Draft-n wireless routers
Speed up your home network with these wireless routers, including faster speeds, better gaming and VoIP handling and automatic security.
A new raft of wireless routers dubbed “second-generation 802.11n” have hit the shelves, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is now beginning to certify products for the 802.11n draft 2.0 specification. So, the time is right to round up a selection of the latest offerings, and see if any progress has been made since the original batch of pre-n products was launched.
At the time of testing, two models had been given the thumbs-up – D-Link’s RangeBooster N 650 DIR-655 and Netgear’s WNR854T – although you can find a full list of certifications for the underlying chipsets at www.wi-fi.org
. Essentially, the sticker indicates that the router is interoperable with other certified products, backwards compatible with previous standards and offers the latest security protection. However, there’s no concrete guarantee that products will be firmware upgradable to the final 802.11n standard.
Still, this is no reason to avoid the seven routers on test here. Most offer significantly better throughput than 802.11g when paired with each manufacturer’s own client adapters. The Buffalo, in particular, smashed through all previous Wi-Fi speed records we’ve seen at PC Authority and, while it isn’t cheap, it offers tomorrow’s technology today.
Four of the seven boast Gigabit switches, which not only means a serious speed boost for wired computers, but also removes the 100Mb/s bottleneck, which could be an issue given that most promise wireless speeds of up to 300Mb/s. Another reason to upgrade is for the extra features on offer. If your existing router doesn’t support quality of service, for example, you could be missing out on smoother online gaming or clear VoIP calls. Meanwhile, WMM (Wi-Fi Multimedia) technology ensures quality of service on the wireless network – crucial if you don’t want your videos or MP3s skipping as they play on your wireless media streamer.
Finally, some of the routers here offer automatic wireless security, so you never need to worry about IP addresses and WPA2 security – it’s as simple as pushing two buttons. Read on to find out which router stood head-and-shoulders above the competition.Next page - How We Test (click below)...
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This Group Test appeared in the March, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine