Netgear WNDR4500 review: Netgear WNDR4500

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CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars Outstanding
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Chart-leading 5GHz performance, excellent 2.4GHz performance. IPv6 support. Good parental filtering tools. Gigabit WAN.

The Bad 20-second restart for every setting applied. Web UI not well thought through. Traffic control needs work.

The Bottom Line While Netgear makes frustrating choices with set-up, and imposes ridiculous restarts when you apply settings, the sheer wireless performance of the WNDR4500 cannot be denied.

CNET Editors' Choice Mar '12

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It probably says something that the WNDR4500 is significantly bigger than Netgear's other routers, and still splits its power supply into a brick form that's bigger than some laptop power supplies.

This is the router that ticks every one of Netgear's marketing boxes — but will it hold up to the hype?

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 1.0.0.70
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

The WNDR4500 is one from the growing field of routers that has gigabit WAN, meaning that should the National Broadband Network (NBN) come to your town, you'll be well positioned to take advantage of it. Four gigabit Ethernet ports are also available, as are a pair of USB ports, which, despite being blue, only support USB 2.0.

These USB ports allow storage and printers to be shared wirelessly, although there's no support for 3G modems or USB pass through. Just like the WNDR3700, Netgear can make the storage available over SMB, HTTP and FTP, or it can be made available through a DLNA server.

Netgear WNDR4500 rear

Power switch, power jack, gigabit WAN port, 4x gigabit Ethernet ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports.
(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 it 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 any settings requires a 20-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 DGND3700 UI

Netgear's new UI is okay, but badly organised. The 20-second wait to apply settings is also incredibly frustrating, and is even longer on lower-powered devices.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Being a top-of-the-line router, features are reasonable. From right within the interface, you can set the MAC address, for instance. Address reservation is in here, and, interestingly, you can control your upstream bandwidth — although not on a per-user level.

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Where to Buy

Netgear WNDR4500

Part Number: CNETNetgear WNDR4500

Typical Price: $249.00

See manufacturer website for availability.