Netgear WPN824 Router review: Netgear WPN824 Router

Although you can't see it, the RangeMax router's most interesting feature is the MIMO technology on the unit's circuit board. Whereas Belkin and Linksys have opted for Airgo's MIMO solution, Netgear is the first major networking vendor to stake its bet on a new MIMO solution developed by Video54. Airgo's solution requires three external antennas, while the Video54 solution built into the Netgear unit includes seven internal antennas built right into the unit's circuit board. The unit's seven antennas help the router counteract the negative impact of interference by reconfiguring themselves on the fly to adjust to changing environmental conditions. If the signal of one of the transceiving antennas becomes weak, the unit automatically searches for a better signal from the other antennas and adjusts accordingly. Blue LEDs on the top of the unit switch on and off, telling you which antennas are transmitting at any given moment.

The router's browser-based configuration tool includes all the basics; it is host to a number of advanced networking options, including Dynamic DNS support, which helps you set up your own Web site; DMZ assignments, useful for playing games or teleconferencing over the Internet; and URL blocking and logging, which is nice if you want to keep tabs on sites accessed from your network. Security features include an integrated firewall and MAC address filtering, as well as WEP and WPA encryption.

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and MIMO clients
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs long-range tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs ran the Netgear RangeMax router through its paces, and what they found was generally positive. Running just slightly ahead of Belkin's Pre-N router, Netgear's RangeMax broadened the ranks for the fastest routers we've seen to date when transferring data at close range. The RangeMax router also performed very well in CNET Labs' range tests, delivering 36.4Mbps at 200 feet, tying with Belkin's Pre-N unit. The Labs' mixed-mode tests unearthed the router's main performance weakness: when legacy 802.11b adapters join the network, the RangeMax router takes a performance hit, falling to a maximum throughput of just 23.3Mbps.

Netgear's RangeMax router comes with a perfunctory one-year warranty, which pales in comparison to the lifetime coverage you get with Belkin's Pre-N router. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7, but it's available for only 90 days from the date of purchase. Netgear recently gave its support Web site a much-needed makeover, but the site is still more difficult to use and offers fewer resources than other sites, such as those hosted by Linksys and D-Link. A detailed FAQ and user forum for the RangeMax router would be welcome additions. The router's lengthy 174-page reference manual in PDF offers plenty of useful information but lacks important basics, such as warranty specifics and contact information.

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Netgear WPN824 Router

Part Number: WPN824NA Released: Mar 1, 2005
MSRP: $84.00 Low Price: $27.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 1, 2005
  • Data Transfer Rate 150 Mbps
  • Connectivity Technology wireless
  • Weight 1.1 lbs