Zyxel NBG6503 review

Price when reviewed

The ZyXEL NBG6503 is as cheap as 802.11ac routers get right now. At a mere £39, this cable router is a fraction of the price of anything else we’ve tested recently.

It’s great to see the latest wireless technology at such a good price, but it comes at a cost: the NBG6503 provides the bare minimum of features.

We like the fact that it has external, adjustable antennas, but there are only two of them, supporting 2×2 spatial streams – and that places a limit on the router’s top performance.

In fact, in terms of maximum link speeds, the NBG6503 is the slowest 802.11ac router we’ve reviewed, rated at 300Mbits/sec for 2.4GHz 802.11n connections and 433Mbits/sec for 5GHz 802.11n and 802.11ac connections.

Zyxel NBG6503

Physical ports are limited, too. This router has no USB port, so you can’t share a thumbdrive, hard disk or printer over the network, and the network ports on the rear are also limited to 10/100 Ethernet.

The latter is the key restriction here, since it places a hard limit on the speeds the NBG6503 can hit. Thus, in our close-range wireless testing, transfer rates never rose above 11.6MB/sec, while other 2×2 stream routers we’ve tested recently delivered faster speeds.

This limitation is felt even in our long-range testing at 30m, with speed over 802.11ac once again topping out at 11.6MB/sec. In other tests, speed at range was even less impressive, with 2.4GHz 802.11n speeds to our PC averaging 7.2MB/sec, and rates dropping further to 3.6MB/sec and 2.3MB/sec to our iPad Air over 5GHz and 2.4GHz connections.

Zyxel NBG6503

Overall, this ZyXEL is the slowest 802.11ac router we’ve seen; the only router to present worse long-range performance is TalkTalk’s Super Router.

The ZyXEL NBG6503 is temptingly priced, but it’s sorely lacking when it comes to core hardware capabilities; frankly, we’d rather buy an 802.11n router with Gigabit than an 802.11ac unit without.


WiFi standard 802.11ac
Modem type Cable

Wireless standards

802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes

LAN ports

Gigabit LAN ports 0
10/100 LAN ports 4


Interior antennae 0
Exterior antennae 2


WEP support yes
WPA support yes
WPA Enterprise support no
WPS (wireless protected setup) yes


Dimensions 157 x 140 x 103mm (WDH)

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