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450mbps routers reviewed: 14 of the fastest models

Fast, but not 1.5 times faster

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Introduction

While the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year featured demonstrations of the next generation 802.11ac technology, we are still in the midst of a transition within the current 802.11n standard. After the 300 Mbps and 150 Mbps versions, manufacturers are now promoting '450N' models which promise a theoretical throughput of 450 Mbps. Obviously there is an element of marketing involved here, but even so it will be interesting to see how these product perform when compared to their elder 300N brethren. In order to get a good overview, we tried to get all currently available 450 Mbps routers into our lab to put these through our usual rigorous tests.


802.11ac

Product demonstrations are often far ahead of the curve in the world of IT and that is no different for 802.11ac. The final approval for that new standard is not expected until the end of 2013, after which it will take another few years before it has spread across the globe. In other words, further development of 802.11n definitely makes sense. There is still plenty of time to reap the benefits.


These sorts of speeds still belong to the realm of science-fiction.

The future 802.11ac standard promises a theoretical transfer rate of 1Gbps, more than three times faster than current 300Mbps standards allow. The new 802.11n standard with a theoretical speed of 450Mbps takes things a bit easier. Still, a 50 percent increase shouldn’t go unnoticed - if it is actually achieved in reality, at least.

Before we proceed to the different brands and models, it is worthwhile to explain the differences between a 300Mbps router and a 450Mbps router.

Extra data stream

To understand what sets a 450Mbps router apart from a 300Mbps router, we need to take a closer look at the technology inside a router. The attentive reader will notice that the transition from 300 to 450Mbps again is 150Mbps, the same difference between 150 and 300Mbps.

This is not an arbitrary number that WLAN-chip manufacturers happen to like. It is a logical consequence of the way data is sent from one point in a network to another.

An 802.11n router sends and receives data in so-called MIMO data streams. Each data stream has a maximum theoretical speed of 150Mbps. 150n routers have one data stream, 300n routers have two, and 450n models have three. The 802.11n standard has a minimum of two data streams, so 150n is compatible but not compliant with the standard.

The maximum number of streams for 802.11n is four. An additional jump to 600Mbps is therefore theoretically possible, but the question is whether that will happen before the arrival of 802.11ac. The latter will be able to handle a maximum of eight MIMO data streams and as mentioned be capable of much higher throughput.

Compare

fifteen products discussed in this review


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