The fastest wireless router yet?
Buffalo's Airstation 1750 wireless router uses the new Wifi 802.11ac standard, which works at speeds of up to 1,300Mbits/sec on paper, or three times faster than 802.11n technology. This is a ‘draft' product as the standard is not yet approved, but it should be upgradable to the final standard when it appears (in late 2013) via a firmware update.
The Airstation 1750 works with existing Wifi equipment, but for top performance it must be used with other 802.11ac devices. The only one available at the moment is Buffalo's own Airstation 1300 (WLI-H4-D1300-EU), which we used for performance testing. This adapter converts up to four wired network devices into 802.11ac wireless devices.
Although the 802.11ac standard only uses the 5GHz radio frequency, the Airstation 1750 has a separate 2.4GHz chip that can be used at the same time for connecting older Wifi-equipped kit.
There are four Gigabit Ethernet network ports at the rear, plus one for the internet connection. The router is only suitable for cable broadband or BT Infinity users, as it has no built-in ADSL modem. The single rear USB port allows network sharing of USB hard disks or a printer (or multifunction device). At the front are three blue status lights plus a quick-connect button. This supports both Wifi Protected Setup (WPS) and Buffalo's own AOSS system.
Initial setup was easy thanks to a wizard that runs when opening a web browser for the first time after the router has been connected. Alternatively, the supplied software can be used to locate the Airstation and open the web browser-based interface to change its settings.
The web interface is a little cluttered, but there is plenty of help, plus wizards for basic internet and wireless settings. There is also a media server function for streaming files stored on a USB disk and the ability to download files from the Bittorrent file-sharing service to a USB disk.
In our tests the Airstation 1750 was the fastest Wifi device we have ever seen, with data transfer rates of 95–102Mbits/sec at at a distance of 10m away. At 25m it delivered 45Mbits/sec, and even at 30m it managed a usable 19Mbits/sec.
For comparison, our standard 5GHz 11n adapter only achieved 60Mbits/sec at close range, reduced to 16Mbits/sec at its maximum 25m range. We also tested the 2.4GHz performance and found that although its top speed was unexceptional (47Mbits/sec at 1m) it could manage 16Mbits/sec at 30m range.
It is expensive, though, especially if the cost of the Airstation 1300 (£199) is included. Although it is the only 802.11ac router available at the moment, several competing models should be available by the end of 2012. Nevertheless, it is an impressive debut for the new technology.
Read more reviews
An impressively fast router but a luxury most can do without at the moment unless you have a very fast internet connection or regularly transfer large files on your local network
Outstanding performance and range; easy configuration; easy printer sharing
Cluttered settings menu; needs compatible adapter for maximum performance; expensive
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