Performance, Pricing, and Conclusion
I compared the Balance 30 to several other multi-WAN routers I've reviewed in the past year to see how it stacked up. As discussed, the Balance 30 is a focused product, with its strength being support for three WAN connections. Unfortunately for PePLink, its performance numbers aren't up to par with most of its competition, putting in the lowest throughput numbers (~ 21 Mbps) of the five routers listed in Table 1 below.
The $495 price listed below for the Balance 30 has an asterisk to indicate limited pricing information. Normally, we look at pricing information services such as Pricegrabber.com to see the range of prices available on a product. The PePLink Balance 30 doesn't appear in any of the typical online retailers' websites, so this is the price as listed on the PePLink website. Various eBay retailers do list the Balance 30 at a slightly lower price of $455. If you're interested in the "Surf Combo," PePLink's website shows that adding a PepWave200 to the Balance 30 only adds $50.
The Balance 30 includes a 1-year limited warranty and Standard Support Service, providing unlimited 24-hour email response and five free calls. 1-year Priority Support with unlimited 12-hour email response and unlimited calls can be purchased for an additional $495.
Table 1: Multi-WAN router comparison chart
Although I like the product and the idea of three WAN ports, the price seems unreasonable compared to what the product offers. Even though none of the other multi-WAN routers in the above chart has three WAN ports, they all provide options not included in the Balance 30, such as VPN connectivity. The closest-priced competitor is the SonicWALL TZ190, which has dual WAN ports, a WWAN port, eight LAN ports, plus VPN capabilities.
At this price point, it seems reasonable to expect support for common small network router features like Site-to-Site IPSec VPN tunnels and gigabit Ethernet. Critical sites often need secure connections to other locations, so it is surprising that there isn't basic VPN functionality in the Balance 30. Regarding GigE, brand new $40 motherboards can be found with built-in gigabit NICs. If the majority of PCs built today include gigabit NICs, shouldn't all new network devices support gigabit Ethernet?
The PePLink Balance 30's strength is its support for multiple Internet connections. The Balance 30 supports more connections than the typical small network router, and it offers more sophisticated load balancing options than other multi-WAN routers. To optimize the multiple WAN connections, the Balance 30 provides useful tools to monitor and tune utilization over the multiple connections. Further, I found the device stable and its menus easy to configure. At a lower price point, it would be an appealing product for small networks looking for a flexible product to pull together multiple Internet connections.