Subject: Networking | November 17, 2015 - 12:56 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nitroQAM, mu-mimo, gigabit router, broadcom, asuswrt, asus, 802.11ac
Asus has officially launched the RT-AC5300, a massive
replicator tri-band wireless router. The new router is fenced in by eight large antennas that allow the device to support 4 x 4 MU-MIMO wireless on two 5 GHz and one 2.4 GHz bands.
The menacing high-end wireless router supports the latest wired and wireless consumer networking technologies and runs the AsusWRT firmware. The RT-AC5300 is clad in black with red accents. The top of the router is mesh to facilitate cooling. In addition to the eight antennas, there are five gigabit Ethernet ports (up to two ports can be configured as WAN ports), a USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, and physical buttons for WPS, Wi-Fi, and LED on/off.
Powered by a Broadcom chipset, the router supports 802.11ac as well as older N/G/B Wi-Fi standards. Using NitroQAM technology, the two 5 GHz bands each support up to 2,167 Mbps speeds while the 2.4 GHz band tops out at 1,000 Mbps. This is a boost over the usual 1,734 Mbps for 5 GHz and 600 Mbps for 2.4 GHz wireless bandwidth numbers. Asus claims that the router can run all three bands simultaneously along with beamforming to improve the signal to devices by focusing the signal. Note that the combined advertised "5334 Mbps" of the router includes all three bands but a single device would max out at the 2,167 Mbps theoretical maximum of a single band. The router is capable of automatically figuring out and using the optimal band to communicate with each device based on its capabilities and signal strength.
When it comes to wired connections, the router has four 1 Gbps LAN ports. It also supports 802.3ad link aggregation which allows using two of the gigabit ports to create a single 2 Gbps link to supported devices like network attached storage (NAS) and workstations.
Asus is using ASUSWRT firmware along with AiRadar beamforming, AiProtect security, and a subscription to WTFast GPN which is a service aimed at gamers that reportedly delivers decreased pings and lower latency connections to game servers.
Pricing and availability have not been announced, but CNET is reporting an expected price of $400 USD.
To say that this router is overkill for most is an understatement, but it is packed with features and is ready to stream a Stargate SG-1 marathon to all your devices!
Subject: Networking | November 14, 2015 - 01:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: synology, 802.11ac, 256-QAM, mu-mimo, 3x3, gigabit router, wireless router
Synology, a company best known for its home and small office network attached storage (NAS) devices, is branching out with its first wireless router. The Synology Router RT1900ac is a high end 802.11ac Wi-Fi enabled router that is paired with some rather slick looking and useful software.
The RT1900ac supports the latest consumer grade networking tech including 802.11ac MU-MIMO (beam forming to up to six devices), 802.11n 256-QAM, and wired Gigabit Ethernet. The 5GHz band tops out at 1300 Mbps while the 2.4GHz “N” band tops out at 600 Mbps though note that a single device cannot use the combined “1900” Mbps bandwidth and even then inter-device links are limited to gigabit speeds or less.
The rear of the router hosts five Gigabit Ethernet ports (1 WAN, 4 LAN) and three physical antennas which means a max of 3x3 MIMO to wireless devices. The left side of the router hosts a WPS (wireless protected setup) button and a physical Wi-Fi on/off switch while the right side of the router features a single USB 3.0 port and a SD card reader.
Internally, the router is powered by a dual core processor running at 1 GHz paired with 256 MB of DDR3 memory. Synology rates the router at a maximum of 70 connected devices with as many as 40 concurrently transmitting data.
The operating system is called the Synology Router Manager and it can be accessed via a web interface or a mobile app called DS Router for Android and iOS.
Users are able to access the router using a GUI interface that is reminiscent of other Synology software. It supports parental controls (website blocking, scheduling, ect), application layer quality of service (QoS) on a per-device level, traffic management and bandwidth monitoring (per device as well as total bandwidth used). Users are able to initially setup the router using a web interface or the mobile app to guide them through setup.
The USB port (and SDXC card slot) can be used to share files and stream media to other devices. They can also be used to share a printer over the network or enable a mobile hotspot using a cellular modem dongle.
Interestingly, users can add additional software to their router from Synology. Optional applications from Synology’s Package Center allow using the router as a VPN, torrent box, RADIUS authentication server, DNS server, file share, and media server. Being able to extend the functionality of the router is nice to see and should be popular with enthusiasts though it does raise some security concerns.
This new router will be on display at CES 2016 and will be available in the US early next year for $150.
I’m interested to see the reviews on this as it certainly looks nice and the software looks much better than most!
