Netgear's DGND3300 is possibly one of the shiniest routers we've seen; a combination of piano black, powdered blue, clear plastic and a clear bubble on top, which seems blue thanks to the circuit board visible beneath. This odd protrusion is actually Netgear's Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, which if held for five seconds will open a two-minute window to connect to WPS devices. There's also eight blue LEDs under it representing the eight internal antennas found in the DGND3300, showing which ones are currently receiving the strongest signals. They can be quite distracting, and thankfully can be turned off by holding down the dome for a second, and not so much the "tap" that the manual states.
It also holds the distinction of being one of the few simultaneous dual-band ADSL2+ modem/routers on the market, along with Belkin's Play andunits. Although as we'll mention later, this comes with some surprising caveats.
Specs at a glance
|Highest wireless security||WPA2|
|WDS||Yes, as "repeating function"|
|Ethernet ports||4x 100Mb Ethernet|
|USB print sharing/storage||Storage only|
|Accessories||Ethernet cable, phone cable, line filter, CD containing quick-start guide, manual, ReadyShare connect|
ADSL line, four 100Mb Ethernet ports, USB port for storage, reset button, power button, power jack. The dome on top initiates a WPS window if held for five seconds. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)
UI and features
Despite being in desperate need of a redesign, Netgear's user interface (UI) is the most friendly we've used for new networkers, with an entire right-hand frame dedicated to explaining the features currently being displayed. If you have an internet connection, you're also given access to Negear's online knowledge base and documentation for the router.
It's damned ugly, but it's the most helpful router web UI we've seen thus far. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)
Netgear's modem/router presents a few oddities we've not seen before. You cannot select 20MHz or 40MHz bands. You can transmit on 2.4GHz only, but you can't transmit on 5GHz only — you have to have both radios going if you want the higher frequency. If you are running 5GHz, you'll have to be content with the 2.4GHz running at 802.11g. It is, in a word, bizarre.
Features above the norm include guest internet access, although once again separated into g and n variants; the USB storage can be accessed by SMB, FTP or HTTP; there's URL filtering; time of day scheduling for the firewall rules; and automatic firmware update checking.
After analysing the spectrum with InSSIDer, an empty channel of either 1, 6 or 11 is chosen for 2.4GHz wireless testing. Usually the router is restricted to the 20MHz band, to only allow 802.11n clients, and the MCS set to 15 but in this case, there is simply no option to set these on the DGND3300. As such the results below can't be taken as a complete apples-to-apples scenario.
We use iperf to determine throughput, running eight streams, with a TCP window size of 1MB, and an interval of one second. The test is run for five minutes in three different locations, on two separate occasions. The locations are in the same room as the router, one floor down around spiral stairs and with concrete walls and floors, and two floors down under the same conditions.
The wireless throughput is tested using three chipsets, the Atheros AR5008X, Ralink RT2870 and Intel 5100AGN, then all results are averaged.
2.4GHz throughput (in Mbps)
- Billion BiPAC 7800N
- Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)
- Asus DSL-N13
- Netgear DGND3300 v2
- Location one (same room, no obstructions) 69.2065.9765.1770.13
- Location two (one floor down, some obstructions) 64.6354.3753.4352.90
- Location three (two floors down, some obstructions) 38.2335.2729.7322.1
(Longer bars indicate better performance)