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LAN & WAN Reviews

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Updated 1/3/2013 - Added revision information

Actiontec Wireless Broadband Router

At a Glance
Product Actiontec Wireless Broadband Router (MI424WR)
Summary Fast, flexible 802.11b/g router OEM'd to Verizon for FiOS service
Pros • Up and download QoS w/ bandwidth mgmt
• 100 Mbps wire speed throughput
• Full set of routing features
• MoCA WAN and LAN interfaces
• VLANs and multiple WAN IP
Cons • 10/100 switch instead of gigabit
• Annoying Advanced Feature permission pages
• No WPA2 or WPS support
• Labyrinth-like navigation
• Easily-bypassed Parental Controls

Introduction

Note that this review reflects Revision A of the product. There are seven different revisions of the product using three different CPUs and various wireless modules.

I received a request some time ago asking me to take a look at the Actiontec MI424WR, which is a product OEM'd to Verizon for use with its FiOS fiber-based Internet service. Of particular interest was how it stacked up against the Netgear WPNT834 and D-Link DGL4300 and DIR-655 that have been sitting at the top of our Router Charts for some time. It took awhile because Actiontec was in the process of rolling to an updated design for the product (shown above). But the product finally arrived a few weeks ago and here's the report.

The box that finally showed up actually contained an old-style router that looked like Figure 1. But Actiontec assured me that the board and functions are the same as those in the new-style enclosure, so I pressed on with the review.

Old version

Figure 1: Old MI424WR enclosure

The 424 is actually rather large as routers go, measuring just shy of a foot wide. The front panel indicators are shown in Figure 2 and the rear panel connectors are found in Figure 3. Of special note is the Coax LAN reference. This is the first product that I've been able to get my hands on that supports MoCA networking. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test it because Actiontec didn't provide its ECB1500 MoCA to Ethernet adapter that would have allowed me to connect a test client.

MI424WR Front Panel

Figure 2: MI424WR Front Panel

The Rear panel (Figure 3) shows a single coax connector that supports both MoCA WAN and LAN connections. (WAN is supported on a single 975 MHz - 1025 MHz channel and LAN on six channels from 1125 MHz - 1425 MHz.) The other surprise is that with all the other technology packed into this box you would think that Actiontec would have thrown in a gigabit switch. But, alas, the usual four-port 10/100 is there instead.

MI424WR Rear Panel

Figure 3: MI424WR Rear Panel

Figures 4 and 5 provide a look at the 424's board. Although the CPU is covered with a heatsink, some Googling found references to an Intel IXP42x clocked @ 533MHz, so that's what I'm going with for now. The other two heatsink-covered chips are most likely Entropic EN2210 or EN2010 Coaxial Network Controllers. If they are, then the companion EN1010 Coaxial Network Interface chips would be under the shielded areas to the right of each device.

The five 10/100 ports (one WAN, four LAN) are provided by the Kendin (now Micrel) KS8995. My Googling also revealed that the memory size is 32 MB.

MI424WR board top

Figure 4: MI424WR board top

Figure 5 shows the bottom of the board, where the Actiontec 802MRG mini-PCI radio board is found. The 802.11b/g module uses the Ralink RT2500 chipset that includes the RT2560 MAC/Baseband chip that you can see and an RT2525 RF chip that is under the shield.

MI424WR board bottom

Figure 5: MI424WR board bottom

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