Separated by slivers, that’s the performance difference between networking contenders this year
We only have AC3200 routers this time since AC5300 routers are still undergoing certification for sale in India. Routers with 5.3 Gbps of bandwidth might seem overkill but when you consider that mobile devices are increasingly adopting Full HD / 2K screens then a household with multiple such devices will definitely require plenty of bandwidth for a seamless experience.
Zero1 Winner: D-Link DIR-890L (500)
D-Link’s crab-like DIR-890L turned out to be quite the attention grabber. For starters, it comes with multiple colour choices with one SKU sporting a striking red shade. The router makes use of three bands, one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz bands, to provide the massice 3200 Mbps bandwidth. What’s irksome about this router and every other AC3200 router on the market is that they all lack ADSL modems. The DIR-890L does feature some other neat technologies, though, like Smart Connect feature ensures that 802.11 devices with similar protocols end up on the same band so that the entire network’s quality isn’t compromised if a device with an older 802.11 protocol were to connect to the network.
Routing performance is quite good with each uplink and downlink handling around 200 Mbps on the 5 GHz band on an average. Even WAN to LAN speeds are quite high with speeds reaching nearly 800 Mbps. The D-Link DIR-890L edges past the competition by a narrow margin, after all the flagships are all powered by the same Broadcom SoC.
Price: Rs. 17,875
Runner-ups: NETGEAR R8000 and ASUS RT-AC3200
Netgear’s Nighthawk X6 and ASUS’ RT-AC3200 could all share the first prize with the D-Link 890L if you run the same set of benchmarks over and over because they’d average out. That’s how low the difference is between all three routers. And Zero1 is all about performance and by a stroke of luck these three ended up getting scores quite close to each other with the D-Link scoring the most. So if we were to look at other aspects then ASUS’ UI is more suited for an enthusiast since they make all those options easily accessible while the D-Link and Netgear routers have simplified their UI for the common man. Build quality is not a problem since brands rarely sacrifice on this aspect on their flagships.
Netgear’s Nighthawk X6 Price: Rs. 14,990 | ASUS’ RT-AC3200 Price Rs. 24,470
Best Buy : TP-Link Archer C20
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the majority of the internet consumer base in India happen to use ADSL and currently, AC1900 routers seem to be at the sweet spot when it comes to a balance between bandwidth, feature set and cost. But they still end up costing a bomb with the most economical AC1900 router costing somewhere around 12K, so you have to scale down till you end up with the TP-Link Archer C20. It is one of the few AC750 routers out there that costs next to nothing.
You will have to get another ADSL model to make it work on ADSL connections or you can wait out till the Archer D20 / D5 / D2 becomes available since they’ll be incorporating ADSL modems. ADSL modems are generally more expensive compared to their non-ADSL counterparts so getting two modems like we just mentioned is the economical way out. It might end up costing you more in the long run since you’ll have two devices consuming the same amount of power instead of one. The C20 is cheap and even has two external antennae, a luxury when it comes to cheap routers.
Price: Rs. 2,270