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Buffalo AirStation 1750 Dual Band 802.11ac Router - Design, Setup & Performance

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

Design

So how do router and receiver look look? In a word, identical. Buffalo has decided to twin the designs which both use discrete antenna bands around their rectangular exterior and they have smart matt black and metallic finishes, which should keep the dust away. At a matching 210 x 184 x 30mm they aren't overly huge and are equally happy positioned upright or on their sides. Build quality is excellent and they feel durable in hand.

Setup

Where we did hit our first snag though was in the setup. On paper Buffalo has made it simple to get both the router and media bridge up and running with each featuring an 'AOSS' (AirStation OneTouch Secure System) button that simply requires pressing a button on each to pair them. Unfortunately for us a successful pairing required two restarts and a reset and they need to be re-paired any time one is unplugged. Happily further attempts saw pairing work as advertised so we are happy to put it down to a glitch having not seen widespread reports of similar issues elsewhere.

Next is the router UI and, for such a future-focused device, it feels like stepping back in time. In short the browser based interface looks like something from the early days of web page design with garish colours, ugly fonts and an inconsistent layout. It isn't lacking in functionality, but it is far less intuitive than it should be and a far cry from the fluid UIs from the likes of D-Link and Netgear. It needs a complete makeover.

Performance

Happily where the Buffalo AirStation 1750 D1800H and D1300 combo does come up trumps is performance. With the router and bridge just two metres apart we achieved real world 802.11ac transfer speeds of up to 26.7MB per second (213.6Mbit) which obliterate our previous benchmark of 10.3MBps (82.4Mbit) from the D-Link DIR 645 Smartbeam router. This lead widens further with distance. At 10 metres with a solid wall between router and bridge we still hit speeds of 16.2MB per second (129.6Mbit) compared to 5.61MBps (44.88Mbit) from the DIR-645.

Pushing this further we found our first major drop off when positioning the router and bridge 13 metres apart with three walls between them. In this scenario transfer speeds only peaked at 4.2MB per second (33.6Mbit) which - while still much faster than the 2.57MBps (20.56Mbit) achieved by the DIR-645 - showed range issues for some users with large houses may remain. That said we were still able to reliably stream 1080p video from our NAS.

Zeus

June 20, 2012, 3:46 pm

@Gordon Would be interesting how the Netgear R6300 compares in performance, that is the one of the two Netgear ac routers being released. I think the other is the R6200.

gagagaga

June 20, 2012, 5:31 pm

Not too impressed with the performance.

26MBytes a second is about what I routinely get from my 802.11n stuff in the same room. I've seen 35MB/second sustained when sat in the bedroom above the lounge where the router is.

Kit: Cisco E5200 on 5GHz, HP Elitebook with Intel 3x3 WiFI card (factory fit) so using a 450MHz connection.

Gordon394

June 20, 2012, 6:52 pm

Agree 100% Zeus, it is available yet but we'll be chasing it up as soon as it is. Cheers.

Gordon394

June 20, 2012, 7:18 pm

@gagagaga We've never seen performance of that level from any 802.11n equipment so if you've achieved that (megabytes, not megabits) then it's a minor miracle and I wouldn't be leaving that setup in a hurry.

gagagaga

June 21, 2012, 12:33 am

@Gordon394
Actually sold the HP a week or two ago. The Samsung 900X3B was just too tempting with the vat back and PC world offers.

Just tested that against the Cisco, 5GHz, same room. The Samsung is Intel WifI too but only 2x2 so 300GHz max.

Results ... power saving on (the default Samsung setting) I get around 12MB/s on a large file copy. At max power setting it bounced around 21-22MB/s.

Interestingly that's a peak around 60% of the max theoretical rate which tallys with the HP at 60% of 450. There are no other 5GHz networks anywhere near me.

I've been using Wifi since the days when a 802.11b base station with a single LAN in was £130 so got to know what works. I find the Apple stuff most variable - the first dual band gigabit airport extreme was awesome - 2x2 at 22MB/s in the early days of N but the later simultaneous dual band routers never got much past half that. I picked up one of the Dlink routers too after the TR review - great for filling the WiFI holes but the throughput never gets close to the Cisco unless you're sat next to it.

If you don't have one in the office, i'd recommend TR invest in a top endish HP or thinkpad with 3x3 radios for benchmark testing WiFi gear - anything since Core 2 days with the Intel 5300 would do.

The other point of course is a legal one ... have the rules for channel bonding on N changed in the UK in the past year or two? Even if they have, most base stations with outdated firmware / settings will default to one channel on N if told they are in the UK - you need channel bonding to get anything over half the theoretical max. Using Ireland or France as your country fixes that little problem...

Gordon394

June 21, 2012, 6:33 am

Thanks for the extra info. We do all testing on laptops with 3x3 radios, but haven't used the Cisco. We're actually very keen to see what it does with 802.11ac.

I believe channel bonding isn't allowed in the UK, but that is an interesting (and sneaky) way around it. We'll have a play with that and see how if there are updates, but it is obviously not something we can widely promote!

PS glad you like the D-Link (SmartBeam, I presume?) that has certainly been the best of the affordable 2.4GHz routers we've seen and the coverage is exceptional.

CodeMonkey

June 21, 2012, 11:18 pm

I'm not too worried about upgrading my wireless performance.
I moved from a WRT54G to a WRT160N which meets our needs, not least because I installed a CAT6 line to feed our networked TV, NAS and media streamers upstairs. Music streams adequately enough via our current router.
What I do want to know is when manufacturers are going to cotton on to the fact that many domestic consumers need 8 ports on their router...hell I'd settle for 6 ports! We have a WHS, Popcorn Hour A100, Tivo, Wii and (with the feed to to upstairs and a spare port for cabling in emergencies) have to have a switch fun off the router to have sufficient ports..

Pbryanw

June 22, 2012, 8:23 pm

You might be interested in the new routers Western Digital (yes, the hard drive manufacturers) are releasing soon. According to the blurb:

"The My Net N900 router features wireless performance up to 900 Mbps (450 + 450 Mbps on the 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands combined) and includes 7 LAN and 1 WLAN Gigabit Ethernet ports for up to 10/100/1000 Mbps wired speeds."

It's the only consumer router I know that has more than four ports.

Russell Peto

June 28, 2012, 4:35 am

I don't think there's a real need for manufacturers to put more ports on the back of their routers. The small group of people who do need this can pick up a 5 port gigabit switch at Maplin or PC World or some such for £30.

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