NetGear WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router review: NetGear WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router

 

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.7
  • Design and ease of use: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 6.0
  • Service and support: 7.0

Average User Rating

0.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Supports both 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies; internal antenna design; intuitive and responsive Web interface; easy to set up; good mixed mode and range throughput speed.

The Bad Short range; not true dual-band; no Gigabit support; no print serving or NAS functionality, no USB.

The Bottom Line The Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router WNDR3300 is a basic Wireless-N router that only offers a taste of dual-band wireless networking. Its short range and limited feature set may override its decent mixed-mode performance.

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The Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router WNDR3300 features a rather misleading name. The router doesn't support true dual-band wireless-N, nor does it offer very good range. It's a basic router with two separate access points (AP), one of which supports Wireless-N and can operate in either 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequencies--similar to the D-Link DGL-4500--while the other is a regular 802.11G 2.4GHz-only AP. The result is that when in dual-band mode the router is able to offer Wireless-N only in the 5Ghz frequency, while the 2.4Ghz frequency is maxed out at the 802.11G speed. Still, if you have a growing stable of 5Ghz-based devices and want a router that supports both frequencies, the WNDR3300 is the cheapest router on the market (at about $100) that will suit your needs.

While its max throughput is relatively low, the router offered very consistent and considerably high throughput speeds on both our mixed-mode and long-range throughput tests. Unfortunately, its range is possibly the shortest among Wireless-N routers. If range is not important to you and your network primarily consists of 5GHz-based clients, the WNDR330 is a good bet. Otherwise, for the same price, we'd recommend the 2.4GHz-only Linksys WRT310N; or you can pay $50 more for the true dual-band Linksys WRT610n.


Design and setup

The Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router WNDR3300 looks like others in Netgear's RangeMax series, with the sleek casing (that attracts fingerprints very easily) and the big, round, blue-glowing button on top. The button also activates the router's Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) feature, which instigates a short window of time wherein other WPS-compliant clients can enter the network without having to manually enter the encryption code. We like the blue light emitted from the button, but also found it a little too bright for certain locations, such as your bedroom, or beneath a television if you want to watch a film in a darkened room. In this case, you might want to cover it with a piece of black duck tape, as you cannot turn it off.

The best design feature of the router is its internal antenna, which helps make the router compact, though not as compact as the design of the latest Linksys routers, such as the WRT110. The WNDR3300 can also work in a vertical position and comes equipped with a base for just this purpose. It is, however, not wall-mountable.

The WNDR3300 is very easy to set up. The router comes with a software application that walks you through the setup process step by step, from setting up the hardware to creating the wireless network. Unlike the desktop application of the D-Link DIR-855, the WNDR3300's works well even if your computer has more than one network connection. If this is so, it prompts you to pick the one that's currently connected to the router; and if you pick the wrong one, you can go back and pick another.


Features

The WNDR3300 is the first router Netgear has sent us that supports both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies simultaneously. This is a significant move, because traditionally most routers (both Wireless-G and Draft N) were made to operate in the 2.4GHz frequency. With the proliferation of wireless networking in the last couple of years, the chances are that if you live in a city the 2.4GHz spectrum is saturated with signals from multiple routers. On top of that, other home electronics, such as cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, and so on, also use this frequency to transmit their radio signal. Moving to 5GHz means the router works in a cleaner spectrum and, therefore, potentially offers better wireless performance. At the same time, router manufacturers don't want to completely shut out all of the existing 2.4GHz-based wireless clients because there are just so darn many of them. This is where dual-band wireless routers, like the WNDR3300 and a few others, come in to play.

Unfortunately, unlike the D-Link DIR-855 or the Linksys WRT610n, to our disappointment, the Netgear WNDR3300 doesn't offer true dual-band Draft N 2.0. It offers Wireless-N in the 5GHz frequency and it offers Wireless-G in the 2.4GHz frequency, which means that only 5GHz-based clients can take advantage of the high Wireless-N throughput (up to 270Mps), while the 2.4GHz-based clients are maxed out at the sluggish Wireless-G speed (up to 54Mps).

The WNDR3300 also has a few other shortcomings, including the lack of Gigabit and USB support. As a result, wired throughput maxes out at 100Mbps, and it won't work as a print server or offer a network storage feature.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Remote Management Protocol HTTP
  • Connectivity Technology wired
  • Weight 1.1 lbs
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.