Subject: Networking | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: wireless router, RT-AC88U, router, mu-mimo, asus, 802.11ac, 8-port switch
ASUS has announced an impressive new MU-MIMO wireless router that provides up to 3100 Mbps of Wi-Fi bandwidth, and the RT-AC88U also features an 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch.
- WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MU-MIMO
- Data rate: 3100 Mbps
- Chipset: BCM47094, BCM4366, BCM4366
- Flash: NAND 128 MB
- RAM: DDR3 256/512 MB
- WAN: GbE x 1
- LAN: GbE x 8
- Giga switch: 8365
- PA: 2G:sky2623 5G:sky85405
- LNA: 2G: BGU7224/LXS5563 5G:MAAL011078
- Antenna: Detachable dual band x 4
- USB: 3.0 x1, 2.0 x1
- Applications: ASUSWRT, AiCloud, AiProtection, high-power mode, Download Master, VPN server, guest network, DLNA server, automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP, IPv4, IPv6
Pricing and availability are not yet known.
Subject: Mobile | September 30, 2015 - 02:33 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X12 Modem, SoC, snapdragon 820, qualcomm, phones, mu-mimo, mobile, LTE, cell phones
The upcoming Snapdragon 820 is shaping up to be a formidable SoC after the disappointing response to the previous flagship, the Snapdragon 810, which was in far fewer devices than expected for reasons still shrouded in mystery and speculation. One of the biggest aspects of the upcoming 820 is Qualcomm’s new X12 modem, which will provide the most advanced LTE connectivity seen to date when the SoC launches. The X12 features CAT 12 LTE downlink speeds for up to 600 Mbps, and CAT 13 on the uplink for up to 150 Mbps.
LTE connectivity isn’t the only new thing here, as we see from this slide there is also tri-band Wi-Fi supporting 2x2 MU-MIMO.
“This is the first publicly announced processor for use in mobile devices to support LTE Category 12 in the downlink and Category 13 in the uplink, providing up to 33 percent and 200 percent improvement over its predecessor’s download and upload speeds, respectively.”
The specifications for this new modem are densely packed:
- Cat 12 (up to 600 Mbps) in the downlink
- Cat 13 (up to 150 Mbps) in the uplink
- Up to 4x4 MIMO on one downlink LTE carrier
- 2x2 MU-MIMO (802.11ac)
- Multi-gigabit 802.11ad
- LTE-U and LTE+Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)
- Next Gen HD Voice and Video calling over LTE and Wi-Fi
- Call Continuity across Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, and 2G
- RF front end innovations
- Advanced Closed Loop Antenna Tuner
- Qualcomm RF360™ front end solution with CA
- Wi-Fi/LTE antenna sharing
Rumored phones that could end up running the Snapdragon 820 with this X12 modem include the Samsung Galaxy S7 and around 30 other devices, though final word is of course pending on shipping hardware.
Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2015 - 01:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SATA Express, mu-mimo, mini ITX, M.2
Small Form Factor (SFF) enthusiasts will soon have another Mini ITX option for Skylake-based builds in the form of the recently launched Asus Z170I Pro Gaming motherboard. The Z170I Pro Gaming packs a ton of features for its size including all of the latest storage and networking technologies.
Asus is not wasting any space on the PCB with this new board. The LGA 1151 socket is surrounded by two red and black heatsinks covering the Digi+ VRMs (which looks to be 10-phase power delivery which isn’t bad for a SFF board), two DDR4 memory slots (up to 32GB at 3400 MHz), the PCH/Southbridge (part of the Z170 chipset), and a single PCI-E x16 slot along the bottom edge.
Storage options include two SATA III (6Gbps) ports, a single SATA Express port (which holds two SATA III ports of its own), and a M.2 slot on the underside of the motherboard supporting four PCI-E 3.0 lanes.
Other components on the board include an ASMedia USB 3.1 controller, and an EMI shielded SupremeFX 8-channel audio solution that is comprised of the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, isolated circuitry and an EMI cover, Nichicon capacitors, a dedicated 5V power supply, and a 300-ohm headphone amplifier. Asus is further including a 2x2 MU-MIMO capable 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 radios, and an Intel 1219V Gigabit Ethernet NIC.
Rear IO on the Z170I Pro Gaming includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A (ASMedia controller)
- 4 x USB 3.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
- 2 x USB 2.0 (2 additional ports via internal header)
- 5 x Analog audio ports
- 1 x Optical audio out
The Z170I Pro Gaming is a nice looking board that incorporates many of the features of its Z170 Pro Gaming (ATX) brother. This miniaturization comes at a price, however. While Asus has not yet released official pricing and availability, expect it to be out soon at least $200 USD.
Check out more Mini ITX hardware at PC Perspective!
