|At a glance|
|Product||NETGEAR Smart WiFi Router (R6100) [Website]|
|Summary||Qualcomm Atheros based draft 802.11ac AC1200 router with storage sharing USB 2.0 port, performance limited by 10/100 Ethernet ports|
|Pros||• Has WDS and AP modes|
• Inexpensive for an 802.11ac router
|Cons||• 10/100 ports limit wireless throughput|
• No client bridge mode
Typical Price: $96 Buy From Amazon
Updated 11/6/2013: Wi-Fi Certified Sept. 2013
We've seen what NETGEAR has to offer in AC1750 and AC1600 class routers in the reviews of the R6300 and R6250. This time, our attention is turned to the only NETGEAR AC router so far to be demoted to its "High Performance" router category vs. the "Ultimate Performance" category where its cousins reside.
As befits its lesser performance, the R6100 is physically smaller than the R6250, measuring 7" wide and 6.75" tall to the R6250's 7.5" wide and just shy of 8" tall. Aside from its size, you would think that you had an R6250 in your hands, with its upright stance and similar design features. It has same backlit icons shown in the diagram taken from the R6250's user manual below—the R6100's is not yet available.
NETGEAR R6100 indicators and buttons
Like the R6300 and R6250, the R6100 has only power, Internet, Wireless and USB status indicators on the front panel and no link or activity indicators for wired network traffic on either the front panel or Ethernet rear panel WAN or LAN ports. The rear panel diagram below shows a sole USB 2.0 port and subtly identifies the single WAN and four switched LAN Ethernet ports as "Fast" aka 10/100 Mbps. As we'll see when we get to performance, this design choice may severely limit this product's appeal.
NETGEAR R6100 indicators and buttons
It seems that everyone is now having the FCC delay the release of internal photos. So I got out my trusty Torx set and opened up the R6100 for photos. Taking off the front cover reveals a view similar to the R6250's. Unlike the TRENDnet TEW-811DRU, the R6100 has four single-band antennas; two for each radio. The shielding tape partially covers the flash memory.
NETGEAR again mounted its "Patent pending" circuit board antennas on a removable frame. This view has the board and antennas removed from the case. Not much to see here with those pesky shields blocking the view.
R6100 board with shields
The shields came off with a little effort, rewarding us with our first view of a draft 802.11ac router based on Qualcomm Atheros chipsets.
R6100 board naked
The large device is an Atheros 9344 802.11n 2x2 dual-band router SoC. This handles the 2.4 GHz radio, main CPU, Ethernet and USB 2.0 functions. It's the main reason why the router has 10/100 ports and has an aggressive $100 price. It has a thermal pad on it that couples it to the RF shield cover. There are two small devices in the shielded area to the left, but the numbers on them didn't reveal what they were.
The smaller device to the left of the photo is the 5 GHz radio in the form of a QCA9882 2x2 802.11ac/a/b/g/n radio with two Skyworks SE5003L 5 GHz power amplifiers. It also is thermally coupled to its RF shield via a thermal pad. 128 MB of RAM and flash finish up the design. Table 1 includes the R6250's key components for comparison.
|CPU||Atheros AR9344||Broadcom BCM4708X|
|Switch||In Atheros AR9344||In BCM4708X|
|RAM||128 MB Nanya
|256 MB Samsung K4B2G1646E|
|Flash||128 MB Micron 29F1G08ABADA||128 MB Samsung K9F1G08U0D
2 MB Macronix MX25L1606
|2.4 GHz Radio|| - In Atheros AR9344
- Possible power amps (x2)
|Broadcom BCM43217 2x2 802.11b/g/n transceiver (guess)|
|5 GHz radio||- QCA9882 2x2 802.11ac/a/b/g/n radio
- Skyworks SE5003L 5 GHz power amp (x2)
|- Broadcom BCM4360
- Unidentified power amplifier (x3) (guess)