utilize this tech and have been waiting for it, I’ll take that router and some fries, to go.

    I need a few mini-PCIe 802.11ac cards as well.

    • not@home
    • 7 years ago

    Every piece of networking gear that I have had that was Netgear brand was junk. I will never buy Netgear again.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    And wireless networking has gone from 11Mbps while Gigabit was out and semi-mainstream to 1.3Gbps while gigabit is still… mainstream.

    Yay for wired networking not improving in over a decade and now being trumped by wireless…

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      no idea what your talking about. 125 MB/sec or 1 Gbps is the most you can possibly transfer on single mechanical drives. but if you are part of the 1%, then you can go for 10 Gbps or 100Gbps cards with a few RAIDed SSDs or SAS drives at your disposal. in other words you need the infrastructure to support that speed, so if you are just an ordinary desktop schmuck end user, then you are SOL, but yeah, the tech is available contrary to your statement.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        802.11ac is within consumer level spending, under 200. Go priceout a 10Gbps setup.

        Raid isn’t all that uncommon nor are SSDs now days. Contrary to what you may believe, it is entirely possible to raid mechanical desktop hard drives too. ^^

        That aside, that wasn’t the point of my post. Technology doesn’t always need a reason to improve. Where would Intel or AMD chips be now days if they always waited for demand before they improved? Why did they even bother making 802.11ac if 802.11n was good enough for current needs?

          • bcronce
          • 7 years ago

          Intel said 22nm will be the beginning of integrated 10Gb nics, so they’re right around the corner(tm).

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            I never heard anything about that, cool tidbit though. If only the other technology was close to being pushed like that. I remember having to buy a gigabit switch and NICs to get a upgrade from 10/100, but that was still under the 200 range. 10 gigabit switches are ridiculously fing expensive still. There is no entry level equipment like there was with gigabit and 802.11ac or 802.11n when it first came out.

            If the rate of speed increase held true we should be close to 100Gb speeds or Tb speeds

            • dac7nco
            • 7 years ago

            Truth. A 10Gb Intel NIC is $500. I had to price two of them to build my desktop to Thecus NAS setup.

      • travbrad
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Yay for wired networking not improving in over a decade and now being trumped by wireless...[/quote<] In theoretical speed yes, but in real world use gigabit ethernet is almost always going to be faster still (even if your 802.11ac device is inches from the router). More importantly it's also extremely consistent and reliable compared to wireless.

        • ew
        • 7 years ago

        You forgot extremely inexpensive.

          • yogibbear
          • 7 years ago

          Well you can make it expensive by knocking holes in your walls and making it nice and neat…

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Perhaps right now… but now you’re balancing your argument on a technology that hasn’t improved in a decade being ‘just faster’ then overhead, while completely throwing out the whole idea of wireless improving in speeds more then 100 fold while wired has stayed the same.

        • stdRaichu
        • 7 years ago

        Not to mention that wireless bandwidth is shared between everyone. Throughput tends to drop through the floor when there’s several people doing bandwidth-heavy things.

        On top of that, I’ve never seen CIFS thoughput of higher than about 30MB/s using 2.4GHz 802.11n and only then when the laptop was a foot from the aerials. Ethernet gets routinely saturated.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          30MB/s = about 300Mbps… That’s close to theoretical depending on the device you’re using.

          • nxdrcj
          • 7 years ago

          [i<]"wireless bandwidth is shared between everyone. Throughput tends to drop through the floor when there's several people doing bandwidth-heavy things." [/i<] That's with 802.11n. My understanding is that the point of 802.11ac is to allow a better sharing of bandwidth than 802.11n. With this new standard you won't get a better coverage and you won't go through walls. But all the peripherals in range of the access point will get maximum throughput.

    • indeego
    • 7 years ago

    Years ago I got a “Pre-n” router from Belkin or Linksys or Netgear (I forget) and it was the worst POS networking device I ever used. When 802.11n finally was ratified it still didn’t work quite right. I don’t bother with the consumer-level crap anymore, it’s junk.

