Confused about which router to buy? What about which wi-fi adapter for use with a router?
Have no fear; we’re here to help.
In this review, we’ll be covering the Netgear AC1200 and AC1900 wireless routers. We’ll also be discussing two USB adapter antennas that are named after each of the routers.
When To Choose Each Router Or Adapter
Here’s a quick rundown of why it’s worth picking one of these routers or adapters over the others.
Key Features - AC1200 Review
The AC1200 is a solid wireless router that’s a little bit dated but still has strong speed, range, stability, and security features. With the AC1200, you can use the Nighthawk app to immediately stop or start your internet service, which might be useful if you run a public network.
The AC1200’s main strength is its reliability. This system has been tested and refined over the course of years, and it doesn’t have any rough edges remaining.
The router’s firmware, hardware, and mobile application are rock solid. There aren’t any bugs left to iron out.
This means that the router is far more consistent than many other routers on the market. There won’t be any problems which necessitate power cycling the router with frequency. There’s a price for this reliability, however. The router is far from a long-term choice.
It’s very durable, and it certainly could sustain your home network for years into the future, but it lacks many of the quality of service and packet prioritization features that newer routers use to ensure that real-time traffic from video games and video streams are delivered first.
If you’re only a casual gamer, you probably won’t notice the difference. But if you’re serious about running a large network of users playing games and other users browsing the internet, these quality of service features will be missed.
Key Features - AC1900 Review
The AC1900 is as close to a future-proof wireless router as you can buy.
The router’s stellar feature set and an endless number of optimizations make it a great choice for a home of any size.
The AC1900 has a bunch of features designed for gaming and streaming, including quality of service options which prioritize real-time traffic over other traffic like browsing the web.
This fact means that you should get the very most out of your internet connection, unlike with other routers.
If you’re into the internet of things, the AC1900 is the router for you. The router can support a vast number of connected devices and has several software tools to manage them.
You’ll also get two separate networks with this router thanks to dual bands. This feature means that you can connect your mobile devices to the 2.4 gigahertz network and your PCs and streaming devices to the 5-gigahertz network.
Keeping traffic separated in this way puts the devices that need the most access to high-speed where they can get it. Likewise, the two bands make a great way of getting around local interference in crowded areas. You won’t have to worry about maintaining a strong signal.
Key Features - AC1200 Adapter
The AC1200 adapter shares the same speed as the AC1200 router – 1200 Mbps.
Unlike its fully-fledged router cousin, the adapter is only for receiving a wireless signal, and can’t be used to set up a network.
This means that the AC1200 adapter is useful only as a crutch for a PC or laptop that doesn’t have a wireless card integrated into its motherboard.
If you have an older laptop that you’re trying to get some extra mileage out of, the adapter might still be a good decision.
As far as adapters go, the AC1200 adapter is very good. It has USB 3.0 and is compatible with USB 2.0, which is important for operating with older machines. Likewise, it has backward compatibility with 802.11 a/b/g/n devices, which is also useful.
The adapter has decent range, decent speed, and decent stability. Its firmware is meant to be plug-and-play and works best without being disturbed. If you’re looking to give your old laptop a new feature that lets you travel with it more effectively, this adapter is right up your alley.
The AC1200 draws an average amount of power from whatever it’s plugged into and doesn’t have flashy features that cut down on the battery life of whatever it’s connected to.
Key Features - AC1900 Adapter
Much like the AC1200’s relationship to its adapter, the AC1900 is a slim and powerful adapter that shares the name of its larger cousin and not much else.
Unlike the AC1200, the AC1900 adapter is compatible with both PCs and Macs.
If you have an older Mac, this means that the AC1900 adapter is the only workable choice.
The AC1900 is fairly fast and has two bands for use in crowded areas. Unlike the AC1200 adapter, the AC1900 adapter has a magnetic cradle which is separate from the adapter itself. The cradle allows for greater flexibility when trying to find a signal, and conveniently latches onto any metal surface with a magnet.
The issue with the magnet is that it’s strong enough to damage the screen of a laptop, especially if it’s an older screen. It shouldn’t be an issue, but it might make it a little bit hazardous to carry the adapter with an older laptop in the same compartment of your bag.
The AC1900 also has an app which you can use to change its functionality, but most users can plug and play without any issues. The AC1900 is the choice for those who want speed from their wireless adapter, as it can reach 1900 Mbps.
As a consequence of being newer, the AC1900 doesn’t have as much backward compatibility as the AC1200 adapter. You’ll need to have an OS that’s at least Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.8.3 vintage to use the adapter.
Likewise, as a consequence of its high speed and great range, the AC1900 adapter hogs a lot of power. This is an issue if you’re using it with a very old laptop, as it will quickly drain the battery and totally counteract the advantage added by portability.
If you need a low-power draw wireless network adapter, the AC1200 is much more power efficient – though it has palpably less range and a lower speed as a result.
Conclusion: Wrapping It Up
The choice for a full-size router is dependent on your needs. If you plan on doing a lot of online gaming and video streaming in a home with multiple users and many connected devices, the AC1900 is the obvious choice. With the AC1900, you won’t need to buy another wireless router for a very long time.
The AC1900’s packet prioritization, great range, high speed, and good security options make it the frontrunner in most matchups. If you’re willing to compromise on speed in the name of reliability, the AC1200 router is the choice for you. It opts for tried and tested rather than new and shiny.
Likewise, if stability is paramount, the AC1200 is the right router because of its long history of use and stellar firmware. Remember that you’ll sacrifice a bit of flashiness and parental controls in the name of reliability.
If you’re wondering which adapter to get, the answer depends on your hardware. If you’re using a Mac, your choice is the AC1900. If you’re using a PC, your choice depends on the operating system you’re using.
If you’re using a legacy OS, you should use the AC1200. For more recent OSes, the AC1900 adapter is the right choice because it’s a bit more future proof. That’s provided that your hardware can handle USB 3.0, however. USB 2.0 systems are obligated to use the AC1200.
With both adapters, you’ll get a dual-band wi-fi system that can operate at a fairly good speed; both have decent security features and firmware, too.