Netgear’s web access controls are nothing to write home about as all you can do is manually create a list of blocked domains or URLs that match a list of up to 255 keywords. There’s nothing that enables you to block all Internet access except to only those sites you list. Wireless security is present and correct with support for WPA and WPA2 at the higher speeds along with the standard SSID masking and MAC address access controls. The router employs Netgear’s Steady Stream technology which, as far as we can see from its web site, is just another name for MIMO.
To give a clear indication of the performance benefits of Gigabit Ethernet we connected a couple of Supermicro dual 3Ghz 5160 Xeon servers to a Fast Ethernet switch. Copying a 690MB video file between them took 64 seconds for an average speed of 86Mbps. A 418MB collection of large graphics files was also copied across in 41 seconds at a rate of 81Mbps. Moving the servers onto the router’s Gigabit LAN ports saw the same video file copied across in a mere 12 seconds for an average speed of 460Mbps. The graphics collection was also shifted between the servers in only eight seconds at a rate 418Mbps.
To test wireless performance we installed Netgear’s new WN511T PC Card in a 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2. The bundled utility makes very light work of wireless connections as it scans for access points, works out which encryption scheme is active and, once you’ve entered a key, sets the connection up for you. We used the open source Iometer to measure read performance with a Supermicro Pentium D 3.2GHz PC on the LAN and saw an open, close range link return 84Mbps and a WPA2 encrypted link deliver 70Mbps. With the notebook positioned down on the floor below with two brick walls in the way we saw an encrypted link return a reasonable 56Mbps with the PC Card utility reporting a drop in signal strength of around 50 per cent.
Real world performance tests also delivered better speeds than other draft-n products with our video file taking 80 seconds to be transferred from the notebook to the PC for an average of 69Mbps. We also noticed that during the copy the notebook’s CPU usage rarely went below 55 per cent.
Still well short of the mark but Netgear’s WNR854T is fastest of the wireless draft-n bunch. Its Gigabit ports will have a huge impact on LAN performance and although general router features are a little basic it still looks very good value.