Owning a wireless device of some sort has become commonplace in today’s world. Whether that be a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other wireless device, the need for a fast and stable wireless network has never been more important. Modern technology has brought us Gigabit transfer speeds and wireless 802.11ac formats, both resulting in greatly improved network performance over the past few years. ZyXEL sent their X650 router and AC240 wireless adapter, each of which takes advantage of these newer technologies. Undoubtedly, if you’re looking at setting up a home or office network or even upgrading an existing one, using the latest available technologies makes the most sense. ZyXEL is banking on that theory with these two product releases, so let’s have a closer look!
Specifications and Features
We’ll start with the X650 router specifications as provided by the ZyXEL website. As you’ll see in the router specifications, the X650 is dual-band capable meaning it supports both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. What this means to the user is that it not only supports the latest 802.11ac technology, but is also backward compatible with 802.11b/g/n wireless devices. The X650 Router also features two 3dBi Dual Band Fixed Dipole Antennas, which should help with a larger signal range. However, one thing notably missing is the presence of a USB port. This probably won’t be a deal breaker for most people, but having one seems to be the normal protocol nowadays.
ZyXEL X650 Router Specifications SOC+RF Realtek RTL8197D (CPU) + RTL8192CE (2.4G) + RTL8812AE (5G) Gigabit Switch Realtek RTL8367R-VB Flash 8MB SPI Flash RAM 64MB DDR2 RAM WAN Port 10/100/1000M (Auto-MDI/MDI-X) UTP Port x 1 LAN Ports 10/100/1000M (Auto-MDI/MDI-X) UTP Port x 4 MIMO Technology 5GHz: 2T2R MIMO, 2.4GHz: 2T2R MIMO Antenna 3dBi Dual Band Fixed Dipole Antenna x 2 Output Power
- 11b(11M): 16±1.5 dBm
- 11g(54M): 14±1.5 dBm
- 11n(20MHz, MCS7): 13±1.5 dBm
- 11n(40MHz, MCS7): 13±1.5 dBm
- 11a(54M): TBC
- 11n(20MHz, MCS7): TBC
- 11n(40MHz, MCS7): TBC
- 11ac(80MHz, VHTMCS7): TBC
- 11b(11M): -84±2dBm
- 11g(54M): -70±2dBm
- 11n(20MHz, MCS7):-65±2dBm
- 11n(40MHz, MCS7):-63±2dBm
- 11a(54M): TBC
- 11n(20MHz, MCS7): TBC
- 11n(40MHz, MCS7): TBC
- 11ac(80MHz, VHTMCS7): TBC
Mechanical Power 5V / :2A Switch Power Adapter (TBC) Dimensions 32(H) x 180(W) x 118(D) mm Environmental Operating Temperature 0~40°C, Storage: -20~60°C Operating Humidity 10~90% (Non-Condensing) Storage Temperature Max.95% (NonCondensing)
The specifications for the AC240 wireless adapter are also provided by the ZyXEL website. It’s great to see ZyXEL making use of the USB 3.0 protocol here, but don’t worry if your system doesn’t have USB 3.0 ports – it’s backward compatible with USB 2.0. Drivers are available for Windows 8 and as far back as Windows XP, ensuring easy deployment across a wide range of computers.
ZyXEL AC240 Wireless Adapter Specifications Bus Type USB 3.0 Type A Frequency Band 2.4000~2.4835GHz (subject to local regulations)
5.150~5.825GHz (subject to local regulations)
Data Rate 11a: 6/9/12/24/36/48/54Mbps
11b: 1/2/5.5/11Mbps; 11g: 6/9/12/24/36/48/54Mbps
11n (20MHz): MCS0-15, up to 144Mbps
11n (40MHz): MCS0-15, up to 300Mbps
11ac (80MHz): VHTMCS0-9, up to 867Mbps
Antenna 2 internal PIFA antennas (2T2R) Drivers Windows 7/Vista/XP, Win 8 LED Link/Act/WPS Dimension (TBC) 87.1 (L) x 27.2 (W) x 17.2 (H) mm (TBC) Temperature Operating: 32~104°F (0~40°C) , Storage: -4~140°F (-20~60°C) Humidity Operating: 0~90% (NonCondensing) , Storage: Max. 95% (NonCondensing)
The features, or “Benefits” as ZyXEL likes to call them, go into more detail about the technologies the user can take advantage of. First up is the X650 router’s features and benefits.
Complies with IEEE802.11a/b/g/n standard and 5GHz IEEE802.11ac draft
The product is designed with 2T2R in both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequency fully complied with IEEE802.11a/b/g/n standards, and also supports the IEEE802.11ac draft specification in 5GHz band.IEEE802.11ac is backward compatible with 11n, there is no interoperability problem.
Make Wireless to Gigabit Speed
Utilizing the next generation of Wi-Fi technology 11ac in 5GHz band, it can support up to 650Mbps data rate which is 3 times faster than current 11n device. User will enjoy truly gigabit high performance on both wired and wireless interface.
