New 802.11n Routers: The Best Wi-Fi Yet The best new 802.

11n wireless routers deliver strong performance, coverage, and compatibility--but picking the right one for your network is more complicated than ever. Our lab tests reveal the top choices, whether you are looking for a basic bargain or consider speed and range paramount. Becky Waring, Testing by Elliott Kirschling, PC World Apr 30, 2008 1:00 pm
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Illustration: Mick WigginsWhat a difference a couple of years makes. In our first roundup of draft-802.11n Wi-Fi routers (see "Wireless Routers: The Truth About Superfast Draft-N"), we found so many problems, we couldn't recommend any of them: Firmware was buggy, interoperability between vendors

Although the standard is still technically in draft form and final ratification of 802.11b/g predecessors) and the relatively open 5-GHz band. the Wi-Fi Alliance has been certifying draft-2. earlier-generation 802.was hit-and-miss. Better.11g routers.11N Routers: Good. vendors have been focusing on the 2. and performance was not as good as that of some enhanced.11a gear. To give an idea of the options. 802.) Up to now.0 802. we chose two widely available models in each of three categories: under-$90 routers for people who don't need maximum performance. As of this year. and dual-band routers ($180 to $200) that support both the crowded 2. For a point-by-point comparison of the six routers we examined.11n's improved range and speed. (The 802.11n Wi-Fi is the first Wi-Fi technology that can rival wired 100-mbps ethernet in performance. see our chart.11n routers.11n spec supports both frequencies. But choosing a particular 802.11n router has become more complicated than ever because the standard covers a lot of ground that lets vendors issue a dizzying array of product options. as opposed to real-world throughput--of up to 300 megabits per second (compared with 54 mbps for standard 802.11n is thus one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your network. These top-of-the-line units target users preparing for an expected influx of networked multimedia devices that need uncluttered bandwidth to stream media.0 n routers for interoperability and compatibility since last year. with support for legacy 802.4-GHz band in order to support the vast majority of legacy devices. D-Link alone has six 802. midrange (about $150) models that offer top wireless speeds and gigabit ethernet. with literally dozens of models ranging in price from $50 to $250. With link rates--the nominal connection speeds. "Wi-Fi Draft-2. and Best.11g) and extended range (thanks to multiple smart antennas). but who can nonetheless benefit from 802. And the Wi-Fi certified products are worthy updates.11n by the IEEE isn't expected until next year. Upgrading your home router to 802. those issues have largely gone away. and the final version should largely be a formality that at most may require a firmware upgrade." . we're happy to report.4-GHz frequency range (used by all of the less-Expensive models and their 802.

we ran our 2. We therefore used 40-MHz channels in our 5-GHz testing of the two routers that support 5-GHz operations. since many users are likely to be within range of other 2. has much more bandwidth to play with and can support multiple 40-MHz channels. and ceilings.4-GHz range means that just one 802.4-GHz tests with 20-MHz channels.0's so-called good-neighbor policies require that routers ship in 20-MHz mode. draft-n uses channel bonding: Instead of the 20-MHz-wide channels found in previous Wi-Fi standards. But they were generally more consistent than the 2.11a products appeared primarily in business environments). the limited bandwidth of the 2.11n can use 40-MHz-wide channels. even with twice as much channel bandwidth. multiple output) antenna technology to transmit more data at a time. More Bandwidth.11n router using channel bonding will take up virtually the entire 2. Interestingly. it uses MIMO (multiple input. when in 40-MHz mode. Intelligent antennas combine streams of data arriving at different times from multi??path signals bouncing off walls. . First. and throughput at close range never dropped below 40 mbps--well above the 25 mbps needed for top-quality HDTV streaming. on average. they drop to 20-MHz operation if they sense nearby Wi-Fi nets or other 2. speeds in our 5-GHz testing at close range did not double. The top link rate in 20-MHz mode is only 150 mbps (rather than the much-advertised 300 mbps).4-GHz devices.Deconstructing the Technology The 802. they rose about 20 percent. and that. For this reason. draft-2. midrange and high-end models have three of each. which in theory should double their data-carrying capacity. Second.4-GHz traffic. leaving no room for neighboring routers. 802.4-GHz results.11n variant of Wi-Fi achieves its high through??put (typically four times that of 802. Less Range The 5-GHz frequency range.4-GHz spectrum. however. It's also relatively unused (802. so interference is generally minimal to none.11g) in two ways. Unfortunately. floors. and causing severe interference. Entry-level routers typically have two receiving and transmitting antennas.

