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Wireless Reviews

Wireless N Router
At a glance
ProductRosewill RNX-N360RT Wireless N Router   [Website]
SummaryInexpensive 2.4 GHz N300 router with 10/100 ports based on Atheros chipset
Pros• Decent feature set
• Up and downlink bandwidth-based QoS
• WDS support
Cons• A bit weak on range
• No wireless guest networks

Typical Price: $50  Shop Amazon

Introduction

Not everyone lusts after the latest and greatest wireless routers. Some people just want to spend as little as possible when getting their network on the air. For them, a basic single-band N router is just the ticket. And that's what Rosewill has produced with its RNX-N360RT.

If you're a DIY computer builder, you're probably familiar with Rosewill as a maker of cases, power supplies and the other sundry items needed to roll your own PC. But Rosewill has a small, but growing line of networking products, mostly focusing on low price as the value proposition.

Why Not N150?

N150 (single-stream N) was intended for mobile client devices that have space and power constraints, not for use in routers and access points. These routers can't be Wi-Fi Certified as a result. These are ok if you're looking for a mobile router to support multiple devices in a hotel room or a powerline-connected mini access point to extend your wireless LAN's range. But otherwise you're better off buying a lesser-known N300 router or a refurbished name-brand one.

The router comes in a box that has a low-price feel, an impression reinforced by the one foot network cable Rosewill throws in. The router itself has an all-plastic housing that's designed to sit flat on a desk. There are mounting slots on the bottom, however, if you want to wall or ceiling mount it.

The 360RT's front panel does have a full complement of status indicators, though, something that many high-end routers have dispensed with in an effort to gain higher WAF.

Front panel lights
Front panel lights

The rear panel Ethernet jacks have no link/status lights and are all 10/100. The three 2 dBi antennas attach via RP-SMA connectors, so you can attach higher-gain antennas if that's your pleasure.

Back panel
Back panel

Inside

The key components of the 360RT are summarized in the chart below. The basic design is similar to the first generation NETGEAR WNR2000 I reviewed back in 2008. But a more recent separated-at-birth low-price-focused router is TP-LINK's TL-WR1043ND, that Craig reviewed just last year.

Rosewill RNX-N360RT
CPU Atheros AR9132 SoC
Switch Marvell 88E6060 Low power 6 port 10/100 switch
RAM 32 MB
Flash 4 MB
2.4 GHz Radio Atheros AR9103 (3T3R)
Table 1: Component summary

The main difference between the TP-LINK and Rosewill is that the TP-LINK uses a Realtek RTL8366RB Gigabit switch instead of a Marvell 88E6060 10/100 switch. The TP-LINK also shares a USB drive via FTP.

The FCC ID photos were fuzzy, so I took my own shot below. The RF shield was soldered in place, so I had to ask Rosewill what was under it (the Atheros AR9103 radio).

Rosewill RNX-N360RT board
Rosewill RNX-N360RT board

While trying to identify the chip on my own, I came across this photo of TP-LINK's TL-WR941ND, which is eerily similar, no? I don't know who is OEMing to who, but someone is or both TP-LINK and Rosewill are buying from the same OEM.

ETP-LINK TL-WR941ND
TP-LINK TL-WR941ND board
(courtesy of WikiDevi)

Even though there are three antennas and a 3T3R radio is used, the 360RT is strictly a two-stream "N300" router, supporting a maximum link rate of 300 Mbps when operating in 40 MHz bandwidth mode.

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