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Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX review: Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX

The 7404VNPX has pretty much every feature you could ever wish for in a modem router — except stability.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

Design

When we first unpacked the Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX, we were struck with an immense feeling of deja vu. We couldn't shake the idea that surely, we'd reviewed this router before. That's basically because visually, it's a dead ringer for the Billion BiPAC 7800N 802.11n dual-WAN ADSL2+ firewall router. We noted that router as being particularly ugly, and exactly the same criticism is due of the 7404VNPX. It's functional to look at, and nothing else at all. If you want a router you could proudly display on the coffee table, this isn't it, despite the same somewhat unusual antennas-poking-out-each-side design the 7800N uses.

5.3

Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX

The Good

Integrated ADSL2+. USB 3G compatibility. Integrated VoIP.

The Bad

Design is ugly and dated. Serious stability issues.

The Bottom Line

The 7404VNPX has pretty much every feature you could ever wish for in a modem router — except stability.

Features

As with the 7800N, looking pretty isn't the 7404VNPX's core mission. It's a router packed with features. On the wireless side, 802.11n, but then everything has that. On the internet connectivity side, ADSL2+ or 3G wireless via USB socket with fail-over to keep your connection running. It's VoIP capable, with sockets for multiple handsets. Its four Ethernet ports are all gigabit capable. In short, if you only want to have a single network box for all your current possible network needs, the 7404VNPX is it.

Performance

Installation of the 7404VNPX was, to put it mildly, a challenging affair. Billion's web interfaces aren't the most novice-friendly affairs, but they're usually functional enough. Sadly, the same couldn't be said for the 7404VNPX's hardware. Out of the box, our review sample insisted on rebooting itself every sixty seconds or so. We tried firmware updates, but 60 seconds of uptime, even connected via Ethernet, wasn't quite enough.

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We eventually got it to stabilise enough by removing every cable but a single Ethernet one, at which point we could upgrade to the 5.53.s6.b1 firmware. That did settle the rebooting issue, but didn't fix our next challenge, which was getting the router to remember settings for VoIP and 3G wireless. We spent several hours battling the 7404VNPX's obtuse update policy, which requires hitting apply, then saving the configuration to flash, then restarting the router and hoping it would remember everything we'd told it to remember.

After a while we got it to accept the fallback 3G modem, but it took a lot of tweaking to get a MyNetFone VoIP account working to a satisfactory level. Even after far more exhaustive battling with the 7404VNPX than we'd like, we still hit minor stability issues while testing.

We also ran the 7404VNPX through our standard set of signal strength and throughput tests to see how well its base 802.11n networking performed. It's a 2.4GHz only product, putting it square in the sights of a lot of potential interference issues.

Signal strength: 2.4GHz

Distance from router Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX Billion BiPAC 7800N Asus RT-N16 Asus RT-N13U Belkin N+ Wireless Storage Router
5m 92% 91% 93% 87% 88%
15m (minor walls) 51% 72% 62% 60% 63%
15m (multiple walls) 50% 61% 65% 59% 62%

Signal strength was solid by comparison with most routers, although we did find it interesting that the 7404VNPX's longer range performance wasn't the equal of the similarly equipped Billion 7800N.

Throughput: 2.4GHz

Distance from router Billion BiPAC 7404VNPX Billion BiPAC 7800N Asus RT-N16 Asus RT-N13U Belkin N+ Wireless Storage Router
2m, no barriers 19.5Mbps 11.2Mbps 29.75Mbps 25.63Mbps 31.75Mbps
20m (multiple walls) 19.4Mbps 10.8Mbps 28.91Mbps 25.38Mbps 31.35Mbps

In throughput, however, the 7404VNPX outclassed the 7800N, but fell short of claiming the 802.11n speed crown. As with all of our wireless tests, results are indicative in our test location only, and depending on where you deploy a router, as well as competing signals, your results may differ.

Undoubtedly, our issues with configuration and stability could be theoretically fixed with another firmware upgrade. Undeniably, the first firmware upgrade we applied fixed issues that rendered the 7404VNPX an annoying plastic brick. All we can do is evaluate products as they stand, though. At the time of writing, while the appeal of an all-in-one box decked out as heavily as the 7404VNPX is undeniable, and its speed is fair, we can't recommend it for purchase based on critical stability issues.