4-GHz mode.28 / Piece . you can put newer draft-n gear that supports 5 GHz on the fast track while maintaining a slower 2.11b and g gear in "mixed" 2. Another 5-GHz plus: While draft-n is backward-compatible with 802. We recommend a dual-band router if you need maximum performance for streaming media or networked storage--or if you can't get a good Wi-Fi signal at all due to interference from neighbors' networks. But its range is still generally far better than that of standard unenhanced 802.11g.4-GHz draft-n. performance for n clients drops significantly on networks when b or g clients are present.11n wifi booster .wifi signal booster Unit Price: USD 111.82 ~ 133.4-GHz network for older gear.2.The downside to 5-GHz: Its higher frequency doesn't allow it to cover as large an area as 2. 500mW 802. But with a dual-band router.4Ghz wifi repeater .

Reliable: Easy: D-Link's Quick Router Setup Wizard walks you through every step of installation. The DIR-655 also includes a 4-port 10/100/1000 Gigabit switch that connects Gigabit wired devices for enjoying lag-free network gaming and faster file transfers. Powered by Xtreme NŒ technology and equipped with three external antennas. game consoles and media players to the internet. WPAŒ.11n compliant device that delivers up to 14x faster speeds* and 6x farther range* than 802. Share USB devices like printers and storage with all the users on your network with D-Link's SharePort Technology Enjoy uninterrupted service with QoS Technology. jitter-free Internet phone calls (VoIP). Create a secure wireless network to share photos. making it easy to create your network! Why D-Link?: We are proud of our products and value our relationships with our customers. In simple terms: a noticeably stronger connection at distance. music. game consoles. Take a look at the Awards and Testimonials section to read what customers and the experts are saying about our Xtreme N Gigabit Router. Always on and with no moving parts: set it and forget it.11g devices. files. It's our most highly rated router for a reason. Support for WEP. high-definition video streaming and Web gaming are achievable on your wired and wireless networks. BEST-IN-CLASS FEATURES The D-Link Xtreme N Gigabit Router (DIR-655) is a 802. With the DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router You Can: y y y y Enjoy greater Wi-Fi coverage for your entire home or home office at incredible speeds. this router provides superior wireless coverage for larger homes and offices. With wireless prioritization technology and our award-winning intelligent QoS engine. or for users running bandwidth-intensive applications. Connect the Xtreme N Gigabit Router to a cable or DSL modem and provide high-speed Internet access to multiple computers. videos. and WPA2Œ security standards ensure that you will be able to use the best possible encryption regardless of your other wireless . and media players. and network storage. printers.Description The Xtreme N® Gigabit Router creates a powerful Wi-Fi computer network in your home and is jam-packed with features.11g. Strong: D-Link's Xtreme N® products provide 14x faster and 6x farther range than 802. Easily connect computers.11g while staying backward compatible with 802.

