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Wireless Reviews

Internal Details

The six routers are all two antenna designs and represent a good cross-section of main processor and wireless chipsets. All have four port auto MDI/X 10/100 switches and a single 10/100 WAN port.

All products except the Trendnet, which has 32 MB, have 16 MB of memory. And all, except the DIR-625, have 4 MB of flash. I didn't check under the 625's board to ID the flash chip, but I suspect it is also 4 MB.

Table 1 shows that the D-Links stick with the company's usual choice of Ubicom processors, although only the more-expensive DIR-625 exposes Ubicom's StreamEngine uplink auto-QoS features. And also true to form, both Linksys products opt for Broadcom CPUs.

Product CPU WLAN Photo Link
Ralink RT2880+RT2820 2T3R Click for photo
Atheros xSPAN AR5416 / AR2122 2T2R Click for photo
Atheros xSPAN AR5416 / AR2133 3T3R Click for photo
Broadcom Intensi-fi BCM4321 / BCM2055 2T2R Click for photo
Broadcom Intensi-fi BCM4321 / BCM2055 2T2R Click for photo
Atheros AR9130 / Atheros AR9103 3T3R Click for photo
Table 1: CPU / WLAN Component Summary

Belkin and Trendnet, however, like to play the field a bit more. And this time, Belkin opted to help Ralink gain some market share and keep material cost down. Trendnet also went the low-cost route, but by using an Atheros SoC that combines the CPU and WLAN Baseband / MAC functions.

Wireless chipsets match the CPU makers except for the two D-Link products, which use the Ubicom CPU / Atheros WLAN combination used across their entire consumer WLAN product line. While all products are two antenna designs, a look at the WLAN chipset specs show a mix of 2T2R (2 Transmit, 2 Receive), 2T3R, and 3T3R transceivers.

In the 3T or 3R cases, however, only two antennas are connected. The exception is the Trendnet, which has two external antennas and one internal PC board antenna.

Routing Features

It may be helpful to open the router summary table in a new tab or window as a reference.

If you're familar with other models of Linksys, D-Link, Belkin or Trendnet low-end wireless routers, you'll generally find no surprises in this group. The exception is the DIR-625, which D-Link decided to upgrade with its recently upgraded SecureSpot managed security service.

If you are looking for QoS features, both Linksys routers have four-level priorities that can be manually assigned to specific applications (ports). These settings, however, apply to uplink traffic only. As mentioned earlier, while both D-Links have Ubicom processors, only the DIR-625 supports automatic StreamEngine QoS. Once again, this QoS is for uplink traffic only.

Each product supports forwarding for single ports and ranges and most support triggered ports, which can be helpful for gaming and video / voice conferencing applications. VPN passthrough is also supported for at least PPTP, IPsec and, in some cases, L2TP, too. None of the group, however, have VPN endpoints, so they can't originate or terminate VPN tunnels. All support UPnP.

In summary, no product was particularly outstanding in its routing feature set. So you're better off making your choice with other factors and taking whatever comes along for the ride.

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