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LAN & WAN Reviews

VPN

TRENDnet lists the TW100 as capable of 8 GRE tunnels and 80 IPsec, L2TP and PPTP tunnels.  Interestingly, the TW100 leaves out a popular VPN option, SSL.

GRE and IPsec are supported for site-to-site VPN tunnels on the TW100.  It is interesting that TRENDnet chose to support GRE, or Generic Route Encapsulation.  Cisco originally developed the GRE protocol, which has since been standardized in RFC 2784.  We have reviewed the RV042 v3, RV120W and RV220W, all of which are VPN routers. But none of these Cisco devices support GRE tunnels.

Anyway, GRE is a low overhead tunneling protocol to connect two separate networks over a different network, such as connecting two LANs over the Internet.  GRE tunnels by themselves don't provide encryption or other forms of security, but can be used to encapsulate other connections.  Lacking a second GRE capable device, I did not test this feature.  However, there is a nicely documented example on how to set up a GRE tunnel between two TW100s in TRENDnet's user manual.

IPsec is supported for Site-to-Site tunnels only, not remote client access.  Typical of most IPsec devices, the TW100 supports 3DES and AES (128, 192, or 256 bit) encryption, with MD5 and SHA-1 authentication.  I had no problem configuring an IPsec tunnel using 3DES and SHA-1 between the TW100 and a NETGEAR SRX5308 high performance VPN router.  Figure 13 is a screen shot from the TW100, showing the established connection to the NETGEAR.

IPsec configuration

Figure 13: IPsec configuration

Remote client access to the TW100 LAN can be achieved through either an L2TP or PPTP tunnel.  The TW100 can also function as a client to connect to another device using L2TP or PPTP. 

For remote client access, a big plus for L2TP and PPTP is that the client software is included in Windows.  Of the two protocols, L2TP is probably more secure, but neither is as secure as IPsec.  Based on my throughput measurements, which I'll cover shortly, I recommend using PPTP with the TW100.

I tested remote client access to the TW100 with L2TP and PPTP using a Windows 7 64 bit PC.  Configuring the TW100 as a server for L2TP or PPTP involves clicking a few check boxes and entering a user name and password for the remote client. Figure 14 is a screenshot showing my L2TP server configuration on the TW100; notice the status display at the bottom showing the active connection.

L2TP configuration

Figure 14: L2TP configuration

Configuring the Windows L2TP or PPTP client is point and click. These steps will create the new VPN connection on your PC:

  • From the Network and Sharing Center in the Control Panel, select Set up a new connection or network;
  • Select Connect to a workplace.
  • Select No, create a new connection
  • Select Use my Internet connection
  • Enter the WAN IP or dynamic DNS name you've assigned to the router,
  • Select Don't connect now, just set it up so I can connect later 
  • At the next screen, enter the user name and password you created on the TW100 

Once created, right-click on that connection and select Properties.  In the Security tab, select L2TP or PPTP depending on the tunnel type you created on the TW100.  Save your changes, right-click the connection again and click Connect.

I successfully tested the TW100 with clients using L2TP and PPTP tunnels.  Further, I was able to run L2TP, PPTP, and IPsec tunnels on the TW100 simultaneously.  Figure 15 is a screen shot showing my active PPTP connection.

PPTP connection active

Figure 15: PPTP connection active

I had one problem where the TW100 DHCP server issued the L2TP and PPTP remote clients the same IP addresses. But I was able to resolve it by adjusting the range of IP addresses issued to clients on the PPTP tunnel.

VPN Performance

I tested the TW100's VPN performance with iperf using default TCP settings, with a TCP window size of 8KB and no other options.  I ran iperf on two PCs running 64-bit Windows 7 with their software firewall disabled.  (Running a simple iperf throughput test between two PCs uses the command iperf -s on one PC and iperf -c (ip) on the other PC.)

Table 2 shows my VPN throughput measurements over the three tunnel types on the TW100.  It also shows my VPN throughput measurements from three other wired VPN routers I've reviewed, the Draytek 2920, Netgear FVS318G and the Cisco RV042v3.

