The EnGenius Wireless ESR9855G 300Mbps gaming router is similar to the D-Link DGL-4500 GamerLounge router , and, interestingly, bot of them have issues with wireless stability, though the EnGenius proved to be slightly more stable. Other than that, the EnGenius is clearly better in regard to both wireless speed and range. It's also easier to use and comes in a more well-thought-out design.
With a street price of around $100, the EnGenius ESR9855G is one of the most affordable routers of its kind. If you are looking for a single-band wireless router with great range and high wireless speed, look no further than the ESR9855G. If wireless stability is important, however, our 48-hour wireless signal stress test revealed some shortcomings.
Setup and design
Like most wireless routers, the ESR9855G has a square shape with rounded corners. The two detachable antennas are on the router's side, leaving the ports--which are on the back--easily accessible. The router also has an eye-catching black and orange color scheme.
The router has four LAN ports (to host wired clients) and one WAN port (to connect to the Internet). All of these ports are Gigabit, meaning they offer speeds up to 1,000Mbps. Also on its back, you'll find an on/off switch. The router has no USB port, so there are no USB-related features, such as the support for printers or network storage.
On top of the router is a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button that, when pressed for 5 seconds or fewer, initiates the 2-minute window that other WPS-enabled devices can join the network without having to manually type an encryption key. The WPS button also serves two other purposes. If you press and hold it for around 6 to 10 seconds, it will restart the router. If you press and hold for longer than 11 seconds, the router will reset its settings to the factory default. Though this is convenient, make sure you keep the router out of children's reach as they might just reset the router without you knowing it.
On the front of the router, there's an array of LED lights that show the status of the wireless network, the ports on the back, and the connection to the Internet. As the router's front is completely vertical, these lights are not visible unless you pick the router up and turn its front toward you. The router is wall-mountable.
The EnGenius is easy to set up. It comes with a CD that contains some animations showing how to connect the router. After that, you can log into its Web interface by pointing the connected computer's browser to its default IP address, which is 192.168.1.1. The default log-in information is printed on the bottom of the router. We had no problem setting up the router and were able to get it up and running within just 5 minutes.
The EnGenius ESR9855G is a single-band router, so it operates only in the popular 2.4Ghz frequency band and has no support for the newer 5Ghz band. The router doesn't offer a guest networking feature, which allows for creating a separate network (or SSID) for guests.
What it does offer is a standard set of wireless networking through a well-organized and responsive Web interface. Novice users can follow the wizards within the interface to get the router connected to the Internet or to set up a wireless network.
Advanced users can further customize other features, such as Virtual Server, Special Application, Port Forwarding, Access Control, Web Filter, Mac Address Filter, and so on. Most of the included features are also available in competing wireless routers. One that stands out, however, is wireless intelligent stream handling (WISH), a feature that prioritizes traffic of various wireless applications.
We like the way the EnGenius handles connected clients. All of them are shown with both their IP addresses and the MAC address, and you can quickly reserve an IP address for a particular client.
Though designated as a "Gaming router," the EnGenius ESR9855G doesn't offer any preconfigured settings for any games. However, using the features listed above, an advanced user can customize the router' traffic to support any online gaming requirements.
For security the EnGenius ESR9855G offers all the existing variations of consumer-grade wireless encryption including WEP, WPA, and WPA 2.
The EnGenius ESR9855G impressed us with its throughput and range in our tests, consistently achieving the fastest scores we've seen among single-band 2.4Ghz routers.
In the close range throughput test, the EnGenius received a score of 57.7Mbps. At this speed, the router can finish transmitting 500MB of date in less than 70 seconds.
In range test, where the router is set to be 100 feet away from the client, the EnGenius registered 48.5Mbps.
And finally in the mixed mode test, where the ESR9855G was set to work with both N and legacy G wireless clients, it once again trumped all with a 50.8Mbps score, the fastest by a rather large margin.
The EnGenius ESR9855G also offers extremely long range. In our test environment, which is not typically optimized for wireless range, it was able to maintain a stable connection from about 350 feet away, compared with 250 feet of most Wireless-N routers.
However, we did notice that as the range increased, so did the latency. For example, from the distance of 180 feet and beyond, it would take a few seconds before the wireless client started receiving data or connected to the Internet.
The EnGenius ESR9855G, unfortunately, didn't pass our 48-hour stress test where we set it to constantly transferring a large amount of data between wireless clients. During this time, the router's signal was reset a couple of times, disrupting the data transmission. This might not affect regular Internet surfing, or even movie streaming, but it would likely kick an online gamer out of his or her game.
Service and support
The EnGenius ESR9855G is easy enough to use that we think you won't need much support for it. And that's a good thing, as the support for the product seems very sparse. It took us a while to find out that the router's backed by a one-year warranty. At EnGenius' Web site, which is confusing and incredibly slow, you won't find anything but just a photo of the product, a bit of information about the router, and its data sheet in PDF format.