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Wireless Reviews

Multimedia Enhanced Wireless N Gaming Router with Gigabit
At a glance
ProductEnGenius Multimedia Enhanced Wireless N Gaming Router with Gigabit (ESR9855G)   [Website]
Summary2.4GHz Ubicom / Atheros based 802.11n router with WDS bridging / repeating and Ubicom uplink auto QoS but not Wi-Fi Certified.
Pros• Gigabit ports
• Ubicom uplink auto QoS
Cons• Uplink speed limited to 100 Mbps
• Inconsistent wireless performance

Typical Price: $100  Buy From Amazon

Overview

I was pretty impressed with the first EnGenius router I reviewed, the ESR9850. Even though it was based on a SoC router chip—Ralink's RG3052—it had > 700 Mbps wired routing throughput, up and downlink bandwidth control and decent, although not outstanding, wireless.

But somewhere between there and here, which is the ESR9985G I'm reviewing today, EnGenius seems to have gone astray. For starters, they've endowed the 9855G with Gigabit WAN and LAN ports and a speedy Ubicom CPU. But then they limit uplink speed to only 100 Mbps by not fully disengaging auto QoS, even when the admin panel shows it as disabled. And wireless performance from the Atheros-based 2.4 GHz radio is pretty disappointing. But, I get ahead of myself.

The router has an unusual form factor with dual, upgradeable antennas (w/ RP-SMA connectors) sticking out of its sides. The orange (gold?) and black plastic case is about the size of a large-format paperback book and has mounting slots on its underside. The case seems to be well-ventilated since it doesn't seem to get that warm.

Figure 1 shows the 9855G's front panel, with its array of indicator lights and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button on top.

ESR9855G front panel
Figure 1: ESR9855G front panel

Figure 2 provides a rear view, where all one WAN and four switched LAN ports—all Gigabit—reside along with power jack and switch.

ESR9855G rear panel
Figure 2: ESR9855G rear panel

Inside

Figure 3 shows one of the FCC ID photos where you can see the Realtek RTL8366RB Gigabit Switch, mini-PCI radio module and Ubicom processor. Close-ups in the FCC file let me identify the CPU as a Ubicom IP7150U and the Atheros device on the radio module as an AR9223 2.4 GHz 802.11n SoC. RAM and flash complement are 64 MB and 8 MB respectively.

ESR9855G inside
Figure 3: ESR9855G inside

EnGenius must have had dual-band plans for this chassis at one point because there's an empty slot on the bottom of the board for a second radio. I peeked into the review unit, though, and the connector isn't loaded.

ESR9855G board bottom
Figure 4: ESR9855G board bottom

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