Wireless network performance
First, let's take a look at the apartment that was used in our testing and how it is set up. You can see that the router is placed in the living room. With most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that great in rooms like the Kitchen and the Medium balcony.
Our testing was done using a fast 1 Gigabit internet connection that is capable of uploads on the internet of up to 500 Mbps. We used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for all our measurements and several software tools. To get a better perspective of the performance offered by Tenda AC9 AC1200, we compared it with other AC1200 routers: Edimax BR-6478AC V2 AC1200, D-Link DIR-820L and ASUS RT-AC1200G+.
We first evaluated the wireless network that is broadcast on the 2.4 GHz frequency and we looked at the signal strength, with a tool named inSSIDer. As you can see, the signal strength offered by Tenda AC9 AC1200 tends to be the same or better than that of its competitors, depending on the room.
Then, we used SpeedTest to measure how fast the internet connection offered by this router is. In the download test, Tenda AC9 was the fastest in all rooms.
The same was true when looking at the upload speed.
Continuing our measurements on the 2.4 GHz wireless network, we used the PassMark Performance test to transfer data between two computers connected to the network. Again, Tenda AC9 was the fastest AC1200 router that we tested so far.
The same was true when measuring the upload speed over the 2.4 GHz wireless network.
The 2.4 GHz wireless network that is broadcast by Tenda AC9 can be very fast if you don't have a large number of devices using it simultaneously.
Next, we analyzed the performance offered by the 5GHz wireless network. We started with the signal strength. As you can see below, the signal offered by Tenda AC9 on this frequency is very similar to that of other AC1200 routers.
We ran SpeedTest to see how fast the internet connection can be on the Tenda AC9. This time, it was a neck in neck race with ASUS RT-AC1200G+. In some rooms, ASUS RT-AC1200G+ was fastest, while in others Tenda AC9 was the winner.
When it comes to the upload speed though, Tenda AC9 tended to be the fastest in the rooms closest to to the router while ASUS RT-AC1200G+ was the fastest in the rooms further from the router.
For the last measurements on the 5GHz wireless network, we used the PassMark Performance test to transfer data between two computers connected to the network. Again, it was a tight race for the top spot between Tenda AC9 and ASUS RT-AC1200G+.
The same was true for the upload speed.
The 5GHz wireless network that is broadcast by Tenda AC9 is very fast for an AC1200 router. This router is one of the fastest affordable routers that you can buy.
Wired network performance
In order to test the quality of the wired Ethernet connection, we used a desktop PC, equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD, and a Lenovo Ideacentre 610s mini PC.
We first wanted to see how fast the internet connection can be when using an Ethernet cable. As you can see, we reached a maximum 842.33 Mbps for the download and of 517.72 Mbps for the upload.
The reason why the routers we compared it to delivered less than 200 Mbps for the upload speed is that, when we tested them, 200 Mbps was the limit from our internet service provider. In the meantime they upgraded the internet connection speed to reach 500 Mbps for the upload.
Then, we ran a network transfer between the two computers, using the PassMark Performance test. You can see that Tenda AC9 delivers real 1 Gbps network connections when using Ethernet cable.
For the last test, we tested an external hard disk to the Tenda AC9 using the only USB 2.0 port on the router and transferred some files to and from the hard disk. As you can see, the USB 2.0 port delivers a maximum download speed of 116.12 Mbps and an upload speed of only 21 Mbps.
The Ethernet connections offered by Tenda AC9 are very fast while the USB 2.0 is quite slow and it shows its limitations for modern day standards.
Tenda AC9 offers several additional features alongside plain networking:
Guest Network - you can enable two guest networks: one for each wireless frequency. One important issue is that you cannot isolate guests from the rest of your network.
Parental Control - a very basic service that allows you to set time limits for accessing the internet and a manual blacklist for websites that are banned for children.
WiFi Schedule - you can set a daily schedule for when the broadcasting of the wireless network is turned off.
VPN Server - you can set the router to work as a VPN server, using the PPTP protocol.
Bandwidth Control - a basic feature for setting download and upload limits for each device in your network. While it is not difficult to configure, it is no match to the QoS (Quality of Service) feature that you find on routers from other brands.
USB applications - useful for sharing an external hard disk or a printer with the network.
DDNS - a service that allows you to connect to the router from the internet, even if your internet provider gives you a dynamic public IP address.
IPTV - a service for connecting set-top boxes to the router and the network, through a dedicated port
Some of the extra features offered by Tenda AC9 are useful but not as polished as those offered by routers from other brands.
What is the Tenda AC9 AC1200 good at?
Tenda AC9 AC1200 is good only for users who do not need advanced networking features and who want a fast wireless network, at a very affordable price, for a small number of devices.
Pros and cons
Tenda AC9 AC1200 has the following strengths:
- It has a low price that makes it affordable to for most people
- It delivers very fast wireless connections as long as you do not connect too many devices and you do not make too many concurrent transfers
- The Tenda WiFi mobile app is responsive and easy to use
- It is a good looking router
Unfortunately, there are many important downsides to using this router:
- The firmware and the mobile app do not meet modern expectations regarding security
- The multi-lingual support is poor and a few English translations are missing
- The user interface for administering this device is very rough, with many typos and mistakes
- There is no Help available in the admin user interface
- If you download something like a large game using an Ethernet connection, your wireless network stops working
- Tenda AC9 AC1200 lacks a basic QoS (Quality of Service) that would have offered a better quality connection when multiple devices request lots of data at once
- It offers only USB 2.0
- You cannot mount it on walls
Tenda AC9 AC1200 has a very affordable price and this is its main selling point. Also, the speed you get is very good, as long as you do not connect too many devices and you do not make many simultaneous transfers from different devices. It is a good choice for those who value price above anything else and have small apartments with a low number of devices. However, this router is also very "rough" when it comes to its firmware, multi-lingual support and the security that it offers. Other brands tend to offer better quality firmware, software and security for their routers.