Updated 5/24/2010 - The EnGenius ESR7750 300Mbps Dual-Band Wireless N Router has been added to the Router and Wireless Charts.
The ESR7750 is a dual-band, dual-radio, dual-cpu Ralink-based 802.11n router with WDS bridging / repeating and up and download bandwidth control.
Its feature set is essentially the same as its single band sibling, the ESR9850. Refer to that review for a rundown of the tricks that the 7750 can do, which include four SSIDs, each with separate wireless security and support for WDS bridging and repeating.
The figure below shows what the 7750 looks like opened up. The dual-CPU design uses two Ralink SoCs, the RT3052F, which also powers the ESR9850, and an RT2880F.
EnGenius ESR7750 Internal view
The view below with the heatsinks removed shows the RT2880F on the left and the RT3052F on the right. Note that the production sample that EnGenius provided for review used two of the same, simpler ceramic slab heatsinks like the one on the left in the photo.
The 3052F provides the 2.4 GHz band radio and also the four-port 10/100 switch and 10/100 WAN port. The 2880F, joined with a Ralink RT2850L 5 GHz 2T3R transceiver, supports the 5 GHz radio. Even though the 5 GHz radio is a 2 Transmit, 3 Receive design, only two internal antennas are attached to each radio, as shown in the photo above.
EnGenius ESR7750 board detail
You can see the two RAM chips in the photo, but the two flash devices are on the bottom of the board. The 3052F gets 32 MB of RAM and 8 MB of flash, while the 2880F has only 16 MB of RAM and 2 MB of flash. There are no USB ports in this design, so printer and drive sharing isn't possible.
Routing throughput measured 94 Mbps WAN to LAN, 94 Mbps LAN to WAN and 104 Mbps with both directions running simultaneously. So the 10/100 ports are probably limiting the routing throughput delivered to essentially 100 Mbps wire speed. The IxChariot plot below shows nice steady routing speed.
EnGenius ESR7750 routing throughput
Our new Maximum Simultaneous Connection test came in at 2,038, which was below expectations and a new low for routers tested with the new procedure. (see update below) EnGenius said that the 1.1.2 firmware (Release Date: 1/12/2010) that we freshly downloaded and flashed should have provided a session limit around 20,000. But we were not able to verify this claim after repeated tests.
Router was retested with newly-released 1.1.3 firmware (1-1-3-75 kernel / 1-1-3-50 app, Release Date: 5/18/2010), which EnGenius said raised the session limit to 30,000. Our test maxed out at 42, 579 connections with the 1.1.3 firmware.
Wireless performance was disappointing, with the weakest 2.4 GHz performance we've experienced in awhile. Connection in our low signal test locations E and F was iffy, not just in 40 MHz mode, but also in 20 MHz—something we haven't seen since we started using the Intel WiFi Link 5300 test client.
It took multiple runs to get the 2.4 GHz uplink test to run in 20 MHz bandwidth mode and it failed to make it at all in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. The results for both bands are summarized in the chart below.
EnGenius ESR7750 wireless performance summary
A scan of the chart above shows that best case throughput was only 60.9 Mbps (5 GHz band, 40 MHz bandwidth, Location A). We were able, however, to get around 74 Mbps of total throughput when running simultaneous single up and downlink streams on either radio when using 40 MHz bandwidth mode.
Here are links to the IxChariot wireless test plots if you'd like to explore further:
- 2.4 GHz / 20 MHz downlink
- 2.4 GHz / 20 MHz uplink
- 2.4 GHz / 20 MHz up and downlink
- 2.4 GHz / 40 MHz downlink
- 2.4 GHz / 40 MHz uplink
- 2.4 GHz / 40 MHz up and downlink
- 5 GHz / 20 MHz downlink
- 5 GHz / 20 MHz uplink
- 5 GHz / 20 MHz up and downlink
- 5 GHz / 40 MHz downlink
- 5 GHz / 40 MHz uplink
- 5 GHz / 40 MHz up and downlink
Keep in mind that the 7750 is not Wi-Fi Certified and it defaults to Auto 20/40 bandwidth mode in 2.4 GHz instead of 20 MHz bandwidth mode, in violation of the 802.11n "out of the box" spec. It did, however, properly limit link rate to 54 Mbps when using WEP and WPA / TKIP wireless security. And a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) test using PIN mode, properly resulted in a WPA2 / AES connection.
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|User Rating [Back to Top]||Overall:||4.3||Features :||4.0||Performance :||4.0||Reliability :||5.0|
Performed better in my hands
May 19, 2010
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SNB has been outstanding in its reviews and consistent methods, so I was surprised the 7750 performed poorly versus my experience. My summary of SNB's review is its overall standing is mediocre, no standout performance. However, I ran a lot of tests on the 7750 myself back in Feb/March 2010 and put forth a long review on epinions.com.
Here an update.
As of this writing, I've had the 7750 since 3/1/2010 running flawlessly mostly 24/7. I watch 1080p HDTV movies transmitted through the 7750. However, compared to SNB, I use an Engenius client on both ends, a 7750 connected to the WAN, and a 9801 on the client. I also use an Atheros client on a laptop but it connects on G band dedicated to it.
I also found that the positioning of the unit is very sensitive, to get maximum throughput and I currently have a sweet spot for it. This is both a good feature, and potentially bad trait, given an ideal user would simply plug it in, leave it on a desk or CPU and forget about it.
