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LAN & WAN Reviews

Performance

Tim put the 318G through the suite of router tests, with the results shown in Table 3, along with the 318 and 336G. Total Simultaneous throughput and Maximum Simultaneous Sessions results are not available for the FVS318, given that it was tested back in 2002!

Test Description FVS318G
Throughput - (Mbps)
FVS336G
Throughput - (Mbps)
FVS318
Throughput - (Mbps)
WAN - LAN 22.5 59.2 7.0
LAN - WAN 22.9 58.3 7.0
Total Simultaneous 25.8 56.3 N/A
Max. Simultaneous Sessions 200 200 N/A
Firmware Version 3.0.5-25 2.2.0-67 1.0
Table 3: Routing throughput

Although the 318G won't win any routing throughput competitions, it's plenty fast for most DSL and cable business Internet connections, but not for fiber.

NETGEAR specs 7 Mbps throughput on IPSec VPN tunnels using 3DES encryption.  To test this claim, I used the tunnel I created between the NETGEAR FVS318G and the NETGEAR FVS336G and ran throughput tests using iperf.

However, I wasn't able to confirm NETGEAR's 7 Mbps spec using TCP/IP traffic and 3DES encryption. After conferring with NETGEAR on my observations, I was informed that if I used UDP throughput tests and AES-128 encryption, I'd get higher measurements. 

In Table 4, I've listed my VPN throughput measurements for the FVS318G.  I ran several throughput measurements using TCP and UDP, with encryption set to None, 3DES, AES-128, and AES-256.   As you can see, the 318G has higher throughput for UDP versus TCP transmissions.  Further, the 318G has higher throughput with AES-128 encryption versus 3DES encryption. This isn't surprising, since the computing load is lighter for AES-128.

Encryption Throughput (Mbps)
TCP UDP
None 6.81 12.2
3DES 2.72 3.61
AES-128 4.08 6.39
AES-256 3.81 5.81
Table 4: IPsec test summary

The 3DES IPSec throughput of 2.72 Mbps for the 318G is certainly an improvement over the original 318, which we measured at less than 1 Mbps in the FVS318 review.  However, other NETGEAR VPN routers, such as the 336G and the FVX538, easily outperform the 318G with 3DES IPSec throughput numbers of 16 Mbps and 12 Mbps, respectively.

The bottom line is that I wasn't able to confirm NETGEAR's 7 Mbps 3DES claim, even using UDP instead of TCP/IP. The only way I was able to approach 7 Mbps through-tunnel throughput was by using AES-128 tunnel encryption and UDP traffic.

I'll note that using UDP for specing VPN tunnel performance is somewhat disingenuous, since most traffic passed over a VPN tunnel (E-mail, web, database / transactional) is likely to be TCP.

All that said, for typical cable and DSL Internet connections with upload speeds of 1-2 Mbps or lower, the 318G's IPsec tunnel throughput shouldn't be a huge issue.  However, if you're connecting VPN tunnels to the 318G over an ISP connection with upload speeds of 5 Mbps or higher, such as Verizon's FIOS, the 318G will not be able to encrypt and decrypt data as fast as the network can carry data. But for that matter, its 22 Mbps routing speed won't be able to keep up either.

Competitive Summary

The FVS318G presents a compelling combination of features at its price point.  Let's look at the comparison between the 318G and other similar devices including the older NETGEAR FVS318, the Cisco/Linksys RVL200 and RVS4000, as well as the NETGEAR FVS336G and FVX538 in Table 3.  The table is sorted by price, with least expensive on the top.  You can click on any of the models on the left to go to our review on that device.

 

 

WAN Ports LAN Ports Tunnels Throughput (Mbps) Max Connects Price
SSL VPN IPSec VPN LAN-WAN WAN-LAN Total
FVS318 1 8

 

8 7 7 N/A N/A $97.13
RVS4000 1G 4G

 

10 530 15.9 525.6 48 $116.84
FVS318G 1G 8G

 

5 22.9 22.5 25.8 200 $131.69
RVL200 1 4 5 1 38.9 36.9 38.6 180 $167.12
FVS336G 2G 4G 15 25 58.3 59.2 56.3 200 $245.00
FVX538 2 1G, 8

 

200 77.5 79.6 81.9 200 $359.44
Table 5: Competitive Summary

I've listed the FVS318 in this chart for comparison purposes, but I wouldn't consider the FVS318 an option with the release of the FVS318G.  The 318G's throughput and Gigabit ports make the 318 essentially obsolete.  With the FVS318 out of the picture, the 318G is the only device with 8 LAN ports and VPN capability for under $200.

Note that performance numbers on the products generally align with price.  The Cisco/Linksys RVS4000 is an outlier, however, with its super high LAN-WAN (and relatively unusable) throughput capability.  Still, the RVS4000's WAN-LAN throughput, which is a measurement of download capability, is lower than the 318G's.  Other than the RVS4000, the 318G's throughput performance comes in right where you'd expect it based on its price, with a total throughput of 25.8 Mbps.

Closing Thoughts

NETGEAR has done a nice job with the 318G.  In addition to the items tested in this review, the 318G has the ability to authenticate VPN users via an external Radius Server, send SNMP messages, keep track of traffic utilization, and email reports showing firewall detected activity and logs.  Further, by adding a highly configurable DMZ to the firewall and including features found in the firewalls of its more expensive routers, the NETGEAR FVS318G provides a lot of configurable security options for a small network.

The 318G is a good IPsec VPN solution, and a relatively easy to use one at that.  I had no problem configuring VPN tunnels between NETGEAR routers, as well as to a Zyxel router. 

NETGEAR's IPSec Client was easy to install and configure, and I had no problem using it with my Vista laptop, something I couldn't say in previous NETGEAR VPN reviews.  Ironically, I plan to upgrade to Windows 7 soon, which will probably create all sorts of new incompatibility problems for me with IPSec VPN Clients.

For Client VPN tunnels, though, I prefer SSL VPNs over IPSec VPNs.  From an administration standpoint, SSL VPNs reduce the overhead of loading software on a client PCs.  I don't mind using an IPSec VPN application on my own laptop. But if I had to support multiple employees' laptops, I'd choose the SSL solution every time.

I must say again that NETGEAR missed an opportunity to make this product really outstanding on the LAN side.  The 318G has 8 Gigabit LAN ports, so why not support jumbo frames and VLANs?  Since both Cisco routers I mentioned offer VLAN capability in the same price range, it seems I am not alone with this opinion.

And finally, I was disappointed to see that the VPN throughput numbers didn't match NETGEAR's advertised speeds. But the 318G is still an improvement over the 318. 

With all this said, would I recommend the NETGEAR FVS318G?  Yes I would.  The 318G accommodates a growing network with 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports, has a customizable firewall, and provides usable VPN options at an attractive price point.  Finally, NETGEAR offers the best guarantee for small network routers, a lifetime warranty, which is pretty hard to beat.

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