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Netgear WPN511 RangeMax Wireless PC Card review: Netgear WPN511 RangeMax Wireless PC Card

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The Good Outstanding 802.11g and long-range throughput; simple setup; full-featured configuration utility; WPA support.

The Bad Mediocre speed in mixed-mode, 802.11b/g environments.

The Bottom Line The Netgear WPN511 offers outstanding 802.11g and long-range speed when used with its router counterpart, the WPN824, but its performance suffers in mixed-mode environments.

7.8 Overall

Netgear WPN511 RangeMax Wireless PC card

The Netgear WPN511 RangeMax Wireless PC Card plays Robin to the company's router Batman, the RangeMax WPN824. Used in tandem, this dynamic MIMO duo provides the fastest maximum 802.11g and long-range throughput we've seen in the CNET Labs. Unfortunately, adding 802.11b clients to the mix cuts the pair's speed in half--making them best suited for SOHO environments that are free of other wireless equipment.

The Netgear WPN511 RangeMax card is about the same size and shape as most wireless PC Card adapters. It features two helpful LED status lights on the end that notify you of the card's activities by blinking in various patterns. Like other plug-and-play PC Cards, the WPN511 is easy to install; Netgear's well-organized setup and user guides make the process painless. After installation, you can use the card's handy configuration utility to establish all-important security features, such as an SSID and keys for WEP and WPA. It also helps you create profiles for your frequent haunts and check the strength of your wireless signal.

When it comes to maximum 802.11g and long-range speed, the Netgear WPN511 PC Card and companion WPN824 router make an exceptional team: their dual 46.6Mbps maximum and 36.4Mbps long-range throughput scores are faster than those of most of the other MIMO or SuperG devices we've tested. Yet their mediocre 23.3Mbps mixed-mode score indicates that the devices don't play nicely with 802.11b equipment.

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

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

CNET Labs long-range tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Netgear backs the WPN511 with a standard one-year warranty. Convenient 24/7, toll-free tech support lasts for the length of the warranty, though access to the company's support Web site is always free.

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