Test Description Throughput - (Mbps)
TW100-BRV214 Draytek 2920 NETGEAR FVS318G Cisco RV042v3
IPsec (3DES) 3.32 17.8 2.72 37.1
PPTP 8.95 19.9 N/A 10.8
L2TP 5.38 12.5 N/A N/A
Table 2: VPN Performanc comparison -client to gateway
Test Description Throughput - (Mbps)
TW100-BRV214 Draytek 2920 NETGEAR FVS318G Cisco RV042v3
IPsec 2.85 17.8 2.72 47.5
PPTP 7.61 19.9 N/A 9.7
L2TP 1.1 12.5 N/A N/A
Table 3: VPN Performanc comparison -gateway to client

TRENDnet says the TW100 supports up to 80 IPsec, PPTP, and/or L2TP tunnels.  However, its VPN throughput numbers imply to me the TW100 would be challenged to support 80 simultaneous VPN tunnels.  I think TRENDnet's 80 tunnel rating may be referencing the fact that you can create 80 IPsec tunnel entries in the TW100 menu.  I'd be surprised if the TW100 could support them all simultaneously, even if connected to a WAN circuit with enough bandwidth.

For VPN performance, let's first discuss IPsec.  As shown in Table 2, at about 3 Mbps, the TW100 has similar IPsec throughput to the FVS318G. But it is significantly slower than Draytek's 17.8 Mbps and Cisco's 37 Mbps.

Second, you can see PPTP throughput of 8.95 Mbps on the TW100 is lower than Draytek's 19.9 Mbps and Cisco's 10.8 Mbps.  The FVS318G does not support PPTP, so there are no results posted

Finally, only the TW100 and the Draytek support L2TP.  The TW100's L2TP throughput is quite asymmetric at 5.38 Mbps from client-to-gateway and only 1.1 Mbps from gateway-to-client.  Draytek's 2920 produces higher L2TP throughput at 12.5 Mbps in both directions.

Summing up, the TW100 has quite a few VPN options including GRE, IPsec, L2TP and PPTP.  All the ones I tested work and are relatively easy to set up, but throughput is low in comparison to the other devices.  As previously stated, I'd use PPTP for remote client connections with the TW100, since you'll get better performance than L2TP. 

Closing Thoughts

In the tables below, I compared the TW100 to the three other routers from the VPN section of this review. 

Product # IPsec tunnels GRE SSL PPTP L2TP
TW100-BRV214 80 Y N Y Y
NETGEAR FVS318G 5 N N N N
Cisco RV042v3 50 N N Y Y
Draytek 2920 40 N N Y Y
Table 4: VPN feature comparison

The key takeaways from Table 4 are the higher number of IPsec tunnels supported by the TW100, as well as the number of VPN options (although I'm skeptical the TW100 can really support 80 simultaneous VPN tunnels).  On the other hand, with support for GRE, IPsec, PPTP, and L2TP, the TW100 has the most VPN options of the VPN routers I've reviewed.

Product WAN ports LAN ports Gigabit WAN-LAN Throughput (Mbps) LAN-WAN Throughput (Mbps) Price
TW100-BRV214 1 4 N 94.2 92.2 $67
NETGEAR FVS318G 1 8 Y 22.5 22.9 $118
Cisco RV042v3 2 4 N 91.1 89.9 $146
Draytek 2920 2 4 Y 147.5 136.5 $245
Table 5: Router summary comparison

The key takeaways from Table 5 are the TW100's throughput and price.  Even though it does not support dual WAN or Gigabit ports, the TW100 has the second highest WAN-LAN and LAN-WAN throughput of these four routers and by far the lowest price.

However, the TW100's IPsec VPN throughput is disappointing and there are clearly faster options available. And, perhaps more disappointing, you can't connect a remote client via IPsec, only another router.  PPTP throughput, although lower than the others, is reasonable, and probably more than you'll need for remote access.  If you're looking for remote access to your network while traveling, it is likely you won't have the bandwidth at a hotel or airport connection to exceed the TW100's capability anyway. So the TW100's PPTP throughput would be more than adequate.

You might also say the TW100's lack of Gigabit ports or wireless support are weaknesses.  But while I prefer Gigabit ports, I don't actually often use that kind of throughput on my network. And adding an inexpensive Gigabit switch is always an option.  Likewise, wireless support is solved by using the TW100 as your WAN router and connecting a converted wireless router or access point  (here's a step by step on how to convert a wireless router to an AP) .

Bottom line, the TW100 is an inexpensive (and energy efficient) solution for providing secure remote access to your network and a pretty fast non-VPN router, too!

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