Wireless ‘AC’ (802.11ac) is the latest Wi-Fi technology and succeeds the earlier Wireless ‘N’ (802.11n) standard. But, Wireless ‘N’ routers are still very popular in the market. So, which one should you buy? Wireless ‘AC’ or Wireless ‘N’?
Of course, the default answer to such a question would be to buy a router with the latest technology – Wireless AC.
Wireless AC routers are faster. They support max. speeds that are 3x (three times more) that of Wireless N routers. They (can) support more Wi-Fi devices to be simultaneously connected to them (at higher speeds). They have a higher range for wireless coverage and they are backward compatible with Wireless N devices.
But still, there are some valid reasons to buy Wireless N routers over Wireless AC routers, even today. Five of them are given below,
#1. Cost – The cost of Wireless N routers are considerably lower than Wireless AC routers. They are almost 50-70% of the price of Wireless AC routers. Have a look at the price of a very popular Wireless N router – ASUS Black Diamond Dual-Band Wireless-N 600 Router (RT-N56U) and compare it with the price of a very popular Wireless AC router – ASUS ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router (Amazon US product-page links).
#2. Lack of built-in Wireless AC adapters – Unlike Wireless N adapters that come built-into most laptops and other computing devices, wireless AC adapters do not come built-in (yet). One needs to buy an external USB-based Wireless AC adapter, which is fine if you don’t mind one precious USB port in your system used up for this purpose and the additional (potential) point of failure.
#3. The technology is new – Instead of saying that Wireless AC is a new technology, we might rather say that Wireless N is a tried and tested technology and it has proved to be stable. The issues related to Wireless N (if any) might already be documented exhaustively and one can easily get support online, if there are any issues. The same is possible for Wireless AC as well, but since the number of users are less, it maybe slightly difficult.
#4. You may not need all that bandwidth – I know this is a silly argument, considering Internet-based applications like live streaming of music/movies and real-time multi-player HD gaming, etc. But, considering the cost at which the higher bandwidth comes, would you need all that bandwidth if you don’t run bandwidth-hungry applications?
#5. The cost of Wireless AC will come down eventually – If you don’t need Wireless AC today and you still buy it, you will be struck up with that router for the next 3-4 years. Instead, if you invest in a lower-priced Wireless N router today and buy the latest router when you actually need it (in future), you will get the latest technology (then) along with reduced prices.
Do remember that Wireless AC technology has numerous advantages over Wireless N. But, you don’t have to buy it just because it’s the latest and the fastest. Allow your needs/applications to dictate your purchase.
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