Overall Ranking | Specifications10 GbE PerformanceGigabit Ethernet Performance | 2.4 GHz Performance5 GHz Performance5 GHz Multi-device Performance | 60 GHz PerformanceUSB Performance | Reviews

The fastest network transfer speeds currently belong to the AD7200 router class. These routers boast a swathe of advanced features and supporting technology, including high-speed, short-range 802.11ad connections, 10 GbE support and more. Given their high price and a limited range of supporting wireless clients, the AD7200 class can be considered somewhat niche but for maximum performance, they’re the top of the heap.

That said, our tests have shown that while these routers maximise performance via support for the latest wireless standards, this does not necessarily translate to more mainstream standards, such as Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11 ac (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands).  You can find much cheaper, less technically advanced routers around that deliver better performance with mainstream wireless clients.

Our rankings are calculated by aggregating the results in each of our performance tests. While a router may perform excellently in one particular tests, we’re looking for strong performance across the board.

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We test 10 GbE performance by connecting two PCs to the router that are fitted with high-speed 10 GbE network adapters. Only one of the AD7200 devices we’ve tested to date is equipped with 10 GbE support. However, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 is nonetheless impressive, boasting speeds of almost 1700 Mbps. The X10 is one of the few consumer routers available with 10 GbE Ethernet, making it an almost automatic choice for those seeking the fastest wired speeds.

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Our wireless tests see us connect each router to a series of fixed and wireless clients, from a humble 1×1 802.11n smartphone through to the latest blockbuster 4×4 802.11ac desktop adapter. This allows us to see how router performance varies across different clients – a more real world suite of benchmarks than testing average speeds from a single client.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 was the clear winner here – when paired with a 4×4 ASUS PCE-AC88 desktop adapter, we saw average speeds of 233 Mbps – one of the fastest 2.4 GHz connections we’ve tested. With other clients, performance was closer between the two routers, with the X10 just edging the TP-Link Talon AD7200 overall.

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As with the 2.4 GHz, we connect a range of mobile and fixed wireless clients to the router, testing average speeds. The shorter range, but faster 5 GHz band should allow each test device to hit peak wireless speeds when connected to an advanced 4×4 client adapter.

The TP-Link Talon AD7200 currently offers the fastest 5 GHz speeds, averaging 572.7 Mbps when connected to an iMac’s 3×3 desktop adapter. It’s reasonable, but definitely not the fastest 5 GHz benchmark we’ve seen. Both AD7200 devices we’ve tested to date were surprisingly lacklustre with the 4×4 ASUS PCE-AC88 desktop adapter, which typically sees the fastest connections. If you don’t need 802.11ad support, you may well find an AC5400 class router (or lower) will serve you better.

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In this test, we connect five devices (a combination of 2×2 and 3×3 wireless clients) to the router and measure the average, aggregate speed. This provides more of a “real world” view of speeds and shows how the router will perform under stress.

Neither the NETGEAR or TP-Link routers tested to date offer a band steering feature, which can optimise multi-device speeds. Performance is reasonably similar with just 25 Mbps separating the two. The TP-Link Talon AD7200 just sneaks the win.

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Most modern routers are equipped with one or more USB ports, to which an external hard drive can be connected for network sharing. In this test, we connect a single-drive SATA storage enclosure and test network sharing via our test PC’s Ethernet connection.

So far, the NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 leads the way in USB performance, with read/write speeds of 100.9/79.1 MB/sec. However the TP-Link Talon AD7200 offers respectable speeds – for a router – and you should have no concerns regarding shared storage performance.

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