We have reviewed a lot of routers on Devsjournal, and as you may notice, their model name usually comes with “AC” followed by numbers. As a common knowledge to everyone, this AC followed with numbers determines the speed of the router you are buying. But is it just a speed?
In this article, we will discuss two of the more popular options for router buyers — the AC1200 and AC1750. As a bonus, we will also throw in the AC1900 for those who are also looking into purchasing an AC1900 device.
What Does AC Mean on Routers?
It is quite common nowadays to see routers coming with an AC moniker on their name. The AC moniker didn’t stand for anything, other than a newer networking standard. A router that comes with AC standard means it supports the latest 802.11ac which offers fast Wi-Fi connection at 5Ghz. The number that comes after the AC is the maximum theoretical bandwidth the router can support. That means, if you got an AC1200 router, it can, theoretically, supports up to 1200Mbps internet speed.
Wireless-AC has broader bandwidth capabilities — 80MHz with an optional 160MHz. By comparison, older Wireless-N standard only supports from 20MHz to 30MHz. You can think of these bandwidths as a grocery store with varying number of counters which 20MHz offering just two counters, while the 80MHz has eight of these counters. The more counters available, the more buyers the grocery store can handle at the same time — this translates to the faster and more efficient shopping experience.
The Wireless-AC uses 5GHz frequency band, while the Wireless-N and Wireless-G standard use 2.4GHz band. Both have its pros and cons — the 5GHz being faster than 2.4GHz, but has less area coverage. The 2.4Ghz, while slower than 5GHz, can cover larger areas but has problems with interference. Anything wireless can disrupt the signal of your 2.4GHz router — from cordless phone to Bluetooth headset. Microwave oven to operates in 2.4GHz frequency; thus, it can cause electromagnetic, or radio-frequency (RF), interference.
From 802.11 to 802.11ac
|IEEE 802.11n||IEEE 802.11ac|
|Frequency Band||2.4GHz and 5GHz||5 GHz only|
|Channel Widths||1 to 4||20, 40, 80MHz |
|Spatial Streams||1 to 4||1 to 8 total. |
Upto 4 per client
|Single Stream [1×1] |
Maximum Client Data Range
|Three Stream [3×3]|
Maximum Client Data Range
To understand all the current networking standards, we should trace back in time — to 1997.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) created the first WLAN standard in 1997 and called it 802.11. However, the standard only has a maximum bandwidth of 2Mbps — which is too slow for most applications even in 1997.
In 1999, IEEE expanded on this standard to create another standard, the 802.11b. IEEE is also working with the 802.11a standard while the 802.11b is in development. So unlike what most people believe, both standards were created at the same time. Due to its higher cost, the 802.11a standard made its way to business networks, while the 802.11b standard was most common for the home market.
The 802.11a works on regulated frequency spectrum around 5GHz and can support a maximum bandwidth of up to 54Mbps. The higher frequency made it hard for 802.11a to pass through walls, thus can only have limited coverage. The 802.11b, the other hand, can pass through walls easily but can only support up to 11Mbps.
Between 2002 and 2003, IEEE created another standard they called 802.11g. This new standard attempted to combine the best of both worlds — it can support bandwidth up to 52Mbps using the 2.4GHz frequency band. This translates to 5GHz speed in 2.4GHz coverage area. However, it cost more than 802.11b, and also suffer from the same interference.
The 802.11n improves on all these aspects, in the amount of bandwidth supported by utilizing multiple wireless signals and antennas (called MIMO technology) instead of one. It was finally ratified by industry standards groups in 2009, specifying network bandwidth up to 300Mbps and is backwards-compatible with 802.11b/g standards. It both supports 2.4GHz, as well as 5GHz bandwidth, and has been a modern standard for years. Routers like Xfinity Arris TG1682G and CenturyLink Zyxel C1100Z come with 802.11n standards.
The most recent 802.11ac attempts to replace the 802.11n standard by utilizing dual-band wireless technology. It supports simultaneous connections on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands, this backwards-compatible with 802.11b/g/n with bandwidth rated at 1300Mbps on 5GHz, and 450Mbps on 2.4GHz — but the 2.4GHz can go even higher. Routers like Netgear Nighthawk AX3000 (AX4) and Asus RT-AC88U come with 802.11ac standards.
- 802.11b provides up to 11 Mb/s per radio in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. (1999)
- 802.11a provides up to 54 Mb/s per radio in the 5 GHz spectrum. (1999)
- 802.11g provides up to 54 Mb/s per radio in the 2.4 GHz spectrum (2003).
- 802.11n provides up to 600 Mb/s per radio in the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz spectrum. (2009)
- 802.11ac provides up to 1000 Mb/s (multi-station) or 500 Mb/s (single-station) in the 5.0 GHz spectrum. (2013?)
AC1200 vs AC1750 vs AC1900
|Class designation||2.4GHz N Radio|
Maximum Link Rate
|5GHz AC Radio|
Maximum Link Rate
Here’s your cheat sheet.
