Feature Set and Options: Draft N Routers

Draft N Routers - Features
NetGear
WNR834B
Linksys
WRT300N
Belkin
N1
Chipset: Broadcom Intensi-fi Broadcom Intensi-fi Atheros XSpan
Maximum Data Transfer Rate: 270 Mbps 270 Mbps 300 Mbps
Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz 2.4GHz 2.4GHz
Network Connectivity Protocol: Ethernet
Fast Ethernet (10/100)
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.11g
IEEE 802.11n Draft 1.0
Ethernet
Fast Ethernet (10/100)
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.11g
IEEE 802.11n Draft 1.0
Ethernet
Fast Ethernet (10/100)
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.11g
IEEE 802.11n Draft 1.0
Router Features: NAT Support
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
MAC Address Filtering
UPnP
DHCP Support
DMZ and VPN Passthrough
Dynamic DNS
Firmware Upgradeable
Browser Based Management
NAT Support
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
MAC Address Filtering
UPnP
QoS
DHCP Support
DMZ and VPN Passthrough
Dynamic DNS
Firmware Upgradeable
Browser Based Management
NAT Support
Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
MAC Address Filtering
UPnP
QoS
DHCP Support
DMZ and VPN Passthrough
Dynamic DNS
Firmware Upgradeable
Browser Based Management
Network Security Protocol: WEP 64/128 bit
WPA-PSK
WPA2-PSK
WEP 64/128 bit
WPA-PSK
WPA2-PSK
WEP - Radius
WPA/WPA2-Enterprise + (Radius)
WEP 64/128 bit
WPA-PSK
WPA2-PSK
WPA+WPA2 PSK
WPA2-Enterprise + (Radius)
Fast Ethernet Connections: 4 4 4
WAN Connections: 1 1 1
Operating System Support: Windows 98SE/ME/NT/2000/XP
Linux
MacOS 8/9x
MacOS X 10.x
UNIX
Novell Netware
Windows 2000 or XP Windows 98SE/ME/NT/2000/XP
Linux
MacOS 8/9x
MacOS X 10.x
Power Adapter: External A/C External A/C External A/C
Warranty: Linited 1 year Limited 3 years Limited Lifetime
Matching Wireless PC Card: WN511B WPC300N N1
Router Firmware: 1.0.2.4 0.93.3 1.01.23

The products that we are testing today are based on the Broadcom Intensi-fi (Linksys/NETGEAR) and Atheros XSpan (Belkin) chipsets. We will be testing other Draft N routers in the near future including the Buffalo AirStation Nfiniti based on the Broadcom Intensi-fi chipset along with the NETGEAR RangeMax Next Gigabit Edition (WNR854T) that sports the Marvell TopDog chipset. We just received the D-Link RangeBooster N 650 router that also carries the Atheros XSpan chipset we found in the Belkin N1.

In our initial testing we have found that our Draft N equipment at times does not interoperate with each other at full speeds or fails to connect at all due to the differing chipsets utilized by the suppliers. While we will be fully exploring this issue in our follow-up article it is also disconcerting that you can purchase different Draft N chipsets from the same vendor.

As an example, NETGEAR, offers a total of three RangeMax Next Wireless Routers. We are testing the WNR834B based on Broadcom's Intensi-fi chipset; the recently released WNR834M and WNR854T routers use Marvell's TopDog chipset. To make matters worse the RangeMax Next Gigabit Edition PC Card (WN511T) is TopDog based and our RangeMax Next PC Card (WN511B) uses the Broadcom Intensi-fi chipset.

These varying selections can be very confusing to the customer when purchasing NETGEAR Draft N equipment. Although each box is labeled with the proper chipset logos to match products it is not the ideal way to market this product to consumers who might not know the difference. We are expecting new firmware from NETGEAR shortly to fix several compatibility issues between their respective products.

While all of the routers supported the vast majority of connectivity and security protocols we did not find one difference that will be important to the home user expecting to use their router for streaming media or VoIP operations. All products except the NETGEAR unit fully supported QoS (Quality of Service) technology that helps to ensure consistent streaming media and clear VoIP transmissions by prioritizing multimedia packets on the network. NETGEAR plans to add this capability in future firmware upgrades although it fully supports UPnP which enables peer-to-peer connectivity of networked computers, external storage devices, and even game consoles. The Linksys unit only supports Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP at this time.

Index Belkin N1
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  • buleyb - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    After they got caught with those HTTP redirects in some of their routers in 2003, I really don't trust them. Plenty of good products from the company, but a router...I think not. Only use I see of them is to test the chipset they used... Reply
  • Hypernova - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    It this even legal?! The more I look at it the more it looked like a commerciallised ECM Chaffing weapon. This thing is devastating in an apartment. Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    I'm thinking of getting one just so I can nuke all the other wireless networks in an area. Hell, maybe I can set something up in a car and go cruising around town? Adds new meaning to the term "WAR Driving"! :D

    I <3 Gigabit Ethernet
    Reply
  • lopri - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    BTW it seems like Gary writes all AT articles these days. What's Anand doing? :P
    Reply
  • lopri - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    I wish this article came out like 2 weeks ago. I've just bought 2 Linksys -N routers (future-proof, anyone?): one for home, one for the office. :( The performance has been terrible indeed. My system rather connects to a neighbor's unsecured network due to consistent drop of this Linksys junk. I'm just hoping the neighbor is either ignorant or nice enough to not cut me off the internet. Of course I can't even think of connecting my main rig without worrying disconnects.

    quote:

    In our initial testing we have found that our Draft N equipment at times does not interoperate with each other at full speeds or fails to connect at all due to the differing chipsets utilized by the suppliers.

    This got me a little curious. I'm assuming these different Draft N routers may not communicate at the "N" mode, but they are fully compatible if you select the "G" mode. Are they?

    Talking about 802.11g, it'd be great if AT can test if these Draft N products have any advantage over current 802.11g products. (like G to G vs N to N)

    quote:

    The Linksys unit only supports Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP at this time.

    Works with Vista pre-RC1!
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    quote:

    This got me a little curious. I'm assuming these different Draft N routers may not communicate at the "N" mode, but they are fully compatible if you select the "G" mode. Are they?

    The compatibility is just not there across the (G/N) board yet. We do have new Linksys, NETGEAR, and D-Link routers/cards coming that are suppose to show improvements. If they do, I still think it will be incremental at best. The majority of firmware and driver changes have been for compatibility issues with throughput only increasing a few percent. Our next roundup will be a quick review of the new routers with a more in-depth look at compatibility. I will say at this time that the NETGEAR PC card worked better with the Linksys router than the Linksys PC card did most of the time.

    quote:

    Works with Vista pre-RC1!


    Works with 5536 also. ;-) However, Linksys has not stated official support for Vista yet. :)
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    Is this what 802.11i turned into ? Was supposed to offer a range of up to 50 miles, non line of sights, with speeds up to 50Gbit ( I think) was over a year ago when i read about it in wired magazine . . . Reply
  • buleyb - Thursday, August 31, 2006 - link

    802.11i was the security (WPA2) standard, you're WAY off with that. If you're thinking more like WiMAX (802.16...), then that's the fast wireless at distance, but still not what this article is about... Reply
  • gerf - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    "Fast Ehternet network"

    I'm not concerned, as there were drafts of "G" put out before it was official. If you're so ancy to get "N" then go ahead. At least you'll be funding/encouraging further development.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - link

    Corrected. Reply

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