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Wireless Reviews

Storage Performance

I ran Windows filecopy tests using the standard NAS testbed with our standard USB drive (Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station (SATDOCKU3SEF) containing a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive) formatted in FAT32 and NTFS. The results are summarized in Table 4 along with two other similarly-performing routers, TP-LINK's TL-WDR3500 and EnGenius' ESR750H.

  WZR-300HP TL-WDR3500 EnGenius ESR750H
FAT32 Write 6.6 6.3 12
FAT32 Read 8.5 9.6 10.5
NTFS Write 3.2 2.4 3.6
NTFS Read 6.4 7.8 7.9
Table 4: Filecopy performance summary - MB/s

Filecopy speed is typical of what we've found on inexpensive routers. For comparison, the highest-performing USB-enabled router tested to date is the NETGEAR CENTRIA, which clocked in at 32 MB/s write and 61 MB/s read to an NTFS-formatted USB 3.0 drive.

Wireless Performance

The 300HP is Wi-Fi Certified. It defaults to Auto channel selection and Full (20 MHz) channel width with a unique SSID based on the last three octets of its MAC address.

WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) is enabled by default and initiated a push-button WPS session when I first associated a Win 7 client. The WPS session ended with a WPA2/AES secured connection, which was used for all further wireless testing. My Win 7 client initially said there was a connection problem at the end of the WPS session. But upon checking the wireless connection properties, I found that the connection was ok with all IP addresses in place.

I ran 40 MHz Coexistence and Fat channel intolerant tests to see if the 300HP properly refrained from switching into 40 MHz bandwidth mode, when another AP was on an interfering channel, but both failed. No matter what I did, the router stayed in 40 MHz bandwidth mode when it should have fallen back to 20 MHz. However, this isn't the first Wi-Fi Certified router that I have found that did not properly stay out of 40 MHz mode when it is supposed to.

All testing was performed with DD-WRT v24SP2-MULTI (07/09/12) std firmware using our standard test process, which uses Channel 1 for 2.4 GHz tests. The test client was our standard Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 with Win7 13.5.0.6 driver.

Each wireless entry in the Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

Buffalo WZR-300HP Wireless Benchmark summary

Buffalo WZR-300HP Wireless Benchmark summary

To put these results in perspective, however, we need to take a comparative view. I used the Router Finder find other 2.4 GHz "N300" routers and found two others tested using the same current process, the Amped Wireless R10000G and TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND. I also included the 300HP's now-discontinued predecessor, Buffalo's WZR-HP-G300NH, which was tested using a different client, so isn't directly comparable.

The 300HP doesn't win any of the four comparisons in the 2.4 GHz performance table below and ties only one. But it beats the Amped and TP-LINK routers in three of the four weakest-signal Location F tests, which would indicate superior range performance. Location D results aren't too bad, either, although not as good as the Amped.

2.4 GHz throughput comparison

2.4 GHz throughput comparison

The highest unidirectional throughput for the 300HP was 162 Mbps in Location A, uplink in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. Running simultaneous up and downlink tests yielded 150 Mbps in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. These are extremely high results and put it at the top of this group of routers. But this high throughput isn't likely to do you any good unless you are using client and router in the same room and have no other wireless networks in range.

Throughput stability is ok, but not outstanding, as shown in the 20 MHz IxChariot plot below.

Buffalo WZR-300HP IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Buffalo WZR-300HP IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

You'll see evidence of rate shifting and cyclical throughput variation in the other plots linked below.

Closing Thoughts

As I've said (and shown) many times before, boosting transmit power alone doesn't provide any significant performance benefit in most cases. To get true range extension, you need to boost both transmit power and receive sensitivity on one end of a wireless connection or transmit power on both router and client.

That said, judging Buffalo's WZR-300HP on its other merits yields a verdict of "worth a try" if you're in the market for a decent-performing, market-priced, single band N router with Gigabit ports and USB storage and printer sharing. And, if you're a DD-WRT fan, you at least have someplace other than the DD-WRT forums to go to complain about stuff that doesn't work.

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