NETGEAR N600 router review
NETGEAR is one of the market leaders in the SOHO class of network devices. In particular, it ranks first in the production of network NAS storage devices in this segment. Like most companies that produce network devices for offices and home users, NETGEAR provides a wide range of models aimed at various market segments. Note that the products of this company are characterized by an acceptable price, high quality of Assembly, ease of operation, as well as timely technical support.
Before we talk about the main functionality of the router, let’s pay attention to the name of the device — NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router WNDR3800. NETGEAR decided to change the typical wndrxx00 marking for routers and added another “N” designation to the name of all new models. This is how routers with the names N150, N300, N450, N600, N750, and N900 appeared. Initially, it may seem that the numbers after the letter N are nothing more than the usual rebranding of models aimed at increasing sales. But in fact, the last digit represents the theoretical speed of wireless data transmission. How is this — the attentive reader will ask, — because the speed of 900 Mbit / s is currently not achievable over the 802.11 n Protocol? Here the company NETGEAR is a little deceitful: it summarizes the maximum transmission speed for each of the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands.
We can conclude that the new model of NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router is dual-band. As the name suggests, the router also has Gigabit LAN and WAN ports, and the maximum data transfer speed over the wireless network of each band can reach 300 Mbit/s. All this makes it possible to classify the new model as a class of high-performance routers that provide maximum performance for both wired and wireless networks in the SOHO (Small Office Home Office) class. This model belongs to a series of high-performance routers and, accordingly, can work effectively with both office and online gaming applications, providing high data transfer speeds and reliable connection. This model has numerous settings and advanced functionality for organizing Internet access for both wired and wireless clients.
Compared to the previous similar models of this line (WNDR3700v1 and WNDR3700v2), the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit router has a slightly changed case design, including the color of the front panel and the signatures on it. In other respects, they are similar to two drops of water, which is not surprising since the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router in terms of” stuffing ” is a sequential upgrade of the NETGEAR wndr3700v1 router.
We remind readers that the difference between the wndr3700v1 and WNDR3700v2 versions of the router consists only in a more significant amount of memory, increased from 8 to 16 MB, and changed antennas for the 5 GHz band. The new WNDR3800 model features a large amount of memory, which has been increased from 64 to 128 MB. Otherwise, the wndr3700v2 and WNDR3800 routers are identical in hardware “stuffing.” Since this is a further development of the same model, the design of devices is the same.
The display panel, which occupies almost the entire front of the device, has 11 light indicators (Power, 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, USB, WAN, four LAN ports, Wi-Fi, and WPS) that display the current state of the device. When working, the indicators light up in a soft green color, except for the 5 GHz frequency band indicator. Note that when network interfaces are active, the indicators do not blink, which is somewhat unusual, since other similar devices display their activity status in this way.
On the back of the router, there are RJ-45 LAN and WAN ports, a power connector, and a small hole for a hard reboot of the router and resetting to factory settings.
Like most NETGEAR wireless devices, this model does not have external antennas. It uses the MIMO — 2Tx/2Rx technology formula for each of the ranges. On the printed circuit board inside the device case, next to each of the wireless units, there are antennas soldered directly on the Board. If necessary, the user can connect external antennas, for which purpose the Board provides special MMCX connectors, two for each of the wireless controllers.
This model is equipped with a Central MIPS processor Atheros AR7161, operating at a frequency of 680 MHz, a switch RTL8366SR, responsible for the local wired network, and two wireless controllers: Atheros AR9220 (2.4/5 GHz) and AR9223 (2.4 GHz). And although this hardware “filling” is the same as that of the wndr3700v2 router, the versions of the Genie firmware that control them differ markedly.
Next to the router’s WAN port is a USB port that is compatible with the USB 2.0 specification. This allows you to connect various external drives such as flash drives, external hard drives, or printers to the device, thus turning this model into a small network center and network storage. A reminder sticker with important model characteristics (admin username/password, serial number, WAN port MAC address, and other information) is attached to the device’s back.
The NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router supports all common connection types used by Internet service providers: Static IP, DHCP, PPTP, L2TP, PPPoE, PPTP, and L2TP. For each of them, several parameters are activated when you select a connection in the list. The WAN port supports IPv6, for which there is a special “6to4” mode. However, NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router does not support IPv6 routing for local clients — they only work with it over IPv4. In some cases, the built-in auto-detection system can detect and set the necessary settings without the user’s participation. With all networks, the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit router worked without failures and communication interruptions for quite a long time.
The access point built into the router supports all current specifications of wireless data transfer technologies — IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n. The router has two internal antennas for each of the bands, and the maximum data transfer rate for each of them can theoretically reach 300 Mbit/s. Note that the user can set the network operation mode depending on the availability of devices that support outdated protocols.
