The world isn’t short on routers. In fact, we can attest to the likes of popular choices like Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear, but these aren’t the only ones out there competing; others such as ASUS and TP-LINK also exist…
But what about Tenda and their AC15 Smart AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router? On the surface, it could be seen as a cheaper also-ran without the cache that irritating brand snobs swear by. But is it a valid judgment to make on assumption alone?
Most modern routers follow a established formula, and looking modern is one piece of the equation. The AC15 sticks to the rulebook of a flat body with three protruding antennas on top, the only caveat being that the AC15 by default has to be placed upright by way of an included stand or mounted on a wall. And finally, the diamond-patterned face has a unique look.
Status lights on the top-front, the usual range of WAN/LAN ports, and a media sharing USB 3.0 port are found in the back. There’s nothing out of place except you’ll have to make do with one less gigabit Ethernet port (three instead of the usual four). Things elsewhere continue to be normal with a WPS (a simple connection method which you might want to disable in case of remote attack) and a WiFi on/off button.
Initializing the AC15 was a little vague but with the quick setup guide (or just go to http://tendawifi.com) we got everything up and running in just minutes. If you choose, you can stick with the preloaded SSID profile which will help speed things up.
The website dashboard is visual and fairly organized, with options being nicely separated to ease users into the intricacies of the common home router. Presets and switch tabs are what you get here, along with some settings that are graciously upfront in function. My favorites include Bandwidth Control where each connected device can be throttled at the click of a button, and the IPTV option that offers multitasking and direct STB for internet TV viewing. Tenda isn’t the first company to incorporate these features, but few competitors make them easy to use. Other advanced settings such as VPN is noticeably absent, however.
The AC15 is right where it needs to be in terms of basic performance. Wired benchmarks were relatively good, maxing out our download speed at 99.13MBps (793.04Mbps). At a 5GHz direct range of 6-feet our figures of 79.32 MBps (634.56Mbps) weren’t bad for a run-of-the-mill AC1900 router, while a decreased rate of 53.17MBps (425.36Mbps) over a 36-foot distance actually came close to the Linksys WRT1900AC.
2.4GHz is fine for common usage, but like other routers in this class remains second priority. Immediate 6ft distance were consistent at 26.5MBps (212Mbps), while a 36ft range dwindled speeds down to 19.31MBps (154.48Mbps). If you can help it, opt for the 5GHz wireless option whenever possible.
Tenda has been around for a while, but the AC15 Smart AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router makes a strong case for fast WiFi without the pricier overhead. It works without any crippling hitches and is a recommendable beginner alternative, whether your needs are for a small home or an apartment with streaming-happy roommates. Easily one of the least expensive and pleasantly surprising options for wireless capability.