Trendnet’s TEW-639GR 802.11n router is an ugly duckling that will never grow into a beautiful swan. It also just happens to be the fastest router we’ve tested in some time. It performs well at range, includes a Gigabit Ethernet switch, and with an $80 street price, it’s cheap, too!
The three external antennae aren’t to blame for this router’s homeliness—in fact, we welcome that design choice if it accounts for the router’s excellent performance. Rather, it’s the ultra-cheap plastic shell and the glowing indicator light that screams “wireless router!” like the vacancy sign at a no-tell motel that make this device look so cheesy.
The Trendnet TEW-639GR might look like a cheap tart, but there's a heart of gold beneath that garish plastic.
Before we dive into a discussion of what this router can do, let’s cover any limitations that might be deal-breakers for you. This is a single-band router that operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band only, so if your air space is crowded with other people’s APs or you’re looking for a router to pair with your dual-band media streamer, look elsewhere. Likewise if you’re using a VoIP device, since the router’s quality-of-service features are limited to enabling Wi-Fi Multimedia. Lastly, Trendnet didn’t outfit the TEW-639GR with a USB port, so you can’t set it up to function as network attached storage or use it to share a printer over your network.
But if you’re looking for fast wireless throughput on the cheap, the TEW-639GR offers an excellent price/performance ratio. With channel bonding enabled, we achieved TCP/IP throughput of 96.4Mb/s in our kitchen test, where the client is 20 feet from the router and separated by an insulated wall and a set of plywood cabinets. That’s slightly faster than our longtime champion, the Linksys WRT-600N, which managed throughput of 95.2Mb/s. The Trendnet couldn’t beat the Linksys when it came to reaching the client PC in our isolated media room, but it came close, delivering TCP/IP throughput of 23.9Mb/s, compared to the Linksys’s 29.6Mb/s. The challenger pummeled the champ in our long-range performance, though, with the Trendnet achieving throughput several times faster than the Linksys when the client was placed outdoors.
Trendnet’s TEW-639GR doesn’t offer enough advanced features to earn a spot on our Best of the Best list, but it is a solid performer with an attractive price tag and definitely worthy of consideration.
Trendnet TEW-639GR Router
Fast throughput, especially at range; inexpensive.
Single-band only; very limited QoS features; ugly as sin.
Kitchen, 20 feet (Mb/s)
Patio/38 feet (Mb/s)
Bedroom/60 feet (Mb/s)
Media Room, 35 feet (Mb/s)
Outdoors 1, 90 feet (Mb/s)
Outdoors 2, 85 feet (Mb/s)
Best score in each scenario is bolded. A detailed explanation of how we test Wi-Fi routers can be found here.