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NETGEAR WNDR4500 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Reviewed

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N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router
At a glance
ProductNETGEAR WNDR4500 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router   [Website]
SummaryHigh performance dual-band, three-stream 802.11abgn router with bandwidth metering, external USB drive and printer sharing w/ UPnP AV / DLNA media server and completely new admin GUI.
Pros• Revamped user interface
• Many new features including printer sharing
Cons• Fewer features than the WNDR3800

Typical Price: $133  Check NewEgg  Check Amazon

Overview

Updated 11/7/2011: Link to two stream retest

The WNDR4500 is probably the last of NETGEAR's new router introductions for the year. Depending on how you look at it, it either pushes aside the WNDR4000 or WNDR3800 for top-router-dog spot in NETGEAR's current lineup.

The table below, which I pulled from the WNDR3800 New to the Charts review, shows the current offerings, which may be one or two too many and drive some consumers into a brain freeze when it comes to choosing one.

NETGEAR Top-End Router line
Figure 1: NETGEAR Top-End Router line

The first thing that stuck me about the 4500 was its weight and size. The router itself is a bit larger and heavier than any of its predecessors. Part of that weight comes from the clear plastic non-removable base that runs the entire length of the router. I suppose you could lay the router on its side, but, given the design, NETGEAR clearly doesn't want you to.

However, a bigger contributor to the 4500's box weight is the brick-style 12V @ 5A external power supply that you'd more expect to come packed with a NAS. Apparently, the technology that makes the 4500 tick has a significantly larger power appetite than your typical router.

The controls and ports are pretty standard for NETGEAR's top-end WNDRs. The front panel gets both wireless on / off and WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) buttons and all the indicators you'd expect.

WNDR4500 front panel callouts
Figure 2: WNDR4500 front panel callouts

The main difference on the rear panel is two USB 2.0 ports vs. the usual one. So you can connect both a USB printer and USB drive to share, without having to juggle connections or deal with a USB hub.

WNDR4500 back panel callouts
Figure 3: WNDR4500 back panel callouts

Inside

NETGEAR requested a 180 day block that went into effect at the end of July on most of the informative FCC docs. So after testing was complete, I opened up my review unit to see what I could see. I got as far as looking at the bottom view shown in Figure 4.

WNDR4500 inside
Figure 4: WNDR4500 inside

All six antennas (three each for each of two radios) are glued to the top and side of the top cover, making it difficult to flip the board over. I decided it wasn't worth it, after a brief peek at the top side of the board revealed heatsinks on just about all the key components.

Some poking around turned up a post on the DD-WRT forum, saying the 4500 has a Broadcom BCM4718 chipset. But since that chipset supports only dual-stream N, that's not likely.

Instead, two BCM4331 Single-Chip 802.11n Dual-Band 3x3 SoCs is my guess, which NETGEAR confirmed. They also said that external power amps and low-noise front-ends are also baked into the design to further tweak wireless performance.

NETGEAR told me that, instead of sharing one of the 4331's CPUs for routing duties, a Broadcom BCM4706 is used, which is a 600 MHz MIPS32 74K Core processor. We also know, because it's right on the 4500's datasheet, that the 4500 has 128 MB each of RAM and flash.

I've assembled the comparison table below that has guesses only for the Gigabit switch.

  WNDR4500 WNDR4000
CPU Broadcom BCM4706 Broadcom BCM4718
Switch Broadcom BCM53115 (?) Broadcom BCM53115 (?)
RAM 128 MB 64 MB
Flash 128 MB 8 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - BCM4331
- 2.4 GHz power amps (x3) (?)
- in BCM4718
- SiGE 2528L 2.4 GHz power amps (x2)
5 GHz radio

- Broadcom BCM4331
- 5 GHz power amps (x3) (?)

- Broadcom BCM4331
- SiGe SE2594L Dual Band 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless LAN front ends (x2)

Table 1: WNDR4500 and WNDR4000 components

Features

You can think of the 4500 as a three-stream version of the WNDR3800, but with fewer features. The briefing material from NETGEAR positions the 3800 as a "lifestyle" option and the 4500 for "performance" buyers.

The table back in Figure 1 shows you won't be able to use the 4500's "ultimate USB storage performance" for your Apple Time Machine backups. Nor will you be able to remotely access it via the ReadyShare Cloud feature.

