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Wireless Reviews

Inside

The confidentiality hold on the CENTRIA's FCC internal photos has expired, so I didn't have to open the review unit obtained from Amazon. Table 1 shows that aside from the processor, the WNDR4700 has a lot in common with two other recently-issued "N900" routers, WD's My Net N900 and D-Link's DIR-857.

  NETGEAR CENTRIA WD My Net N900 DIR-857
CPU Applied Micro APM82181-SKE10001 Ubicom IP8260U Ubicom IP8000AU
Switch Atheros AR8327N Atheros AR8327N (x2) Atheros AR8327N
RAM 256 MB 256 MB 512 MB
Flash 128 MB 16 MB 16 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Atheros AR9380 dual-band 3-stream 11n SoC
- Unidentified manf. power amp (x3)
- Atheros AR9381 single-band
3-stream 11n SoC
- 6976691A205 (manufacturer unknown)
2.4 GHz power amps (x3)
- Atheros AR9380 dual-band 3-stream 11n SoC
- Unidentified manf. power amp (x3)
5 GHz radio - Atheros AR9380 dual-band 3-stream 11n SoC (guess)
- Unidentified manf. power amp (x3)
- Atheros AR9380 dual-band
3-stream 11n SoC
- Skyworks/SiGe SE2595L
Dual Band 802.11n Wireless LAN Front End (x3)
- Atheros AR9380 dual-band 3-stream 11n SoC
- Unidentified manf. power amp (x3)
Table 1: NETGEAR CENTRIA component summary and comparison

This is the first sighting I've had of an Applied Micro processor in a router. I have seen the APM82181 once before, however, in the WD My Book Live.

The photo below shows the view with the back removed from the router. The 2.4 GHz radio and antennas are on the left and the 5 GHz on the right.

CENTRIA Internal view

CENTRIA Internal view

Removing the board reveals the mini-blower that quietly keeps things cool. The criss-crossed area is where the hard drive fits.

CENTRIA Internal view - board removed

CENTRIA Internal view - board removed

With the shields removed, the components come into view. The FCC internal photos has nice close-ups of most of the components, except for the 5 GHz radio. So I'm guesssing that it's an Atheros AR9380, since the AR9381 is 2.4 GHz only.

One thing I failed to point out in previous reviews is that the "N" on the AR8327N switch means it supports line rate NAT (Network Address Translation). So that's the "hardware NAT" I keep seeing references to! Unlike on some other products, there is no control to turn hardware NAT on and off.

QCA AR8327N switch block diagram

QCA AR8327N switch block diagram

Something that might matter to some prospective purchasers is the CENTRIA's power consumption. I measured 16W while running the performance tests and 14W while idle using a relatively power-efficient WD Red drive. It would have been nice if NETGEAR had provided an idle drive spindown setting to save power, but there is none.

Updated 10/4/2012
T/he only time I heard the blower you saw in the photos above, even during storage testing, was when it spun up during initial boot.

I've noticed that the router's blower has gotten more noticeable over the week that the Centria has been powered on. I can now clearly hear it in my quiet home office, over the sound of the other quiet fans in my home office. (Note that the Centria is sitting on a desk and my desktop machine is on a low equipment rack about four inches off the floor.) And this is without a hard drive installed.

This noise probably won't bother you if the router is sitting in a family room or den. But if it's in a bedroom, it could be annoying.

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the WNDR4700 using our standard test method and freshly-updated V1.0.0.32 firmware is summarized in Table 2 along with its draft 11ac predecessor, the R6300. You would think the Applied Micro CPU had enough oomph to beat the Broadcom BCM4706 in the R6300. But I suspect the APM processor has a greater portion of its CPU cycles dedicated to beefing up storage performance.

One thing Torrent and gaming fans will be happy to see is that NETGEAR finally has produced a router that handles more than 4K simultaneous connections. The error message thrown when the test program hit the 29,173 connection point indicated that the program collided with a Win 7 in-use port instead of detecting that the router wouldn't open another connection. So this means that the CENTRIA can handle even more than the test result shown. But isn't 29,000+ enough anyway?

Test Description WNDR4700 R6300
WAN - LAN 547 Mbps 783 Mbps
LAN - WAN 499 Mbps 829 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 572 Mbps 808 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 29173 4096
Firmware Version V1.0.0.32 V1.0.0.68_1.0.16
Table 2: Routing throughput

The IxChariot plot for the routing tests shows very stable throughput that was evenly matched in the simultaneous up/down test. I don't have an explanation for the glitch in the uplink run, which kept appearing when I re-tried the test a few times.

CENTRIA Routing throughput IxChariot plot summary

CENTRIA Routing throughput IxChariot plot summary

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