Like every other website on the planet, SmallNetBuilder uses cookies. Our cookies track login status, but we only allow admins to log in anyway, so those don't apply to you. Any other cookies you pick up during your visit come from advertisers, which we don't control.
If you continue to use the site, you agree to tolerate our use of cookies. Thank you!

Router Charts

Click for Router Charts

Router Ranker

Click for Router Ranker

NAS Charts

Click for NAS Charts

NAS Ranker

Click for NAS Ranker

More Tools

Click for More Tools

Wireless Features

Introduction

What are you really buying?

One of the games that many consumer networking product manufacturers play is changing the hardware design of products while keeping the model number the same. And we're not talking about minor component changes, either. More and more frequently, manufacturers are changing entire chipsets with no change to the model number.

Having spent 20+ years designing electronic gear, I can personally attest to the need to make component substitutions. Sometimes it's because a product keeps selling long beyond its intended product life—and the life of some of its components.

Other times, large production runs reveal designs that didn't include enough margin to handle normal component variation. And sometimes the cost savings afforded by the switch to a lower-cost alternative are just too good to resist.

It's one thing to tweak a product based on a well-worn standard like Ethernet. But it's quite another to change entire chipsets in still-not-fully-baked products like draft 802.11n wireless routers and cards. But that's what vendors are doing. Let's look at some examples.

Linksys

Linksys has long been a major customer of Broadcom for its wireless chipset needs. But with the transition to 802.11n, the company seems to be taking a multi-vendor strategy, based on a recent perusal of the FCC ID document database.

Figures 1-3 show the innards of the WRT350N "V1" (or original) Wireless-N Gigabit Router with Storage Link. Keep in mind that these pictures are from the FCC ID database and reflect pre-production product.

Linksys WRT350N V1 internal view
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Linksys WRT350N V1 internal view

Figure 1 doesn't provide any component detail, but the processor detail in Figure 2 shows the Broadcom BCM4705 processor—the same used in the dual-band WRT600N [reviewed]

Linksys WRT350N V1 - Processor detail

Figure 2: Linksys WRT350N V1 - Processor detail

Figure 3 shows the Cardbus-based radio board, which uses the Broadcom Intensi-fi draft 11n chipset.

Linksys WRT350N V1 - Radio board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: Linksys WRT350N V1 - Radio board

More Wireless

Wi-Fi System Tools
Check out our Wi-Fi System Charts, Ranker and Finder!

Support Us!

If you like what we do and want to thank us, just buy something on Amazon. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy. Thanks!

Over In The Forums

I recently installed an RT-AC86U (following recommendations in another thread) and it has been working great. Except... a few times in the last couple...
Hi togetherI had a working setup with my RT-AC86U to connect through OpenVPN to my network to reach clients connected to the router.Now I had to reset...
Ransomware encryption is growing and to counter the threat, Microsoft introduced Controlled Folders Access (CFA) to Windows 10. Basically it blocks ac...
Hi,I checked the download support page for the EAX-80 and noticed a new firmware version (finally):1.0.0.58 - Hot FixThis version has some security up...
I use my AC66U in AP mode as my main firewall/router is pfsense. I just got my new Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019 and connected it to my AP's 5GHz Guest ne...

Don't Miss These

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3