On a more positive note, you do get the new Genie interface that I first saw in the WNDR3800 and you also get its same IPv6 WAN connection features. Craig Ellison will be going through the 3800's new features and interface in a review that will post later this week or early next and I'll refer you there when it posts.

WNDR4500 Advanced Home
Figure 5: WNDR4500 Advanced Home

In the meantime, suffice it to say that all of NETGEAR's traditional routing features have been carried to the 4500; they just have a new look. You can also download the user manual for more details.




Related Items:

NETGEAR WNDR4500 Retest
New To The Charts: NETGEAR WNDR3800 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Ro
Three Stream N Performance: Two More
New To The Wireless Charts: TRENDnet TEW-691GR 450Mbps Wireless N Giga
WD My Net N900 5 GHz Retest

User reviews

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Average user rating from: 9 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: 
 
3.3 Features :
 
3.2 Performance :
 
3.7 Reliability :
 
3.1
 
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Performance*
 
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Replacement for my aging FVS318

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Robert
September 10, 2014
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I've had this router for months now and it's been working great. The only issue I had originally was with my NEST thermostat but eventually that was resolved by an update to the NEST device.
between computers, phones, tablets and other internet connected devices, i have about 20 devices always connected to the wireless LAN, not to mention when guests arrive with all their gadgets.
This bad boy has not failed me and it screams. I get better transfer over wireless than I used to get from my old wired network.

And the DLNA streaming from the USB ports works great.

I'm a happy camper.

 

Flying in the face of everyone else

Overall rating: 
 
4.7
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by CW Jones
May 13, 2014
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No, I don't work for Netgear - or whoever owns them now. Just thought since all the reviews were bad I should share my (apparently very lucky) positive one.

This router was a bit finicky to configure, especially when I was trying to attach a dlink wireless extender to it, but once set up it has been very usable - the standard reset procedure is still called for, but it is very seldom on this unit - one the order of once every 3-4 months.

The unit is quick - I run all my office computers off the DLink ports (the Dlink connect wirelessly to the 4500) and connectivity and d/l speeds are good.

Maybe the problem is Netgears QC, and I just got one of the good units, but my mileage has been pretty darn good with this router...

WJ

 

extremely unreliable

Overall rating: 
 
3.0
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by JF
October 25, 2013
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Features: Standard, easy to use and config.

Performance: Excellent throughput and range on both bands. I live in an area and building with lots of interference and I have an excellent signal even 50 feet away through several walls, brick and metal sheeting. Speeds barely dip from their max (30 down to 28Mbps)

Reliability: a piece of crap. Couldn't install out of the box, firmware was corrupt. Had to call India-based customer support. While they were very competent, this doesn't fix my problem as the firmware keeps "recorrupting" itself every 2 weeks or so. I've had to reinstall the firmware about 10 times in 3.5 months. Furthermore, I'm frequently unable to communicate with the router and access settings even though it is working perfectly. The only way to do so is through a reboot, and every that results in corrupt firmware and a 30min setup process (takes forever to upload the packets through TFTP). I would also add that there are no troubleshooting instructions on their website for OS X users--at least pertaining to this issue.

Summary:
If it weren't for some serious reliability problems, this would be the perfect router! The software, not the hardware, is sub-par.

 

I agree, don't waste your money

Overall rating: 
 
1.3
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Jason
June 15, 2013
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I have owned this router for six months and I also have had the firmware corrupt a number of times. The last time however it was not fixable. Too late to take back to the store and don't want to mess with netgear so I guess I will try another manufacturer.

 

Don't waste your money - Choose something reliable

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
2.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by C
December 02, 2012
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I have had several problems with this router!!! Every time there is a glitch in power the router seems to lose its firmware load. Another issue is that the Wi-FI continually hangs up or bogs the system wireless system and clients cannot connect to the router and I have to restart the router. Customer service based OCONUS is terrible too. I believe my support was India based. While trying to figure out how to reload my firmware by talking to the India support center, I was hung up on 2x because they could not fix my problem I guess. And after being passed around to several support personnel this is frustrating. Also to reload your firmware, you must be familiar with tftp. Really!! Why can't Netgear come up with a software package that will automatically reinstall the firmware.

Features - a firewall with more features would be great.

On a positive note, when the router is running it is fairly fast.

 
 
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