Since the launch of the first 802.11ac router in 2012, there has been slow but steady trickle of new products appearing in the consumer market. With the IEEE standard still slowly edging towards ratification in early 2014, full business-grade models are still some way off, but at least there are now plenty of opportunities to do some early evaluations or deploy them in branch offices.
The latest entrant is Western Digital, a newcomer to the router market whose first models launched in mid-2012. The My Net AC1300 is a 3-stream (1,300Mbps) dual-band router and, with a nod to the dearth of 11ac client devices and adapters, the company has also introduced a companion three-stream four-port My Net AC Bridge.
The AC1300 router and AC Bridge share the plain family styling of the My Net range, and each have four usable Gigabit LAN ports. The router has a dedicated Gigabit WAN port, plus two USB ports, which can be used for printer sharing (a separate USB-over-IP client utility is provided) or for storage, with built-in DLNA, iTunes and FTP servers.
Graphical interfaces are gradually becoming the norm in consumer routers, but WD has chosen a more conservative approach than some, with more restrained use of icons and buttons. The router features WD's FasTrack automatic QoS, which has built-in settings for various popular web services such as Netflix, Spotify and Skype. It can be disabled if needed, and QoS priorities entered manually for services, applications or devices.
We ran some 802.de11ac performance tests using the AC1300 combined with the AC Bridge, and it returned the best results we've seen for an 11ac setup so far. At 1m range, it achieved 170Mbps throughput in Passmark Performance Test 8, and at 25m it was still giving real throughput of over 70Mbps.
We tested 802.11n performance with our standard Intel Ultimate Wifi Link 5300AGN-powered test rig, and in 5GHz mode it managed a respectable 55Mbps at 1m and 20Mbps at 25m. Performance at 2.4GHz was a little patchier, though. It returned the same 55Mbps close-range speed but would not maintain a connection for the long-range test.
It's good to see the flow of new 802.11ac products continuing, and also that performance is improving all the time. It certainly bodes well for the post-ratification future.
The My Net AC1300 costs £139 (including VAT), while the My Net AC Bridge costs £69.