Ideal for Wireless video streaming and online game
Stable wireless connection and high bandwidth let you enjoy the network applications without any interruption.
Concurrent Dual Band Access Points
This router can supports wireless devices operating in 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks simultaneously. Acting as a bridge among the wired Ethernet and the 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n and the 5GHz 802.11a/n/ac wireless LANs, this router can let all your wireless devices access both the wired and the wireless network nodes.
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
This router supports you to build the connection between wireless network client and the router by simply pressing the WPS button on the wireless client and the router. No need to set up and configure the security on a wireless network.
- Support NAT/NAPT IP Sharing.
- Support PPPoE/PPTP/Static IP/DHCP/L2TP for WAN connection.
- Supports DHCP server to assign IP address automatically.
- Support DMZ/Virtual Server/Port Forwarding.
- Supports Special Applications (Port Trigger).
- Supports DDNS (DynDNS, TZO).
- Supports VPN Pass Through (IPSec/L2TP/PPTP).
- Supports Anti-DoS Firewall.
- Support IP/MAC/URL Filtering.
- Supports QoS.
- Supports Web-based configuration.
- Supports Firmware Upgrade.
- Comply IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n standards and IEEE 802.11ac draft.
- Supports 2.4GHz and 5GHZ wireless networks connection simultaneously..
- Support 2T2R MIMO technology in 5GHz frequency and 2T2R MIMO technology in 2.4GHz frequency, enhancing the performance and coverage range significantly.
- Support 64/128-bit WEP, WPA and WPA2 securities and also IEEE 802.1x authentication.
- High speed transmit and receive data rate – up to 650Mbps whi le operating in IEEE 802.11ac (5GHz, 80MHz) mode and up to 300Mbps while operating in IEEE 802.11an (5GHz, 40MHz) or IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) mode.
- Supports WPS function for easy wireless association
The AC240’s features and benefits make it simple to see how easily it should integrate with the X650 router. These two items appear to be made for each other, but there isn’t a problem introducing either of them into an existing network separately. Below are the features for the AC240 wireless adapter as described by ZyXEL.
The ZyXEL AC240 Dual-Band Wireless AC1200 USB 3.0 Adapter delivers data transfer rates of up to 300 Mbps for 2.4 GHz or 867 Mbps for 5 GHz. It not only provides a high-speed network capability, but also works with your existing 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless Routers or Access Points.
Latest 802.11ac wireless technology offers speeds up to 3 times faster than 802.11n
With new generation of wireless standard 802.11ac, the ZyXEL AC240 provides high-throughput wireless network data transfer rates of up to 300 Mbps for 2.4 GHz or 867 Mbps for 5 GHz, which is up to 3 times faster than 802.11n and backward compatible with all your current wireless Routers or Access Points. It’s better wireless performance for video streaming and web browsing.
Dual-band networks optimize HD media experience by avoiding network clutter
The ZyXEL AC240 provides selectable dual band (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) wireless signals are designed for users to get a better network connection. The 5 GHz band is ideal for media-centric applications such as HD video streaming or online gaming, while the 2.4 GHz band is suitable for Internet browsing and VoIP telephone without performance degradation.
Easy setup with Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
Instant security With WPS, you can create a secure wireless network with the touch of a single button
The compact, lightweight design of the ZyXEL AC240 offers excellent portability for road warriors and others on the move. Users can easily plug AC240 into a USB port on a desktop or laptop to upgrade network speed instantly. It includes USB extension cable lets; users position the AC240 for maximum connectivity.
Other than the lack of a USB port on the X650 router, both of these items are loaded up with all the newest technologies. Let’s get them unpacked and have a look!
Packaging and First Look
Both boxes have a black and blue design and do a nice job of giving the consumer high-level specifications/features to browse through. Overall, the boxes are attractive and don’t go overboard with unnecessary marketing mumbo-jumbo. The first slide show below is of the X650 Box, and the second is of the AC240 wireless adapter box.
… And the AC240 adapter box.
The X650 router and accessories are well-packaged inside a white box found inside. The router is wrapped in a plastic bag, and the power adapter is in yet another smaller box. At the bottom, you’ll find a paper copy of the installation guide and a CD that includes documents (installation guide and user manual), tools, and registration information. The tools section of the CD is a little misleading as in reality there is only a copy of Acrobat Reader that can be installed. Clicking on the registration button takes you to a web page where you can register the product with ZyXEL.
Here is what you see when using the included CD.
Moving on the the AC240 wireless adapter box contents, we find the adapter, USB extension cable, paper copy of the Quick Start Guide, and a CD. In this case, the CD interface looks identical to the one shown above, but with the addition of a setup icon. Choosing the setup icon will begin the installation process and driver installation.
ZyXEL X650 Router and AC240 Wireless Adapter Up Close
The X650 router is all black, except for some applied branding and blue accent lines. On the front, we have a series of LEDs to indicate power, port usage, and wireless connectivity speed.
