NetGear AC1200 (R6230) Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
While this router didn't distinguish itself from the rest of the group with its performance, at least it retails at a relatively affordable price. However, there were still comparably priced models that vastly outperformed this one, so we are reluctant to recommend it.
Starting off, we rated and scored the various features and functions each router has, which accounts for one-fourth of its final score. For this metric, we specifically looked at whether or not each product supported MU-MIMO and/or beamforming if you can toggle the power or reset the router remotely, the number of LAN and USB ports each one has, and if you can disable the status LEDs. The NetGear R6230 doesn't have the most comprehensive set of features, earning it a relatively below-average score.
From what we could tell based on the included documentation, this router is not capable of either beamforming or MU-MIMO, so it might not be the best bet if you have a ton of devices on your network or you can't position the NetGear R6230 in a central location. It also does not allow you to turn the power or other status LEDs off.
However, this router does have an average of 4 LAN ports, and you can cycle the power remotely. It also has a single USB 2.0 port — less than most of the other products in the WiFi router review.
Ease of Use
Next, we compared and ranked the ease of use of each of these WiFi routers. We awarded points based on the amount of work they took out of the box — including software updates. We also looked at the interface's user-friendliness, the ease of setting up parental controls, and if the NetGear R6230 supports Quality of Service (QoS). This product's performance impressed us, earning it a solid score.
The wrapper on the router instructs you to download the companion app, leading you through the setup process with guided prompts and instructions. This process is relatively pain-free, but we did have to complete a software update before the router was ready to go. You can also set up the NetGear R6230 through a computer, though you aren't guided through the process quite as thoroughly as on a smartphone.
The parental controls on this router are a bit of a pain to use, as you can't add any custom settings, just use one of NetGear's pre-made filters. We also couldn't find any way to set up QoS settings anywhere on this router, even though the box itself says that it has "Advanced QoS" features.
2.4 GHz. Throughput
For our throughout tests, which each account for 20% of the NetGear R6230's total score, we used a test laptop running the iPerf3 software to measure the throughput in Megabits/s. We did short, medium, and long-distance, conducting both an unobstructed and obstructed test at short and medium distances. This sums up to a total of five tests, with our results derived from averaging three separate trials with the software at each one. When it came to its 2.4 GHz. network, the NetGear R6230 finished just a bit below average.
Our short-distance tests separated the router and laptop by about 10'. The NetGear R6230 recorded an average throughput of 42 Mbits/s in the unobstructed test, which dropped to 38 Mbits/s when there was interference. This result is about average for these products.
We had the test computer about 35' from the router for our medium-distance tests. Its relative performance dropped below average, with the NetGear R6230 recording a throughput of 33 Mbits/s in the line-of-sight tests. This router only dropped to 32 Mbit/s in the test with interference at this distance.
We spread the router and computer apart by about 70' for the long-distance test. In this test, we recorded an average throughput of 2.3 Mbits/s, which is quite disappointing compared to the other products in the group.
5 GHz. Throughput
We repeated the same tests for the 5 GHz. network on the NetGear R6230, which performed better than it did with the 2.4 GHz. tests and scored above average overall.
The NetGear R6230 did alright in the short distance test, having an average throughput of 201 Mbits/s. However, this router did phenomenally well with the obstructed test, having one of the best performances among top-tier WiFi routers.
It also did well with the medium distance, measuring at 214 Mbits/s in the line-of-the-sight test and 195 Mbits/s in the obstructed test. The NetGear R6230 finished this metric with an average showing in the long-distance test, registering a throughput of 27 Mbits/s in our test.
For our final metric, we rated and scored the effective range of each router, based on how far away our test computer could effectively stream a video without buffering. The NetGear R6230 did very poorly, earning one of the lowest scores of the group. The video started buffering at a distance of 65' away — much less than the 150'+ of the top products.
Should You Buy the NetGear AC1200 (R6230)?
We would have been fine with the NetGear R6230 if it had better range, though it still wouldn't have snagged an award. There are a ton of other routers we would recommend over this one, some of which even cost less.
What Other WiFi Routers Should You Consider?
The NetGear AC1200 (R6230) isn't incredibly expensive, but you can find a much better router to upgrade your home or office. In particular, the NetGear Nighthawk AC1750 (R6700v2) presents an outstanding value. We recognize that this other option costs nearly double, but considering that it rivals top-tier products like the ASUS RT-AC88U Wireless-AC3100, it is well worth the extra expense.