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EnGenius ESR9850 300Mbps Wireless N Router with Gigabit Switch Reviewed

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Introduction

Updated 3/18/2010: Added Max sessions test results

EnGenius ESR9850

At a Glance
Product EnGenius 300Mbps Wireless N Router with Gigabit Switch (ESR9850)
Summary 2.4GHz, Ralink-based 802.11n router with WDS bridging / repeating, very fast routing and up and download bandwidth control. Not Wi-Fi Certified
Pros • > 700 Mbps wired routing speed
• Supports WDS bridging / repeating
• Up and download bandwidth control
• External, upgradeable antennas
Cons • Minimal online support resources
• Wireless range could be better
• No USB print serving or NAS sharing

Judging from the interest in the slideshow, people are pretty interested in this router. Perhaps it's because the problems with D-Link's DIR-655 have make folks look elsewhere for a decent 2.4 GHz 802.11n router. Or maybe it's the 9850's combination of low price and chart-topping routing speed.

The router is housed in an off-white plastic case the size of large paperback book. There are mounting slots on the bottom, but a vertical stand is not included.

Figure 1 shows the 9850's back panel, which contains one WAN and four switched LAN 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports (all auto MDI / MDIX), reset button, power socket and two little upgradeable omni-directional dipoles antennas connected via RP-SMA jacks.

ESR9850 Rear panel

Figure 1: ESR9850 Rear panel

The front (top) panel contains the LEDs described in the Figure 1 table, plus a switch to initiate a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) push-button session. All indicators flash to indiate network traffic and are bright enough. But you'll really need to squint to read the tiny icons above each light that denote its function.

Internal Details

Figure 2 shows the FCC ID photo, which is clear enough to identify the key devices as a Ralink RTL3052 SoC, which contains the CPU and 2T/2R 802.11n radio, MAC and baseband processing, Realtek RTL8366RB Gigabit Switch, 32 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash (on the board bottom). The small devices to the photo left are RF amplifiers.

ESR9850 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: ESR9850 board

I was surprised that neither the Ralink or Realtek devices have heatsinks, given all that's expected of them. But when I opened my review unit to double check, I was happy to see a flat ceramic heatsink on the RTL3052, but disappointed to find nothing on the Realtek switch. But at the 9850's aggressive price point, I suppose it's no surprise that heatsinking is sparse.

EnGenius doesn't say whether the 9850's switch supports jumbo frames. But when I checked by running an IxChariot test with 4k jumbos, it ran just fine. So, I'm guessing that up to 9K jumbo frames will work just fine.

Features

EnGenius doesn't provide an online emulator so that you can explore the 9850's GUI. But I put plenty of screenshots and commentary in the slideshow and tried to cover the key feature pages.

Here's a summary of the 9850's router feature set

  • Static and Dynamic IP, PPPoE, PPTP and L2TP WAN connections
  • DHCP server with IP reservation
  • Logging (system events only, not traffic)
  • Ethernet and WLAN monitor graphs
  • NAT firewall with DMZ, DoS protection, PPTP and IPsec VPN passthrough
  • MAC, IP and URL / Keyword filtering
  • Switchable NAT / Router mode
  • Single, range and triggered port mapping
  • ALG (Application Layer Gateways) for H323, SIP and more
  • UPnP enable / disable
  • Up and download QoS: two level priority or bandwidth

And the wireless features:

  • Up to four SSIDs, each with separate wireless security
  • WDS bridging and repeating
  • WEP and Personal / Enterprise WPA / WPA2 wireless security
  • Wi-Fi Protected setup (PIN and pushbutton methods)
  • Wireless Modes: B only, G only, N only, B+G and B+G+N (default)
  • Wireless MAC address filtering
  • Tranmit power control (100, 90, 75, 50, 25, 10%)
  • Transmit data rate
  • Connection control per SSID: WAN, Wireless-Wireless, Wireless-LAN

This is a pretty decent set of controls with all the basics covered, plus a few niceties. Of particular note is the inclusion of bandwidth control in both upload and download directions. Figure 3 shows an IxChariot plot of a test with upstream (LAN to WAN) bandwidth set to Full and download (WAN to LAN) set to 8 Mbps. The resulting nice-and-steady 7.7 Mbps is pretty sweet.

Bandwidth control example
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: Bandwidth control example

Note, however, that uplink speed is running around 40 Mbps. So it appears that you must give up the 100s of Mbps of routing bandwidth that the 9850 can supply (more shortly) to benefit from bandwidth control. However, with the speed of most broadband connections, this is probably a decent tradeoff.

