MacBook Pro Delivers Blazing Speed in Gigabit Wi-Fi Test

All five tested products validate the superior throughput of 802.11ac.

Gigabit Wi-Fi

Gigabit Wi-Fi is starting to appear in mobile devices, so we got our hands on three smartphones and two laptops running the 802.11ac standard and put them to the test. Though you won’t see anywhere near Gigabit speeds in real-world environments, our testing proves that 802.11ac can offer increased throughput over 802.11n. We ran throughput tests on each device at a distance of 25 feet from our access point with one wall in between. (Read the story version.) Here are the results:

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro with Retina display comes in two different screen sizes: 13-inch starting at $1,299 and15-inch starting at $1,999. It's loaded with Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Our test unit ran a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and was loaded with 4 GB of RAM.This MacBook Pro doesn't include an Apple AirPort card. The Wi-Fi adapter is built into the laptop itself. Apple doesn’t provide many details on the Wi-Fi specs, but it is Wi-Fi Certified.  The MacBook Pro was our top performer, which wasn’t a surprise since it has three spatial streams, whereas the other devices in this test only have one or two streams. The MacBook Pro delivered a maximum throughput of 463 Mbps and an average of 318 Mbps.

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4

The Samsung Galaxy S4 was activated with AT&T and running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It features a 5-inch wide full-HD Super AMOLED screen. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.9 GHz Quad-Core Processor or an Exynos 1.6-GHz Octa-Core Processor with 2GB RAM. It has the Broadcom BCM4335 wireless chipset. For Wi-Fi, the S4 offers single stream 802.11ac. The chipset supports Broadcom's TurboQAM technology that implements the 256-QAM mode in both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands to help increase data rates. It also supports beamforming for 802.11n/ac, low-density parity-check (LDPC) code, and space-time block code (STBC). The S4 averaged 105Mbps and reached a maximum of 213Mbps.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was activated with T-Mobile and running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean). It has a 5.7 inch screen. The LTE model comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.3 GHz Quad-Core Processor and the 3G model with an Exynos 1.9 GHz Octa-Core Processor, with 3GB RAM. It has the Broadcom BCM4339 wireless chipset, offering single stream 802.11a/ac/b/g/n. The chipset supports Broadcom's TurboQAM technology, plus beamforming. The Broadcom proprietary Channel Smoothing helps increase receiver sensitivity. And specific to the BCM4339, Broadcom claims it’s the only vendor to offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) co-existence to help decrease interference from the cellular transceiver. Average throughput was 154Mbps and maximum was 237Mbps.

Motorola Moto X
Motorola Moto X

The Motorola Moto X was activated with AT&T and running Android 4.4 (KitKat) and the Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System. It has a 4.7 inch AMOLED screen. It runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.7 GHz Dual-Core Krait processor with 2GB RAM. The Wi-Fi is provided by Qualcomm’s WCN3680 chipset, which also provides Bluetooth 4.0. It’s Wi-Fi Certified and offers single stream 802.11a/ac/b/g/n. Although the details we received on chipset were limited, we do know that it supports the 256-QAM mode to help increase data rates. Throughput averaged 48Mbps and topped out at 109Mbps.

Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 9530 is a 15.6” touch screen laptop with Windows 8.1, starting at $1,949.99. Our test unit had a 2.20 GHz Intel core i7-4702HQ processor and 16 GB of RAM. It came with the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 PCIe half mini card installed. The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 card is Wi-Fi Certified, supports 802.11ac/a/b/g/n, and has integrated Bluetooth. It offers two Wi-Fi streams. We used the Intel driver version 16.5.3.6 for testing. The Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 card supports the Intel Smart Connect Technology that enables automatic application updates when your device is asleep. Throughput averaged 219Mbps and topped out at 317Mbps.