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Wireless Reviews

XtraRange Dual-Band Wireless-N Router
At a glance
ProductEnGenius ESR750H XtraRange Dual-Band Wireless-N Router   [Website]
SummaryRalink-based "N750" router with Gigabit ports, USB 2.0 storage and printer sharing and PPTP/L2TP VPN server, but unimpressive wireless performance.
Pros• High wired routing speed
• PPTP and L2TP VPN servers
• Priority and bandwidth up/down QoS
• Supports AirPlay audio to attached USB speakers
Cons• Poor wireless performance, especially 5 GHz
• Very poor wireless security defaults
• Poor documentation
• Not Wi-Fi Certified

Typical Price: $93  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

Introduction

I recently had the opportunity to take a look at the new EnGenius ESR750H XtraRange Dual-band Wireless-N Router. The router promises "extended range and expanded coverage" via its 100 mW maximum transmit power. But as we've seen before, higher transmit power doesn't always produce greater range.

Out of the box, the router is rather small and unassuming, about as big as a mid-sized Android tablet in a thick protective case. In the box are a quick install guide, 12V/1.25A wall-wart power adapter, Ethernet cable, user CD, tech support card and two 5 dBi omnidirectional antennas.

Figure 1 below shows the callouts of the ESR750H and gives you an idea of its smaller size. The ESR750H includes a USB 2.0 port that supports several interesting features such as shAir and NetUSB Mode, which we'll get into later. The four LAN ports are Gigabit, as is the single WAN port.

Callouts for the Engenius ESR750H
Figure 1: Callouts for the Engenius ESR750H

In keeping with the router's "XtraRange" claim, the external antennas are 5dBi for longer range and coverage vs. the usual 2 dBi. There are also internal antennas, which I'll explain shortly.

Inside

I took the ESR750H apart, however the major chipsets were all covered by ceramic heatsinks. So to give you a better idea of the hardware, I went to the FCC site and pulled the internal pictures. The key components are summarized in Table 1 and show a design based on the Ralink RT3883F SoC. We've seen this device before in the TRENDnet TEW-692GR and Belkin N750 DB, which I've pulled into the component table for comparison.

EnGenius ESR750H TRENDnet TEW-692GR Belkin N750 DB
CPU Ralink RT3883F
2.4/5GHz 3T3R AP/Router Soc
Ralink RT3883F Ralink RT3883F
Switch Qualcomm Atheros AR8327 Qualcomm Atheros AR8327 Realtek RTL8367R
RAM 256 MB
Samsung K4B1G1646G-BCH9 (x2)
64 MB 64 MB
Flash 16 MB
Macronix 25L12835
8 MB 8 MB (?)
2.4 GHz Radio Ralink RT5392L (2T2R) - In RT3883F
- Microchip SST12LP15A
2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
Ralink RT3092
5 GHz radio In RT3883F
- SiGe 2537L 5 GHz Power Amps (x3)

- Ralink RT3593
- Microchip SST11LP12
5 GHz power amp (x3)

In RT3883F
Table 1: Component summary

The RT3883F handles both 5GHz radio functions and serves and the CPU. The 5 GHz radio connects to three internal fixed-position antennas that you can see in Figure 3 below. The 2.4 GHz radio is handled by the Ralink RT5392L and connects to the external antennas. So if you want to swap in higher-gain antennas, they will affect only the 2.4 GHz band.

Internal picture of the ESR750H
Figure 3: Internal picture of the ESR750H

Figure 4 shows a closeup of the board so you can see component detail. The flash chip is on the other side of the board and memory is under the bar code label.

ESR750H board
Figure 4: ESR750H board

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