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Best AC Routers | Top Picks for 2016

Updated on December 24, 2015

Finding the Best AC Router

Here you will find the best AC routers for 2016. They are blazing fast and contain the latest and greatest cutting edge latest technology. Wireless of this performance level has never been seen before!

After you finish here, you will know about wireless AC, the most important features and they mean to you. By covering these important details, you will be able to the best AC router for your needs.

So lets jump right in with exactly what Wireless AC and 802.11ac is all about.

About 802.11ac

IEE 802.11ac became available at the end of 2012 and started hitting store shelves in the beginning of 2013. Wireless ac speeds top out at 1 Gigabit (technically 1.3Gbps or 1,300Mbps) when connected to an ac wireless network adapter. That is 3 times faster than Wireless N. Wireless ac routers are the fastest wireless routers ever made.

The need for 802.11ac Wireless Routers.

The average household is placing more demand on their current wireless routers than ever before. Wireless tablets, smart phones, printers, gaming consoles and Blu-Ray players are all connected at the same time and competing against each other for airtime and bandwidth.

As a nation, we watch more streaming video and game more than we ever have in the past. Digital Cable subscribers are cutting the cord in record numbers and using online streaming content subscriptions such as Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV. Those still subscribing to digital cable are using the included online content that comes with the channels. This includes online TV content such as Watch ESPN, HBO Go, Max Go, Speed2, BTN2Go and others streaming to TV to mobile devices.

With the direction we are heading, we are moving from a cable TV platform to one of a broadband connection. Wireless N routers just are not cutting it anymore. Wireless routers are built with technological advancements and features with this in mind.

Traits of the Best Wireless AC Routers:

To make an informed decision on what would be the best choice for you, you need to know and understand the features Wireless AC routers come with and features that are most important to you.

  • USB 3.0 port(s): You would want to check to see if your router includes them. Some of the new AC routers do not include any USB ports at all, while others include 1 or even 2 or more. The better routers have USB 3.0 which is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Obviously to take advantage of the USB’s speed capability, you would need to have USB 3.0 rated equipment connected to it. What are the USB ports used for? USB ports enable you to create a NAS (Network Attached Storage) by simply plugging in an external USB drive hard drive or thumb drive. Doing so will allow you to enjoy and share movies, music and photos on networked mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers. With some routers, the USB ports can also be used to connect a printer which can be utilized by computers as well as mobile devices by using. apps provided by the router manufacturer.
  • Cloud Capability Some routers offer the cloud capability which allows the ability to easily share the external USB connected hard drive’s content outside of the home network.
  • Mobile Management Mobile management allows you to easily perform router setup and management through mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The apps are provided by the router manufacturer.
  • Mobile Access Using a provided app, you can use your Apple and/or Android mobile device to access the files on your attached storage drive.
  • Airprint Compatible If you plan on, or would like to use Apple’s Airprint, not all routers are compatible. Some models will work if Bonjour is enabled within the router for multicasting. Configuring the router and getting it to work, if at all, can be a difficult task. Best advice, if you plan on using Airprint, get an Apple Airprint certified compatible router.
  • DLNA More and more devices are certified with this every year. Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is a nonprofit organization by Sony. The goal is to allow DNLA certified multimedia devices, from all different manufacturers, to talk to and understand each other right out of the box. DLNA certified devices allow you to easily share and stream movies, pictures and music from one device in the house to another or use one device to control another, such as using your smart phone as a remote. Hardware such as Smart TV’s, cameras, video game consoles and even refrigerators with digital displays have all taken advantage of this. There are around 20,000 different models of devices of all different brands that have been certified DLNA compatible as of 2013. You may already have DLNA certified devices already in your house.
  • Guest Access Provides secure Internet only access to your guests while blocking access to personal files on the network.
  • Beam Forming Technology Beam forming is a technology that allows for the wireless router to use an antenna array, of up to 8 antennas in some router models, to insure that your wireless device receives the strongest signal possible Beam Forming allows the router to constantly evaluate the communication to the wireless device transmission using signal processing. In short, wireless devices are often on the move and Beam Forming will repeatedly evaluate the environment and adjust for optimum communication. Beam forming in most situations will provide a stronger signal at further distances which removes delays from having to rebroadcast and allows for a greater volume of data to be transmitted in less time. With that said, it greatly improves the performance of the router and helps to eliminate dead spots.
  • QOS Prioritizes gaming and multimedia data over all other data for smooth video streaming. It is also very helpful in reducing lag when gaming. Most routers have this and it is usually turned on by default.
  • Simultaneous Dual Band Capable of running Wireless AC band and Wireless N bands at the same time. This is part of the Wireless AC standard and will be found on all AC routers.

