Router

avatar

EnGenius ESR300H Review

Aside from loading alternative firmware (DD-WRT or Tomato, for instance), the easiest way to upgrade a router’s performance is to replace its antennas. That’s impossible with most of the routers we see these days, because manufacturers are using either nonremovable antennas or they’re putting the antennas inside the enclosure. So we were intrigued to see that EnGenius put upgradeable antennas on its extremely inexpensive ESR300H; this router boasts a street price of less than $45.

As you’ve probably guessed, you’ll give up more than a few features in exchange for that low price tag. This is a single-band router with only a 2.4GHz radio, so we wouldn’t recommend it for deployment in an environment crowded with other wireless routers operating on the same frequency band. The ESR300H also lacks a USB port, so you won’t be able to share a printer or storage device over the network. But the feature you’ll miss the most is a gigabit Ethernet switch—the switch on this router is limited to 100Mb/s. If you move a lot of large files around your network using wired connections, you’ll find this router to be agonizingly slow.

avatar

Cisco Linksys E4200v2 Review

The original Linksys E4200 (you can read our review at goo.gl/TEfmG) delivered two 150Mb/s spatial streams on its 2.4GHz radio and three 150Mb/s spatial streams on its 5GHz radio (for theoretical throughput of 300- and 450Mb/s, respectively). This updated model features a new chipset that delivers theoretical throughput of 450Mb/s on both its radios.

So all the changes are under the hood—the enclosure’s industrial design is identical, and that includes the lid that prevents us from plugging hooded Ethernet cables into the four-port gigabit Ethernet switch. We didn’t encounter any problems getting the router to power up a 2.5-inch USB hard drive this time, but it could be because we switched to a newer 500GB drive (we had been using a Verbatim Clōn; we’re now using a Western Digital My Passport Essential). There’s a UPnP media server onboard, but the router is not DLNA certified. If network-attached storage isn’t important to you, the USB port can be used to share a printer instead.

avatar

D-Link DIR-645 Wi-Fi Router Review

 

When you don't need the very best

THE REMARK ABOVE is more than a left-handed compliment. D-Link’s DIR-645 isn’t nearly as feature-packed as our current favorite wireless router, Netgear’s WNDR-4500, but the DIR-645 is nearly as fast on the 2.4GHz frequency band, and it costs almost half as much as Netgear’s decidedly kick-ass router.

If you’ve divided your router requirements into needs and wants, and you’ve determined that a single-band router is all you need, D-Link’s DIR-645 is a good choice. If attaching USB storage to that router is also firmly ensconced in your needs column, on the other hand, you should stay clear of this device. While it's outfitted with one USB 2.0 port that is capable of hosting either storage or a multi-function printer, you must install D-Link’s SharePort utility on every computer on your network that needs to use it. And only one of those computers will be allowed to connect to an attached device at any one time.