Both sides of the X650 router have lots of airflow passages, which should help keep it cool in most environments.
At the back, we have the WAN port and four LAN ports that support 10/100/1000 Gigabit speeds. Also at the back are the two 3dBi antennas that can be adjusted to a variety of different angles and the power connector. On the far left side. there is a radio switch that can be used to turn the wireless function on or off. Next to that is the reset/WPS switch. I’m not sure how much I like the WPS and reset functions being on the same switch. It would seem a router reset could be performed when all you want to do is use the WPS function. Holding the button for ten seconds will reset the router to factory specifications, while a five second press will activate the WPS function only. I think I’d prefer using a separate pinhole style reset button to eliminate an accidental router reset.
The AC240 wireless adapter is all black and features USB 3.0 connectivity and an adjustable antenna. It’s pretty wide where it connects to a USB port and may block access to any neighboring USB connectors. Luckily, the extension cable can be used to alleviate this problem in addition to allowing you more flexibility in locating the adapter for better signal quality. The AC240 wireless adapter also supports WPS for easy pairing with any WPS capable router.
Setup and Testing
Once the router is fired up and given a couple minutes to find everything connected to it, you can access the web based interface by simply typing 192.168.1.1 into the browser’s address bar. Because most of the settings are going to be based on your individual ISP, we won’t go into a lot of detail here. As you can see from the main interface screen below, the four areas give a good description of what you have control over inside each menu.
The first thing I wanted to try out was my internet speed using a wired connection. Here again, everyone’s speed will be different based on the service level you have from your ISP, network traffic, etc. My existing Netgear router typically showed download speeds right at 30 Mb/s and upload speeds at 4.20 Mb/s. After hooking up the X650 router, I was pleased to see the same speeds with no degradation in performance. Both routers give me the speeds that match the service plan I have; so in a nutshell, the X650 performed right where it should. In fact, the ping times actually improved over my existing Netgear router, which was a nice surprise. Just for reference, all tests were performed using a HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook (CTO 15t-4000), which has two USB 3.0 ports.
My existing router’s wireless capabilities only support up to Wireless N, so I was excited to see if the claim of “wired like” speeds held true when using the 802.11ac feature, along with the AC240 adapter, Let’s find out!
Installing the wireless adapter only took a couple of minutes using the software included on the CD. First, I set the laptop right next to the router and tested the speeds. Sure enough, almost exactly the same speeds as when hooked to the router via a LAN cable. Beginning at a 20 foot distance, I started moving farther away from the router in varying increments until I reached a distance of 100 ft. The farther away I got, the signal had to begin passing through interior walls and such. Undoubtedly, you will get a different result every time you run these speed tests. However, as you see in the below test screen shots, it’s safe to say at up to 50 feet away there was no speed loss. It wasn’t until I reached 100 feet away that the speed began to show a significant drop, but even at that I was still getting over 20 Mb/s. The range that 802.11ac offers is one of the most appealing aspects of the new technology, and that comes to bare in my testing.
It’s pretty tough to argue with the numbers in the images above, color me impressed with the wireless performance of both the X650 router and the AC240 wireless adapter.
In this day and age of overly aggressive marketing claims that seldom come to fruition in the real world, it’s nice to see a product that actually lives up to its billing. ZyXEL has a very nice router and wireless adapter on their hands here that definitely lives up to the performance standards they claim. If you’re still of the old school mindset that a wired connection is the way to go, then you’ll be pleased with the wired performance the X650 router provides. That part works as good or better than any router I have ever owned and had no problem keeping up with the speeds my service plan provides. If your PC resides close to your router and has 802.11ac capabilities, then the AC240 wireless adapter is a very viable solution for finally cutting the LAN cable out of the picture.
About the only complaint I have is the lack of a USB port on the X650 router. Other than that, there really isn’t anything this router and wireless adapter doesn’t do quite well.
Ok, lets talk price. $81.42 gets you the X650 Router and $40.62 the AC240 wireless adapter – both available at Newegg. Individually, they are priced very competitively for 802.11ac capable devices. Together, for about $122, you can upgrade your router’s wireless capabilities and give a PC/laptop of your choice 802.11ac wireless connectivity. Not a bad deal, I’d say. Great performance, good pricing, and both products live up to their advanced billing. That can only mean Overclockers approved on the ZyXEL X650 router and AC240 wireless adapter!
But wait…. there’s more! We’ll be giving the X650 router away to one of our lucky forum members. All that’s needed for contest entry is to make a post in the forum thread that accompanies this review. We’ll keep the entry time limited to one week from the time the review is published. Each post within a thread is given a post number when it’s created, we’ll randomly pick a post number using random.org to determine the winner. There is one exception – you only get one entry, and it’s your first post. If the winning number that pops up is someone’s second (or later) post, then we’ll re-draw. Good luck to everyone!