Setup and Features
Setting up the TEW-687GA is easy. If you have a WPS-enabled router, you should be able to get a successful WPA2-secured link, as I did, by doing a WPS pushbutton session. But if you already have an encrypted network in place, you'll probably need to connect a computer to the bridge via Ethernet for initial setup.
I should note that when I first connected the TEW-687GA to my Acer Aspire 1810T notebook with a built-in Atheros AR8131 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet controller, it would connect only at 100 Mbps. I tried multiple reconnects and connection repairs to no avail. But at some point, perhaps after I rebooted the notebook (or power-cycled the 687GA), I got a solid Gigabit link from there on.
So if you run into the same issue, keep trying things until you get a Gigabit link. You'll have to depend on the device you are connecting to the 687GA to tell you the Ethernet link rate, though, since there is no indication in the bridge's admin GUI.
Fortunately, TRENDnet has made this easy, by using local DNS resolution. So all you need to do is enter http://TEW-687GA.trendnet in your browser to connect instead of having to figure out the TEW-687GA's IP address. Once you log in, you'll get the status screen shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: TRENDnet TEW-687GA status screen
If you plan to try for 450 Mbps links, you'll need to change the Channel Bandwidth setting on the 687GA as well as your three-stream router from its 20 MHz bandwidth default (Figure 6) to 40 MHz mode (or Auto 20/40). You can actually leave it set to Auto 20/40 mode in the bridge, since it will adapt to whatever the router is set to.
Figure 6: TRENDnet TEW-687GA Advanced Wireless settings
As with regular two-stream N routers, using 40 MHz bandwidth mode hogs most of the available 2.4 GHz spectrum. So, be nice and use it only if you don't have other 2.4 GHz networks nearby.
With default settings and paired with TRENDnet's TEW-691GR router, I got maximum link rates of 195 Mbps using 20 MHz mode and 405 Mbps using Auto 20/40 mode. To get the magic 450 Mbps link rate, you can try playing with the HT Physical Mode controls shown in Figure 6 above and their equivalents in your three-stream capable router.
The MCS setting lets you force the maximum link rate used and values supported are MCS 0-23 and 32 and, of course, the default Auto mode. The MCS index table shown in Figure 7 is a bit hard to follow. But note the second column (Number of spatial streams).
Figure 7: MCS index table (courtesy Agilent Technologies)
MCS 16-23 contain values for the three spatial streams required to achieve the maximum 450 Mbps link rate (MCS 23).
I was able to get plenty of bandwidth using the default settings and my experience with futzing with these sorts of controls is that it can screw you up more often than not. So I'd just leave the defaults alone.
The Gallery below will take you through the rest of the bridge's settings.