Netgear WNR854T RangeMax NEXT Wireless-N Router - Gigabit Edition - Page 2

By Craig Ellison

October 30, 2006

While it includes port forwarding and port triggering, the included list of pre-defined services is limited. For port forwarding, there are only 12 services defined. And for port triggering, there are no pre-defined services/games included. You have to know the port ranges and triggers for each service in order to set this up.


Port Forwarding/Port Triggering

For best performance with Draft-N products, you’re better off purchasing the corresponding client card from the same manufacturer that produced your router. For our tests, we tested with a pair of RangeMax NEXT Wireless N Notebook Adapters (model WN511T). As with the router, we were pleasantly surprised that the setup checked for an update and gave us the option of installing the download rather than installing from a CD. Of course, for this option to work, you have to have an Internet connection when you run the setup wizard. The setup wizard gives you the option of using the built-in Windows wireless client, or installing Netgear’s Smart Wizard Wireless Assistant. We chose to install the Netgear client, and were also pleasantly surprised. The tabbed interface is easy to use. Displayed across the bottom of the interface in all four tabbed pages is your current status, showing signal strength, link speed, security, attached network name and Internet connection status.


Static status bar shown on all four tabbed pages of the client

The Settings tab shows your current profile. The Network Tab displays wireless networks discovered, along with their operating channel, mode, signal strength and encryption type. You can sort on any column by clicking on the column heading.


Networks Discovered

The Statistics tab displays detailed information about packets sent and received, along with a graphical representation of current performance and a graph of performance over time. In the image below, traffic was being streamed between two nearby wireless notebooks through the router. Note the 100% performance.


Smart Wizard Statistics


Performance

Of course, performance is why you’d purchase a Draft-N product. We tested the Netgear WNR854T using the exact same testing methodology and test environment as when we tested the D-Link RangeBooster 650N. Using Iperf, we streamed data between two notebooks with the WN511T client cards installed. Both the router and the cards were updated with the latest firmware available as of October 18, 2006.

I tested in a typical home environment (mine). Before testing, I did a site survey and discovered five nearby wireless networks, including one with 100% signal strength on channel 11. To minimize interference, I re-configured the WNR854N to operate on channel 1.

I created four test scenarios, and for each one, ran performance tests a number of times. The results below are the average throughput for each test scenario.

Test

Throughput

(Room/Test #)

(Mbps)

Same room (1)

93.7

Bedroom (2)

48.1

Living Room (3)

68.5

Kitchen (4)

22.6

Test One  --  Both notebooks in the same room as the router. The router was over six feet away from the notebooks. Result: 93.7 Mbps
Test Two  --  One notebook was in the same room as the router. The second notebook was moved to a bedroom over 19 feet away. There was one wall between the router and the client. Result: 48.1 Mbps
Test Three  --  One notebook was in the same room as the router. The second notebook was moved to the living room downstairs. Result: 68.5 Mbps
Test Four  --  One notebook in the same room as the router. The second notebook was moved to the kitchen directly below the location in test two. Result: 22.6 Mbps

For those of you who are statistically inclined, the standard deviation of the test results ranged from a low of 0.9 (same room) to a high of 3.1 (living room).

For the “same room” test, the performance was significantly faster than D-Link’s same room test which clocked in at 62.8 Mbps. Interestingly, on the bedroom test  --  the second nearest location with a one-wall obstruction  --  throughput dropped to 48.1 Mbps as compared to D-Link’s 56.0 Mbps. On the living room test, which has a fairly unobstructed path to the router, the Netgear outperformed the D-Link 68.5 Mbps versus 49.3Mbps. But on the final test, the Kitchen, which has multiple walls and a floor obstruction, the D-Link outperformed the Netgear by more than 50%.

Empirically, it appears that the Netgear turns in blazing speed when there are relatively few obstructions, but the D-Link outperforms when there are obstructions. Of course, it’s almost impossible to determine whether or not that’s caused by Netgear’s internal antenna design.


Bottom Line

Overall, the WNR854T turned in outstanding performance in unobstructed tests, and good performance, but not as good as D-Link’s, in tests with obstructions. However, I was disappointed by the router’s lack of advanced features as compared to D-Link’s. The WNR854T lacks configuration for QoS, has support for only one DDNS provider, and port forward/port triggering options are sparsely populated. For many, those advanced features don’t mean much  --  what they want is speed. And with gigabit LAN ports and a top measured throughput of 93.7 Mbps, the WNR854T delivers.

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