Tenda AC9 Dual Band Gigabit 802.11ac WiFi Router [Review]

By - September 2016

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Internet speeds are getting faster and with so many people doing so much more in their homes wirelessly, you can’t just rely on any old WiFi router. You need a WiFi router that can handle the fast speeds, handle the multiple devices that will be connected to it, and above all, be able to have full home coverage for all your devices. Of course for most consumers these days, you also don’t want to pay a ridiculous amount for a new router, but what if there was a WiFi router out there that was inexpensive and had all the latest features and specs? What if I told you that Tenda makes a router called the AC9 that costs under $50, included the latest 802.11ac WiFi standard, and had a ton of what you want in a router?

I’ve gone through my share of wireless routers in the past and in my experience, most of them work fairly well up to a certain range, which in my experience hasn’t been very far. For instance, in my home, I had a WiFi router upstairs and needed a range extender downstairs because it just wouldn’t reach that far. No matter how I positioned my router, I would always find a dead spot somewhere in my home and it would drive me crazy. I was forced to use combinations of range extenders and powerplug extenders to get internet throughout the house and while that worked, I wanted a much simpler solution.

That’s where the Tenda AC9 WiFi router comes in. If you take a look at the Tenda AC9 specs, it’s an impressive list of features that you’d expect to find in a quality WiFi router. Features such as 802.11ac, dual band wireless, high-gain antennas, and more. That all sounds well and good, but a spec sheet means nothing if it doesn’t perform as promised. So does the Tenda AC9 live up to its stated features? Let’s find out.

Features

  • 1200 Mbps 802.11AC Wireless
  • Dual Band Wireless
  • 2 High-gain Antennas with beamforming
  • Covers whole home, including hard to reach areas
  • 4 Gigabit LAN, 1 Gigabit WAN
  • USB 2.0 Port for printer and file sharing
  • Broadcom ARM Cortex-A7 900 Mhz CPU and 128MB DDR memory
  • Parental Control (web blacklist and whitelist)
  • VPN Client and Server
  • WiFi can automatically turn on and off at scheduled times
  • Smart Management via Tenda App
  • Power saving features, including LED controltenda_02

Home Coverage

I live in a two story, single family townhouse. In the past as I stated above, I’ve never really been able to get full home coverage from my WiFi routers. There’s always some area that’s a dead spot and no amount of positioning would fix that. With that said, I needed a router that would allow for extended range, be dual band to minimize interference, and could handle a 1gb connection. The Tenda AC9 certainly seemed like it checked all the right boxes as it had both 2.4 and 5.0ghz bands, high gain, beamforming antennas, and 1200 Mbps 802.11AC wireless connections.

Setup

I remember routers being pretty darn difficult to setup back in the days but these new routers couldn’t be simpler. For the most part, all you need to do for the Tenda AC9 is just to plug in the power and cable it up to your existing modem. It’ll pretty much work straight out of the box like that. There is a default username and password associated with the router that you can use as it is password protected when you try to connect to it.

With that said, it’s probably a good idea to change the default password or even the default SSID associated with it to something more custom and that can easily be done by downloading the Tenda app on either the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. This app will allow you to log into the router and change various settings without needing to have it connected to a computer.

Aside from changing the SSID and password, the Tenda app can also do the following:

  • Parental Controls
  • Initialization configuration: configure connection type and WiFi password
  • Connection status: check upload/download bandwidth, and run error diagnosis
  • Change WiFi settings
  • Check the upload/download speed of online devices
  • Add to blacklist
  • Limit the attached devices’ bandwidth
  • Limit the Internet access time
  • Limit the accessible websites
  • Change the router’s login password, and connection type
  • Reset or reboot the router

Like most routers, you will need to be connected to the actual router to change any of the settings.

Another really useful feature the Tenda AC9 has that I figured deserved its own focus is that of guest logins. You can set up a guest SSID and password for both the 2.4 and 5.0ghz band. This is really useful if you don’t want guests having access to your actual WiFi credentials but still want them to have access. This allows you to limit what guest logins can do and also turn it off when need be without affecting your main SSID. I even hide the main SSID’s so no one can see them and can only see the guest ones.

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Actual Usage

While the Tenda AC9 has tons of additional features like USB printer sharing, FTP server capabilities, VPN server capabilities, and Tenda Cloud, I really have no use for most of that. It’s great that those features are there for when I might eventually use them in the future, but for now, my uses for the Tenda AC9 are pretty basic.

Again, installation was a breeze and the only thing I did with the settings was change the password and setup a guest login account.

For my tests, I used a combination of both the 2.4ghz and the 5ghz connections based on the devices I needed to connect. With all my smartphones and tablets, these were connected via the 5ghz connection. I have the Tenda AC9 centrally located now in my kitchen and moving all around the house, I was getting a full signal throughout. Even at the furthest reaches upstairs or in the garage, I was getting very good signal with maybe a drop of 1 bar. Speed tests show consistent speeds even at range and I never had a problem with the connection. Web pages would still load instantly as did video streams from Youtube and Netflix.

For the 2.4ghz connection, I used this for some items that don’t support 5.0ghz like my PS3, PS4, my DirecTV receiver, and my desktop computer. Again, my PS4 connected like a champ and was getting much faster speeds now via WiFi than I ever did with my old Powerline adapter setup and same goes for the PS3 that I had connected upstairs. I desktop also saw similar speed improvements after switching to WiFi.

With the Tenda AC9, I also don’t have to run a second wireless router anymore for my guests to connect to because like I said above, I can create guest logins now that are completely separate from my regular logins.

Final Thoughts

Should you get a Tenda Ac9? Well, if you’re in the market for a new dual-band router that is both affordable and good, you may want to give the Tenda AC9 a look. For me at least, setup was super easy and I was up and ready within a few minutes. The mobile Tenda app makes it super easy to setup and is less daunting than the traditional method of looking into your router via an IP address.

I found WiFi coverage on the Tenda AC9 to be exceptional in my home with access all over. I never once had trouble connecting to it. Speeds also stayed pretty consistent throughout. .

Overall, I couldn’t really find anything not to like about the Tenda AC9. It works as advertised (for the features I used) and as a bonus, it’s pretty good looking where it’s not an eyesore if you have it out in the open.

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Samuel Huang is an avid gamer and all around tech geek. When not glued to his computer or iPhone, he can be seen pwning n00bs on PSN nightly. On occasion, he has the crazy dream of owning a vintage JDM Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R or a Datsun 240Z.