By default, the router settings have a combined network mode, when the built-in access point works in conjunction with the more outdated 802.11 a/b/g protocols and automatically selects the channel width — 20 or 40 MHz. Note that if you connect wireless clients with adapters that use the old protocols, the channel width will be set to 20 MHz, which will reduce the speed indicators for higher-speed clients. To do this, you can disable access to the wireless point for clients using the old protocols. The router supports disabling each of the radio modules and has many additional settings for each of them.
The built-in access point supports all the latest data encryption technologies for the wireless network — WPA/WPA2/WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK, WEP (64, 128, and 152 bits) and WPS, for which there is a special button on the front panel of the router. The corresponding settings can be entered for each of the access points — 2.4 and 5 GHz. It should also be noted that wireless network encryption using the WEP Protocol is only available if the settings are set to the 802.11 a/b/g mode. This is because the latest 802.11 n Protocol specifications only work with WPA encryption and its further modifications, and WEP encryption is considered unreliable. Unlike many similar devices, in this model, the user can configure guest networks for each of the radio modules. Such networks can have their own names and security settings and can be implemented programmatically. By default, guests only work with the Internet channel and do not have access to the router’s local network, but you can also change this setting.
Especially worth noting is the Clear Channel Selector technology introduced in this model, which was previously used in expensive business-class wireless devices. This function automatically detects when the channel used by the device is overloaded with traffic; that is, it has other networks, such as neighbors, and automatically switches to the less loaded channel. This function is becoming more and more relevant, as the use of 2.4 GHz radio frequencies by various household devices, such as cordless phones, baby monitoring systems, microwave ovens, etc., eventually leads to channel congestion and noise in the air becomes a big problem.
Due to the increase in the number of access points in some “bedroom” areas, all channels can be used by neighbors, which affects the effectiveness of wireless communication for many users. Using the 5 GHz frequency band, which has a larger number of non-overlapping channels with a width of 40 MHz compared to the 2.4 GHz band, will partially solve this problem, but you need to have an end device that supports the specified frequency range.
For external and internal networks and encryption protection, a built-in firewall is used, which allows filtering clients of both wired and wireless networks. Filtering by physical addresses of network cards (MAC addresses) is supported. You can also manually assign IP addresses to MAC addresses by bypassing the DHCP server, making it easier to control unauthorized access if the wireless point is running without encryption.
It is tough to describe all the security and control parameters for this model due to their large number. Many of them are standard for routers of this class. Note that this model supports all standard security and network functions. Among other things, the device supports the ReadySHARE function, which provides access to the connected drive via the router’s local network. Access is provided with different rights (two users: administrator and guest). In addition, the administrator can restrict access to certain folders on the connected device or create their own directories. As shown by preliminary tests for downloading and downloading files over the network, the transfer speed in both directions for the connected drive did not exceed 13 MB/s.
In addition to the ReadySHARE function itself, this model provides its additional implementation — ReadySHARE Cloud, which is similar to the one used in some network drives of this company. It allows you to place USB drive files on the Internet over an encrypted channel. This feature is implemented by creating an encrypted VPN channel to the router from anywhere in the world via the NETGEAR service. Specifically, to provide this functionality, the company bought out Leaf Networks in January 2010, whose main focus was the development of remote encrypted channels. In order to start working with this function, the user needs to install a special program that will then create a virtual Leaf Networks virtual network adapter on the computer (network addresses are allocated 5.x.x.x/8), through which data will be transmitted. As indicated on the box with the device, the ReadySHARE Cloud feature is available to users for free until January 1, 2013.
In addition to accessing files on a USB drive from the outside, the router provides the ability to connect a printer, scanner, or MFP and work with this device from all computers in the local network. This feature is called ReadySHARE Printer in the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router model. Note that this router supports the ability to work via a USB hub, that is, you can connect two or more USB devices to the same port, although this function does not always work.
The NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router model has a new Live Parental Controls functionality compared to previous similar devices. Unlike other similar developments, where all actions for setting up parental control of sites take place on the router, this function allows you to entrust this task to professionals of the well-known OpenDNS service abroad (http://www.opendns.com/). The user can register on the site for free (this is necessary to use the service) and set Internet access settings using a special application that can be downloaded from the NETGEAR website (www.netgear.com/lpc).
All new models of NETGEAR home network devices have an upgraded internal Genie management interface. It should be noted that the company always strives to please the end-user by making it easier for them to work with devices. The new version of the integrated software is convenient and easy to use. The intuitive management interface, where all functions and parameters are assigned their own places, will certainly please users. During testing, the latest version of the router firmware was installed-18.104.22.168 and the latest version of the language interface-22.214.171.124. Note that the ability to load the language interface separately will allow you to quickly and quickly fix translation errors in the future.
To access the management interface, connect the computer to one of the router’s LAN ports when you first turn on the device, and then enter the address in the browser’s address bar https://www.netgear.com/home/products/networking/routerlogincom.html.
Also, by default, the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit Router is configured with a secure wireless network, information about which is placed on the sticker on the cellophane packaging of the router.
