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Buffalo WBR2-G54S review: Buffalo WBR2-G54S

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MSRP: $129.00
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The Good Fast mixed-mode throughput; WPA and 802.1x support; VPN pass-through; easy connection to other Buffalo devices.

The Bad Lackluster maximum throughput; no adjustable external antenna; extremely technical documentation; comparatively short warranty.

The Bottom Line Unless you already own other Buffalo AOSS wireless devices, skip the WBR2-G54S in favor of a full-featured alternative.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.3 Overall

Review Sections

While the Buffalo WBR2-G54S high-speed wireless cable/DSL router includes many useful features--WPA and 802.1x support, VPN pass-through, and instant connectivity to other Buffalo AOSS-enabled devices, to name a few--its intrigues end there. The router lacks basics such as an adjustable external antenna and a bracket for wall mounting. Maximum throughput speeds for the router in CNET Labs' tests were also uninspiring. The WBR2-G54S's mixed-mode performance with both 802.11g and 802.11b connections proved better--but still not good enough to merit our overall stamp of approval. The only reason to buy the Buffalo WBR2-G54S is if you want to make a simple connection to other Buffalo AOSS-enabled wireless devices. If not, pick up a well-rounded Wi-Fi router such as the D-Link DI-624 or Belkin's high-performance Pre-N router.

Design flexibility is not the WBR2-G54S's forte. For starters, the device's screwed-on feet force it into a permanent vertical position. Its lack of mounting brackets means you can't hang it high on a wall, where routers often deliver the best range. And the omission of a bendable, external antenna prevents you from directing the router's signal straight to your computer. However, the WBR2-G54S does include an external connector for adding an optional external antenna, which you can use to improve the router's range.

The WBR2-G54S's setup guide is laden with tech-heavy language that will read like Greek to new users. Deciphering the guide reveals that the router's fairly simple setup process is similar to most other Wi-Fi routers': First, plug the router into an AC outlet and your broadband modem. Then string a Cat-5 cable between the router and the computer that you'll be using to configure it (or connect wirelessly via a Wi-Fi equipped system), and set up your network adapter to obtain an IP address via DHCP (the setup guide walks you through the process). Once the router's up and running, you can make convenient connections to other AOSS-enabled computers or access points by pressing the AOSS button on the back panel, then pressing the AOSS button on all of the other units you wish to have on the network.

Configuring the WBR2-G54S involves the typical Wi-Fi router routine of logging in to a browser-based tool by typing the device's IP address into your Web browser's address bar. The tool lets you alter important router security settings, including SSID, 64- and 128-bit WEP keys, WPA, and if you have a RADIUS server at your disposal, 802.1x authentication. You can also customize the WBR2-G54S's firewall features, specifying a DMZ (demilitarized zone) for gameplay and teleconferencing, allowing for VPN pass-through so that traveling employees can access the network remotely, and filtering undesirable MAC addresses.

The Buffalo WBR2-G54S's performance is lackluster. Its 37.1Mbps maximum-throughput score in CNET Labs' tests landed at the slow end of the high-speed spectrum, behind much faster times such as the Netgear WGT624's 47.1Mbps. However, the Buffalo earned a respectable score of 25.3Mbps in our Labs' mixed-mode tests--just 0.5Mbps slower than the Linksys WRT54GS, though still a far cry away from the 42.1Mbps of Belkin's Pre-N router. For more details on how we test networking devices, see the CNET Labs site.

Whereas most wireless routers ship with three-year warranties, the WBR2-G54S offers just a two-year warranty. Toll-free tech support lasts for the length of your warranty and is available 24/7. The company provides a bare-bones support Web site, which features just a handful of general FAQs, firmware upgrades, and documentation downloads.

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  

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