The 7750 is Plug and Play Installation, you are done in under 5 minutes. The 7750 box contained a CD, the Wifi router, a Fast Ethernet cable, and short install instructions. You plug the 7750 into your DSL or cable modem through the WAN port, and the computer to one of four open LAN ports. Plug the power in and it starts up.
No disks or drivers need be installed, or manuals need be read. With your computer on, start a browser and go to the URL 192.168.0.1. Click the wizard on the menu and follow its instructions to walk through final configuration. The 7750 has a pdf on disk with terse explanations of what the advance features of the 7750 do, to further optimize connectivity but user's need not read it. That's it.
I set up the 7750 using its Wizard. I left all 802.11 specs on: 2Ghz uses b,g,n, and 5 GHz on a, n. I use Windows' wizard to set up an XP and two Vistas PCs as a peer-to-peer network. I adjusted the placement of the 7750 until the Wireless Utility showed optimum signal strength and link quality, then transferred a 1.5GB file multiple times, speeds at 1 minute were:
2GHz g: 2.8 MBps, or 22 Mbps
2GHz n: 6.0 MBps, or 48 Mbps
5GHz n: 11 MBps, or 88 Mbps
To transfer a whole 1.5GB file in 3-5 minutes had final speed of 80 Mbps download, and 50-60 Mbps upload; downloading a 15 GB file took nearly an 1 hour, averaging 60Mbps, both tests done at 5 GHz.
Graphs of sample transfer rates are on SNB forum, linked here:
Other reviews here:
Shutting off 2GHz while using the 5GHz band and vice versa, alternatively shutting off a, b, g, or n, while transferring on other bands or specs did not largely affect transfer speed. Keeping other 11x protocols on thus, did affect overall throughput.
I sent 1.5GB file from computer A to B on 5GHz using 11n, and simultaneously downloaded a file off the Internet to computer C via 2Ghz 11n, my system monitor showed that each band's throughput was mostly unaffected by the other's task, as stopping the download and shutting off the channel did nothing to their respective throughput. This means if one is watching a movie on the 5 GHz channel, the speed on the 2 GHz channel is largely unaffected.
Reception 4-5/5 anywhere in the space at least within a 15' radius. The AP is in a dry wall closed room 15' away and no direct line of sight. 15' is a typical range of most apartment rooms.
Link quality was a better predictor of throughput. At 40% link quality, half throughput speeds were more common even if signal strength was 100%. By adjusting the position of the 7750 using the Wireless Utility enclosed in the CD, I found a ‘sweet spots' that maximized link quality and hence, throughput.
Is a wifi term meaning an AP will work with clients from other makers. I tested throughput on an Atheros client to 11g, a Tenda 311U USB 11n dongle and Engenius 9801 11n USB dongle. Connections were easily made by Windows Vista and the throughput was similar to the speed test regardless of client used, and limited by the 802.11 protocol used. This random set of devices isn't very comprehensive, but it showed no issues.
Reliability and dependability test
I ran the 7750 nonstop 24 hrs a day over 7 days continuously, downloading data. 7 days was the no questions asked return warranty period of the store. During this time, it performed exactly as specified and did not drop connections, slow down, or 'crash', or become erratic. At full power, the unit drew 5 watts. Its now been running nonstop 24/7 since March 1, 2010.
Key Technical Features of the 7750
The 7750 is backward compatible with 802.11g,b and a. I did not test 11a since I have no clients with 11a. I ran the 7750 tests on 11g and 11n protocols.
The 7750 is built with Ralinktech.com's Wi-Fi certified chipsets and assemblies. Many competitors use these chips in their products, like those from a Trendware 671 router, but instead of being twins they still differ due to maker's customizations. The 7750 does not have the reviewed 671's ills mentioned at Epinion and Amazon.
With WMM ON, requests to access URLs give preference to an existing data stream thus inhibiting or stopping interruptions which in video may cause stutters or freezes if buffers cannot keep pace with the interruption. WMM ON does cause a noticeable delay in connecting with a new website. QoS options supported by the 7750 have options for rationing bandwidth to specific PCs on a network, IP protocols and others.
Throughput was better using the 5 GHz band. Its drawbacks are it has less penetration than 2 GHz through walls and inherently shorter unobstructed range, roughly 1/2 the range of 2 GHz.
Clear indicator lights on the 7750 help determine the routers status or diagnose problems. The LEDs are very bright, over 10 x brighter than my older router, easy to see and understand. The lights stay ON if the function is ON, blink when functions are in-use, and off when in power saving sleep mode.
Each band has four SSIDs, that can be independently configured and secured, requiring its own authentication. Thus, it allows the admin to ration bandwidth as needed. That's 8 SSIDs in all.
It has a rudimentary firewall filter that can censor out IP addresses by keywords, useful for controlling access to material like porn or hate sites from entering your network. Filters can be scheduled or left on permanently.
No external antenna reduces methods to improve the Wi-fi range
No Gigabit Ethernet, but is it necessary?
No Wi-fi.org Certification
Engenius makes timely and helpful updates but the 7750 upgrade process is buggy. Attempt it only to repair a defect, not simply to get the latest firmware installed. Out of the box, the firmware works for home users. I upgrade the firmware to examine the procedure; it took 30 minutes and multiple attempts, but it recovers and allows continuous installs until completed. There are no instructions but the easiest method is: disconnect cables from the Internet, shut of G and B radios, backup the settings, upgrade firmware ... web interface firmware first if available, then kernel, turn on radios, reconnect the Internet, check the status. If your settings are corrupted, load the backup. If it won't load, reset to factory defaults first, then load backup.