While this test process was used specifically for wireless AC1200 USB adapters, it can be easily scaled to higher-speed wireless products like AC1750-class adapters as they become available. This will include anticipated wireless improvements like MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output. It's an update to the 802.11ac standard known as Wave 2, with maximum speeds anticipated of 6.93 Gb/s. MU-MIMO allows multiple users to simultaneously access the same wireless channel by providing spatial degrees of freedom, albeit only in the downstream direction. In addition, the testing suite will also be applicable to WiGig, a future wireless standard that promises high speeds over short distances on the unlicensed 60GHz band.
Helping users choose a wireless AC USB adapter starts with a comprehensive set of benchmarks, accurately measured across multiple distances and on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. This is supported by looking at the out-of-box experience, the setup process, the stability and the software. Taking the devices apart provides another level of analysis. This is all done so that when we recommend a wireless AC USB adapter to our readers, we have full confidence that that recommendation will be the best one to suit their needs, while steering them clear of hardware with issues.
Jonas DeMuro is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware.
Updates: Fixed images and clarified Quantitative Testing procedures.