Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router review

The Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router is best suited for power users who absolutely need high-performance intra-network video streaming or other throughput demanding tasks. While the router definitely needs a software refresh, the hardware is still impressive

Edimax enters the 802.11ac wireless networking space with the AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router.  This nifty-looking router (it resembles an alarm clock from the ’80s) produced some of the fastest throughput we’ve ever tested in a consumer router. This router blazes in 11ac mode when paired with the Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band Adapter. Unfortunately, its amazing throughput is offset by clumsy management software. If Edimax could get the software up to par with the hardware, this would be an almost perfect piece of networking equipment for high-throughput tasks, one that could really leverage the power of 802.11ac in such demanding areas as high-definition video.

Specs and Design
The Edimax router is currently not on the market, but is slated to release in April. I did get an early look, though.

The housing is a white plastic material with a rounded design. There are two sturdy external antennas fastened to the top—2x3dBi dual-band external antennas. The router is an AC1200, which is not a random designation, as you might suspect. How do they arrive at that figure? Well, it’s a 2×3 router capable of up to a theoretical 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbps at 5 GHz; 867 plus 300 equals 1167, round that up and you have 1200.

On the front panel are LEDs for power, WAN, each radio, and each LAN port.  On the rear are four color-coded Gigabit LAN ports, a Gigabit WAN port, reset button, and a toggle switch to turn the wireless radios off and on.

This fairly lightweight router (it weighs 0.67 pounds) comes with mounting brackets so you can easily wall-mount the device. The router overall is an attractive piece of home networking equipment and the hard, white case make it resistant to fingerprint smudges that can make routers made from softer material look beaten up in a short time.

Setup
In the box is a quick installation guide and a disc that includes the user manual and the install guide in multiple languages. With the AC1200, Edimax adopts the current setup trend in the consumer routers space, which is to ship the wireless network pre-configured. This means users can set the router up using a wireless device and not need a hard wired connected between a computer and the router.

Once it’s powered up you can connect to the router’s “edimax.setup” SSID. Opening up a browser after connecting takes you to the Web-based setup page. Setup walks you through ensuring you have the WAN connected properly and then detects the internet connection. This detection took under five seconds on my network.  You then give each band a name and a password of eight characters this completes the configuration. The software also gives the option to back up the configuration. 

The initial setup is very basic and good for novice users, but power users may want to change the level of encryption. Security is set as WPA2 (AES) by default, although there’s no enterprise class-security so this is a consumer-level router. Those users may want to tweak other settings and can do so via the web-based management interface.


Interface and Features

The Edimax router has a well-organized interface and opens to display system status: uptime, LAN and WAN IP address information, plus info on the wireless network such as the channel each band operates on, and security.

 A quick rundown of this router’s capabilities include creating a guest network, WPS, access control by MAC address, and VPN passthrough (although no native VPN server). One key feature is the ability to turn the wireless radios on and off by schedule—an ability often missing in consumer routers.

Security features include an SPI firewall which offers protection from DoS threats and URL and keyword blocking. Enabling any of the security features requires a rather lengthy reboot of about 30 seconds. In fact, just about making any setting changes requires a system restart which isn’t necessary in other router I’ve tested making the same changes.

To enable URL filtering, you must first turn on the firewall. I enabled the firewall but still received a popup message when trying to fire up filtering that the firewall had to be turned on.

I went back to the firewall settings and ensured the firewall option was checked, which it was. I also enabled the DoS protection settings. I don’t understand why this area of the interface has buttons for both “save” and “apply.” “Save” doesn’t seem to save the setting you chose, and “apply” is the only way to restart the router for the settings to take effect.

The user experience with setting up security is unintuitive and the long system restarts are annoying. Even worse, when I finally was able to get filtering enabled, the router did not block the URL I specified (facebook.com).  I’ve seen better content filtering in consumer routers that use OpenDNS’ cloud filtering service, like the Netgear R6300. If content filtering is a “must have” feature you are looking for in a router, the Edimax AC1200 is not the best choice.

The router also allows you to setup QoS. You can manually set the amount of download/upload bandwidth to give to specific types of traffic: SMTP, POP3, FTP, and so on. There’s another feature, kind of odd really, called iQoS which allows you to drag and drop icons representing different kinds of traffic such as gaming, media, etc., onto a bar that sets the traffic from highest priority to lowest. Most router give you a drop downlist of traffic you want to prioritize and the drag and drop icons are a little strange for setting QoS to me, as far as interface goes.

Finally, the router also offers some advanced capabilities such as port forwarding, virtual server, DMZ and of course, UPnP.

Performance
The Edimax router’s sweet spot is its killer performance in 802.11ac mode, that is, when paired with a client using the Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band USB Adapter. The Edimax  gave the fastest throughput tested to date in 802.11ac mode. At five feet from the router, the device clocked at 197 Mbps—amazing throughput in the harsh environment of our testbed. At 15 feet away, it gave the second-highest throughput at 186 Mbps. As far as range goes in 802.11ac mode, {ZIFFARTICLE id=”298077“}] Buffalo’s WZR-D1800H sustained fast throughput at further distance than the Edimax router.

In other modes and also when tested with an 802.11n client adapter, the Edimax gave average throughput. For example, in 802.11n 5GHz mode it’s speedy, but not as fast as Western Digital’s My Net AC1300 in the same mode.

Here is a comparison of the Edimax AC1200′s throughput with other pre-draft 802.11ac routers:

Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router 5GHz performance

Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router 2.4GHz Mixed Mode performance

Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router 2.4GHz N-Only performance

Not All About Speed
Yes, the Edimax router blazes in 802.11ac mode. However, you’ll need Edimax accompanying USB adapter to get that performance.  In other modes and in 802.11n it’s about on par with other routers with similar specs on the market. While initial setup was fine, I did encounter some issues with the  features set; setting up security, long reboots and the strange QoS setup.

This is a router best suited for consumer power users who absolutely need high-performance intra-network video streaming or other throughput demanding tasks. However, the router definitely needs a software refresh to be a truly solid recommendation for the wide range of users, tech-savvy and otherwise, who might pick otherwise benefit from its speed. The hardware is impressive and for that the Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router gets 3 stars for wireless routers.

Specifications
Device Type Router
Networking Options 802.11ac, 802.11ac
Access Control Lists Based on MAC Addresses Yes
NAT No
Parental Controls Yes
Stateful Packet Inspection Yes

Verdict
The Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrent Dual-Band Router is best suited for power users who absolutely need high-performance intra-network video streaming or other throughput demanding tasks. While the router definitely needs a software refresh, the hardware is still impressive
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc