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

Buffalo WZR-1750DHP 802.11ac Wi-Fi router review: Respectable feature set, mediocre performance

Credit: ROBERT CARDIN
At a Glance
  • Buffalo Technology WZR-1750DHP AC1750 Router

    TechHive Rating

    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.

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

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Buffalo was first to market with an 802.11ac router, and for a time it was the only manufacturer shipping an 802.11ac client bridge. The WZR-1750DHP is the company's second effort, but it’s not very exciting. Its performance and feature set left it in fifth place in this six-router roundup.

As its name indicates, this is a dual-band router delivering throughput up to 450 mbps on its 2.4- and 5GHz 802.11n networks, and up to 1300 mbps on its 5GHz 802.11ac network. As it did with its first effort, Buffalo trapped the three antennas inside the router's enclosure. As you’ll see in the performance benchmarks, its range suffered accordingly.

ROBERT CARDIN

Buffalo's WZR-1750DHP is the least-expensive 802.11ac router I've tested.

The WZR-1750DHP has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port and can support both shared USB storage and a shared USB printer. But since it doesn’t support drives formatted NTFS, I didn’t measure its NAS performance. This router has most of the same business-oriented features as the Asus RT-AC68U, including VPN, FTP, and SAMBA servers, but it doesn’t support WAN bridging or the ability to connect a 3G/4G mobile broadband dongle to its USB port as the Asus RT-AC68U does.

On the consumer side, Buffalo included UPnP and DLNA media servers, but not an iTunes server. An integrated BitTorrent client means you can download torrents to an attached hard drive without tying up a PC on your network. The WZR-1750DHP’s Quality of Service (QoS) feature allows you to assign priority to video streaming, VoIP, gaming, audio streaming, web-browsing, or file downloads. You can tweak the values for each of these settings or create your own custom rules.

The WZR-1750DHP’s parental controls, via Symantec’s Norton ConnectSafe web-filtering service, are better than average. But nothing I’ve seen compares to PowerCloud’s Skydog (unfortunately, that router is limited to the 802.11n standard).

ROBERT CARDIN

The Buffalo WZR-1750DHP has one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port, so you can share both storage and a printer on your network. 

Wireless networking performance

You can configure the WZR-1750DHP to operate as a router, a wireless access point, or a wireless client bridge. It doesn’t offer TurboQAM on its 802.11n network, but I don’t see that as a major shortcoming since the client also must support that technology, and relatively few devices do.

802.11ac Wi-Fi router performance

Each of the routers delivered high TCP throughput when paired with an identical router configured as an 802.11ac wireless bridge, but the WZR-1750DHP finished next to last at most locations in this scenario.

80211ac wumc710

The WZR-1750DHP’s performance flipped when I paired it with a Linksys WUMC710 802.11ac wireless bridge. It finished dead last in the two closer-range tests, but it performed very well when the client was in my home theater and in my home office.

802.11ac Wi-Fi performance

When paired with a Linksys WUSB6300 802.11ac client adapter, Buffalo’s router finished in third place at close range, but it surprised me with a last-place finish when the client was in the kitchen, just 20 feet from the router. Its long-range performance—with the client in my home office—was equally poor. 

802.11ac Wi-Fi router performance

Buffalo’s router turned in a good performance as a 5GHz 802.11n router, at least at close range. It took a strong first-place finish when the client was 9 feet from the router with no walls separating the two. Here again, however, its performance dropped off rapidly with distance.

802.11ac Wi-Fi performance

The WZR-1750DHP turned in fairly good performances running a 2.4 802.11n network, but it had a difficult time reaching the client when the client was in my home theater.

802.11ac Wi-Fi router performance

The WZR-1750DHP doesn't support hard drives formatted NTFS, so I didn't measure its performance reading and writing files from and to an attached hard drive, because the drive I use for this test is formatted NTFS. Buffalo's was the only router with this limitation.  (Trendnet's TEW-812DRU V2 supports NTFS drives, but it wouldn't recognize the drive I used for testing, so I didn't evaluate its performance on this metric either.)

The bottom line

As an 802.11ac router, Buffalo’s WZR-1750DHP is plenty fast enough to stream HD video to just about any room in your home. Its feature set is strong, and its parental controls are much better than average. But if you’re looking for the fastest 802.11ac router, this one clearly isn’t in the running. The absence of support for USB hard drives formatted NTFS renders it a weak NAS solution.

After you've finished reading the rest of these reviews, check out 12 of the new routers announced at CES 2014

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    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.

    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
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