All of which had us feeling cynical by the time the ZyXEL NBG6716 was ready for performance tests. So consider us blown away to find it produced the fastest 802.11ac close range performance we've ever seen. At 2m the NBG6716 hit speeds of 51.7MBps (413.6Mbit), a significant jump from previous leader the Asus AC68U's 47.2MBps (377.6Mbps).
Sadly this wasn't maintained with distance. At 10m it managed 37MBps (296Mbps), seeing the AC68U race ahead (44.3MBps / 354.4Mbps) though it stayed fractionally ahead of the chasing pack in second.
At 13m between two standing walls, however, came a significant drop to 21.1MBps (168.8Mbps), almost 30 per cent down on most 802.11ac routers we have tested. Despite this the graphs illustrate that wireless consistency is rock solid.
Things weren't so explosive at 802.11n 5GHz, but again performance is consistent. The NBG6716 managed 22.5MBps (180Mbps), 20.9MBps (167.2MBps) and 8.07MBps (64.56Mbps) at 2m, 10m and 13m respectively placing it in the upper echelons for close and mid range.
At distance sadly it had tailed off again with most wireless ac routers achieving 10MBps or greater and the AC68U doubling the NBG6716's score.
At 2m and 10m 802.11n 2.4GHz followed in the footsteps of its 5GHz performance (graphs in the gallery). Speeds of 10.4MBps (83.2Mbps) and 9.54MBps (76.32Mbps) again put it in the upper third of performers.
At 13m though it bucked a trend managing 4.6MBps (36.8Mbps) making it the fourth faster router we'd tested at this range. Still it remained significantly behind the 8.94MBps (71.52Mbps) of the AC68U.
Finishing off with USB, speeds of 10.9MBps are highly respectable given the ongoing disappointment of this standard across a network (graph also in the gallery).
Asus currently leads the way here with the AC68U and AC56U managing 14.9MBps (119.2Mbps) and 18.6MBps (148.8Mbps) respectively, but otherwise no other brand has even cracked 10MBps. Yes the NBG6716 lacks USB 3.0, but until speeds test the limits of USB 2.0 it isn't a significant omission.
Based purely on performance we'd be tempted to say yes. The ZyXEL NBG6716 is a very capable performer, particularly at closer ranges and is enough for ZyXEL to give some of the bigger players a shock.
The problem is its £155 asking price. This puts it in the mix with some of the best routers on the market like the Asus AC66U (£159.99), Linksys EA6700 (£169.99) and D-Link DIR-868L (£139.99) which have wider feature sets, smarter UIs and better mobile apps. This means that while the AC68U (£189.99) is too expensive for many, we still wouldn't then default to the ZyXEL.
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ZyXEL has proved with the NBG6716 that it can outstrip some of the fastest routers on the market. Usually this would be enough for a strong score, but the router is let down by a fussy setup, ageing UI and outdated mobile apps. There is no question ZyXEL is on the right path, but without a cheaper asking price it still needs to invest in its software to compete with the industry's best.
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