Netgear: WLAN Speed Demon

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2006-07-23 Print this article Print

Review: The RangeMax Next Wireless Router from Netgear makes wireless routing simple.

With its WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless Router—Gigabit Edition (priced at $179), Netgear has removed the need to tinker with antenna placement to obtain optimal performance and instead has embedded the antenna inside the boxy white access point chassis.

And what performance it provides. Based on Marvells TopDog draft 802.11n chip set, this gigabit-enabled home router provided the best speeds eWeek Labs has seen to date from a wireless router. When partnered with the $119 WN511T RangeMax Next Wireless Notebook Adapter—Gigabit Edition, the router topped out at about 130M bps at close range. However, this performance doesnt extend to longer distances: In our tests, the Netgear duo turned in the worst performance at the longest distance.

The WNR854T provides the least-complicated wireless configuration options among the draft 802.11n products weve seen. However, the router does not automatically find the clearest channel, so we needed to manually set the wide channel during tests. There is no option to set the narrow channel within the wide channel.

Otherwise, we could select to support 802.11n plus legacy 802.11b/g or solely 802.11b/g networks, and we could adjust the CTS/RTS (Clear to Send/Request to Send) threshold.

Unlike the Buffalo Technology and Belkin products we tested, we had no trouble getting AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to work with Netgears router and notebook adapter. In fact, Netgears AES implementation worked without a hitch when paired with every product we tested for this evaluation. Unfortunately, the router does not support the enterprise versions of WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2.

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Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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