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LAN & WAN Reviews

Introduction

Update 11/15/2007: Slow WAN failover fixed. (Pg 4)

Netgear FVS124G

At a Glance
Product Netgear ProSafe Gigabit VPN Firewall (FVS124GNA)
Summary Mid-priced dual-WAN IPsec endpoint router with gigabit LAN
Pros • Dual WAN capability
• Gigabit LAN ports
• One IPsec client license included
• 25 IPsec tunnels
Cons • No Vista support for IPsec client
• Difficult VPN Configuration/Poor Ease of Use
• Too little throughput for too many tunnels

We’ve gotten requests for more reviews of routers with built-in VPN endpoints. Readers have also asked for more reviews of dual-WAN routers. The Netgear FVS124G fits the bill on both counts and won’t place too heavy a hit on your bank account either.

The FVS124G is part of Netgear's Business-Class ProSafe line of Firewall routers. At only 7.5”x5” and about 1.25” high, it is a compact device that won't take up too much real estate despite its critical role in your network. The front of the unit has the standard indicator lights for each port, and the back of the unit (see Figure 1, below) has two 10/100 Ethernet WAN ports, as well as four LAN ports, a reset button, and the power connection.

Rear panel

Figure 1: Rear panel of the FVS124G

For a product released two years ago, I'm impressed it includes gigabit LAN ports, since we're testing newly released devices that don't include gigabit LAN ports, and I think that is shortsighted. Even though gigabit speed may not be required, it is nice to have for possible future needs. I connected a LAN port on the Netgear to a gigabit switch and verified the Netgear was signaling at true gigabit speed. However, the FVS124G does not support jumbo frames, which somewhat reduces the advantage of having gigabit ports.

Many network devices have a warning indicating opening it could invalidate the warranty. Netgear doesn't, and opening the device is easily done by removing a single screw. As you can see in Figure 2, the FVS124G uses passive cooling; there are no cooling fans or noise. I didn't need to remove the heat sinks to determine CPU and Memory specs; Netgear lists them here as a 200 MHz 32-bit RISC processor and 4MB Flash, plus 16MB DRAM memory

Internal view
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: The internal view of the FVS124G

In Use

The menus of the Netgear FVS124G are pretty straightforward. If you don't like reading manuals, you're in luck: you should be able to get up and running on your own. I had no problem configuring the WAN port for a PPPoE connection, defining the subnet I wanted for my LAN in the DHCP server, configuring dynamic DNS, changing the default password, and enabling remote access. If you run into trouble, though, there is a link to the most current version of the manual in the FVS124G menu.

There is a nice menu option to check status, as you can see in Figure 3, below. Netgear also includes with each menu option a fairly clear set of help information, as you can see on the right of Figure 3.

Status screen
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: The status screen, with help information on the right

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