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AC1200 USB Wi-Fi Adapter Round-Up

ZyXEL AC240

While ZyXEL has a solid presence in the consumer market, the company's designs often reflect industrial roots. Its fastest AC1200 USB Wi-Fi adapter is the AC240, featuring a flip-up antenna and a USB extension cable to optimize signal strength.

Figure 19 - ZyXEL AC240 Wi-Fi USB adapter. Note that the flip-up antenna is not deployed in this image.

Specs

  • AC1200, up to 300 Mb/s on 2.4GHz and 867 Mb/s on 5GHz bands
  • USB 3.0, backward compatible with USB 2.0
  • Flip-up antenna
  • Supports 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11g and 802.11a

What’s in the Box?

Figure 20 - Outside box of the ZyXEL AC240.

Included in the box are:

  • ZyXEL AC240 USB Wi-Fi adapter
  • Quick-start guide
  • Software CD
  • USB extension cable

Figure 21 - The contents of the box of the ZyXEL AC240 Wi-Fi adapter. Note the USB extension cable.

Features

ZyXEL's AC240 features a flip-up antenna to improve your connection to the router as much as possible. There is a single green status LED and a WPS button on the adapter.

Standouts

Figure 22 - The ZyXEL AC240 seen with the WPS button and the antenna raised. Note the ventilation slots on the side.

The AC240 is one of two Wi-Fi adapters we tested with a flip-up antenna, Netgear's A6210 being the other. By getting the antenna away from the adapter, it theoretically decreases electrical interference.

There are reports that ZyXEL's AC240 is actually a re-branded Edimax AC1200 Wi-Fi adapter. While I cannot confirm this, it does look identical except that the Edimax uses a white chassis.

General Observations

The included CD features a manual in PDF form. There is also a section for Utilities," though it only contains an installer for Acrobat Reader.

The upright antenna did not seem to offer a stronger signal when it was raised or lowered, though it did increase the likelihood of having the AC240 knocked out of a USB port.

Figure 23 - Anatomy of the ZyXEL AC240

1: USB 3.0 connector
2: WPS button
3: LED
4: RTL8812AU
5: 5G PAx2 + 5G LNAx2
6: I-PEX cable
7: Dual-band PCB antenna and PIFA antenna

The Planar Inverted F-Antenna (PIFA) is common in the mobile phone market. If you look carefully, it looks like the letter "F," hence the name. This type of antenna is known for a slim profile and omnidirectional pattern.

Management

Figure 24 - The screenshot of the ZyXEL "software." It really is the Windows software, and it provides much of the same info that the other software solutions provide.

ZyXEL's installation process is one of the longest; the driver alone was 100MB. What left me puzzled was that the Wi-Fi settings were still managed by Windows, and not a separate configuration utility. Despite the vanilla approach, ZyXEL's driver remained stable throughout testing. We used version 1.0.0.5 in our review.

Availability/Warranty/Pricing

The AC240 has a list price of $70. The street price is $56.04 on Amazon.com, and ZyXEL includes a two-year warranty.