so users behind the DIR-655 can securely access corporate networks.devices. Online Gaming. By handling data this way. applications like video streaming could pause or delay. all wired and wireless traffic. WPA & WPA2) features that help prevent unauthorized access Virtually no wireless dead spots Advanced Parental Controls Supports Windows® Connect Now (WCN) for easy wireless setup Automatic Firmware Update Notification E-mail Notification for Triggered Events Integrated Wireless Security Wizard Removable Antennas for Flexible Installation Options Wall Mountable to Save Desk Space SHAREPORT D-Link has created SharePortŒ technology to bring more flexibility to your network. including VoIP. Conveniently turn your existing USB printers and storage devices into network devices for everyone to share. In addition. . the DIR-655 uses dual active firewalls (SPI & NAT) to help protect your valuable data. this Xtreme N router utilizes Dual Active Firewalls (SPI and NAT) to prevent potential attacks from across the Internet. This enables multiple applications to stream smoothly to your TV or PC. Support for WPAŒ and WPA2Œ standards ensure that you will be able to use the best possible encryption regardless of your client devices. so applications like VoIP. Also. and Web browsing are mixed together into a single data stream. It supports multiple and concurrent IPSec and PPTP sessions. the DIR-655 uses advanced firewall features.The DIR-655 can pass through VPN sessions. wired and wireless traffic is analyzed and separated into multiple data streams. With SharePort technology you can connect a USB printer or storage device to your router and allow users to access them from anywhere on the network. These streams are then categorized by sensitivity to delay. and Online Gaming are given priority over Web browsing. With D-Link¶s Intelligent QoS Technology. Video Streaming. WHY INTELLIGENT QoS IS BETTER With some routers. To prevent possible attacks from the Internet. Video Streaming. Below is a list of DIR-655 features. be it from over a wireless network or from the Internet. y y y y y y y y y y y y Intelligent QoS technology prioritizes both wired and wireless Internet traffic to enable enhanced gaming and phone calling (VoIP) experience Ideal for streaming HD video or streaming multiple applications simultaneously Dual active firewall protection (SPI & NAT) helps block malicious attacks on networks from the Internet Includes the latest wireless security (WEP. ADVANCED NETWORK SECURITY The Xtreme N Gigabit Router supports the latest wireless security features to help prevent unauthorized access. The web-based user interface displays a number of advanced network management features including: y Secure Multiple/Concurrent Sessions .

saving additional office space. XTREME NŒ ROUTER BENEFITS y y y y y Intelligent QoS Technology.11g devices including game consoles and digital media players. THINK GREEN D-Link GreenŒ devices*** are about providing eco-friendly alternatives without compromising performance. check email. PROFESSIONAL STRENGTH INTERNET SECURITY AND PARENTAL CONTROL SERVICES SECURESPOT 2. Xtreme N technology allows for farther home coverage*. or media players from greater distances in your home or office. game consoles.Delivering best-in-class performance. Backward compatible with 802. but also protects Mac¶s and browser-enabled devices such as Game Consoles. Integrating Internet Security and Parental Controls into the router and utilizing services in-the-cloud lightens the load on the PC and brings professional strength technology to the consumer.0Œ (optional) proactively protects ALL networked devices in the home. CONSERVES ENERGY y y Automatically powers down ports that have no link Budgets power output for different Ethernet cable lengths . Use the DIR-655 in your home to surf the web. and to get rid of the cables around the house. and reduce waste by using recyclable packaging. Easy to get started with D-Link s new Quick Router Setup Wizard. and coverage. instant message. protect our environment from harmful substances. FEATURES: y y y y y y y y y Firewall Protection Parental Controls Parental Reporting and Alerts Identity Protection Pop-up Blocker Remote Management Console Spam Control Access Control Virus/Spyware Protection Powered by McAfee® WHAT THIS PRODUCT DOES Create a wireless network to share high-speed Internet access with computers. They are designed to help conserve energy. It not only safeguards PCs like traditional Internet Security Suites. the Xtreme N Gigabit Router (DIR-655) is the ideal centerpiece for your wireless network in the home or office. Use the DIR-655 in your office to share Internet connection and printer with multiple computers. Secure your wireless network using advanced WPA or WPA2 encryption. network security.

