CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test routers

Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless-N Router Gigabit Edition review: Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless-N Router Gigabit Edition

Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless-N Router Gigabit Edition

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
4 min read

The Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Gigabit router isn't a new product, but in our recent sweep of Draft N routers, we decided to take a look this Netgear unit that provides Gigabit Ethernet wired networking along with Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n wireless standard. In labs testing, the WNR854T proved itself to be a solid performer, finishing at or near the top of our three wireless throughput tests. Given the RangeMax name, however, we expected the signal to carry farther than it did. Still, its range is no worse than what we found on other Draft N routers. For basic home networking where advanced features are not required, the $130 Netgear RangeMax WRN854T offers a winning combination of easy setup and strong performance.


Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless-N Router Gigabit Edition

The Good

Easy setup, thanks in large part to the intuitive and responsive Web interface; high throughput speeds; Gigabit LAN; attractive antenna-less design.

The Bad

Range could be better; no USB port; some advanced settings are absent.

The Bottom Line

The Netgear RangeMax Next WNR854T Gigabit is a smart choice for home networks, thanks to its fast throughput and easy setup.

  •  Device type: Wireless router
  •  Network standard: 802.11n (draft), 802.11b/g
  •  Bandwidth: 2.4GHz
  •  OSes supported: Linux; Mac OS 8.x, 9.x, X 10.x; Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP
  •  Security options: WEP; WPA-PSK; NAT and SPI firewalls, MAC address filtering
  •  Features: 4 Gigabit LAN ports; 1 Gigabit WAN port; DHCP support; DDNS
  •  Notable design features: Antenna-less design
  •  Support: One-year warranty; 24-7 toll-free phone support; e-mail support form; FAQs; knowledge base; driver and software downloads

Shopping for a faster internet speed?
We’ll send you the fastest internet options, so you don’t have to find them.

Unlike most wireless routers, the WNR854T bears a unique antenna-less design. As we saw on the Netgear WNR834B RangeMax router last year, the antennas are concealed inside a rather sleek, square, plastic case. It is a simple box with an array of network ports--four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port--on the back and corresponding status LEDs on the front. It comes with a little detachable base to position it vertically.

The RangeMax Next WNR854T features an intuitive and responsive Web interface that makes configuring your home network quick and easy. For most cable and DSL services in the U.S., the router will likely work right away once plugged in--without you having to do anything. But if you want to customize a bit, naming your networking or adding encryption, for example, the setup wizard will walk you through a few simple, self-explanatory steps. We had a named, encrypted network up and running in less than 10 minutes. The router supports all available wireless security encryption standards, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2, and has a useful set of basic networking features such as IP address reservation, hardware firewall, and parental control via the Content Filtering feature. This feature lets you block certain types of services (chat, peer-to-peer sharing, certain Web sites, and so on) as well as limit the time a particular computer can be on the Internet. While these features aren't unique, we applaud Netgear for making them accessible and easy to set up and maintain.

The WNR854T lacks more advanced networking features, however. There's no option, for example, to set up a VPN or port reservation for gaming or other special applications, which you can do with the Trendnet TEW-633GR.

Unlike many routers, the Netgear WNR854T doesn't come with a USB port. This means it doesn't offer any USB-related features such as a print server or Windows Connect Now, which enables users to transfer the wireless encrypting setup from the router to other clients via a thumbdrive. The router also doesn't support Wi-Fi Protected Setup, another technology that simplifies the process of getting clients connected, either.

With the latest firmware update (version 1.4.23NA)--included in the box and also available at Netgear's site--that makes it compatible with Wi-Fi Certified 802.11n draft 2.0 standard, the WNR854T turned in some impressive results on CNET Labs' benchmarks. On our close range throughput test, it scored as much as 85.5 Mbps, among the best we've seen. (Though it's still nowhere close to the theoretical max 300Mbps of the .11n specification, we've yet to test a router that's come even close to that figure.) On our mixed mode test, where the router was set up to work with multiple devices of different wireless standards, the score was reduced but still an impressive 67.5 Mbps. On our long-range test, at 200 feet, the router was able to sustain a 26.87Mbps, which is on par with competing routers form Asus, D-Link, and SMC. During our testing process, the Netgear worked smoothly, and we didn't experience any reset during heavy load as we did with the D-Link DGL-4500 router.

The Netgear WNR854T's range failed to impress, though that has something to do with the lofty expectations we held given its RangeMax name. Its range turned out to be only average, no better and no worse than other high-end Draft N routers, including the DGL-4500. Generally speaking, we look for a range of 300 feet for Draft N routers, and in anecdotal testing, the Netgear router started to drop its signal at around 270 feet. It's necessary to note a wireless router's range depends a lot on its environment, and our test environment is not exactly range-friendly.

Netgear backs the RangeMax WRN854T with a standard one-year warranty. The support pages on Netgear's site are somewhat elusive (you have to scroll all the way down to find the Support link) but nonetheless offers lots of support information from troubleshooting and a knowledge base to firmware/driver/manual downloads.

Maximum throughput tests (at 15 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput max  

Maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and draft N clients (at 15 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Long-range throughput tests (measured indoors at 200 feet, in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput at 200 feet  

Find out more about how we test networking gear.


Netgear WNR854T RangeMax Next Wireless-N Router Gigabit Edition

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 6Performance 8Support 7