|At a glance|
|Product||ARRIS SURFboard Wireless Network Extender with RipCurrent (SBX-AC1200P) [Website]|
|Summary||G.hn powerline adapter based on Marvell G.hn chipset with built-in AC1200 access point.|
|Pros||• Can coexist with HomePlug|
• Web-based administration
• Doesn't block second outlet in a duplex
• Can be configured as a full-featured wireless-only router
|Cons||• Can't interoperate with HomePlug|
Wi-Fi network extension seems to be the hot topic these days in the home networking world. "Mesh" wireless makers (eero, Luma, Ubiquti Amplifi) are trying to convince us that we don't need no steenking cables to light up our homes' Wi-Fi deadspots. But other manufacturers are turning to alternative wired techniques to form the backhaul connection between additional access points and central router.
In February, we looked at the R7300DST Nighthawk DST Router & DST Adapter solution NETGEAR put together for Best Buy that uses HomePlug AV2 to connect the router and wall-plugged access point. Although it managed to deliver noticeably improved Wi-Fi bandwidth on both 2.4 and 5 GHz through the DST adapter, top throughput was limited by the 1x1 radios in the DST adapter.
In contrast, Arris has chosen G.hn powerline tech for its RipCurrent line and endowed the SBX-AC1200P adapter we're reviewing today with a simultaneous dual-band 2x2 AC1200 class access point. So if G.hn doesn't get in the way, the SBX-AC1200P should outperform NETGEAR's DST.
Arris SURFboard RipCurrent Family
As the family photo above shows, the SBX-AC1200P looks like a bulked-up SBX-1000P, measuring a little more than 4.5" in diameter and 2.25" thick, not counting its three-prong AC plug. The photo below shows the SBX-AC1200P won't block the top outlet in a standard U.S. duplex outlet.
Arris SBX-AC1200P plugged in
The callout diagram below shows the indicators and location of the switches and Gigabit Ethernet jack.
Arris SBX-AC1200P callouts
And here's the LED decoder table taken from the User Manual.
Arris SBX-AC1200P LEDs
Like the SBX-1000P, the adapter ran warm to the touch and doesn't appear to have a power-save mode.
Since the SBX-AC1200P has Wi-Fi inside, FCC photos were available. The composite photo below shows the first stages of disassembly, with a good look at the significant heatsink sitting atop the main board. The design splits circuitry between AC power and main boards.
Arris SBX-AC1200P inside
The next photo shows the main board components, albeit too fuzzy for good identification. Fortunately, other photos provided good looks at most components, which are summarized in Table 1 and compared to those in NETGEAR's DST6501 adapter
Arris SBX-AC1200P inside
Both designs use a Broadcom BCM47189 Wi-Fi SoC at their core. But there is a difference between the B0 version used in the Arris and A1 version used in the NETGEAR. The B0 appears to support 2x2 operation, while the A1 is only 1x1. The Arris adapter also has a separate Broadcom BCM43217 2.4 GHz radio.
The G.hn chipset is the Marvell 88LX3142 / 88LX2718 combo we've seen in the other Arris RipCurrent products and Comtrend's PG-9172 G.hn Powerline Adapter. Note it has its own dedicated RAM and Flash while the NETGEAR's HomePlug AV2 based design does not
|Arris SBX-AC1200P||NETGEAR DST6501|
2x2 dual-band WiFi SoC with CPU, FE switch and US
2x2/1+1 5G WiFi SoC with CPU, FE switch and USB
Broadcom BCM43217 2x2 802.11bgn radio SoC
5 GHz: In Broadcom BCM47189B0KRFBG
|2.4 GHz: In Broadcom BCM47189A1KRFBG
5 GHz: In Broadcom BCM47189A1KRFBG
|Powerline||- Marvell 88LX3142 G.hn digital baseband processor
- Marvell 88LX2718 G.hn analog front-end
8 MB RAM
8 MB Flash
|- Broadcom BCM60335 HomePlug AV2 SISO 750 Mbps PHY rate
- Broadcom B50212E
|RAM||128 MB||128 MB Winbond W631GG6KB-15|
|Flash||128 MB||8 MB Winbond W25Q64CV|
Table 1: Key Component Summary
The gallery has more photos of the SBX-AC1200P's innards.