Netgear has developed a bad habit of branding its new routers with two different model numbers. Take the WNDR4000—or is it the N750? Both names are printed on the box, and the router itself is labeled “N750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router WNDR4000.”
Did someone sleep through Marketing 101, or is this a shameless ploy to mislead uneducated buyers as to the router’s capabilities? We ask because Netgear’s website proclaims “Up to 750 Mbps—maximum combined speed.” The dual-band chipset inside the WNDR4000/N750, you see, delivers theoretical maximum throughput of 300Mb/s on the 2.4GHz band and 450Mb/s on the 5GHz band. Add 300 to 450 and you get—that’s right—750! There’s no way to bond the two bit-streams to deliver 750Mb/s of throughput, of course, but don’t let that get in the way of a juicy brand name.
Netgear's WNDR4000 looks very much like the older WNDR3700; too bad it doesn’t perform like it.
Bad branding decisions aren’t the WNDR4000’s only problem. This router beat our previous champion—Netgear’s WNDR3700—on the 5GHz band at two locations, but it significantly underperformed on the 2.4GHz band. What’s more, the Linksys E4200 absolutely crushed both of Netgear’s routers in most of our test locations in both throughput and range and on both frequencies.
Physically, the WNDR4000 looks almost identical to the aging WNDR3700. The front has the usual status LEDs, and you’ll find a ubiquitous four-port gigabit switch, a USB 2.0 port, and a power switch in back. Unlike the Linksys, the Netgear had no problem powering our hard drive so that we could share its contents on the network. But like the Linksys, you can’t use this port to share a printer on the network. Netgear hasn’t made any significant changes to its browser-based user interface either.
The router arrived with channel bonding on its 2.4GHz radio disabled. We turned it on for our benchmarks, but Trendnet’s TEW-684UB wireless client adapter indicated a link speed of just 145Mb/s. When we contacted Netgear about this, the company suggested that interference from a nearby wireless network might be forcing the router to turn off channel bonding on its own (this is a requirement for gaining Wi-Fi Alliance certification); but as we mentioned earlier, our test environment is devoid of other wireless networks. Besides that, neither the WNDR3700 nor the Linksys router had a problem.
Maybe a firmware update will fix what ails the WNDR4000 (we used version 126.96.36.199). Until that happens, there’s very little to recommend this router over the older WNDR3700.