It's been quite awhile since we last brought you a good look at anything having to do with a networking component but we're working hard to change that. Today we'll be sharing our thoughts and feelings on TRENDnet's newest wireless router, the TEW-633GR, which promises to bring blazing-fast, next-generation Draft-N (802.11n draft 2.0) transmission speeds (up to 300Mbps), along with advanced encryption and security protocols to your home or small office network - all while providing the range and reliability you've come to expect from a premium component.


According to the latest marketing hype, wireless Draft-N specifications boast nearly 15x the speed of wireless G (802.11g) networks and about 4x the coverage area. It's important that potential consumers realize these quoted values are theoretical maximums and typically will not be reached by the hardware. Each vendor has a rather significant impact on just how well their units perform based upon hardware design, component choice, and firmware. For that very reason, we've decided to complete some rather straightforward testing that accurately summarizes a few real-life usage scenarios.

Because a router provides such crucial functionality, it's vitally important to choose one that's a proper match for the network of interest - being central to the entire network topology means that there's a high potential for it to quickly become the traffic bottleneck when high demands are placed on the network. For instance, installing a router without an integrated Gigabit switch would be rather silly if there were attached components able to make use of faster link speeds. At the same time, paying for additional functionality that would go unused would be particularly wasteful from an economics perspective.


Many buyers may find themselves wondering if there's any real benefit to be had in spending the time and money swapping out their current wireless/wired router for a newer Draft N model. The answer really depends on whether or not their current solution makes full use of the available bandwidth. Those that find themselves transferring large amounts of data from one system to another - either through network attached storage (NAS) devices, data archival/backup, or streaming audio and/or video (especially HD) content to one or more Home Theater PCs (HTPC) - are more than likely stretching their network to the limit. Users that primarily surf the internet, send the occasional email, and occasionally play online games with their friends might be surprised to hear their network is relatively underutilized and is not in need of an immediate upgrade.

For the majority of users, a router's main purpose is to join two distinct subnets via an internal network and the internet-connected subnet access provided by your ISP. Another major function is to provide a primary layer of security, often referred to as a firewall, in which incoming and outgoing traffic is inspected and then either rejected or allowed pass to and from the underlying networks.

With nearly a dozen companies all competing for your dollar it's no wonder choosing the right router can be a daunting task. Although we won't be going through every Draft-N router on the market today, you should have a pretty good idea of what features to look for by the end of this article. We'll be discussing the basic wireless requirements and a few of the more popular secondary functions. Let's take a quick look at the features the TEW-633GR has to offer and its performance.

TEW-633GR General Features
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  • smn198 - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    quote:

    it's important to note that quoted maximum transfer rates are just that - maximum and not indicative of actual sustained transfer rates under a variety of conditions.

    With the backlash against HDD manufacturers quoting a GB as 1,000,000,000 bytes instead of 1,073,741,824 bytes or maybe more relevantly, broadband speeds not being up to their advertised rates, how long will it be before we see suits against WiFi equipment manufacturers (unless it has already happened and I missed it)?
    Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Sunday, October 28, 2007 - link

    Did someone from the D-link Gaming Router (DGL-4x00) design team get hired by Trendnet? The interface looks extremely similiar as well as the options. Reply
  • rslayer - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    It's great to have throughput numbers, however it would be nice to also get latency information. When using chatty protocols such as SMB/CIFS, the latency of a network has a huge impact on the actual bandwidth. This also brings up the fact that while you describe the direction the files were transferred, you didn't describe what protocol was used to make that transfer. If you are using SMB/CIFS, then you might want to try using HTTP to get real bandwidth numbers. Reply
  • legoman666 - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    While I agree that latency is important over wireless, why would you want to use HTTP to transfer large files over the network? When you want to copy 4gb from 1 computer to another computer on the network, do you fire up Apache and HTTP it over or do you use windows file sharing (Samba?). Or maybe you'd use FTP, but either way, why on earth would you use HTTP? Reply
  • eek2121 - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    SMB is not an efficient protocol. It was designed for 10 Mbps networks. SMB 2.0 is out now with vista, but you have to be transferring to other SMB 2.0 computers. Therefore copying files over LAN is not a good way to measure throughput, hence why they should use HTTP or FTP. Reply
  • siberus - Friday, October 26, 2007 - link

    I wonder how much abuse this router can handle. I go through routers so fast. My general outlook on routers is terribly pessimistic. I'm on a 3 person network. I don't do anything too fancy just surf,game and BT the other two users just surf. I've tried multiple Brands and even bought some expensive models hoping I would "get what I paid for" but they've all been disappointing. My current linksys is already starting to bite the bullet but it's lasted almost a year which is better then the previous 4 routers. I really don't care about performance anymore reliability is way more important. My experience with wireless is even worse. Each new wireless router I get seems to be getting less and less range. I thought the Belkin N1 would be able to get at least some acceptable speed all the way up in my room but I couldn't even get a connection so I switched back to the linksys that im using now. Best range I've had so far was with D-Links Gamerlounge and after a few months that router just stopped being able to hold a connection. (the msn reconnecting sound drove me insane >.>)I've disabled wireless all together and opted to just use an Asoka plug to get stable connection in my room. Reply
  • notposting - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    The best solution is to roll your own router, I use a P3-450 with 128MB booting off CF card (CF->IDE adapter). A friend uses a headless P3 laptop. Even a Pentium 100 w/16 MB would be sufficient though, honestly.

    Then you just use the wireless device as an AP, which they should be able to handle--no NAT translation or firewall duties at that point. I have a crappy Motorola router--range sucks but I live in an apartment and it's stable now that it's just in AP mode.

    Check out http://www.brazilfw.com.br">http://www.brazilfw.com.br -- it's basically a descendant of Coyote firewall. 2.30.1 is the last version that you can cram onto a floppy and boot.
    Reply
  • bob4432 - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    i am still using a linksys wrt54g ver 2 running v4.30.1, HyperWRT 2.1b1 +tofu13c firmware. i have had this router nearly 2yrs and its longest uptime was ~450days (current uptime is 49days - i had to change my computer room set up and it was on the battery too long as i forgot about it), it is on a ups and runs 4-5 computers w/ 1 being on 24/7 w/ ftp, http w/ never a hiccup. w/ the 3rd party firmware you can up the power on this particular unit allowing for good coverage of our condo, both inside and outside w/ decent speeds (for a 'g' router).

    atm if this one died i would grab another one and see how it worked out, that sucks you are having such issues w/ your equipment :(
    Reply
  • Foxy1 - Friday, October 26, 2007 - link

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    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    Sorry - "Karen" (that's me now, I guess) was out of town attending some meetings for a few days. I don't know that the article was any less valid, but I did make a few grammar/typo/whatever changes. I can state that personally, running one of the earlier Draft-N products, I will be very interested to hear which WiFi 802.11.n routers are best.

    Right now, all I can say for sure is that I would *not* recommend the NETGEAR RangeMax Next WNR834M. When it works, it's quite decent. However, I get periodic crashes, sometimes the WiFi network "disappears" (requiring a router reboot), and other oddities. I have a lot of (too many!) wireless devices (using different chipsets) and the drop-outs are irritating to say the least. Running a high-traffic BitTorrent client usually crashes the NETGEAR within a couple hours. And it doesn't have Gigabit Ethernet either, so I have to have a separate switch. At least the wired network doesn't crash.
    Reply

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