Belkin Play Max Wireless Router review: Belkin Play Max Wireless Router

The Web interface is very much like that of the Belkin N+'s: organized and responsive. Here you will find the router's other advanced features, such as Access Control, which restricts the access to the Internet of certain computers in the network; Virtual Server, which allows you to set up a computer for a particular service, such as an FTP or HTTP sever; Firewall, and so on. Unlike the N+, the Play Max also has a feature called "Self Healing," which is a fancy name for another gimmick that allows the router to restart itself periodically.

The Belkin Play Max is a true dual-band router, meaning it offers two separate wireless networks, one in the ever popular 2.4Ghz band and the other in the newer and cleaner 5Ghz band. It also has the guest-networking features that creates a separate 2.4Ghz wireless network for guests. This network allows for access to the Internet, but not to other resources of your local network, such as your printer or files.

Like most recent routers, the Belkin Play Max supports all available wireless encryption standards, including WEP, WPA-personal, and WPA-Enterprise. The router also supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), with a button on its front that initiates a 2-minute window time when other WPS-enabled devices can enter the wireless network automatically.

We did find, however, that the router's Web interface was buggy at times, though not consistently. For example, more than once, the router just stopped working after we had applied the changes via its Web interface, requiring us to restart. And once, after a restart, the router for, unknown reasons, reverted to its default settings, discarding all the changes we had made to it.

Performance
Like with the Belkin N+, we were happy with the Play Max's wireless performance.

In the 5Ghz band, the router scored 57.6Mbps in the close-range throughput test, where the router was placed 15 feet away from the client. At this speed it could transfer 500MB of data in about 69 seconds. In the 100-foot range test, the router still scored impressively at 56Mbps, which is a very small amount of degradation in signal strength.

As expected, in the 2.4Ghz band the Belkin Play Max scored lower than it did in the 5Ghz band, but was still very fast compared with other routers, registering 52.2Mbps and 44.8Mbps, in close-range and long-range tests, respective. In the mixed-mode test, in which we set the router to work with both N and legacy G clients at the same time, the Belkin scored 47.5Mbps, which is a very good number.

We were especially happy with the Belkin's range. Like the Belkin N+ and the recently reviewed Cisco Linksys E3000, the Play Max offer up to around 280 to 300 feet of range in the 2.4Ghz band and around 250 to 270 feet of range in the 5Ghz band.

It was a different story when it came to the network storage functionality. Belkin claims that the router can offer a rate of up to 30MBps for data transfer, but in our test it was nowhere even close to that. We tested the router with a few external storage devices, including some USB 3.0 drives, and the best we got from it is 1.1MBps (8.8Mbps) for writing and 2.2MBps (17.6Mbps) for reading. This is by far the slowest among routers that have built-in support for network storage.

The router worked well throughout our testing. However, it gets rather hot after a few hours--not hot enough to worry about seriously, but make sure you leave it in an open space rather than a tight corner.

CNET Labs NAS performance (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Apple Time Capsule
114.2 
81.2 
Cisco Linksys E3000
32.2 
57.1 
Netgear WNDR3700
40 
17.8 
Belkin Play Max
17.6 
8.8 

CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N Performance Score (Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed Mode  
Range  
Throughput  
D-Link DIR-825 (2.4Ghz)
55.04 
40.4 
57.44 
Belkin N+ Wireless Router (2.4Ghz)
36.16 
29.44 
55.44 
Netgear WNDR3700 (2.4Ghz)
41.8 
38.6 
54.8 
Belkin Play Max (2.4Ghz)
47.5 
44.8 
52.2 
Cisco Linksys E3000 (2.4Ghz)
35.3 
32.8 
43.5 
Linksys WRT610n (2.4Ghz)
27.04 
28.8 
35.76 
Apple Time Capsule (2.4Ghz)
20 
20.8 
32.2 

CNET Labs 5Ghz Wireless-N performance test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Apple Airport Extreme Base Station (5Ghz)
59.04 
66.48 
Belkin Play Max (5Ghz)
56 
57.6 
Linksys WRT610n (5Ghz)
54.8 
64.8 
Netgear WNDR3700 (5Ghz)
40 
60 
D-Link DIR-825 (5Ghz)
36.48 
80.96 

Service and support
Belkin backs the Play Max with a two-year warranty, which is very good for routers, as most on the market come with only a one-year warranty. Belkin's toll-free phone support is available 24-7, or you can fill out a form at Belkin's Web site for e-mail support. Its Web site also offers documentation, downloadable drivers, and FAQs.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Remote Management Protocol HTTPS
  • Data Transfer Rate 300 Mbps
  • Connectivity Technology wireless