Also, if you have not already, please consider reading our review of the Intel Core-i7 6700K "Skylake" Processor.
The Killer 1535 Wi-Fi adapter was the first 2x2 MU-MIMO compatible adapter on the market when it launched earlier this year, and is only found in a few products right now. We had a chance to test it out with the recently reviewed MSI G72 Dominator Pro G-Sync laptop, using the new Linksys EA8500 MU-MIMO router. How did it perform, and just what is MU-MIMO? Read on to find out!
Killer networks certainly haven’t skimped on the hardware with their new wireless adapter, as the Wireless-AC 1535 features two external 5 GHz signal amplifiers and is 802.11ac Wave 2 compliant with its support for MU-MIMO and Transmit Beamforming. And while the adapter itself certainly sounds impressive the real star here – besides the MU-MIMO support – is the Killer software. With these two technologies Killer has a unique product on the market, and if it works as advertised it would create an attractive alternative to the typical Wi-Fi solution.
MU-MIMO: What is it?
With an increasing number of devices using Wi-Fi in the average connected home the strain on a wireless network can often be felt. Just as one download can bring your internet connection to a crawl, one computer can hog nearly all available bandwidth from your router. MU-MIMO offers a solution to the network limitations of a typical multi-user home, and in fact the MU in MU-MIMO stands for Multi-User. The technology is part of the Wave 2 spec for 802.11ac, and it works differently than standard MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology. What’s the difference?
With standard MIMO (also known as Single-User MIMO) compatible devices take advantage of multiple data streams that are propagated to provide faster data than would otherwise be available for a single device. Multiple antennas on both base station and the client device are used to create the multiple transmit/receive streams needed for the added bandwidth. The multiple antennas used in MIMO systems create multiple channels, allowing for those separate data streams, and the number of streams is equal to the number of antennas (1x1 supports one stream, 2x2 supports two streams, etc.).
Subject: Networking | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: RT-AC5300U, router, mu-mimo, IFA 2015, dual band, asus, 802.11ac
This is a seriously imposing-looking router, and the specs are just as huge.
Here are some highlights from ASUS:
- AC5300 speeds
- Tri-band wireless up to 1000 Mbit/s on 2.4 GHz and up to 2167 Mbit/s on each 5 GHz band
- Up to 5333 Mbit/s combined on the 5GHz band
- NitroQAM technology for low-latency gaming and 4K/UHD streaming
- Eight external antennas in a 4x4 config
- Ultra-wide area coverage
- Award-winning ASUS AiProtection Network Security Services
5333 Mbps on the 5 GHz band alone? So how does the RT-AC5300U router provide so much bandwidth? It’s powered by a staggering array of radios! Looking at the chipset specs we that it’s comprised of BCM4709 + BCM4366 (2.4 GHz) + 2x BCM4366 (5 GHz), with 256MB DDR3 memory and 128MB of flash. And we can’t forget the 8 external dual-band antennas! Yes, eight. Truly, this is a beast (though it looks like an overturned spider).
Pricing and exact availability were not revealed, but ASUS says it will be coming in Q4 2015.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer
Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.
The Aspire V 13
"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."
MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.
The Aspire V 15 Nitro
What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:
- 6th Gen Intel Core processors
- Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
- NVIDIA GeForce graphics
- (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
- Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model
Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.
The Aspire V 17 Nitro
Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.
Subject: General Tech, Networking | September 2, 2014 - 08:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nighthawk x4, netgear, mu-mimo, 802.11ac
Today, NETGEAR has announced the Nighthawk X4 802.11ac router. It is dual-band, with up to 1733 Mbps of bandwidth (four channels of 433 Mbps) on 5.0 GHz and up to 600 Mbps (three channels of 200 Mbps) on 2.4 GHz. Compared to the Nighthawk X6, released earlier in the year, the X4 is design for fewer users who demand more performance.
The first thing that stood out for me was its processor...s. The router contains two of them. Its main CPU is a dual-core Qualcomm
Snapdragon-based (Update - Sept 2nd @ 5:20pm EDT: "Snapdragon-based" is unclear and misleading. It has "Snapdragon DNA with dual Krait cores". It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, as mentioned in the following sentence.) ARM processor, clocked at 1.4 GHz. It is from their Qualcomm Internet Processors (IPQ) line, so it is not directly comparable to an SoC from their mobile line-up. NETGEAR also added a second, dualcore processor, clocked at 500 MHz, that is dedicated to deal with WiFi-related tasks as an "offload".
