The true dual-band My Net AC1300 HD router completes WD's Networking portfolio, filling in the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard slot that's been left open since WD entered the networking market in June, and enabling WD to rank among major networking vendors.
And that's about the biggest accomplishment of this router. In my testing, it proved to be just another 802.11ac-enabled router for the most part, rivaling a handful of its existing peers, such as the Netgear R6300, the Asus RT-AC66u, and the D-Link DIR-865L, but not offering anything else of note. The My Net AC1300 HD basically performed as expected, offering decent data rates and range. Being a high-end router, it does have a few notable features, including a well-organized user interface, comprehensive parental controls, and an effective customized QoS feature called FastTrack. But these have been available in previous models of the My Net family, such as the already-reviewed WD My Net N900 HD.
That said, if you're looking for a well-designed, high-end router that supports all existing Wi-Fi clients and is also future-proof, even at the relatively expensive price of $190, the My Net AC1300 HD makes a decent choice. Hopefully the price will come down soon as 802.11ac becomes more popular. In the meantime, you should also check out the Asus RT-AC66u or the Netgear R6300. Note that, since there are currently no 802.11ac hardware clients, for now, the My Net AC1300 HD, as well as other 802.11ac routers, is about as good as an N900 router for most situations.
Design and ease of use
The My Net AC1300 HD looks almost exactly the same as the My Net N900 HD except it's now slightly more compact. This is because while the N900 HD comes with seven gigabit LAN ports, the new AC1300 HD has just four, rather standard for most routers. Since it's not that much smaller, I find this more of a downgrade, especially since it costs about $50 more than the N900 HD.
Physically, the lack of extra LAN ports is about the only difference between the two routers. The number of LAN ports determines how many wired networking devices (such as desktop computers or a printers) you can use with the router before having to resort to getting a switch or a hub.
All of the My Net AC1300 HD's ports are on its back, where you'll also find a gigabit WAN port, a reset button, an on/off switch, the power connector, and two USB 2.0 ports. These USB ports can be used to host external storage devices or printers.
On the front the router has four small LEDs that show the status of the router's power, wireless network, Internet connection, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), the button for which is also on the front. WPS lets you quickly connect a WPS-enabled client to the network simply by pressing the button on the router and then on the device within two minutes.
On the bottom the router has four large rubber feet to help it stay put on any surface; unlike the My Net N900 HD, the My Net AC1300, is not wall-mountable.
In all, the new My Net AC1300 HD looks like a trimmed down version of the My Net N900 HD. And the two routers share a similar setup process, which is very easy.
First you connect the router to the power, then connect its WAN port to your broadband modem and one of its LAN ports to a computer using network cables. After that, from the connected computer, launch the Web browser and you'll be greeted with a Web-based wizard that walks you through the rest of the short setup process. (Later on, you can always go back to its Web interface to further customize the router's settings by pointing a browser to http://wdrouter or http://192.168.1.1, and log in with the default log-in credentials admin and password.)
Similar to other My Net routers, the AC1300's Web interface is very organized, responsive and friendly to mobile devices. When opened from a mobile browser, the interface looks somewhat like a native app. This allows users to actually use a phone or tablet to handle the managing and customizing the router's features and settings.
The My Net AC1300 HD router is a true dual-band router that offers Wi-Fi signals on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands at the same time. For existing Wi-Fi devices, the router offers a connection speed of up to 450Mbps on each of its bands, making it effectively an N900 router. (To find out more about Wi-Fi and networking basics, check out this post.) However, if you happen to have a device that's compatible with the new 802.11ac standard, which only works on the 5Ghz band, you'll be able to also enjoy a wireless speed of up to 1.3Gbps. In real-world usage, the actual connection speeds tend to be much lower than the speed caps above, and vary a great deal depending on the range, environment, and the Wi-Fi standard used by connected clients.
In addition to 802.11ac support, the other top features of the My Net AC1300 include its FastTrack QoS, the comprehensive parental controls, and the support for external storage devices.