Router throughput vs ISP speed

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Lee MacMillan

Regular Contributor
If my ISP speed is 200Mbps down, is there any practical difference between a router with 1750 Mbps throughput (like my AC66U_B1) and something with a higher rated throughput like an AC86U with 2900Mbps? If I have multiple devices connected and downloading simultaneously, they're got to divide up that 200Mbps among them, right?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
When a customer (not so many years ago) had a 2.5Mbps down and 0.25Mbps up DSL connection, an RT-AC66U was a revelation of how even on a terribly slow connection, a responsive (for the time) router brought the experience of the network up, significantly.

Since then, and only when a customer had the budget, I would at least try/test a higher-end router for their connections and let them decide if they wanted to go back to a still new, but effectively, 'last-gen' router instead.

None of those customers asked to 'downgrade', even the ones with the lower speeds and even more modest use of their ISP connections. Those customers are the ones that kept and enjoyed their routers the longest too.

When I go between customers with the identical routers you're asking about, the RT-AC66U_B1 seems like it's broken, vs. the RT-AC86U. And some of them are 'only' getting 80Mbps or lower (as low as 15Mbps, Satellite connections) download speeds too.

Yes, the devices must share the throughput available. But the difference is how effortless the router makes that seem. The less performance the router has, the more sluggish the network feels (and it only gets worse with multiple clients connected and active at once).

Part of that 'effortlessness' is how much better the client connections are (better radios, better RF design, etc.). and with that comes much higher throughput per time slice for the router. This synergy is what makes this seemingly poor match (between a 'high end' router and modest ISP rates) not only work but work exceedingly well too. Particularly if the users are sensitive to latencies (games, video calling, VOIP) or want to utilize their ISP speeds more fully throughout the home.
 
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noah way

Regular Contributor
If my ISP speed is 200Mbps down, is there any practical difference between a router with 1750 Mbps throughput (like my AC66U_B1) and something with a higher rated throughput like an AC86U with 2900Mbps? If I have multiple devices connected and downloading simultaneously, they're got to divide up that 200Mbps among them, right?
Question 1: no.
Question 2: yes.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
If my ISP speed is 200Mbps down, is there any practical difference between a router with 1750 Mbps throughput (like my AC66U_B1) and something with a higher rated throughput like an AC86U with 2900Mbps? If I have multiple devices connected and downloading simultaneously, they're got to divide up that 200Mbps among them, right?

If you only consider those numbers as the absolute input and output numbers over all time, then yes. But those theoretical max rate numbers do not indicate actual throughput at various points in the process, at various points in time... those practical numbers are less, and likely more less when the processing is performed by weaker and slower (less expensive) equipment. The router with higher theoretical limits should be built to process faster, so it will have more headroom to outperform the lessor built router under similar peak processing conditions. Those processing peaks in time may not be capped by the theoretical input/output limits, but they will be relatively limited by the slower process... in time. And this you may notice as the processing load in time increases and begins to stress the lessor built equipment first.

I took a lay stab at it.

OE
 

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