NETGEAR AC1200 (R6230) Review
Pros: Easy to use, solid throughput
Cons: Abysmal performance in our range test, light on features
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
While this router didn't positively 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 routers that vastly outperformed this one, so we are a bit reluctant to recommend it.
We compared tons of different routers, then picked the most promising models to test out head-to-head and see which one topped them all. We split our tests into four weighted metrics, with the R6230's performance in each discussed in the next sections.
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 in the same house or you can't position the R6230 in a central location. It also does not give you the option to turn the power or other status LEDs off.
However, this router does have the average 4 LAN ports and the power can be cycled remotely. It also has a single USB 2.0 port — less than most of the other products we reviewed.
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 user-friendliness of the interface, the ease of setting up parental controls, and if the 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 which leads you through the setup process with a series of guided prompts and instructions. This is a relatively pain-free process but we did have to complete a software update before the router was ready to go. You can also set up the 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 R6230's total score, we used a test laptop running the iPerf3 software to measure the throughput in Megabits/s. We did a short, medium, and long-distance, conducting both an unobstructed and obstructed test at the 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 R6230 finished just a bit below average.
Starting with our short distance tests, we had the router and laptop separated by about 10'. The R6230 recorded an average throughput of 42 Mbits/s in the unobstructed test, which dropped to 38 Mbits/s when there was interference. This is about average for these products.
For our medium distance tests, we had the test computer about 35' from the router. Its relative performance dropped just a bit below average, with the R6230 recording a throughput of 33 Mbits/s in the line-of-sight tests. This only dropped to 32 Mbit/s in the test with interference at this distance.
For the long-distance test, we spread the router and computer apart by about 70'. 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 exact same tests for the 5 GHz. network on the R6230, which performed a bit better than it did with the 2.4 GHz. tests and scored above average overall.
The 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 of the entire group.
It also did well with the medium distance, measuring in at 214 Mbits/s in the line-of-the-sight test and 195 Mbits/s in the obstructed test. The R6230 finished out 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 out test computer could effectively stream a video without buffering. The 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.
The R6230 isn't incredibly expensive but you can get much better routers for the same price or less, so there are better bargains out there.
We would have been fine with the R6230 if it had better range, though it still wouldn't have snagged an award. There are definitely a ton of other routers we would recommend over this one, some of which even cost less.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman