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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Performance

The Medialink MWN-WAPR300N is not Wi-Fi Certified. It defaults to Auto channel mode and 20/40 channel bandwidth upon power-up.

By default, WPS is disabled. After enabling WPS, the wireless test client was able to successfully negotiate a WPA2/AES connection.

Both the Fat Channel Intolerant test and 40 MHz co-existence tests failed. This isn't particularly surprising. We often find that non Wi-Fi Certified products fail one or both of these tests.

All tests were run using our new wireless test process and version V5.07.45_en_MDL02 firmware loaded. The router was first reset to factory defaults. Channel 6 and 20 MHz bandwidth was used for the tests. The test client was connected using WPA2/AES encryption.

The router was positioned 8" from the chamber antennas in all test positions. The 0° position had the router front facing the chamber antennas. The benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

Medialink MWN-WAPR300N Benchmark Summary

Medialink MWN-WAPR300N Benchmark Summary

Unfortunately, it's been some time since we have reviewed N300 routers. Since our last N300 router review, our test bed and testing methodology has changed, so results filtered for "N300" won't yield directly comparable results. Prior to our new testing methodology, the next most recent test results were represented with green bars. Our current testing methodology results are now represented by gray bars. Still it makes for some interesting comparisons.

In the two charts below, I filtered the router charts for N300 routers and selected green and gray bar testing methods. For the 2.4 GHz downlink the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N scored near the top of the charts. You'll note that there is one other set of "gray" tests results. Those are for the Linksys E900 router that will be covered in an upcoming review.

N300 2.4 GHz downlink comparison (green, gray bar filters applied)

N300 2.4 GHz downlink comparison (green, gray bar filters applied)

Similarly, here are the 2.4 GHz uplink tests. Again, the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N is near the top of the charts, and the directly comparable E900 scores near the bottom.

N300 2.4 GHz uplink comparison (green, gray bar filters applied)

N300 2.4 GHz uplink comparison (green, gray bar filters applied)

To compare the MWN-WAPR300N to other routers using our new testing methodology, I thought that it would be interesting to compare it to the 2.4 GHz downlink and uplink profiles for a few of the least expensive AC1200 class routers. Of course, these routers have dual band capabilities and are more expensive than most N300 routers. But their 2.4 GHz radios are still only N300 class, so this is a valid comparison.

For our comparison, I selected the $84 D-Link DIR-850L (AC1200), the $70 Edimax BR-6478AC, (AC1200) and the yet-to-be-reviewed $29 Linksys E900 (N300). I also added the Linksys E900 since it is the only other N300 router tested with the current process.. In addition, the E900, lacking USB ports and with only 10/100 Ethernet ports, is a direct, lower cost competitor to the MWN-WAPR300N.

For the 2.4 GHz downlink throughput vs attenuation tests, you can see that the MWN-WAPR300N had significantly lower, but steady throughput than the other three routers out to about 24dB of attenuation. As more attenuation was added, however, the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N maintained higher throughput than either the Linksys E900 or the D-Link DIR-850L throughout the rest of the range of attenuation. Only the Edimax BR-6478AC outperformed the MWN-WAPR300N beyond 28 dB of atenuation. This shows that both the Edimax and the Medialink routers should perform better at greater distances than the other two routers.

2.4 GHz Downlink Performance vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Performance vs. Attenuation

For the 2.4 GHz uplink, the Edimax BR-6478AC again held the advantage. (In reading these charts, the line that stays highest the longest and hits the x axis the farthest to the right has superior performance.) Similar to the downlink test above, the MWN-WAPR300N started out with lower, but steady throughput than the other three routers. But note how the E900 had a dramatic drop in throughput starting at a relatively modest 12 dB of attenuation.

At attenuation levels greater than 21 dB, the Edimax held a significant advantage over the other products throughout the rest of the attenuation range. At 48 dB, the DIR-850L lost connection. The Edimax was still achieving 7 Mbps up uplink throughput at the end of the test (63 db of attenuation.)

2.4 GHz Uplink Performance vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Performance vs. Attenuation

Comparing just the N300 Linksys E900 and Medialink MWN-WAPR300N, the Medialink should have a clear range and throughput advantage for most its operating range.

Closing Thoughts

If you look at the Router Ranking chart (below), you'll see that the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N is ranked #6 of all 29 N300 routers in the chart. It earned a #2 ranking for average wireless throughput and a #3 ranking for maximum wireless throughput. And, our throughput vs. attenuation tests show that the Medialink router compares favorably against the Linksys E900 as well as the 2.4 GHz performance of the AC1200 class D-Link DIR-850L.

If you sort the router ranker by price, you'll see that there are 12 routers that are less expensive including the venerable D-Link DIR-655 which has Gigabit Ethernet ports and is $1 less expensive. But some of the less expensive routers have probably been discontinued, and the pricing could reflect inventory clearance.

Ranker Performance Summary for the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N

Ranker Performance Summary for the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N

Given the variation in test methods, a more meaningful ranker comparison is between the Medialink and the Linksys E900. All the details are here, but the key points are the E900's total ranking was #8, routing throughput rank was #13, Average Wireless Throughput rank was #4, Maximum Wireless Throughput rank was #1 and Wireless Range rank was rock-bottom at #21.

Currently, the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N is one of the top ranked (4.4 out of 5 stars) routers on Amazon. I've read some of the reviews and the majority of people have been happy with the ease of setup as well as customer support. Of course, as I indicated, setup is really simple, so I decided to call customer support and see how they did. I wasn't having any problems, but I wanted a little more information about the Secondary SSID as well as the wireless WAN connection.

The support line was answered promptly and a help desk person took down all of my information and told me that I would get a call back within an hour. I was skeptical, but I did get a call back about 40 minutes later. Support is US based, and the return call came from the 856 area code, which includes Cherry Hill, NJ where Mediabridge is located. The support person (Tim) answered all of my questions and let me know that if I did encounter any problems, there were there to help. They didn't ask for proof of purchase, order date, etc. They just seemed interested in helping out a customer who owned one of their products.

To sum up, the Medialink MWN-WAPR300N is an entry level N300 router that performs well. Priced at $50, it carries somewhat of a premium as compared to some other N300 routers. It's also only $20 cheaper the decently-performing Dual Band Gigabit AC1200 class Edimax BR-6478AC. That said, it looks like the crowd on Amazon got it right. For many consumers looking for an N300 router, Medialink's customer service may well justify the small premium.

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