Netgear WNDR3800 Premium Edition review: Netgear WNDR3800 Premium Edition

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Gigabit Ethernet and WAN. IPv6 support. Good parental filtering tools. A good range of features.

The Bad 5GHz performance could be better. Some Intel 6300N compatibility issues. Long waits between settings changes.

The Bottom Line The WNDR3800 was a little fickle with our test chipsets, affecting our wireless performance results. Still, for the price range it's a decent router, and it should fulfil most needs.

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The WNDR3800 is a performance router, one that positions itself performance-wise under the WNDR4000 and the physically bigger WNDR4500 .

It does pack some unique features, though, amongst the Netgear stable.

The first is ReadyShare Cloud, which allows you to access files on a hard drive that's hooked up to the router via the internet, using the web, iOS or Android devices.

It also supports Time Machine backups, and has a dedicated video mode for the 5GHz network, which uses a different algorithm in order to reduce jitter and packet loss. If you solely intend to use 5GHz for video, then this could help.

While it will automatically select wireless channels for you, like the WNDR4500, here you can set the sensitivity in switching to clear channels between low, middle and high.

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 1.0.0.32
ADSL2+ modem No
Annex M N/A
3G modem No
IPv6 Yes
Wireless protocols 802.11b/g/n
Dual band Simultaneous
Highest wireless security WPA2
WDS Yes
Ethernet ports 4x gigabit, 1x gigabit WAN
USB print sharing/storage Storage, printer
Accessories Ethernet cable, installation CD

Connections

Gigabit WAN ensures that this router should stay future-proofed for a little while to come, along with four gigabit Ethernet ports. A single USB 2.0 port supports storage and printer access. The WNDR3800 can share attached storage via SMB, HTTP and FTP, and is made visible to DLNA-compatible clients. It can also use Netgear's ReadyShare Cloud, making files available across the net via Netgear's own dynamic DNS service.

Netgear WNDR3800 rear

Power switch, power jack, 4x gigabit Ethernet ports, gigabit WAN, USB 2.0 port.
(Credit: Netgear)

UI and features

Netgear's UI has been completely remade, in part to mimic its "Genie" software that it supplies for the desktop. Effort has gone into making things easier to read, in order to provide "at a glance" information, although graphics have been severely over-optimised and dithered over.

Netgear now places its help in a bar along the bottom — click and it pops up, overlaying the settings screen. While the help is related contextually to the current screen, there are huge amounts of information here, with only a tiny viewing box, resulting in a massive scroll bar.

The separation into "Basic" and "Advanced" settings is expected; however, Netgear hasn't really thought things through, providing an "Advanced Setup" section within the advanced tab. We can only assume that it's for advanced-advanced users. Similarly, we're at a lost as to why "Setup Wizard" is in the advanced section, or why you have to bounce between two different sections to access all of the wireless settings.

In a disturbing trend for Netgear, changing settings can involve anything up to a 45-second wait, as the entire router is rebooted. This is utterly mindless; if you change a wireless setting, all of your wired users get booted as a result. Whether it's a chipset or a UI issue, this is unacceptable.

Netgear WNDR3800 UI

Netgear's new UI is OK, but badly organised. The 45-second wait to apply settings is also incredibly frustrating, and is even longer on lower-powered devices.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

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Where to Buy

Netgear WNDR3800 Premium Edition

Part Number: CNETNetgear WNDR3800 Premium Edition

Typical Price: $179.00

See manufacturer website for availability.