The Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band Adapter is the second pre-draft 802.11ac adapter I’ve tested. The first was D-Link’s Wireless AC1200 Dual Band USB Adapter (DWA-182). The D-Link adapter provided few throughput gains when paired with an 11ac router as compared with a 3×3 802.11n adapter and the same router. Not until I tested the Edimax adapter did I see the speed gains touted by 802.11ac technology. It’s a powerful adapter when paired with the Edimax AC1200 Wireless Concurrant Dual-Band Router or with another vendor’s 11ac router as I discovered with Linksys’ EA6500 11ac router.
I didn’t see the quite the same killer speeds when testing in modes other than 802.11ac, but I still got very good throughput, especially at 5GHz in 802.11n mode.
This is a USB 3.0 adapter, so to leverage the best performance you’ll want to connect it to a USB 3.0 port. The adapter has an intriguing design—the antenna flips up out of the housing and stands vertically. This design likely improves communication with a router. The one caution is that the little plastic piece that stands up could get broken with rough treatment, so be gentle.
The adapter is currently available on the market and lists for $59.99. When the Edimax router ships in May, users will be able to purchase the router and adapter as a dual-pack bundle for $169.99.
The adapter’s packaging includes a quick install guide and a tiny CD-ROM that has the EZMax setup wizard, a user manual, and the install guide in multiple languages. For those without optical drives, all of the disc’s content can be downloaded from Edimax’s website.
As I experienced with the Edimax AC1200 router, the adapter’s install process is quick and clean. Setup only involves inserting the mini-disc and clicking an icon to install the driver. I was pleased to see that the driver install did not include a wireless utility that overlays Windows’ native wireless management. Third-party wireless managers that sometimes install with adapter drivers can add a layer of complexity to managing a client’s wireless settings.
I really liked the way this adapter performed. I had no issues connecting to Wi-Fi networks, no drops. The adapter registered the highest throughput tested in our lab among consumer wireless devices. D-Link’s 11ac adapter did a little better sustaining throughput, as far as range goes, as I moved further from the router, though. Below is a comparison chart comparing the Edimax adapter to D-Link’s adapter, in 11ac and 802.11n mode, as well as to my laptop’s integrated 3×3 adapter:
Remember, because I have lots of access points in my testing area I did not expect to see speeds anywhere close to the 867 Mbps Edimax claims the adapter is capable of when used with its AC1200 wireless router. Those speeds are achieved in an interference free clean-room. The speed it did reach, nearly 200 Mbps at one point with Edimax’s router, is an excellent speed given our harsh testing environment. When I tested the adapter with Linksys’ EA6500 router, throughout reached 266 Mbps, absolutely amazing speed in my testbed.
The adapter didn’t deliver blazing fast speeds when tested with another vendor’s router (I tested using the Western Digital my Net N900) in 802.11n mode but I still saw triple-digit throughput. That’s fast—definitely fast enough to handle demanding media streaming.
Edimax’s adapter seems to not only work best when using Edimax’s 802.11ac wireless router, but also with a third-party router . One caveat: you won’t see optimal speeds without a wireless client with a USB 3.0 port. It will work with USB 2.0, but you’ll notice a sizeable drop-off in speed using the slower USB 2.0 standard. The Edimax AC1200 Wireless Dual-Band USB adapter is an impressive adapter in the new 11ac space, and it’s a 4.5 star Editors’ Choice for wireless adapters.
|Device Type||Wireless USB Adapter|
|Networking Options||802.11ac, 802.11ac|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc