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An update on 802.11ac clients

Support for 802.11ac continues to be added into popular devices.

There’s quite a bit of excitement around 802.11ac. It’s not only the latest wireless standard, but recently more devices have added support for it, spreading and accelerating the adoption of gigabit WiFi.

A survey of devices earlier this year showed a handful of them supported 802.11ac, especially higher end smartphones. Recently, more smartphones have added support, and importantly, Apple’s refresh of the Macbook Pro and Macbook Air added 802.11ac to their popular line. Here’s a summary of recently introduced clients that support 802.11ac.


Apple laptops

In the summer, Apple refreshed the Macbook Air, including faster WiFi, longer battery life, and a higher-quality display. This was the first Apple product to include 802.11ac, using a 2×2 (dual-stream) implementation with a maximum theoretical data rate of 867 Mbps. In the words of AnandTech, “The move to 802.11ac feels like a game changer once more notebooks get there.”

Apple must have taken heed of that, because just a few months later the Macbook Pro line was refreshed, adding Retina displays and enhanced processing and graphics, as well as 3×3 (triple-stream) 802.11ac support up to a maximum theoretical data rate of 1.3 Gbps. The innards are displayed for all to see in iFixit’s teardown of the 13 inch model.

It’s also worth noting that Apple dropped the price on the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro, setting the entry points at $999 and $1,299 (with Retina display).

Apple desktops

Apple’s love for 802.11ac didn’t end with the refreshes of the Macbook lines. Apple also updated the iMac line, introducing performance enhancements such as updated graphics, faster storage, and yes, 3×3 802.11ac at up to a maximum theoretical data rate of 1.3 Gps. The upgraded WiFi is available on the 21.5 inch and 27 inch models and shown in the iFixit teardown of the 21.5 inch model.


Android and the Nexus 5

The spotlight on devices doesn’t shine only on Apple. Google just released their flagship Android phone, the Nexus 5. The hardware is luxuriously high end, with a large 1080p display and plenty of RAM, and the WiFi is no exception as it includes 802.11ac (1×1, single stream). Once again, the iFixit teardown reveals the juicy details.

It’s exciting to see more and more clients support 802.11ac, especially flagship models like the Nexus 5 and Apple Macbook Pro. Want to find out more about 802.11ac? Sign up for our webinar to learn about growing your network with 802.11ac.