Netgear’s WNR854T commands a $10 premium over Linksys’ WRT300N, a cost that’s easily justified by the former products’ features and performance.
Let’s tackle performance first. Netgear’s router looks so sharp that we were skeptical its concealed antennae could deliver throughput and range. And while it’s light-years away from delivering its promised 300Mb/s throughput, it approached wired Ethernet speed with TCP throughput of 91.2Mb/s at close range, and 78.5Mb/s at moderate range.
Throughput dropped to 16.0Mb/s during our long-range test, but that’s supersonic compared with the Linksys’ measly 3.4Mb/s at the same distance.
You’ll see slower throughput if you integrate either of these new routers into an environment with wireless gear that supports only WEP encryption. But where the Marvell TopDog chip in Netgear’s router delivers acceptable performance (70.9Mb/s at moderate range), the Broadcom part in the Linksys chokes, wringing out just 2.9Mb/s of throughput at the same range.
Turning back to features, the WNR854T is the first draft-N product we’ve seen to incorporate a four-port gigabit Ethernet switch into the box; everyone else seems to be sticking with an old-fashioned 100Mb/s switch. And if your PC doesn’t have a gigabit network adapter now, you can bet your next one will. --Michael Brown
Month Reviewed: October 2006
+ PITCHER PLANT: High throughput; gigabit switch ;good looks.
- INSECTICIDE: Questionable interoperability, due to absence of an IEEE 802.11n standard.