- Routers up to AC1000 uses a single 2.4 GHz band.
- Routers up to AC2900 uses two bands — 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
- AC3000 routers and above uses three bands — 1x 2.4 GHz and 2x 5GHz.
The following is the breakdown of the total theoretical speeds of the three popular Wireless-ACs.
- AC1200 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, running at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 2.4GHz supports up to 300Mbps, while the 5GHz can reach up to 900Mbps.
- AC1750 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, running at 2.4GHz and 5GHz — but has an even higher 5GHz speed than AC1200. The 2.4GHz supports up to 450Mbps, while the 5GHz can reach up to 1300Mbps.
- AC1900 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, running at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 2.4GHz supports up to 600Mbps, while the 5GHz can reach up to 1300Mbps.
As mentioned, the Wireless-AC standard utilizes dual-band wireless technology. That means, it supports simultaneous connections on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. Now that we know these details let’s dive more in-depth on the AC standards.
AC is usually followed by numbers that determine the speed of the router. That means, if you get an AC1750 router, the theoretical speed can reach up to 1750Mbps. However, this is just a sum of what both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz can achieve. The 5GHz will always remain at 1300Mbps — above AC1200. The remaining of that total bandwidth, for example, 450Mbps for AC1750, will belong to 2.4GHz. But the 2.4GHz can go even higher.
Here in Devsjournal, we have reviewed a couple of routers and cable modem router combos that follows these Wireless-AC standards. Here are just a few of our recommendations, which in-depth review can also be found here.
1. Best AC1200 Routers
Yes, we haven’t reviewed an AC1200 before, but we think the Netgear AC1200 R6120 is the best in this standard. Like all Wireless-ACs, the Netgear AC1200 features dual-band Wi-Fi — with 2.4GHz reaching up to 300Mbps while 5GHz is maxing out at 900Mbps. It can connect up to 20 devices and can cover up to 1200 sq—Ft. House.
2. Best AC1750 Routers
The Netgear R6700 is probably one of the best Netgear products we reviewed on this website. You can checkout in-depth Netgear R6700 Nighthawk AC 1750 review here. It is a dual-band smart Wi-Fi router that is AC1750. That means, it has a total throughput of up to 1750Mbps — 450Mbps is for 2.4GHz, while the remaining ultra-high-speed 1300Mbps is for the 5GHz frequency. It comes with 1GHz dual-core processor, with 256MB RAM and 128MB flash storage. It is known for its extensive use of 12 front LED panel. It also includes five Gigabit Ethernet ports and one USB 3.0 port. You can read our full review here.
Updated: We have a new competitor – Linksys EA7300 which is considered to be one of the fastest AC1750 Router.
3. Best AC1900 Routers
This one is on a little expensive side. We also reviewed Netgear & Motorola AC1900 products on this website, but they are cable modem router combos. The best option on this category is the Netgear C7100V which also supports Comcast XFINITY’s VoIP service. If you are interested and looking for Netgear C7100V, you can review our detailed guide on Netgear C7100V. It features a 1.6GHz dual-core Broadcom processor, and DOCSIS 3.0 technology with 24×8 channel bonding. Since it is an AC1900 device, the Netgear AC1900 supports dual-band Wi-Fi, running simultaneously at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The 2.4GHz supports up to 600Mbps, while the 5GHz can reach up to 1300Mbps. The other two are Netgear Nighthawk C7000 and Motorola MT7711 Modem Router. You can click on the links to check their in-depth review.
Netgear AC1200 vs Netgear AC1750: Which one to buy?
In this part of the article, we will leave out the AC1900 since it is a little bit on an expensive side. We will only be covering the AC1200 and AC1750 is we think there are the most popular Wireless-AC standards in the market today.
If you live in a decent size home, with internet speed subscription no more than 300Mbps for 2.4GHz and 900Mbps for 5GHz, it is obvious that you pick the Netgear AC1200. It can connect up to 20 devices and can accommodate up to 1200 sq—Ft. House. However, if you want a router that is future proof, you should get the much faster Netgear AC1750. A 450Mbps throughput on 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and 1300Mbps for the 5GHz covers most standard internet subscriptions today.
We also believe that Netgear AC1750 Routers is one of the best Netgear routers around. It is priced decently but has the same speed and reliability as most Netgear products — including the higher-end ones.
While the Netgear AC1200 is okay for the most part, the Netgear AC1750 Routers ticks most of the boxes in terms of speed, reliability, and value for money.
Thats it. This was all about the difference between ac1750 vs ac1200, and we believe all the questions like “What does AC mean on a router?” and “What are the general differences between AC1200 vs AC1750 vs AC1900” and “Should you get a Netgear AC1200 or Netgear AC1750 Routers?” are answered well. In case if you are facing any difficulties like your router is not woking, then you can review our guide on How to Fix Netgear Router not working.
In case of any further queries, you can ask us freely in the comments section below. We’ll try to respond as soon as we can.