The Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Gigabit router isn't a new product, but in our recent sweep of Draft N routers, we decided to take a look this Netgear unit that provides Gigabit Ethernet wired networking along with Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n wireless standard. In labs testing, the WNR854T proved itself to be a solid performer, finishing at or near the top of our three wireless throughput tests. Given the RangeMax name, however, we expected the signal to carry farther than it did. Still, its range is no worse than what we found on other Draft N routers. For basic home networking where advanced features are not required, the $130 Netgear RangeMax WRN854T offers a winning combination of easy setup and strong performance.
- Device type: Wireless router
- Network standard: 802.11n (draft), 802.11b/g
- Bandwidth: 2.4GHz
- OSes supported: Linux; Mac OS 8.x, 9.x, X 10.x; Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
- Security options: WEP; WPA-PSK; NAT and SPI firewalls, MAC address filtering
- Features: 4 Gigabit LAN ports; 1 Gigabit WAN port; DHCP support; DDNS
- Notable design features: Antenna-less design
- Support: One-year warranty; 24-7 toll-free phone support; e-mail support form; FAQs; knowledge base; driver and software downloads
Unlike most wireless routers, the WNR854T bears a unique antenna-less design. As we saw on the Netgear WNR834B RangeMax router last year, the antennas are concealed inside a rather sleek, square, plastic case. It is a simple box with an array of network ports--four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port--on the back and corresponding status LEDs on the front. It comes with a little detachable base to position it vertically.
The RangeMax Next WNR854T features an intuitive and responsive Web interface that makes configuring your home network quick and easy. For most cable and DSL services in the U.S., the router will likely work right away once plugged in--without you having to do anything. But if you want to customize a bit, naming your networking or adding encryption, for example, the setup wizard will walk you through a few simple, self-explanatory steps. We had a named, encrypted network up and running in less than 10 minutes. The router supports all available wireless security encryption standards, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2, and has a useful set of basic networking features such as IP address reservation, hardware firewall, and parental control via the Content Filtering feature. This feature lets you block certain types of services (chat, peer-to-peer sharing, certain Web sites, and so on) as well as limit the time a particular computer can be on the Internet. While these features aren't unique, we applaud Netgear for making them accessible and easy to set up and maintain.
The WNR854T lacks more advanced networking features, however. There's no option, for example, to set up a VPN or port reservation for gaming or other special applications, which you can do with the Trendnet TEW-633GR.
Unlike many routers, the Netgear WNR854T doesn't come with a USB port. This means it doesn't offer any USB-related features such as a print server or Windows Connect Now, which enables users to transfer the wireless encrypting setup from the router to other clients via a thumbdrive. The router also doesn't support Wi-Fi Protected Setup, another technology that simplifies the process of getting clients connected, either.