Trendnet TEW-818DRU Dual Band Wireless Router review:

A powerful Wi-Fi router with a friendly price tag

The router supports all existing Wi-Fi clients, regardless of their Wi-Fi standards, but you'll need newer clients to take advantage of the higher speeds.

The TEW-818DRU includes a common set of features and settings, which are usually found in most AC1900 routers. This would include Guest networks (one for each band), Quality of Service, IPv6, Firewall, and so on. It's one of just a few that offers the most Wi-Fi networks, however: You can set up as many as three main Wi-Fi networks for each band. In all, including the guest networks, the router can handle up to eight Wi-Fi networks at a time. This means you can create a network for each Wi-Fi standard and still have a few to spare. The use of multiple Wi-Fi networks allows you to be backward compatibile without sacrificing the connection speed.

The TEW-818DRU comes with a more refined Web interface compared to that of the previous generation. The interface is very responsive, and you can apply many changes without restarting the router. For the most part, the interface is very well designed and self-explanatory. It's a little confusing differentiating between the use of the Basic and Advanced settings, however. For example, the MAC filtering feature is listed under Parental Control, whereas it should be under Security.

There's also a nice network map that shows the connected clients. Unfortunately, this maps doesn't indicate if a client is connected using a network cable (wired) or via Wi-Fi. Also, you can't interact with a client by clicking on its icon.

As designed, the router's USB ports can be used to host external hard drives as network storage. In my trial, however, the router's interface didn't seem to recognize any of the portable devices I used for the tests, even when the LED light on the front of the router is on, showing that the port is being used. This is likely because the ports don't provide enough juice to power a connected drive.

The default settings are printed on the router's bottom making it very easy to use.
The default settings are printed on the router's underside, making it very easy to use. Dong Ngo/CNET

The TEW-818DRU's performance more than makes up for the USB issue mentioned above. I tested the router on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands with both 802.11n and 802.11ac clients, and the router performed very well.

When used with 802.11ac clients, which work only on the 5GHz band, the router registered a sustained speed of 465Mbps at close range (15 feet) and 307Mbps when I increased the distance to 100 feet. These numbers place the Trendnet in the top three and top two, respectively, for these criteria among 802.11ac-enabled routers.

CNET Labs 802.11ac Performance
(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)

When used with Wireless-N clients on the 5GHz band, the TEW-818DRU averaged 175Mbps for close range and and 91Mbps at long range, both slightly below the average among high-end routers. Using the 2.4GHz band, the router scored 156.5Mbps at close range and 66Mbps at long range; both were comparatively very fast.

CNET Labs 5Ghz Wireless-N Performance
(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)
CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N Performance
(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)

The router offered very good range in my testing, up to 270 feet. However, like all routers, I found that the most effective range is around 150 feet. Within this range, the router passed the 48-hour stress test without any hiccups. During this time, none of the connected clients, on either band, was disconnected even once. Note that I tested the router at CNET's offices, where there are walls and many Wi-Fi devices that are out of my control. Generally, walls shorten the reach of a Wi-Fi signal, and other Wi-Fi devices create interference. As with all Wi-Fi routers, your results may vary depending on where you live.

If the issue regarding portable devices mentioned earlier doesn't throw you off, the Trendnet AC1900 Dual Band Wireless TEW-818DRU router offers the most value among its competitors, such as the Asus RT-AC68U or the Netgear R7000, thanks to its friendly pricing. With solid Wi-Fi performance on both bands and gigabit Ethernet, it will give you a robust home network and the ease of use is a nice extra. Note that you need Wi-Fi clients that also support the same standard to enjoy the faster wireless speed, while you will see almost no improvement with legacy clients. That said, as is common to other AC1900 routers on the market, the TEW-818DRU's appeal is that it will work great now and also the near future.

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