802.11n is a widely used wireless networking standard that used the concept of multiple antennas to enhance the throughput. It can use up to 4 antennas that support roughly 100 Mbps. The older version 802.11n is being used for quite sometime but the 802.11ac is the future wireless networking standard that offers better throughput and coverage.
What is 802.11ac ?
There are many protocols for the wireless networking standard. 802.11n is a widely used protocol at the moment, while 802.11ac is the next version of it that offers better throughput that is theoretically 3 times faster. 802.11ac will offer better data transfer rate, good video streaming and wide area coverage. It allows round about 433 Mbps per partial stream. It supports up to 8 streams that theoretically offers data transfer rate more than 3 Gbps.
Faster WiFi, Really ?
This may be the first question that ponder your mind. Will using the 802.11ac protocol make my WiFi faster? In short, yes. 802.11ac promises to deliver better coverage and faster transfer speeds. But this may not be as simple as it sounds. 802.11ac is an upcoming technology and is not supported by a bit old hardware. To use 802.11ac protocol, in addition to router you will also need an adapter that supports 802.11ac protocol. Pricing is also an important factor because, at the moment you will hardly find a good 802.11ac router below 200$. Theoretically 802.11ac can transfer up to 1300 Mbps as compared to 802.11n whose transfer rate is attributed as 450 Mbps. However, the speeds measured after testing 802.11ac are roughly 720 Mbps.
In last 2-3 years, hardware manufacturers has started 802.11ac compliance in their upcoming devices. Now 802.11ac is being supported by upcoming smartphones, tablets and laptops.
There are several high performance routers that are capable of using 802.11ac wireless networking protocol. Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is a highly rated router that allows you to experience maximum throughput. In addition to that, Linksys, ASUS, Apple and D-Link also offers routers that are 802.11ac enabled.
All major commercial laptop manufacturers are producing 802.11ac compliance laptops. Few of them are HP, Apple and ASUS. The latest Mac Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro also features 802.11ac wireless networking capabilities.
Upcoming smartphones also features 802.11ac wireless networking capabilities. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the first 802.11ac enabled iOS devices. In addition, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, LG Nexus 5 and Nokia Lumia 1520 are also capable of wireless networking via 802.11ac protocol.
No doubt 802.11ac wireless networking protocol is being supported by hardware manufacturers, but still it will take some time to completely replace the current 802.11n protocol. In addition to this the router prices may significantly decrease with the passage of time to make them easily affordable.