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Buffalo AirStation WZR-RSG54 review: Buffalo AirStation WZR-RSG54


Setting up Buffalo's WZR-RSG54 wireless secure remote gateway to share an Internet connection is a simple plug-and-play affair. Depending on the complexity of your network, you can have multiple computers online within minutes. Unfortunately, configuring the VPN can be tricky. If you haven't set up a VPN before, plan on an hour of reading and mucking about on your computers. Fortunately, Buffalo does a good job of putting the information you need at your fingertips: the router comes with a 15-page VPN setup guide, which covers configuration settings for multiple versions of Windows, including Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP.

7.3

Buffalo AirStation WZR-RSG54

The Good

Includes VPN server, remote control software, and an 802.11g/b access point.

The Bad

Exaggerated wireless performance claims.

The Bottom Line

If you want to set up a VPN for your home or small-business network, Buffalo's wireless secure remote gateway is a decent choice.
Buffalo WZR-RSG54 wireless secure remote gateway
Buffalo's new WZR-RSG54 wireless secure remote gateway touts a feature set tailored for small-office or home networks. The gateway comes equipped with a built-in four-port Ethernet switch, an integrated 802.11g access point, VPN (virtual private network) server features, and software that lets you remotely control your computers via the Internet. This router is a good choice for some small businesses, but it's neither cheap nor the best-performing router we've tested. If you need a VPN and don't mind spending the time it takes to set it up, read on, but we suggest that you also consider the Belkin Pre-N router.

As the product name suggests, the most distinguishing features of Buffalo's wireless secure remote gateway are its support for secure VPN connections and its ability to let you control your computers from a remote location. The router's encrypted VPN server lets you tunnel into your network from a remote location via the Internet, keeping hackers at bay and maintaining the safety of the data in your home or office. Once you've established a VPN connection with the gateway, you can use the included VNC software to control the computers on your network remotely. The VPN and remote-control capabilities are useful features for traveling professionals; they could save you money on subscriptions to services such as GoToMyPC.

Buffalo's wireless remote secure gateway touts Broadcom's AfterBurner technology, which claims to boost wireless throughput rates to 125Mbps. Unfortunately, the actual throughput of the AfterBurner solution is significantly lower. The integrated 802.11g access point in Buffalo's secure remote gateway is based on Broadcom's new high-speed chipset. Both Broadcom and Buffalo misleadingly advertise the component as capable of 125Mbps. In our tests, the actual throughput of the unit in a best case scenario was only 37.1Mbps--a little faster than Linksys's SpeedBooster router but slower than other high-speed routers we've tested. The range of Buffalo's wireless secure remote gateway was equally underwhelming: at 200 feet, where Belkin's Pre-N router was still kicking out 36.4Mbps, the WZR-RSG54 wireless secure remote gateway mustered only 4.1Mbps. Buffalo equips all of its routers with an external connector that you can use to attach an antenna to improve the device's range, but this adds to the total cost of your network. Additionally, the router's enhanced speeds work only if all of the products in the network are built around the same chipset. We view this feature as more of a marketing ploy than a long-term benefit to consumers.

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

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

CNET Labs long-range tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Thoughput in Mbps measured indoors at 200 feet  

Buffalo offers a two-year warranty on its WZR-RSG54 wireless secure remote gateway, which is on a par with the warranties of similar devices marketed through other vendors. You also get toll-free, 24/7 phone support for the life of the product. Buffalo has excellent user documentation for its secure remote gateway, and we were impressed to find warranty and support info, including the toll-free tech support number, clearly listed in the user manual. Too often, vendors limit that warranty and support info to a separate, easy-to-lose card included in the box. You can download product documentation and firmware updates for free from the Buffalo Web site.

7.3

Buffalo AirStation WZR-RSG54

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 8Performance 7Support 7