and network overhead. Products that carry the Works with Windows Vista logo are designed to easily connect to Windows Vista and deliver a reliable experience. Actual data throughput will vary. the DIR-655 contains features not found on the Wireless G or Rangebooster N families. *** D-Link Green references contained herein apply to Hardware version A3 or later. lower actual data throughput rate.11n devices. and the ability to eliminate Wi-Fi dead spots. Wireless range and speed rates are D-Link RELATIVE performance measurements based on the wireless range and speed rates of a standard Wireless G product from D-Link. extended range. Environmental factors will adversely affect wireless signal range.11n specifications. Network conditions and environmental factors. SharePort upgrade is available for the hardware versions A2. D-Link¶s Xtreme N router was rigorously tested and verified for compatibility with Intel¶s NextGen Wireless N.11b/g clients and access points.11g and 802.21 or later. In Intel¶s testing process. D-Link¶s Xtreme N router met or exceeded Intel¶s requirements for performance. * Maximum wireless signal rate derived from IEEE Standard 802. Maximum throughput based on D-Link 802. Intel. and various levels of compatibility y y DIR-655 has been designed by D-Link to Work with Windows Vista. . the Intel Inside Logo. including volume of network traffic.y y Includes wireless LAN scheduling. Works with Windows VistaŒ Allows easy management. buildings materials and construction. which can shut down your wireless network when not in use for further power savings Reduces energy consumption by using an Energy Star® qualified power adapter PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT y y Complies with the European Union's RoHS directive that restricts the use of certain hazardous materials Uses recyclable packaging to help reduce waste that goes into the environment WIRELESS FAMILIES COMPARISON As part of the Xtreme N family. high standards of wireless security. SharePort and SecureSpot 2. A3. which was conducted over the period of several months. co-existence with other 802. utilizing intensive real-world testing conducted in typical home and enterprise environment scenarios. A4.0 references contained herein apply to Firmware version 1. Please see the chart for a comparison of features and recommended applications of the various wireless families. Windows Vista and the Windows logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Intel Centrino and the Intel Centrino logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. ** Requires SharePort Client Utility installation on the PC.

running at 108 Mbps with improved access distances as well.11.11n may be the new standard. in essence.11g was introduced into the PDA market allowing for faster connection speeds. there are different types of WiFi. 802. 802. like Starbucks. 802. 802. In the future.11b which runs at the 2.11a also has a dramatically shorter range than other WiFi standards.4 GHz wireless spectrum g up to 54Mbps runs at 2. WiFi can be used to connect two devices directly (ad-hoc) though is usually used in infrastructure mode for connection to access points. .11b. 802. 802.150Mbps a 54 Mbps runs at eh 5 GHz wireless spectrum shorter range a & b not compatible with each other WiFi (802.11b which has a bandwidth of 11 Mbps. supporting 54 Mbps of bandwidth but runs on the 5 GHz wireless spectrum as opposed to 802.11n standard isn't standard yet.11) To make a local area network with wireless. The most common type of WiFi is 802. WiFi is the way to do it.11n is also expected to support MIMO (multiple input multiple output) adding technology to bounce signals off walls.4 GHz and is completely compatible with 802. feature WiFi networks for use by those that purchase an account on the service for a monthly fee.11b devices (though they run at 11 Mbps not 54 Mbps).11a. it runs at a frequency of 2. Today. noted by the letter at the end of the 802.11a is seen in more businesses than consumer settings. WiFi is a moderate-range wireless.11n wireless standard even though the 802. only connecting to access points and other devices within 150-500 feet (depending on obstructions) As was noted earlier. Companies like Belkin already have "pre-n" devices available which boast features of the 802. WiFi can make a local network either through use of a wireless router or by added a wireless access point to a wired local area network.4 GHz frequency (which is why A and B devices are not compatible). Like 802.Types of wifi b . Some stores.11Mbps tuns at 2. 802. The most common form of WiFi is 802. WiFi is also known by its IEEE standard name.11b.11b.11g is taking off as a replacement for 802. but recently 802.4 GHz n . WiFi is.11g supports a bandwidth of up to 54 Mbps but like 802. a wireless version of Ethernet in the form of a local area network.11.

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