A question asked of the Netgear R6300 802.11ac Router is one that is ask commonly by any technology reviewer: should I buy now? The implication being technology changes constantly and no-one wants to pay good money for a product which will soon be out of date. The follow up question is inevitably: but will it make any difference to me? Meaning are the advantages something from which a mainstream user will really benefit? With wireless networking currently undergoing its biggest step forward in five years we can give two answers: 1. Nearly 2. Absolutely.
For those not in the know, the big change coming is ‘802.11ac’ Wi-Fi, the successor to 802.11n which promises a theoretical bandwidth of up to 1Gbit per second and real world performance of up to 3x its predecessor. Technically the standard remains in draft but, like Draft 802.11n, manufacturers have grown weary of waiting and promise a simple firmware update will make all draft routers fully compatible with the final standard. This was true last time around, and we have little reason to question it this time.
Furthermore we have already seen a glimpse of its potential from the Buffalo AirStation 1750, the first 802.11ac router we’ve had on test, and now networking giant Netgear is ready to excite us once again.
Netgear R6300 802.11 Router Design
The Netgear R6300 802.11ac Router is the model Netgear hopes will achieve this, but we can’t say our heart was racing when we took it out of the box. Visually the Netgear R6300 looks much like the older Netgear WNDR4700: a bulky slab of piano black plastic as big as an 11-inch ultrabook and which can only sit on its side. What’s more the R6300 comes with a hulking power brick, though at least the cable is long enough to allow for optimum positioning. Meanwhile connections are fairly standard: 4x Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi on/off and WPS buttons, though you do get two USB 2.0 ports for networking both a printer and a hard drive. There are also strong parental controls with the ability to block up to 50 categories of Internet content.
Netgear R6300 802.11 Router Features
Along with its 802.11ac Wi-Fi (which operates in the 5GHz band) there is dual band 802.11n (backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g) operating in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums simultaneously. Such a range of frequencies could be baffling to novice users, but Netgear’s Genie control dashboard is both attractive and intuitive and certainly a huge step up from the text heavy tables of the Buffalo AirStation 1750.
Happily Netgear also offers Genie as an app for iOS and Android, again using the same clean UI, though unlike recent Cloud platforms such as Cisco’s Connect Cloud and D-Link’s mydlink they only work when directly connected to the network. We suspect a Netgear Cloud platform cannot be far away.