    • maxxcool
    • 7 years ago

    where is the usb3 version ? 480mbits = completely useless 802.11ac

      • swaaye
      • 7 years ago

      Considering wireless has over 50% overhead, maybe it’s not that big of a deal.

        • tay
        • 7 years ago

        What about USB’s over 25% overhead?

        • ddarko
        • 7 years ago

        Even if you chop 50% off the theoretical numbers, that means the real world throughput in ideal circumstances of the R6300 would be 750 Mbps, quite a bit higher than USB 2.0’s 480 Mbps (and that’s USB 2.0 theoretical number too, real world is smaller).

        In fact, Netgear’s product page for the A6200 adapter prominently advertises that its max throughput is 900 Mbps but has the footnote:

        [quote<]Data throughput may also be limited by the product’s interface, e.g. to less than 480 Mbps for a USB 2.0 interface.[/quote<] [url<]http://www.netgear.com/home/products/wireless-adapters/ultimate-wireless-adapters/A6200.aspx#[/url<] Fun stuff. This also raises a truth-in-advertising issue for Netgear similar to what got Apple in hot water outside the US with advertising the new iPad as 4G. Netgear advertises the adapter as supporting a 900 Mbps throughput but the product's USB 2.0 design makes it physically impossible to achieve anything greater than half that speed even in the best of circumstances. Seems more than a little misleading to me.

      • ew
      • 7 years ago

      If 802.11ac is like any of its predecessors then actual data rates will be 1/10 of the peak rate. So USB 2 should be just fine.

    • ddarko
    • 7 years ago

    It’s worth noting courtesy of Anandtech’s writeup of this media launch event that the companion USB adapter – which pretty much everyone will need because no one has 802.11ac built into their computers yet – uses USB 2.0 with a maximum theoretical throughput of 480Mbps, which is a third or half the max speeds of the new 802.11ac routers. Anyone hoping to take advantage of the greater throughput of their new 802.11ac routers should be on notice that it may be capped by this client-side adapter. Ah, the joys of being an early adopter…

    Also, there’s an error in TR report about the rated throughput of the R6200 router. Netgear’s press release says it’s 900 Mbps, not 1.2 Gbps as written above.

    [url<]http://www.netgear.com/about/press-releases/2012/05152012.aspx[/url<] Anandtech also says it's 867 Mbps.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      Wow. Fail.

      Its not like USB3 costs considerably more than USB 2 or doesnt work with PC’s that only have USB2, that is just such a huge oversight from netgear. Seems like they were desperate to get out first with the new wireless standard and didnt think things through. They’ll get their press release and some coverage but until they offer a USB3 adapter this is completely pointless.

        • RickyTick
        • 7 years ago

        I’d like to upgrade my router, but I’m waiting on one with USB 3. Is there one out there somewhere?

          • nxdrcj
          • 7 years ago

          D-Link DIR-857 is the one for you
          [url<]http://amplifi.dlink.com/products/DIR-857[/url<] It has USB3.0, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11n (not ac) at 450 Mbps on both bands and a fast processor.

      • majortom1981
      • 7 years ago

      Another article stated 802.11ac is being released so fast because the handset makers want it to be not for faster pc transfer speeds.

      1 antenna in a phone can allow 433Mbit/s on 802.11ac

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Or twice that given 160MHz channels. What is a little phone going to do with all that data? 🙂 Hopefully it’ll turn off the radio for more of the time because the actual time spent transfering data will be so much lower.