Fastest AC Router: The Edimax AC1200

There has been one router that has been getting a lot of attention lately, the Edimax AC1200.

Edimax, while not being one of the most commonly known brands, is quickly making a name for itself. It is getting a lot of attention as it is starting to taking a large share of the wireless router market. The EDIMAX AC1200 Wireless Router is indisputably the Fastest AC Router! In fact, I have written a dedicated page about that claim.

Cheapest AC Router: The Edimax AC1200

No this not a misprint. Not only is the Edimax the fastest router, as mentioned above, it is also the cheapest. if you purchase the package without the included AC wireless adapter, the router by itself is the cheapest AC router.

Don't think cheap means lacking quality. This is one of the most budget friendly, feature packed AC routers that you will find.

Most Features: The NETGEAR Centria

First off, to just call it a router is an understatement. It is more of a network All-In-One network device. When it comes to features, this router is hands down the best. It acts as a media server, a cloud server and even performs automatic computer backups competing against Apple’s Time Capsule.

You can purchase it with an included internal 2 Terabyte SATA hard drive or without the hard drive. It sells under two different model numbers, the WNDR4700 and the WNDR4720. Both routers are 100% identical, the only difference is that the model number WNDR4700 does not include the 2 Terabyte drive and the Model WDDR4720 does.

The Netgear Centrina is the best AC router when it comes to included features.

  • Model WDDR4720 includes a 2TB Internal Hard Drive This router allows for a hard to be easily inserted directly into the back of the router by just sliding it in. A 2TB hard drive is included with model WDDR4720. I have included the official Netgear Centria WDDR4720 Installation video with setup instructions. It shows how easily the hard drive is to install and upgrade in the future. Being that the hard drive can be removed so easily, it makes future storage upgrades a cinch.
  • Personal Secure Cloud Server Allows for remote access to media so that you can stream movies and music even when you are away from home.
  • DLNA Certified Control and Stream movies and music from the internal storage to other DLNA certified devices in the home such as DLNA Certified TV’s and Blu-Ray players and game consoles. DLNA also allows you to do cool things like using your smart phone as a remote for another device such as a TV or Blu-Ray player.
  • Apple Time Machine Compatible Wireless AC Apple Time Capsule competitors that can also automatically backup PC’s as well. Put some of that 2 TB drive to work by backing up your files on Mac’s or PC’s.
  • 2 USB 3.0 port(s): While most AC routers only come with 1 USB port, this one includes 2. The included USB ports allow you to easily share a printer on the network and/or expand the storage capability even more by connecting a thumb drive or a USB portable hard drive to create a Network Attached Storage to store and share movies, music and photos.
  • Mobile Management It comes with the Netgear Genie app. You can easily setup and manage the router itself through mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The Netgear Genie app is provided at no additional charge.
  • Mobile Access Using a provided app, you can use your Apple and/or Android mobile device to access the files and stream movies on your attached storage drive.
  • Apple Airprint Compatible Allows for fast and easy full printing capability from iPads, iPhones.
  • Secure Guest Access Permits Internet only access for your guests while blocking access to your personal files on shared network storage.
  • Simultaneous Dual Band Compatible with older wireless devices, meaning it is backwards compatible.
  • Parental Controls Control access to what children can view.

In features, how much more could you ask for?

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