Also of note are the per SSID wireless connection controls that enable you to control whether clients in each SSID can talk to other clients, wired LAN clients and the Internet. Basically they're using VLANs to separate the traffic, but with simple, easy-to-use controls.

The 9850's feature set isn't perfect and is missing traffic logging and scheduled radio enable / disable (for security). But the biggest omissions are USB print serving and NAS features. The latter, along with built-in Torrent downloading might be the biggest thing that keeps potential buyers away. Too bad, since EnGenius says the 9850 can handle up to 19,000 simultaneous sessions; more than enough to swamp most any Internet connection.




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Slideshow: EnGenius ESR9850
New To The Charts: TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Rou

User reviews

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Average user rating from: 14 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
3.8 Features :
 
3.8 Performance :
 
3.6 Reliability :
 
3.9
 
Ratings (the higher the better)
Features*
 
Performance*
 
Reliability*
 
Comments*
    Please enter the security code.
 
 

Piece of **it!

Overall rating: 
 
1.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by 741n73d
August 20, 2012
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Unreliable. D/C often, daily and several times. Useless piece of **it tbh.

 

Interface not well polished has limitations

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by Ras
September 18, 2011
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Two units purchased to replace two AirLink routers and work mostly as wired routers in a small business environment... Installed just recently so I can not comment on long term reliability yet... Just a few comments based on one week of usage.
First the setup interface menus are laid out a bit different then any one else, with no on-line help and an outdated manual; I had to experiment and find how some of the features really work. For example using static routing I had to manually enter the MAC address as the router does not pick the units connected automatically. There is a limit of max 10 MAC's in the static table which I find very low compared to other routers. To enable MAC filtering under Security I had to manually enter the MAC's again and luckily I was able to enter more than 10. It is unclear if this table includes the WiFi MAC's or not, probably not as there is another yet table of MAC Filters under Wireless setup. Setting up the schedule, the QoS it's a bit of a hit and miss and was able at some point to freak out the unit into a complete and unintentional reset to default values. I had one unit set as a pure wired router; the second unit had initially worked as router + AP WiFi in the 2.4GHz b/g/n but did not perform very well and since I turned the WiFi off.
Performance wise, the WiFi in the 2.4GHz g was less stable and much weaker compared to a Netgear 3700 resulting into dropped connections much too often, one floor away and a few dry walls in between. The wired routing seems to be alright a bit faster than the AirLink routers but not by much... I will update again after a few months of use.
Lastly, both unist are h/w rev 1.0 running f/w 2.1.0

 

HIdden commands

Overall rating: 
 
3.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by phillman5
February 28, 2011
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I've ordered this router, but it hasn't come in yet, so disregard my ratings (it wouldn't let me leave those blank). I found two things that maybe of interest, .

There are some hidden commands:

Settings Bridge:
xx.xx.xxx.xx/bridgelan.htm LAN Port Birdging and MAC Address Bridging Settings

Monitor:
xx.xxx.xx.xx/stasmonitor.htm Monitor WAN and WLAN Bandwidth

Mutlicast Settings:
http://xx.xx.xx.xx/wanadv.htm

Advanced Firewall Settings:
xx.xx.xx.xx/fwadv.htm

Advanced WMM Settings:
xx.xx.xx.xx/wlwmm.htm

And due to the generosity of a few individuals, one of these has been sent to the DD-WRT developers. It got there late February. Someone got a version of DD-WRT loaded, but since this router uses a separate LAN interface that will have to be developed.

 

PBX / SIP User Review

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Lawrence LaPlue
January 28, 2011
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Pros: Great for standard home or business use... Good speed and coverage, with a number of advanced features.


Biggest Con: Inappropriate for use with a SIP sever (e.g. TriBox, FreePBX, etc)

 

It's pretty good..

Overall rating: 
 
3.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Joe
December 13, 2010
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I'm a little disappointed with this router. I bought it because of how fast it seems in tests. Unfortunately my tests are showing it ever so slightly slower in both down and up speeds vs the DIR-655 it replaced. I've even tried disabling SPI firewall, enabling QOS even though my testing computer was the only thing connected, and other random things like a static computer IP, different secondary DNS, whatever I could think of. Unfortunately this router just can't catch up to my old DIR 655.

Application QOS was never used, only port-based, and Network Turbine was always enabled.

For the price, however, it seems like a bargain. It's a no-frills, serious, and great router.

I did not test wireless.

All tests were done with the new 2.0.0.98 firmware.

 
 
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