Belkin Double N+ review
The fastest router we've tested, with blistering 5GHz speed, but it isn't perfect
Dual-band 802.11n routers are slowly becoming more popular, a fact underlined by the release of Belkin's first 5GHz model, the Double N+. It's a real beast of a router. It measures more than a foot tall with its twin antennae extended; it boasts simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n radios; and it has four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The USB port on the rear can be used to serve music, video and photos from external storage via UPnP, and you get a BitTorrent client that can download five torrents at once and save them to the attached drive.
In a similar fashion to the single-band Belkin N+, you can also set up a hotel-style guest account, which allows you to restrict visitors to internet access, shielding network resources from view.
Performance matches up with the stellar feature list. In our speed tests, the Belkin Double N+ proved the fastest all-round router we've tested. It achieved average speeds over 5GHz from the router to our test laptop (a Lenovo W700 with Intel WiFi Link 5300 on board) of 134Mbits/sec, and 90Mbits/sec in the other direction.
Over 2.4GHz its speeds were highly respectable too, achieving a router to laptop rate of 114Mbits/sec and 77Mbit/sec the other way. And its range was superb too: this is by far the fastest router we've tested over 5GHz at long range (30m away with two walls in the way), producing rates of 54Mbit/sec and 45Mbit/sec. Long distance 2.4GHz performance was good too, with the Double N+ achieving 62Mbit/sec and 67Mbit/sec.
It passed our soak test with flying colours too, maintaining a stutter-free VoIP call, while watching iPlayer, transferring files over the internal network, listening to internet radio and transferring files over an SSL VPN connection to our office network.
Coupled with a reasonable price of £109, it seems hard to resist. But there is a problem: although the router has a USB port that supports shared storage, the only way to access files on attached drives is to install Belkin's client software on each of your home PCs. That, coupled with a lack of on-router administration tools - you get just a media server on/off checkbox and the aforementioned BitTorrent facility - makes it feel more than a little tacked on.
The Belkin Double N+ is a good router despite this. It isn't horridly expensive and it's very fast over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. So long as you're not buying it specifically for the NAS facility it makes a lot of sense.
|Price ex VAT||£107|
|Price inc VAT||£125|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||4|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|10/100 LAN ports||0|
|MAC address cloning||yes|
|Wireless bridge (WDS)||no|
|WPA Enterprise support||no|
|WPS (wireless protected setup)||yes|
|MAC address filtering||yes|
|Port forwarding/virtual server||yes|
|Web content filtering||yes|
|Dimensions||134.5 x 34 x 198.5mm (WDH)|