I think that we're at the point where we no longer have to say that a router's setup is simple. If it isn't simple, the product is doomed. Like many other manufacturers, there isn't any software required to discover the NBG6716 and set it up. It's all done through a wizard. Though there is a CD included with the product, it contains only the User Manual and a Multi-Language Quick Installation Guide and a copy of Acrobat reader.
The printed QIG instructs you to connect an Ethernet cable to your modem and connect your computer to a wired LAN port. You point your browser either to 192.168.1.1 or http://myrouter. The default password is 1234. When you connect to the router, you encounter a first run wizard which will guide you through the rest of the setup. The setup requires you to change the password and to create a wireless security key. By default, your administrator session will time out after 5 minutes. Thereafter, you'll have to log in again.
ZyXEL deserves some kudos for handling what could have been a setup problem. Normally, I connect the WAN port of a router under test to a LAN port of my public-facing router. Like many routers, my router also uses 192.168.1.1 as its default network. Obviously, you can't route between two networks that use the same IP subnet. I've seen some routers trap the error and tell you that you have a problem. The NBG6716 went one step farther and solved the problem without any intervention on my part. It reconfigured itself to use 10.0.0.1/24 so that I didn't have to make any adjustments to my "production" network.
ZyXEL chose to base the NBG6716 on Qualcomm Atheros' (QCA) "VIVE" 802.11ac solution. We haven't been impressed so far with routers using QCA's AC chipset and this one is no exception, as you'll see when we review performance.
The image below shows the component side of the NBG6716 circuit board. In the upper left corner, you‘ll note a 5 GHz mini-PCIe module with gray coaxial cables leading to the three "patch" style dipole antennas. On the right side of the board, you‘ll see three black coaxial cables coming from 2.4 GHz radio RF section that connect to separate 2.4 GHz antennas.
ZyXEL NBG6716 PCB Component Side
Key components for the ZyXEL and two other similarly-designed QCA-based routers are in the table below. Note that the ZyXEL is only the second router we've had hands on that includes Qualcomm's StreamBoost bandwidth-shaping technology. The TP-Link Archer C7 does not.
|ZyXEL NBG6716||D-Link DGL-5500||TP-Link Archer C7|
|CPU||QCA9558 dual-band, 3-stream 802.11n SoC||QCA9558||QCA9558|
|Switch||QCA8837||Atheros AR8327||Atheros AR8327|
|RAM||256 MB of RAM (Nanya NT5TU64M16GG-AC x2)||128 MB Nanya NT5TU32M16DG-AC (x2)||128 MB Winbond W9751G6JB DDR2 (x2)|
|Flash||- 16 MB Macronix MX25L128
- 256 MB Hynix H27U2G8F2CTR-BC
|8 MB ?||8 MB Winbond W25Q64FV|
|2.4 GHz Radio||In QCA9558
- Microchip (SST) SST12LP15B 2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz power amp (x3)
|5 GHz radio||Senao PCE4550AN Mini PCIe wireless module with QCA9880 radio + Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz power amp (x3)|| - QCA9880 3x3 802.11ac radio
- Unidentified 5 GHz power amp (x2)
| - QCA9880 3x3 802.11ac radio
- SiGE 5005L 5 GHz power amp (x3)
Table 1: Component summary
The chart below, compiled from ZyXEL's published specifications, shows the feature set and specifications for the NBG6716. I'll discuss wireless features in a separate section followed by a discussion of other features which will include a gallery of screenshots. For the most part, I'll highlight features that are either unique to the NBG6716 or features that are missing/or would be nice to have.
ZyXEL NBG6716 Features
To administer the router, you can either point your browser at http://myrouter, or to the router’s default IP address of 192.168.1.1. If you have a setup similar to mine in which the ZyXEL router used its Auto IP feature to reconfigure your LAN address, you'll need to determine what that is. As noted above, Auto IP reconfigured the router to a default address of 10.0.0.1. I tried using the http://myrouter method, and it brought me to the landing page of my upstream, public facing router. By default, you land at the eaZy123 simplified user interface shown below. The eaZy123 interface has just a few limited options:
- Power Saving lets you schedule on/off times individually for the 2.4 GHz and the 5GHz radios.
- Content Filter lets you set up a simple key word for blocking web sites
- Firewall - the only option os off or on.
- Internet Setting - takes you to the WAN setting page.
- Wireless Security - this lets you change the SSIDs and the WPA2 passwords individually for the 2.4 GHz and the 5GHz bands. You can also start a WPS negotiation.
ZyXEL NBG6716 eaZY123 landing page
In addition to selecting Logout from the eaZy123 mode, you can also select the Expert Mode. Expert Mode gives you full access to all of features of the NBG6717. The Expert Mode landing page is shown below. Along the top left side of the screen there are four icons arranged vertically. The landing page for the expert mode defaults to the Configuration->Management->StreamBoost->Network sub menu. This tab shows a network map of your network. The other top level menus, Dashboard, Monitor, and Maintenance are shown in the gallery below.