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Revealed! The best and worst 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers of 2013

At a Glance

The Asus RT-AC68U is the most advanced consumer router on the market, but it’s also one of the most expensive.

Price when rated: $220

Pros

  • Fast performance overall
  • Dual USB ports (one USB 3.0/one USB 2.0)
  • Best-of-breed feature set

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Overkill for some
 Compare

At a Glance

Buffalo’s WZR-1750DHP has a pretty good feature set, but it’s an also-ran in terms of range and throughput. On the flipside, it was the least expensive of the six routers we tested.

Price when rated: $130

Pros

  • One of the least expensive 802.11ac routers on the market
  • Dual USB ports (one USB 3.0 port)
  • Good QoS features

Cons

  • Generally unimpressive Wi-Fi performance
  • Weak range compared to its peers
  • Internal antennas
 Compare

At a Glance

D-Link cut a couple of corners with the DIR-868L. But with its performance and price tag, most people won’t care.

Price when rated: $150

Pros

  • Fast performance overall
  • Strong feature set for consumers
  • Great price/performance ratio

Cons

  • Poor 2.4GHz 802.11n range/performance
  • Slow USB file-transfers
  • Only one USB port (but it is USB 3.0)
 Compare
Where to buy

At a Glance

This router is easy to set up and it has great remote-access features, but its 802.11ac performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Price when rated: $190
Lowest price: $200.00 via TigerDirect

Pros

  • Good feature set
  • Dual USB ports (one USB 3.0/one USB 2.0)
  • Better-than-average parental controls

Cons

  • Expensive for the features and performance delivered
  • Decidedly average TCP throughput at most test locations
  • No VPN or iTunes servers
 Compare
Where to buy

At a Glance

Netgear's Nighthawk 802.11ac router boasts a strong feature set, delivers exceptional range, and is reasonably priced. It's the best Wi-Fi router on the market, at least for now.

Price when rated: $200
Lowest price: $200.00 via Dell Home

Pros

  • Excellent range
  • Extremely fast file transfers from USB 3.0 storage devices
  • Compelling feature set, including downstream QoS

Cons

  • Requires second Nighthawk configured as 802.11ac bridge for top performance
  • Exceedingly large wall wart
 Compare

At a Glance

There's very little reason to consider the Trendnet's TEW-812DRU Wi-Fi router. It's nearly devoid of advanced features, it's performance is below par on most counts, and it's not the least-expensive model you can buy.

Price when rated: $210.00

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • USB 3.0 port (one)

Cons

  • Below-average performance
  • Almost no advanced features
  • Can’t be converted to a 802.11ac wireless bridge or an access point
 Compare

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