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Wireless Reviews

{mospagebreak toctitle=Overview, Inside}
AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router
At a glance
ProductTRENDnet AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-818DRU)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom based AC1900 router with USB 2.0 & 3.0 ports
Pros• USB 3.0 & 2.0 ports
• 500+ Mbps routing
Cons• Weak storage write performance
• Not great 2.4 GHz range performance
• Overall poor 5 GHz performance

Typical Price: $106  Buy From Amazon

Overview

TRENDnet hasn't had much success at producing a top-performing AC1750 router. It has tried twice with its TEW-812DRU and TEW-812DRU V2, with both ending up near the bottom of our AC1750 router ranking.

But the industry has moved on to having AC1900 as the top-of-line AC option, so TRENDnet has followed suit with the TEW-818DRU I'm reviewing today.

The callout diagram below shows the 818DRU sports both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, just like NETGEAR's R7000 Nighthawk, ASUS' RT-AC68U and Linksys' EA6900. Otherwise, the ports, switches and indicators are the same as found on the AC1750 class TEW-812DRU V2.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU front and rear panel callouts

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU front and rear panel callouts

Inside

The 818DRU sticks close to the AC1900 router design playbook with Broadcom's BCM4708A at its heart, backed by 128 MB of RAM and 16 MB of flash. Note that TRENDnet has opted for three internal dual-band antennas, while all of its competition uses external, upgradeable dual-band dipoles.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU inside

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU inside

Removing the heatsink provides a view of the BCM4708A, which is the only device with a heatsink

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU board

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU board

Table 1 shows the key components for both the TRENDnet and its AC1900 competition.

TRENDNet TEW-818DRU Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 (Nighthawk) ASUS RT-AC68U
CPU Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
Switch In BCM4708A In BCM4708A in BCM4709A In BCM4708A
RAM 128 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
Flash 16 MB 128 MB 128 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Unidentified 2.4 GHz Power Amp marked 397 649e 230(x3)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- Skyworks SE5003L1 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
- Broadcom BCM4360
- SiGE 5023L 5 GHz Power Amp (x3)
Table 1: Component summary

Features

The 818DRU's feature set is the same as TEW-812DRU V2, using the same spiffed-up admin GUI. The Status page you land at upon login is shown below. You can't click on anything in the right side; all menu selection is done via the left-side menu bar.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Status

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Status

The 812DRU V1 review covers the feature set nicely, so won't be repeated here. For more info, use the 812DRU emulator and download the 818DRU user manual.

Storage Performance

Windows filecopy tests were run using the standard NAS testbed connected to a router Gigabit LAN port and the standard USB drive formatted in FAT32 and NTFS [NAS test details]. Tests were run connected with the USB drive connected to both the USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.

Table 2 summarizes USB 2.0 performance and includes the 818DRU's AC1900 competitors. Read performance has improved from the 812DRU V2, but write performance has stayed roughly the same. At any rate, it's clear the TRENDnet is no match in overall USB 2.0 performance for the other AC1900 routers.

  TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 ASUS RT-AC68U
Processor Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 4.1 14.5 24.8 11.8
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 24.0 21.0 27.8 24.0
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 6.3 17.2 27.9 23.7
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 17.4 21.2 27.9 24.2
Table 2: File copy throughput - USB 2.0 (MBytes/sec)

For USB 3.0 results, Table 3 shows the same write weakness for both FAT32 and NTFS formats. The bottom line is that the NETGEAR R7000 remains king of the storage performance hill for this group of AC1900 routers.

  TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Linksys EA6900 NETGEAR R7000 ASUS RT-AC68U
Processor Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4708A Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 3.6 15.6 33.4 11.7*
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 26.0 22.1 57.4 21.6*
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 4.6 17.4 36.8 23.6*
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 19.0 22.4 57.7 24.3*
Table 3: File copy throughput - USB 3.0 (MBytes/sec)
* = "Reducing USB 3.0 interference" setting enabled

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the 818DRU using our standard test method is summarized in Table 4 beside the 812DRU V2's numbers. The 818DRU appears to get a little boost from the upgraded Broadcom processor.

Test Description TEW-818DRU TEW-812DRU V2
WAN - LAN Throughput - (Mbps) 575 563
LAN - WAN Throughput - (Mbps) 790 712
Total Simultaneous Throughput - (Mbps) 864 722
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 14,974 14,989
Firmware Version 1.0.7.0
2.0.2.0
Table 4: Routing throughput

The IxChariot composite plot for the unidirectional tests shows steady uplink throughput, but higher variation for downlink.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU unidirectional routing throughput

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU unidirectional routing throughput

The simultaneous up and downlink plot below shows a preference for uplink traffic when heavily loaded.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU bidirectional routing throughput

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU bidirectional routing throughput

Wireless Performance

This product has been retested. See this article for the results.

The 818DRU is not Wi-Fi Certified. It defaulted to Auto channel on both bands and 20 MHz B/W mode on 2.4 GHz and 80 MHz mode on 5 GHz upon power-up. The router comes with different 2.4 and 5 GHz SSIDs set, so you'll be able to connect to your desired band without having to change router settings.

The WPS test failed to prompt to initiate either a WPS PIN or pushbutton WPS session when I selected either of the SSIDs with a Win 7 notebook. I confirmed that WPS was enabled on both radios by default, with a "Processing WPS start" indication shown for WPS status.

I then ran 40 MHz Coexistence and Fat channel intolerant tests and both failed with the router staying in 40 MHz bandwidth mode in both cases.

For throughput testing, all tests were run using our standard wireless test process with 1.0.7.0 version firmware loaded. The router was first reset to factory defaults, then Channel 6 and 20 MHz B/W mode was set for 2.4 GHz and Channel 153 and 80 MHz B/W mode was set for 5 GHz. The router was positioned 8" from the chamber antennas in all test positions. The 0° position had the front side of the router facing the chamber antennas.

I continue to use the ASUS PCE-AC66 AC1750 as my standard test client. So the results for this and all other AC1900 routers tested to date do not reflect the higher throughput available in 2.4 GHz had I used an AC1900 client.

The Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations. The results are undistinguished and land the 818DRU at the bottom of the AC1900 router ranking.

Benchmark Summary

Benchmark Summary

Wireless Performance - Comparative

Since there are only three other AC1900 routers, I pulled them all (NETGEAR R7000, ASUS RT-AC68U, Linksys EA6900) into the wireless performance comparison.

2.4 GHz downlink shows a low start, then a throughput increase, like its AC1750 sibling. Throughput starts to fall off much earlier than the other routers with the connection dropping relatively early at 54 dB of attenuation.

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 2.4 GHz uplink plot shows starting throughput in line with its competition. But once again a much-earlier throughput falloff with disconnect coming early.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The 5 GHz downlink profile shows the 818DRU not even in the same ballpark as the other AC1900 routers.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

The same trend is also seen in the 5 GHz uplink profile.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Closing Thoughts

The Router Ranker Performance Summary shows the V2 ranked third among four AC1900 class routers, but that's only because two are tied for first place. The sub-rankings show a solid fourth place ranking, with only one benchmark earning a second place sub-rank.

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Router Ranking Summary

TRENDnet TEW-818DRU Router Ranking Summary

There's no kind way to put this, but there is really no reason to recommend the TRENDnet TEW-818DRU. It's not even aggressively priced, because you can get the Linksys EA6900 for about the same $175 - $180 or so. Just pass this one by, folks.

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