Thanks Sal for posting in the forums. (I’ve been talking on and off to Sal for a few days now but thought the community might be able to weigh in on the conversation of which is best...)
Regarding your question regarding the routers...to be honest, I really consider the Cisco, Netgear, and Asus to be in the top three of the AC routers...you could probably throw in the Buffalo as well. Depending on what you are looking for each one of these models has their advantages.
When answering the “which is best?” question, I always start off by asking: Do you have any AC devices - or plan on getting any? How many legacy devices do you have in your network? B? G? N? How much do you care about USB/NAS capabilities? Are you interested in "custom" GUIs like dd-WRT?
I tend to like the Netgear GUI because I’ve personally used Netgear for so long. I know where everything is and I do a bunch of port forwarding. I'm telling you, some people HATE certain GUI's even though the functionality is identical to a competitor. (This is why we try and show the GUI with more than one photo....not sure anyone cares, but that's our rationale!
Many people like the external antenna of the ASUS and want the flexibility to upgrade the antennas. Others think power consumption and cost are the most important things….
...Like I said, it depends. We are pretty consistent with our wi-fi speed tests but also realize that not everything is about speed.
Oh, and I forgot to talk about the Western Digital! We just got the AC one in this past week...haven't looked at it, but if it works like the N900 version, it's another winner. *sigh* too many good choices!
If you are going for purely speed and range, then it really is a toss-up between the Netgear and Cisco. Like we said in our reviews, we do our speed tests at 25-feet through one wall. I’ve found though, our AC speeds don’t change at all when we are at 3-ft, 25-ft, 55-ft (and separated by a different floor!) Nor does it change when we rotate the AC devices or change the orientation (laying flat or sitting upright). We do turn off all of the other Wi-Fi emitters, so if you are in a ‘dirty’ area, your mileage may vary.
My bottom line advice is to try them both out. I think the performance for each is identical so it will come down to which GUI you like the best.
Just a little puppy trying to make it in a big digital world.