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Asus WL-550gE Wireless Router - Asus WL-550gE Wireless Router
The setup routine also takes you through wireless encryption configuration and we strongly recommend sorting security out straight away as the access point cannot be switched off. During setup you can select none, 64/128-bit WEP or WPA but once you’re into the main web interface there’s a lot more to play with. For WPA the router supports both TKIP and AES and you can use an external RADIUS server for user account authentication. Access controls are good as MAC address lists can be used to allow wireless access or alternatively you use the list to reject those same addresses. Under the wireless advanced settings you can play with the power output of the access point and disable SSID broadcasting. WDS (wireless router distribution) is also supported enabling it to connect to other specified access points for increased range and it can work in WDS or hybrid modes as well.
Overall wireless performance wasn’t as good as the current cop of MIMO routers. Using a Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook equipped with the WL-100GE card we ran the open source Iometer over open and WPA-TKIP encrypted links. At one metre, Iometer reported 29.6Mb/sec for an open link and 28.5Mb/sec with WPA enforced. The BroadRange technology did have an impact though as moving the notebook down a floor and putting three bricks walls in the way saw these speeds only drop to 26.5Mb/sec and 24.4Mb/sec respectively. We also tried these tests with Asus’ proprietary AfterBurner feature enabled but saw no appreciable difference.
The router provides an SPI firewall which is enabled by default and will provide all the protection most users will require. However, you can use the virtual DMZ option to allow one IP address on the LAN to circumvent the firewall allowing full access to it from the Internet. Services such as web, mail and FTP servers can be opened up to the Internet by creating virtual server entries for each one and filters can also be applied for LAN to WAN traffic.
A useful feature is bandwidth management as you can create different policies for inbound and outbound traffic. These can be applied to a specific IP address or a port and each policy enforces the chosen bandwidth limitations for each one. URL filtering simply involves applying a list of keywords to web page URLs which will be blocked if there’s a match. Unlike the domain blocking option provided by D-Link’s DSL-G624M you can’t block access to all web sites except those listed.
Asus delivers a well built router with a good range of features and security options for wired and wireless connections but wireless speeds won’t be worrying MIMO equipped routers and you’ll need to factor in the cost of a broadband modem.
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