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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

NETGEAR WNDR3700v2 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router

At a Glance
Product NETGEAR N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR3700v2)
Summary Hardware revison of popular Atheros-based dual-radio, dual-band 802.11n router with Gigabit ports and media-enabled USB drive sharing.
Pros • High routing throughput
• Wireless Guest networks
• WDS Repeating / bridging
• Good wireless throughput stability
• USB drive sharing with UPnP AV / DLNA server
Cons • Lower performance than v1 in 5 GHz band
• Still only 4096 maximum simultaneous sessions

It's been a little over a year since NETGEAR starting shipping what has become its flagship 802.11n router, the WNDR3700. Judging from the SNB web traffic, there has been more sustained interest in this router than perhaps any other router that I've reviewed.

There has been the usual speculation about the first hardware revision of NETGEAR's best-selling WNDR3700 dual-band N router. While most people hope for improved performance, hardware revs are usually more about cost-reduction and less often address design flaws.

The WNDR3700v2 seems to be about the latter approach with two key changes. First, it increases flash memory from 8 to 16 MB. And second, it has changed the antenna configuration for the 5 GHz radio.

Other than that, the WNDR3700v2's design remains an Atheros-based design using an AR7161 Wireless Network Processor and 2.4GHz/5GHz AR9220 and 2.4GHz AR9223 radios. The Realtek RTL8366SR Gigabit switch also is unchanged. So let's get to what's different.

Figure 1 is an FCC photo that shows the two new "patch" style antennas that flank the top front left corner of the router. These attach to connectors on the main board that were also present on the Rev 1 board.

WNDR3700v2 inside view

Figure 1: WNDR3700v2 inside view

Figure 2 is a closeup of the v2 board. Pay attention to the left edge of the board, which is where the key changes are.

WNDR3700v2 board top

Figure 2: WNDR3700v2 board top

Comparing Figure 2 to the view of the original WNDR3700 revision (v1) board in Figure 3, you see the same four mini (Hirose U.FL if I'm not mistaken) antenna connectors, two each for the 2.4 and 5 GHz radios. If you look closely, you can also see that the etched metamaterial antennas for the 5 GHz radio have been removed.

WNDR3700v1 board top

Figure 3: WNDR3700v1 board top

Checking the bottom side of the boards, we see similar, although more subtle, changes, clearing away vestiges of the on-board 5 GHz antennas.

WNDR3700v2 board bottom

Figure 4: WNDR3700v2 board bottom

All the board images are clickable for a larger view. Right click on them if you want to open the larger image in a new browser tab or window.

WNDR3700v1 board bottom

Figure 5: WNDR3700v1 board bottom

The v2 came in a red-themed box that was new to me, although it may have changed sometime over the past year or so. Pay no attention to the "N600" in the revamped product name.

WNDR3700v2 box

Figure 6: WNDR3700v2 box

That's just NETGEAR's way of fooling folks who don't know better into thinking they are getting a faster router than ones with "300" or "450" in their names. (No, Virginia, you can't get your dual-band client to show a 600 Mbps link rate no matter what you do.)

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