U.S. Robotics MaxG router review: U.S. Robotics MaxG router

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MSRP: $86.05
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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Inexpensive; integrated print server; WPA and 802.1x security; firewall and DMZ support; bridge capability.

The Bad Mediocre performance; no wall-mounting brackets; toll-free phone support is available only during certain hours.

The Bottom Line Though it's not the best long-range performer, the U.S. Robotics Wireless MaxG router is one of the cheapest ways to achieve decent wireless throughput over long distances.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.9 Overall
  • Design and ease of use 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Service and support 5.0

U.S. Robotics Wireless MaxG router

U.S. Robotics' claims about its Wireless MaxG router seem too good to be true. This economical 802.11g device touts a fast 125Mbps turbo mode and exceptional speed at long range. However, the router's mediocre real-world throughput in CNET Labs' tests didn't match up with its claims. That said, the Wireless MaxG router still offers the best long-range throughput of any router at this price, plus other perks such as WPA security and an integrated print server. But if you're willing to pay twice as much, you can get a router with nearly double the range, such as the MIMO-based Belkin Wireless Pre-N.

The Wireless MaxG router is housed in a silver-and-gray plastic casing that helps it blend into the technological woodwork. The device includes the typical four Ethernet jacks on its rear edge, along with one USB 2.0 port for connecting a printer. That edge also has the standard adjustable antenna found on most routers. The antenna's flexibility helps you maximize your signal strength. We wish the router also included brackets for mounting it high on a wall where it would experience less signal interference. Along the front edge, five status lights corresponding to the Ethernet jacks and the USB port lie next to three more lights that indicate when the router is drawing AC power, when its wireless radio is functioning properly, and when wireless clients are accessing the network.

Thankfully, the Wireless MaxG router's setup and user guides are more thorough than those of its wireless-adapter counterpart, the Wireless MaxG PC Card. The installation guide incorporates useful diagrams for plugging in the requisite hardware, as well as handy screenshots that take you through important initial configuration procedures for both the router and a printer. These include choosing an SSID, establishing a WPA password, and directing Windows to recognize your networked printer.

The installation guide is also included as a section within the extended user guide, which goes into greater detail about how to alter the Wireless MaxG router's features using its browser-based configuration tool. In addition to WPA, the device secures your data transmissions through WEP keys and 802.1x authentication via a RADIUS server. You can also use the tool to specify whether the router should block or accept particular MAC addresses, send incoming traffic only to certain computers (known as port forwarding), place a certain computer in the DMZ, or function as a network bridge.

CNET Labs maximum-throughput test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

CNET Labs long-range test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
*Note: Measured indoors at 200 feet

CNET Labs mixed-throughput test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

On paper, the Wireless MaxG router's performance statistics are impressive. According to U.S. Robotics, the router's turbo mode maxes out at 125Mbps (most routers with high-speed modes, such as the Netgear WGU624, top out at 108Mbps), and the device offers "the maximum 802.11g range in the industry." Yet despite its faster turbo rating, the Wireless MaxG router transferred data at 37.5Mbps in CNET Labs' maximum-throughput tests, which was slower than the WGU624's 42.1Mbps. The Netgear also beat the U.S. Robotics in our range tests, with the former shuttling data across the network at a fast 35.6Mbps compared to the latter's 19Mbps. We should note, however, that the WGU624 costs close to $50 more than the Wireless MaxG router. Among similarly priced routers, such as the D-Link DI-624, the Wireless MaxG router is the clear long-range champ.

U.S. Robotics bundles an industry-standard two-year warranty and mail-in service with the Wireless MaxG router. You can access toll-free tech support during that period, though the limited hours--Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT--are disappointing. At press time, a search on the Wireless MaxG router in the knowledge-base section of the company's support Web site came up empty, though the device's product page listed a handful of general troubleshooting tips.

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