So do the AC1300's speed claims come to fruition? It is in the right ball park. At our test distances of two metres and 10 metres line of sight and 13 metres behind two standing walls it clocked 31.6MBps (252.8Mbps), 25.9MBps (207.2Mbps) and 24.3MBps (194.4Mbps) respectively using 802.11ac.
This sees it lag behind the Linksys EA6700, Asus RT-AC66U and D-Link DIR-868L (which we would consider the best three routers currently on the market) at close range, but it reduces the gap on the 868L at 13m and is just 3-4MBps behind EA6700 and AC66U at this distance.
Performance on 802.11n at 5GHz was less impressive. The AC1300 managed 18.5MBps (148Mbps), 14MBps (112Mbps) and 7.8MBps (62.4Mbps) which saw it outstripped by all three routers at 2m and 10m.
While it matched the EA6700's 7.7MBps (61.6Mbps) at 13m we found this to be the EA6700's weak spot with the AC66U and 868L managing 11MBps (88Mbps) and a barnstorming 14.1MBps (112.8Mbps) respectively. On the plus side the AC1300 speeds were rock solid throughout (graphs for this can be seen in the gallery at the top of the page).
When it came to 802.11n at 2.4GHz the AC1300 again lagged, but not by much. It hit 11Mbps (88Mbps), 8.7MBps (69.6Mbps) and 2.9MBps (23.2Mbps) at 2m, 10m and 13m when scores around 11MBps, 10MBps and 3.5MBps were the norm with the big three, with the exception of the benchmark 5.3MBps (42.4Mbps) achieved by the AC66U at 13m.
That said this doesn't tell the whole story as you will see from the performance graphs opposite, the AC1300's speeds were erratic as distance increased.
As for performance over USB, the AC1300 managed 4.8MBps (38.4Mbps): in line with the 868L, much better than the lacklustre 3.1MBps (24.8Mbps) of the AC66U but not in the same league as the EA6700's breakaway 7.1MBps (56.8Mbps). While useable for simple media streaming, until router CPU power increases to tackle the greater drain of USB transfers attaching storage via Gigabit Ethernet will remain the much better option.
While the performance results show the AC1300 slightly lags behind the fastest routers we have tested it is in no way sluggish and will handle everything the vast majority of users can throw at it. FasTrack will also have appeal for users with slow Internet connections, but in all honesty this is unlikely to be a problem for users looking to buy such a high end router.
Still while the AC1300 isn't the quickest we've seen, it also isn't the most fully featured or stylishly designed. The network analytics are welcome, but available in most premium routers and we would have to run the AC1300 for many months to see if its claims of automatically tackling connectivity problems is true. This is a limitation of the review process.
Superficial as it may sound we also think it is about time WD paid slightly more attention to its external design given the stylish, racy and futuristic looks given to Linksys EA6700, Asus RT-AC66U and D-Link DIR-868L respectively.
In terms of value for money at £139 the AC1300 is cheaper than the EA6700 and AC66U (£169.99 and £159.99), while it comes in at the same price as the 868L. For those on a tight budget the D-Link has the most appeal and – while online offers may affect things – we'd also stretch to get our hands on the EA6700 and AC66U before WD's offering.
Competent is the word which most comes to mind with the AC1300. It is solidly constructed, fast and nicely featured but it looks dull, isn't as quick as the fastest routers and lacks the ambitious Cloud platforms being developed by Asus, D-Link and Linksys. In that scenario the My Net AC1300 needed to be cheaper to really catch our attention.
Next read our round-up of the best routers