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Wireless Performance - Competitive Comparison

For the competitive comparison, I chose two other similarly-priced, single band draft 11n routers with Gigabit WAN and LAN ports: the D-Link DIR-655 (A4); and Linksys WRT310N. Figure 18 compares their downlink throughput in the default 20 MHz bandwidth mode.

Most likely due to its high throughput variation, the WZR-HP doesn't turn in the highest throughput in the stronger signal locations. But it easily out-performs both the D-Link and Linksys in my most difficult test Locations E and F with 8 Mbps vs. 1 or less Mbps in Location F.

Competitive comparison - 20 MHz channel, downlink

Figure 18: Competitive comparison - 20 MHz channel, downlink

The throughput summary tables (Tables 2 and 3) will help you easily compare products across the four combinations of bands and modes tested. Instead of just putting an X in the winning product's box, I'm trying something new this time.

The charts are generated by going through each six-location comparison plots and putting the throughput value in the product's box that had the highest throughput for each test. If throughput differs by 1 Mbps or less, then both products get the throughput entered. This provides a bit more data for your analysis pleasure.

Product 2.4GHz /20 2.4GHz / 40
Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH   54.5     10.3 8.3 97.2 59.2 59.0 31.4 5.1 3.4
Linksys WRT310 69.7   61.5 41.5                
D-Link DIR-655 (A4)                        
Table 2: Best downlink throughput summary

A quick glance shows that the WZR-HP-G300NH is the clear winner among the three for both up and downlink.

Product 2.4GHz /20 2.4GHz / 40
Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH 61.4 51.5 54.9 38.6 15.6 11.6   75.7 70.0 40.7 14.3 4.1
Linksys WRT310                        
D-Link DIR-655 (A4) 62.4   54.4       100.1          
Table 3: Best uplink throughput summary

Closing Thoughts

The WZR-HP is Buffalo's current top-of-line draft 11n router.  And it's packed with features including a built-in PPTP VPN server, Web Access to files stored on an external USB drive attached to the router, an AP mode, and an easy-to-use NAS - features not found on most competing routers. 

But arguably, the most important feature is its high power radio.  With peak power almost ten times that of the D-Link DIR655 (A4), you would expect better coverage. And the good news is that the WZR-HP actually does provide significantly higher throughput at weak signal locations where other draft 11n routers only squeeze out a Mbps or so.  And although we didn't test for increased range, we're pretty confident that it will deliver.

But no product is perfect and the WZR-HP has a few shortcoming that might limit its appeal.  First, there is no way to control the RF power output.  In some applications, you might want to reduce the output power to either minimize interference with other wireless networks, or to reduce the range to your immediate working area. 

For small businesses, the lack of RADIUS authentication (WPA Enterprise) could limit its usefulness.  And the multiple-SSIDs for wireless security don't provide the protection that VLAN-based "Guest" wireless modes on other products provide. Even if Buffalo stays with the multiple SSIDs, they should add a checkbox to keep WLAN traffic restricted to Internet access only.

Those caveats aside, the WZR-HP-G300NH is a solid router worthy of your consideration – especially if you have dead spots that other routers can’t reach.

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