The reason why I found this interesting was that, not too many years ago, routers did not advertise their processor and RAM. There was once a niche who would create their own routers out of old PCs and an x86-compatible firmware (like OpenWRT). The push was to cheap routers with high bandwidth ratings. When I asked NETGEAR at what point did the industry decide to take the internal hardware seriously, their response was that about 73% of customers are repeat buyers. They upgraded their router because they were not happy with the performance that they were getting. Users have changed. HD video is going to numerous devices all over the home at the same time as games and downloads do their thing. The extra performance is necessary to keep the potential bandwidth in line with its usage.
One feature about this router that NETGEAR was promoting is Dynamic QoS. Using the extra processing power, mentioned in the two paragraphs above, the device identifies applications and allocates bandwidth accordingly. One example that they gave is YouTube versus Netflix. While both stream, Netflix will only grab what it needs while YouTube will load as quickly as possible to buffer ahead. If resources are tight, and Netflix is attempting to coexist with YouTube at any given time, the router will throttle the YouTube stream to provide it with at least enough bandwidth to stream, but not buffer, like, ten times faster than real time and choke out Netflix into a lower bit rate. If necessary, it will also prioritize the larger screen (TV) with the higher bit rate Netflix connection, where it will be more noticeable (than the smaller screen of a tablet, for instance).
And yes, QoS has been present in routers for more than a dog's age. They claim that it is typically a feature that users turn on, dislike, then turn right back off again. They believe that their new implementation will actually win you over.
The router will also feature two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection. It will allow networked PC backup to an external hard drive and streaming media (photos, music, and videos) to TVs by DLNA.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 (R7500) is available now for $279.99.
Subject: Networking | August 14, 2014 - 11:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wireless router, wave 2, rt-ac87u, rt-ac87r, qsr1000, mu-mimo, ASUS ROG, asus, 802.11ac
ASUS recently launched the RT-AC87U which is the first "wave 2" 802.11ac wireless router to support multi user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. Although the initial launch happened at the end of last month, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R (a variant exclusive to Best Buy) will finally be avaiable for purchase starting August 26th for around $279.99.
The RT-AC87U is a monster matte black router with four large external antennas and sleek fighter jet angles. I/O is mostly clustered on the rear of the router and includes four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one GbE WAN port, and one USB 2.0 port. In addition to the rear I/O, ASUS has positioned a USB 3.0 port on the front of the router (specifically the right corner of the front panel hidden behind a removeable rubber port cover).
On the wireless front, the RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R supports the latest 802.11ac and newer 256QAM (600Mbps) 802.11n specification as well as legacy 802.11g/b/a Wi-Fi networks. The router supports simultaneous dual band operation, which results in maximum throughput of 1.73 Gbps on the 5GHz 802.11ac band (4 x 433 Mbps streams) and 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz 802.11n band.
The new and interesting bit about the RT-AC87 is the MU-MIMO support. MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multple Input Multiple Output, is the evolution of MIMO technology which debuted with wireless N routers. The ASUS router is able to use multiple anntennas to communicate with a client device to increase bandwidth. Beamforming is used to focus the signal in the direction of the client to get better range and a stronger signal for that specific client. MU-MIMO builds on this technology by allowing the router to track, beamform, and employ multiple transmit and recieve antennas to talk to multiple clients simultaneously. Previously, routers were limited to communicating with a single client at a time (see the diagram below for an example).
Multi-User MIMO will benefit those users that choose to connect the majority of their networked devices via Wi-Fi. However, the technology will be especially noticeable in areas flooded with various Wi-Fi networks such as apartments. According to Matthew Gast of Aerohive Networks, MU-MIMO will allow all wireless clients to get an acceptable data rate in crowded wireless areas at the expense of being able to deliver the highest data rate to a single client device. Especially when competing Wi-Fi networks are involved and fighting for channels, MU-MIMO will shine at keeping devices connected and talking to the access point.
ASUS has chosen the Quantenna QSR100 chipset to handle the 802.11ac duties while a Broadcom BCM4709 chipset handles the 256QAM wireless N bands. Additionally, the RT-AC87 routers have 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of DDR3 RAM. According to ASUS, the router draws slightly over 45W.
On the software side of things, ASUS has chosen its own ASUSWRT firmware which includes parental controls, Time Machine backup support, VPN support, security software from TrendMicro (AiProtection), and AiCloud 2.0. USB support includes storage sharing as well as 3G/4G cellular modem internet connectivity.
In all, the ASUS RT-AC87U looks to be new home router champion packing quite a bit of hardware and leading the charge of Wave 2 802.11ac wireless routers. This all comes at a cost, however. The RT-AC87U and RT-AC87R will be available on August 26 with a MSRP of $269.99 and e-tail prices currently around $279.99.
For all the nitty-gritty details, check out this ASUS PCDIY blog post!