by Greg King on February 22, 2008 in Networking
Where routers are concerned, TRENDnet may not be the first name to come to mind, but their popularity is quickly growing. On our test-bench is a perfect example as to why that’s the case. If you are looking for a feature-rich N-based router for a reasonable price, the TEW-633GR is worth a look.
Last week, we brought you a review of the TRENDnet TEW-631BRP wireless N router. In the article, we took a quick look at TRENDnet’s budget offering to the wireless N community and found that its performance over the quite common 802.11g protocol more than justified its diminutive price tag of just under $70 for those in the market to either upgrade their existing wireless network or build their first.
One area that we felt the 631BRP lacked in was in its wired Ethernet ports. Offering 4 10/100 base jacks, the 631 falls short of other routers currently available on the market with gigabit connection speeds. To address this issue, TRENDnet has brought the TEW-633GR to market. Half marketed as a gaming router, sometimes simply a gigabit router, the 633GR uses wireless N v2.0 and offers four gigabit LAN ports on its backside.
If you listen to the marketing machines that be, Draft N offers up to 15 times the current speed of wireless G networks and expands on the coverage by a factor of 4. While the coverage is improved, I have not personally experienced anything near a fourfold range increase and the speed performance, while vastly improved, isn’t anywhere near the 15x theoretical speed boost stated by vendors worldwide.
As it stands, Draft N v2.0 is essentially waiting on ratification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, so the choice to upgrade your current wireless network can be made with little doubt that a mistake is being made. Now that’s all fine and good but how does one know if they actually need the added convenience of faster speeds and extended range? It basically comes down to what your needs are, so please, before you run out and spend your money on a new wireless router, ask yourself a few questions.
The first should be usage. What are you currently doing that you need more speed? For those who stream massive amounts of media, particularly high definition video, can safely use the additional bandwidth that N provides. Those that move a large amount of data around their network, a home NAS device for example, could not only use the extra oomph of wireless N, but might consider a router with gigabit LAN speeds as well.
Those that could safely pass on the newer protocol would be those that primarily surf the tubes and check their email. Users such as these will never use the provided bandwidth of N.
One group that we failed to mention was the gamers. Gamers more often than not will game over a wired connection but for those that laugh at the cables that bind might be surprised to know that a wireless G based network is usually more than enough for casual gaming needs and as such, immediate upgrading isn’t entirely necessary.
That said, a router such as the TRENDnet TEW-633GR, or any router for that matter, also provides a first level of security for your home network. Offering built in firewalls; most home routers do an adequate job of limiting the amount of suspect inbound and outbound traffic.
Getting that intro out of the way, let’s take a closer look at our latest router on the bench, TRENDnet’s TEW-633GR.