Testing the wireless and wired network segments
The router was tested in three stages. At the first stage, the performance of the router itself was evaluated when transmitting data between WAN and LAN segments, at the second stage — between local LAN and WLAN segments (with a laptop and PC), and at the last stage — between wired local clients (LAN and LAN).
Performance testing was performed using a special NetIQ Chariot software version 6.7.for testing, a stand consisting of two PCs and a laptop was equipped. One of the computers was equipped with a d-Link DWA-547 wireless adapter that supports the 802.11 n Protocol (the formula is 3×3:2, meaning the maximum data transfer speed is 300 Mbit / s). The Lenovo IdeaPad y570 laptop has a Broadcom BCM57781 wired adapter and a Broadcom BCM4313 wireless adapter (formula 2×2:1). The ASUS p53e laptop included an Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 wireless adapter (formula 2×2:1) and an Atheros AR8151 Gigabit Ethernet wired adapter. All computers were equipped with a 64-bit version of the Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 operating system.
Test 1. WAN—LAN routing speed (wired segment)
Initially, the router’s bandwidth was measured when transmitting data between the WAN and LAN segments. For this purpose, a PC simulating an external network was connected to the router’s WAN port, and a computer simulating an internal network was connected to the LAN port.
Using the NetIQ Chariot 6.7 software package, TCP traffic was measured between computers connected to the router. For this purpose, scripts were run for 5 minutes, emulating the transfer and receipt of files, respectively. Data transfer was initiated from the internal LAN network to the computer located behind the WAN port. Data transfer from the LAN to the WAN segment was emulated using the Filesndl.scr script (file transfer), and in the opposite direction using the Filercvl.scr script (file retrieval). During testing, the device’s built-in firewall was activated, and all traffic prioritization algorithms based on QOS were disabled.
Test 2. WLAN—LAN routing speed (wireless segment)
At the next stage, the routing speed was estimated when data was transferred between the router’s internal interfaces — wireless and wired. To do this, a PC was connected to the LAN port, and then data was transmitted over the 802.11 n Protocol between it and another PC with a wireless adapter. In another case, a laptop was connected to the router’s built-in access point over the wireless 802.11 n Protocol. In both cases, the routing speed was measured in the same way as in the previous test. Thus, the testing was carried out with a typical laptop using the 802.11 n Protocol and a specialized wireless PCI adapter that provides maximum speed when connected wirelessly.
Test 3. LAN—LAN routing Speed (wired segment)
This test measured the data transfer rate between two local clients of the router connected to its LAN ports. To do this, two computers with Gigabit network adapters were connected to the LAN ports of the router under study. In both cases, the routing speed was measured in the same way as in the previous test.
The results of testing the speed of the interfaces of the NETGEAR N600 Gigabit router wireless router are shown in table 2.
As you can see from the test results, the total routing speed between the LAN and WAN segments in this model is more than 330 Mbit/s. The speed in the first test is very high for such devices and is actually equal to one-third of the maximum allowed speed over a Gigabit network interface. For users connected via high-speed channels to the Internet and home network resources, this means that the router itself will not be a data link bottleneck. This is despite the fact that it provides a full analysis of incoming packets (SPI firewall). In the third test, the routing speed between the LAN and WAN segments was not very high compared to running two computers through a built-in Gigabit switch. In the third test, the rtl8366sr switch built into the router provides an almost Protocol data transfer rate of about 1 Gbit/s. Accordingly, using this model for transmitting data over a Gigabit network, the user can be confident in the high speed of this process.
In the second test, you should note the relatively low data transfer speed when connecting a wireless client over the 802.11 n Protocol (laptop) and an access point built into the router. This is because laptops rarely see an implementation of the 802.11 n Protocol with more than two threads. Therefore, even in theory, the data transfer rate using the formula 2Rx/2Tx in this case will be half as fast as in the case of an adapter with the formula 2×2:2. This assumption is confirmed by the fact that in the second part of this test when using a wireless PCI adapter, the data transfer rate over the 802.11 n Protocol is almost twice as fast. However, the actual transfer rate for 802.11 n is much less than the stated (300 Mbps), but it is still more than four times greater than 802.11 g, which is a very good result for this class of devices. Many modern laptops are equipped with wireless adapters based on Atheros, Broadcom, Ralink, and other well-known brands. However, despite the apparent reliability of these devices, in reality, most of them have the formula 2×2:1, which negates the entire effect of using a high-speed wireless router.
In conclusion, we note the excellent speed indicators for both wired and wireless clients. High data transfer speed allows users to use all modern data transfer technologies: watch HD videos, download the necessary information using torrent technology, and play their favorite online games without delay. Full support of all modern technologies, as well as the formula of both 2×2:2 wireless modules, will provide high-quality Internet not only for the apartment but also for a small cottage. The user-friendly, thoughtful, and convenient management interface makes it possible to configure this model in just a few simple steps. A wide range of features to ensure safe and comfortable operation allows you to recommend this model to both novice and experienced users.