2014 has been yet another glorious year for the release of awesome routers. Netgear have released two new ‘Ultimate’ routers (the Nighthawk X6 & X4, which follow up on last year’s original Nighthawk), and Asus have released their latest flagship router, the RT-AC87U.
5 Highly Rated Wi-Fi Routers
Today we are going to let battle commence – Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 vs Asus RT-AC87U – we’re going to see what they are both all about. What features do they share in common? Is one better than the other?….Costs?……and so on….
There’s a lot to consider before you part with your hard-earned cash. Hopefully this comparison makes the decision making just that little bit easier for you…
The Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 R8000 Router
Netgear’s most powerful router, which has advertised data rates of up to 3.2Gbps, 3x radios (Tri-Band technology) and also has a dual core 1GHz processor…
The Asus RT-AC87U AC2400 Router
Asus’s latest edition to its performance range. Asus have given the 87U a 1GHz dual core CPU, MU-MIMO technology and 4 detachable antennas, giving you the option of adding more powerful antennas, if you choose to…
Nighthawk X6 AC3200 vs Asus RT-AC87U – Main Common Features
The X6 and the 87U each have a long list of features, here is a list of the major shared ones.
The 2 Fastest Routers On The Planet
Well, first things first. In case you didn’t know, these two monsters of the routing world are the fastest available, at time of writing at least.
On paper, the Nighthawk X6 looks to boast the fastest Wi-Fi speeds. It has advertised data rates of up to 3.2Gbps when combining both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands (being used at the same time). Breaking this down further, up to 2.6Gbps theoretical speeds are possible on the 5GHz Wireless AC range, and 600Mbps on the Wireless N range.
When we look at the data sheets for the RT-AC87U, the data rates are slightly less…1.7Gbps on the 5GHz AC range, with 600Mbps on the N radio. This makes for a grand total of 2.4Gbps.
BUT, don’t let that put you off the Asus!!! It has a few tricks up it’s sleeve as you’re going to find out later…
Powerful 1GHz Dual Core Processor
When you have multiple radios, antennas and chips and need to move data around at gigabit speed, you need the have some internal grunt. Neither the RT-AC87U nor the Nighthawk X6 disappoint. Both have an internal 1GHz dual core CPU, ensuring that any bottlenecks don’t sit with the router!
Dual USB Ports
It would be a tragedy to have an AC router that didn’t have at least one USB 3.0 port. The X6 and the 87U both include one USB 3.0 port and a second USB 2.0 port. USB 3.0 is essential for sharing on an AC network, and is the expected norm – plug your USB drive into this port. Use the USB 2.0 port as a backup, or for a USB printer, if you don’t have a network printer to share among everyone.
Beamforming is used to angle Wi-Fi coverage in the direction of clients as and when they need it. At longer distances it improves bandwidth and reliability as well as helping to extend coverage further.
Quality of Service (QoS)
Both routers have Quality of Service built in. It has to be said though, Asus win hands down in this battle. The 87U offers “adaptive QoS” which is smart enough to work out which users require prioritization of bandwidth at the right time. However, the X6 only offers ‘WMM’ (Wi-Fi MultiMedia), which is much more basic in what it offers.
Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 R8000
Does the RT-AC87U or the Nighthawk X6 have any Special Weapons?
X6’s Tri-Band Wireless
The Nighthawk X6 has a very unique feature up its sleeve….Tri-Band wireless. Most of you will be familiar with Dual Band, which allows a single router to broadcast on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz on two radios. The X6 has 3 radios, which splits over 2x 5GHz radios and 1x 2.4GHz radio. Spreading the 5GHz signal over two radios means that more clients can connect and communicate concurrently, an advantage over having just the single 5GHz radio.
MIMO was a technology introduced in the era of Wireless N routers. It was a revolution, increasing data rates exponentially due to how it could interpret reflected out-of-sequence wireless signals that arrived at the router’s antenna back into phase and increase throughput. It’s limitation is that it can only do this for one client at a time.
MU-MIMO (Multiple User – Multiple In Multiple Out) can run MIMO for multiple clients simultaneously, improving Wi-Fi throughput all-round. The Asus RT-AC87U uses MU-MIMO, which requires a MU-MIMO client in order to work.
The Nighthawk has a total of 6 antennas to support the 1x 2.4GHz radio and 2x 5GHz radios (Tri-Band…remember?) , which are fully adjustable.
However, the 87U has 4x antennas, which are changeable if desired. The 4 antennas support 4 spatial streams, as opposed to the Nighthawk’s 3 streams…more power to the 87U!
Asus RT-AC87U AC2400
Nighthawk X6 AC3200 vs Asus RT-AC87U – Which One?
Each router has it’s pro’s and con’s. Performance-wise, the Nighthawk just edges it, when it comes to testing over the bands at different distances, but on average, there’s so little in it that it’s barely worth mentioning.
You need clients that support the spatial streaming & MU-MIMO capabilities, so take that into consideration.
Both routers are really powerful and are “best of breed”, for the time being at least.
However, for those of you who want to save some cash (actually quite a bit), you might want to think about going for one of 2013’s pick of the bunch – the Asus RT-AC68U or the Nighthawk R7000. They’re pretty much up there with the X6 & 87U, as far as performance and features are concerned…
The Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 R7000 Router
Netgear’s former flagship router. Features a dual core 1GHz CPU, just like it’s successor, and has data rates up to 1.9Gbps when using Dual Band. Has two USB ports, one of them USB 3.0…
The Asus RT-AC68U AC1900 Router
The RT-AC68U also has a dual core processor and the 1.9Gbps data rate over Dual Band. Again, there are two similar USB ports, as well as other features…
Do you agree/disagree? Why not comment below and let us know what you think…