      • nxdrcj
      • 7 years ago

      Just to be clear, 802.11ac allows for 80 MHz channel agregation and 160 MHz channel agregation on the 5 GHz band.(That’s the [i<]team channels[/i<] quoted by [b<]#24 bcronce[/b<]). With 1 stream and 1 antenna, the theoretical speed can be 433 Mbps and 867 Mbps. With 2 streams the theoretical speed can be 867 Mbps and 1.7 Gbps. With 3 streams the theoretical speed can be 1.3 Gbps and 2.6 Gbps. The strange thing is the [i<]"900 Mbps"[/i<] and the [i<]"1.2 Gbps"[/i<] mentions. Neither are values of theoretical speed available with 802.11ac.

    • axeman
    • 7 years ago

    Uh
    1) 802.11n supports 5Ghz band as well
    2) 5Ghz isn’t all roses. Less interference, but for equal power transmitters, 5GHz has worse range and is less able to penetrate walls, that’s part of why there hasn’t been a high uptake of 802.11n equipment (backward compatibility problem being a bigger factor). If you think 5GHz is going to solve all wireless problems, you’re going to have a bad time.

    That said, I’d be happy for a new standard to completely break with the old; 802.11g is a tired horse.

      • bcronce
      • 7 years ago

      “1) 802.11n supports 5Ghz band as well”

      But is not optimized, which makes a HUGE difference. They rest of your points are good though. AC isn’t meant to solve all issues, but a very common issue.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Sorry, what do you mean by “optimized”. Keep in mind, I’m a BS CprE and an Extra class amateur radio operator. Please be specific.

          • bcronce
          • 7 years ago

          N was made with 40mhz channels in mind, which limits it to 150Mb/channel, but you can team channels so 80mhz is 300Mb/s.

          AC uses different algorithms that make the assumption of 80mhz channels instead of 40mhz channels, which means it is “optimized” for 80mhz channels. This alone makes up a large part of the ~1.3Gb/channel.

          In other words, most of the reason for AC’s much higher speed is native 80mhz channels.

          edit: My laymen’s understanding.

            • willmore
            • 7 years ago

            I’ll admit I had never looked at the spec for ac before, but I just did a quick look. I don’t really see anything in there that I’d call optimization that’s really specific to the 5GHz band. Yeah, wider channels 40/80/160, denser signaling rates 256QAM, and the option to use LDPCs are features that work better at 5GHz than they would at the noisey 2.4GHz band (except for the 80/160 MHz channel widths which wouldn’t even fit there. Okay, one 80MHz channel might fit, but the 2483.5MHz band edge would need some protection.)

            5GHz–generally speaking–has lower noise than 2.4GHz, so the denser signaling rates and the LDPC ECC codes could make better use of this property. But, that’s not muh of an optimization.

            And, looking at the table of data rates, it looks like the Netgear routers only support 80MHz channels with 4 streams? That’s one quarter what a fully tricked out 802.11ac device could support–160MHz channel/8 streams 3.467 Gb/s. Wow. There’s some room for improvement there. I’m having visions of the lid of laptops being covered with an array of patch antennas. Drool….

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    Yes, this is [i<]exactly[/i<] what I need to get the most out of my marvelous 1.5Mbit DSL connection that chokes pings when any concurrent bandwidth use exceeds about 50% of the 145kbps peak, because evil CenturyLink [i<]nee[/i<] Qwest can't figure out how to upgrade the DSL repeaters in my neighborhood, even though it is literally one mile away from a major business center and a half mile away from a large community college, both of which are served by a massive fiber backbone. rrrrrrrrr....

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      This is more useful on a local network in your home or business. Duh, almost no internet connection (in the US at least) will saturate this.

        • Thrashdog
        • 7 years ago

        Some will! With Google Gigabits ™ impending here in the KC metro, I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how I’ll set up a gigabit LAN to match.

        • ludi
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, but I might be bitter. WiFi just hit the gigabit mark for less than the price of a tablet and I’m stuck with a connection technology that was amazing back, what, a decade ago?

        Did I mention my office is located along that same fiber trunk, and I’ve gotten download speeds at work in excess of 450kB/s, one mile from my house?

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