The New To The Charts article covers routing and wireless performance, which was tested with 1.7.5 firmware using our standard router test procedure. But I'll summarize the results here and add a few comments.
Routing performance for the MBR900 is quite solid for a router with 100 Mbps Ethernet ports. WAN-LAN throughput is 91.1 Mbps and LAN-WAN throughput is 91.5 Mbps, essentially 100 Mbps wirespeed performance. If the bulk of your network traffic is to and from the Internet over a wired connection, the MBR900 will not be a choke point.
I filtered our router charts on WAN-LAN throughput for other routers in the $100-$150 range. Only one router with 100Mbps Ethernet ports has higher throughput, the Linksys WRT400N at 92.7 Mbps compared to the MBR900's 91.1 Mbps. But this isn't really a significant difference; both are essentially 100 Mbps wire-speed.
To get higher throughput, you have to move up to a router with Gigabit ports. (Personally, I wish the MBR900 had Gigabit interfaces, at least on its LAN, for faster file transfers and streaming capability.)
Figure 17: Download performance ranking
The MBR900's wireless performance was stable and reliable throughout my house. I tested the MBR900 wireless radio with a newer laptop using an Intel 6300 wireless card. With the MBR900 on my second floor configured for 802.11n-only, WPA2 encryption, and the remaining wireless settings at default, my laptop link rate as shown by Windows’ Network Connection Status screen (shown below) ranged from 78-144 Mbps throughout my house.
Figure 18: Wireless connection status
The MBR900's wireless performance measured by our standard wireless performance testing however, was not quite as impressive. The 2.4 GHz downlink average throughput Wireless Chart shown below is filtered to show only single-band routers and the MBR900 ranks in the bottom third. In 40 MHz bandwidth mode, the MBR900 fares a bit better, but rises only to near the top of the bottom half of charted routers.
Figure 19: Wireless performance rank
Check the New To The Charts article for other wireless performance commentary. The bottom line, however, is that the MBR900's wireless section isn't up to the quality of its routing.
Pricing and Conclusion
Cradlepoint lists the MBR900, which it bills as its “most affordable 3G/4G ready mobile broadband N router” for $149.99, but it can be found online for closer to $110. The previously mentioned NETGEAR MBR624GU can now be found online for about half the cost of the MBR900, at $59.98. In my book, the Cradlepoint MBR900 is easily worth the difference in price, however.
The NETGEAR is a bit outdated, only supports a 3G WWAN interface, has no Ethernet WAN interface, and only has an 802.11b/g radio. Further, the NETGEAR device has far less functionality in terms of compatibility, performance and security. NETGEAR lists only 18 compatible USB modems, whereas Cradlepoint lists well over 100 modems it supports on US carriers alone!
Our federal government recently stated that up to 10% of Americans don't have access to adequate Internet speeds. In my day job for a global VoIP service provider, I know a lot of our customers live in areas where they can't get wired Cable or DSL service, and rely on 3G/4G USB Modems for their Internet access.
The Cradlepoint MBR900 provides a great way to share a 3G/4G connection to an entire household. With its support for both wired and WWAN Internet connections, the MBR900 would be an excellent choice for a Home or Home Office looking to maintain a secure and reliable Internet connection.