Netgear DGND3300 review
After a slow start, ADSL users now have a good selection of 802.11n hardware to choose from. But when it comes dual band routers, the selection is pretty thin. This Netgear is a prime example - it's the only concurrent dual-band ADSL router on the market.
This means it's able to maintain both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks simultaneously, allowing devices such as internet radios access at the same time as laptops on the less crowded 5GHz band.
It does this in an unusual way, however. Instead of two full-powered 802.11n radios inside, the DGND3300 has one 802.11n and one 802.11g. This means you get one fast network and one slow one. In theory, that allows the best performance at the lowest possible cost.
It's an interesting approach but not a wholly successful one. Despite the presence of eight internal aerials, we found performance to be sluggish, in both our close-range 2.4GHz and 5GHz tests, returning below par rates from router to laptop (using an Intel WiFi Link 5300 chipset) of 63Mbits/sec, and 42Mbits/sec in the reverse direction over 2.4GHz and 77Mbits/sec and 45Mbits/sec over 5GHz. Both tests were carried out using the high power radio.
It was better at at long range, but the results were still disappointing, returning rates of 64Mbits/sec and 33Mbits/sec over 2.4GHz, and 42Mbits/sec and 20Mbits/sec in the 5GHz band. Part of the problem is the lack of Gigabit Ethernet ports, which places a cap on maximum throughput, but even taking this into account, we're underwhelmed.
It did maintain a reliable enough signal to pass our Full HD video-streaming test in all locations without any frame drops, pauses or signal dropouts. And the feature set, apart from the lack of Gigabit, is reasonable.
Highlights include a USB port for sharing hard disks or flash drives, a tool that alerts you to firmware upgrades when you log into the web admin pages, and a guest network feature.
Despite Netgear's cost-cutting, the DGND3300 still costs a fair bit, and that dual-band support fails to translate into a real-world advantage. Future firmware upgrades may improve it, but for now you're better off with a more powerful, single-band router.
Author: Jonathan Bray
I noticed that the router appears to be slow. Was this test run on the higher speed setting? The Netgear website refers to a change that can be made in the firmware to run at 270Mbps (http://kb.netgear.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/405
7) so would that speed things up?
By ONLawson on 13 May 2010
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