So what we seem to have on paper is a reasonably specified router with the potential to cause some concern to other budget 802.11n rivals. In reality what we found when we started testing blew our socks off.
At our test distances of 2m and 10m line of sight we found the 812DRU produced astonishing 802.11ac speeds of 54.3MBps (434.4Mbps) and 45.3MBps (362.4Mbps). These are the fastest wireless ac speeds we have witnessed to date, crashing past the Asus RT-AC68U and ZyXEL NBG6716's circa 50MBps benchmarks at 2m and inching ahead of the former's standout 10m performance of 44.3MBps (354.4Mbps). A quite remarkable achievement.
At our final test distance of 13m behind two standing walls, however, we did get our first glimpse of the limits of the 812DRU's 3x2 antenna arrangement. It produced speeds of just 16.9MBps (135Mbps), which are in line with the 2x2 array of the Asus RT-AC56U and a long way behind the circa 30MBps speeds achieved by headliners at this distance such as the AC68U and Linksys EA6700.
Switching to 802.11n 5GHz (graphs in the gallery above) we didn't see any records, but the 812DRU's results of 23.1MBps (184.8Mbps) at both 2m and 10m and 8.47MBps (67.76Mbps) at 13m are up there with the best premium routers at all three distances (excluding the astonishing 16.9MBps recorded by AC68U at 13m).
Using 802.11n 2.4GHz was a similar story with 2m, 10m and 13m speeds of 11.4MBps (91.2Mbps), 11.1MBps (88.8Mbps) and 4.13MBps (33.04Mbps) again up with the best routers, again aside from the AC68U's 8.94MBps (at 13m). It must be noted, though, that the 812DRU's 13m result did include a couple of drop outs, which would hinder streaming media and once more highlights the restrictions in the 3x2 antenna array.
As for network USB performance the 812DRU also held its own. Speeds of 6.7MBps (53.6MBps) aren't going to break the 15MBps and above stranglehold Asus' routers currently have on this particular test, but they are in line with most other rivals.
Given the 812DRU retails for £103.99 the answer is a resounding 'yes'. It may lack a few features and the setup process could be smoother, but crucially it can outstrip routers well over the £150 mark in close and mid-range 802.11ac tests and more than hold its own at both 802.11n 5GHs and 2.4GHz. This makes the 812DRU a bargain, especially for the upgraders who are happy to manually run a few setup wizards rather than have them start automatically.
In terms of rivals, the Asus' £125 RT-AC56 remains the closest threat and it does offer a smoother setup it cannot keep up with the 812DRU when it comes to raw 802.11ac performance and is beaten on price. For anyone keen to hop aboard this new wireless standard those are two compelling advantages.
The TrendNet TEW-812DRU is a surprise hit. It's very fast and very cheap, even if it drops off a little at long range. If you want 802.11ac Wi-Fi on a budget, look no further.
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