Amped Wireless’ High Power 500mW Dual Band AC USB Adapter (ACA1) is the adapter released with the company’s 802.11ac router, the High Power 700mW Dual Band AC WiFi Router RTA15. Amped Wireless has released a number of decent routers, but this adapter is a miss for the company. It registered some of the worst throughput among USB 11ac wireless adapters we’ve tested, is an eyesore of design, finally, one of the adapters sent to us for testing died on the bench, mid-test.
The ACA1 is a dual-band adapter, supporting up to 300 Mbps at the 2.4 GHz band and 867 Mbps at the 5 GHz band.
The adapter ships with two high-gain dual-band 5dBi antennas that screw onto both sides of the device. It supports USB 3.0 and ships with a USB 3.0 cable and a clip so that the adapter can attach to a laptop screen. It’s a fairly large USB adapter, so when clipped to the laptop with two large antennas attached, it’s quite awkward.
Setup and Install
Inside the package is a setup disc. The ACA1 adapter is supported on Windows XP and higher as well as Mac OS X. Setup is simple enough; just launch the Setup Wizard from the disc and follow the prompts. The wizard instructs you not to connect the adapter to a USB port until the software portion of the install is complete. As I’ve noted, a major strength of Amped Wireless is including clear and specific setup instructions.
I didn’t have any problems with setup with the initial adapter I tested. After it died (the company stated that I had an early unit from a batch with a known issue) I installed the replacement, but noticed some odd behavior. After installing the software and connecting to an Amped Wireless router’s wireless network, the ACA1 disabled itself in the Windows Network settings. I re-enabled it and was able to connect, but it was an odd sort of quirk.
The replacement adapter’s performance was disappointing in any wireless mode. Testing with Amped Wireless’s RTA15 router and the ACA1 hindered performance as compared with testing with the laptop’s integrated adapter. I typically see triple-digit performance in 11ac mode with USB 802.11ac adapters, but in that mode the best I saw from the ACA1 was 78 Mbps. In 802.11n mode, performance was akin to 802.11b or 802.11g throughput, with the adapter turning in performance numbers such as 32 Mbps. Click on the image for comparisons with other 802.11ac USB wireless adapters.
Not a Wireless Win
The ACA1 is not a win for Amped Wireless. Besides the awkward design, the death of the initial adapter leaves me leery (although the company has taken action on the issue). The real problem, however, and main reason for the low score I’m giving the router is the abysmal performance I witnessed. The ACA1 is not a good companion for Amped Wireless’ very good RTA15 router. It earned one and a half stars because it’s easy to set up and it does work—at least the replacement unit did. The current Editors’ Choice for 802.11ac USB adapters is the Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band USB Adapter.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc