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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Routing throughput running the latest V1.0.0.19-DNS firmware and our router test process measured 335 Mbps WAN to LAN, 363 Mbps LAN to WAN and 398 Mbps total with up and down tests running simultaneously. The IxChariot composite plot below in Figure 6 shows slightly higher downlink speed than uplink in the simultaneous up/down test, but the inverse when each test is run separately.

Maximum simultaneous connections topped out at numbers indicating a maximum of 8,192 connections. So it looks like NETGEAR used some of the 3800's expanded RAM to make P2P and gamers happier.

WNDR3800 wired routing performance summary

Figure 6: WNDR3800 wired routing performance summary

On the downside, routing throughput has dropped about 15 - 20 % vs. the WNDR3700v2 as shown in Table 2. Since throughput significantly higher than your ISP connection speed doesn't do you any good, this is not a big deal for most of us.

  WNDR3800 WNDR3700v2 WNDR4000
WAN > LAN (Mbps) 335 429 676
LAN > WAN (Mbps) 364 420 624
Simultaneous (Mbps) 398 469 701
Max. Connections 8192 4096 4096
Table 2: NETGEAR router throughput comparison

Sharing Performance

I ran quick Windows filecopy tests using the standard NAS testbed to the WNDR3800 with my standard Iomega UltraMax Pro drive configured in RAID 0 and formatted in FAT32 and NTFS.

  WNDR3800 WNDR3700v2 WNDR4000
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 12.5 9.9 6.1
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 13.3 14.2 6.9
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 4.3 3.0 4.6
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 12.0 12.1 4.3
Table 3: NETGEAR router throughput comparison

The results in Table 3 say you wouldn't notice any performance difference between the 3800 and 3700v2 if you use either for file sharing. And writes to an NTFS-formatted drive will be pretty slow.

Wireless Performance

The WNDR3800 is Wi-Fi Certified and properly defaulted to 20 MHz bandwidth mode on the 2.4 GHz radio on power-up. The 5 GHz radio defaulted to Up to 300 Mbps mode, which is NETGEAR's terminology for Auto 20/40 mode.

A pushbutton Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) session run on each radio with a Win 7 client completed quickly and resulted in a WPA2/AES secured connection.. All tests were run with this secured connection using our latest wireless test process. As is our standard, Channel 1 was used for the 2.4 GHz band and Channel 36 for 5 GHz.

I ran 2.4 and 5 GHz Wireless Performance tables for the 3800, 3700v2 and WNDR4000. Highest 2.4 GHz throughput for the 3800 of 80 Mbps was measured in Location A running downlink with the client set to Up to 300 Mbps mode. Running simultaneous up and downlink tests yielded 101 Mbps in the same location and condition.

Wireless Performance summary - 2.4 GHz

Figure 7: Wireless Performance summary - 2.4 GHz

The "winner" in this comparison varies. For 20 MHz mode ("Up to 130 Mbps" in NETGEAR-speak), the WNDR400 is best overall. But in 20/40 mode, the 3800 pulls ahead in the stronger-signal locations. In all, it doesn't look like the 3800 is better than the 3700v2, as I wouldn't expect it to be, given that it uses the same board (except for more RAM).

The IxChariot plot in Figure 8 shows relatively little throughput variation, which is also seen in the other test plots.

WNDR3800 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Figure 8: WNDR3800 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Here are links to the other 2.4 GHz plots for your reference:

Figure 9 compares the three routers in the 5 GHz band. Highest WNDR3800 throughput of 66 Mbps was measured using our wireless test process in Location A running downlink with the client set to Up to 130 Mbps mode. The highest simultaneous up and downlink test of only 77 Mbps was measured in Location A, but also in Up to 130 Mbps mode. So, just as I found with the WNDR3700v2, using channel bonding in the 5 GHz band doesn't buy you higher throughput, either with single or multiple connections.

Wireless Performance summary - 5 GHz

Figure 9: Wireless Performance summary - 5 GHz

Throughput variation was generally low in the 5 GHz band, except when running the Location A downlink test in Up to 300 Mbps mode as shown in Figure 10.

WNDR3800 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Figure 9: WNDR3800 IxChariot plot - 5 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Here are links to the other plots for your reference:

Closing Thoughts

The WNDR3800 is for those who want more features than they can get from the WNDR3700v2 and don't mind paying around $30 street more for it. The better bet for performance, however, is the WNDR4000, which is also around $10 cheaper.

Be sure to read Craig's review of the WNDR3800's features. You can also explore and compare the WNDR3800's performance using the Router Chart and Router Finder.

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