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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Update 10/24/2008: Added Stress Test

NETGEAR WNR2000

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR Wireless-N Router (WNR2000)
NETGEAR Netgear RangeMax Wireless-N USB 2.0 Adapter (WN111V2)
Summary Low-cost single-band draft 802.11n router based on Atheros XSPAN
Pros • Street price around $70
• Uplink QoS
• 100 Mbps wire speed routing
• Decent wireless range
Cons • Not as cheap as other entry-level draft 11n products
• Unbalanced up and downlink throughput
• Unusually low WEP and WPA/TKIP downlink speed

NETGEAR missed the Cheap Draft 802.11n Router Roundup because it didn't have a two-antenna product in the $50-$70 price range. Sure, it had the aging WNR834B, which was close in price and had three vs. two antennas. But I had already reviewed it, so didn't include it in the round-up.

Well, NETGEAR now has a new entry-level single-band draft 802.11n router—the WNR2000. So let's take a look and see if it's a better alternative for a cheap draft 11n router.

Internal Details

The FCC ID doc photos are very fuzzy and don't really show the component details. And since the product has heatsinks on the switch and CPU/Mac/Baseband chips (a good thing!) I had to make some guesses about the 2000's components.

WNR2000 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: WNR2000 board

Unlike the original WNR834B, the 2000 is based on Atheros' AR9100AP chipset. It features a combined CPU/MAC/BaseBand SoC, radio chip and separate switch. I can't tell whether the radio chip in Figure 2 is the AR9102 2.4 GHz 2x2 radio or AR9103 2.4 GHz 3x3 radio. This is further complicated by presence of the three "metamaterial" antennas.

WNR2000 radio detail

Figure 2: WNR2000 radio detail

But NETGEAR was kind enough to tell me that the radio is the 3x3 AR9103 and the CPU/MAC/Baseband the AR9132. The 10/100 switch is an Atheros AR8216 6 port 10/100 and I could clearly tell from looking at the board that there is 32 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash.

NETGEAR sent along a WN111V2 RangeMax Wireless-N USB 2.0 Adapter as the companion adapter. The original WN111 used a Marvell "TopDog" draft 11n chipset (Figure 3), comprised of an 88W8060 2.4 GHz transceiver and 88W8362 MAC/BB.

WN111 V1 radio detail

Figure 3: WN111 V1 radio detail

But the V2 uses an Atheros 9001 USB chipset, made up of an AR9170 MAC/BB and AR9101 1x2 MIMO Single-band 2.4 GHz Radio.

WN111 V2 radio detail

Figure 4: WN111 V2 radio detail

I think this is a better choice, since I have found that it's still best to stay with the same chipset manufacturer for AP and client for best performance.

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