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What AC Means in Routers?

what ac means in routers

A number follows AC in the names of all wireless routers. Tenda AC9 AC1200 routers, for example, TP-Link Archer C7, AC1750 routers, etc.

What exactly does this AC followed by a number mean? Does the number after AC indicate how fast the router is? Is a router with AC1900 quicker than a router with AC1200?

What Do Those Letters Mean?

The letters don’t imply anything, but their significance resides in the standard they represent.

Each standard builds on prior versions by including new technologies and adjusting existing ones to increase customer speed, connection, and simplicity of use.

For example, when the IEEE adopted the AC standard and switched from “n” to “ac,” we left the 2.4GHz spectrum and moved entirely to the 5GHz frequency to reduce signal interference from competing devices such as cordless phones.

Extra channels, MIMO streams, and an overall enhancement in connection (such as backward compatibility) and range were also included.

What does the Number Actually Mean?

Regardless of the router’s brand, the model number will always include terms such as “AC 1200,” “AC 1900,” and so on. So, what does all of this mean? The number after the “AC” stands for bandwidth.

Consider an AC1200 router, which has a maximum bandwidth of 1200 megabits per second (1.2 gigabits per second). Because eight bits equal one byte, a 1200 Mbps connection would be sufficient to download around 150 megabytes per second – enough to download an entire movie in half a minute.

Benefits of the AC Standard

Here are some benefits of AC routers discussed below.

Increased Range

The greatest noticeable improvement is to increase the range of router and speed that comes directly from the move to 5GHz. The 2.4GHz band is so packed with signal noise in the ordinary area that it frequently proves to be a substantial hindrance to a stable and continuous wireless service.

While dual-band routers continue to use the 2.4GHz channel, the AC standard’s transition to 5GHz provides you with more options for splitting your devices into one of two accessible spectrums to boost home connection.


It’s unusual for wireless standards to get along. Therefore, the AC standard’s backward compatibility is a significant bonus. Unlike previous standards, 802.11ac is backward-compatible with devices that employ the B, G, or N protocols, so your existing gadgets should continue to function normally following the inevitable upgrade.

While it is compatible with older devices, you will not reap the full benefits of having an AC router unless you connect it to an AC-compliant device.

Maximum Speeds

When pursuing new router standards, keep the following in mind. Each standard boasts much faster top speeds than the one before it. While speed improvements are unavoidable when updating router technology, it’s crucial to realize that the maximum speeds are “theoretical maximums,” which means you’ll never see them in practice.

The settings of the test are regulated in a laboratory environment while testing for theoretical maximums. Your house, on the other hand, does not provide the same level of control because you must fight for airspace with neighbors and ISPs for almost everything else.

Higher Numbers Equal More Computers, Not More Speed

Okay, now that we’ve addressed that AC router speeds are quicker. While manufacturers promise gigabit speeds, the highest real-world speeds are approximately 720Mbps. While the AC standard is three times faster than N, it’s only on a smaller scale.

Real-world numbers indicate that this is closer to 720Mbps for AC, compared to 240Mbps for N.

However, just because larger AC values don’t make your connection quicker doesn’t indicate they’re ineffective. A model with a larger number would typically have more antennae and bands (although not necessarily faster ones). It might also have better features, with modern technologies like Multiuser, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) allowing more users to connect to a router without experiencing speed losses.

A four-antenna AC5300 router could serve four bandwidth-intensive users without experiencing the lag that traditional routers experience.

Furthermore, the higher the number on the bandwidth you’re linked to, the more data from many devices it can process. If you simply have a few devices that require a small amount of bandwidth, a lower-powered AC router would suffice.

Is it Worth Upgrading?

Yes, a million times over, yes. The performance boost provided by an AC router is considerable, and the costs are relatively affordable. You can still get a nice router with AC standard functionality without having to spend too much, and it’s a worthwhile investment for anyone who cares about Internet performance.

While you’re at it, make sure your new router has a dual or tri-band so you can split your devices across 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies for even better performance. It’s not a costly update because most current routers that are even somewhat competent already have at least dual-band capabilities.

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