As expected, wireless performance in the real world is nowhere near the claimed top speed of 300Mbps. We installed the USB adapter in a Boston Supermicro 3GHz Xeon 5160 system running Vista Ultimate and copied a 690MB video clip to a system on the LAN over a close range WPA2 encrypted link. This took 113 seconds for an average of 49Mbps and increasing the distance between client and router to eleven metres in the lab saw no appreciable difference in speed.
The router’s firewall offers three levels of protection although we can’t see much point in the low and medium levels as SPI is switched off in both of these. Both SPI and DoS (Denial of Service) protection are enabled on the high setting and you can then muck about with connection policies and levels of DoS protection. If the firewall does detect any dubious activity, you can have it alert you via email.
Up to thirty virtual servers can be used to route inbound traffic to specific systems on the LAN although no inbound rules can be assigned to them so you can’t route traffic from a specific external IP address or range to an internal system. DMZ options are above average as instead of allowing one LAN system to sidestep the firewall 3Com lets you do it with up to eight. You also have up to 20 entries for port forwarding rules and each one can contain a single port number or range.
The PC Privileges feature allows you to determine Internet access permissions for LAN systems. You can block or allow access to services such as sending or receiving email, web browsing and FTP and use schedules to determine when they are active. URL filtering is on the menu although this isn’t anything special as all you can do is create up to thirty URL keyword entries and block or allow access. Of more value to businesses is the router’s IPsec VPN termination capabilities allowing up to five secure site-to-site tunnels to be created.
3Com’s entry into 11n wireless networks hasn’t been particularly spectacular as this home and small business router is average in nearly every aspect. Wireless performance and general level of features aren’t any better than most of the competition although the IPsec VPN support is unexpected at this price.
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