The Netgear RangeMax™ Dual Band Wireless-N Modem Router, DGND3300, works up to 300 Mbps through 802.11n and supports the older 802.11g plus the ancient 802.11b. The device is easy to use and, with internal antennas, is less likely to be messed up by visitors to your home or office. Here are the results of many months of testing.
- ADSL+ modem
- Dual band
- Any operating system
- USB port for shared storage
- Parental Controls
- DOS attack protection
- Wi-Fi Protected Access
- Multiple SSID
- Four wired Gigabit Ethernet connections
ADSL+ and the older ADSL are the easiest way to access broadband when you have an existing telephone line. You plug the ADSL splitter (supplied) into the telephone line, plug the telephone into one socket on the splitter, and plug the modem into the other socket on the splitter using the supplied telephone cable. Subscribe to an ADSL service and you are connected.
ADSL and ADSL+ work the same when you are near the telephone exchange. At longer distances the speed drops off, ADSL+ drops off slower, and at some distances ADSL+ will give you double the speed.
802.11 wireless can operate on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. 2.4 GHz is filling up. 5 GHz will become more important when your neighbours all have wireless networks. The DGND3300 works with both bands automatically. You need computers with matching wireless adaptors to use both bands.
Any operating system
There is some setup software supplied and it is not needed. Administration is performed through a Web interface and will work with any operating system.
USB port for shared storage
You can plug in a disk and share the disk across the network. I have not tried it. Most of these smart devices contain a computer and Linux. The sharing is typical of what you get on a Linux device. It is the user interface that makes the system easy to understand and usable. I found other parts of the Netgear Web administration interface acceptable and I expect the file sharing to be the same.
Ok, if you have small kids or a politically correct partner, set the parental controls to pretend there is nothing bad out there.
Firewalls are useful to protect the computers on your network. You are always better off stopping the bad stuff from entering your network instead of hoping the firewall in Windows will work.
DOS attack protection
There is very little you can do to protect yourself against a DOS, Denial Of Service, attack. You can stop the attack breaking into your system. You cannot stop the attack blocking your network bandwidth. You need protection at the Internet service provider level to keep your network connection open.
Wi-Fi Protected Access
WPA2, Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2, is the best protection you can get at the wireless level. when you need more protection, you usually need a VPN, Virtual Private Network, which is not a function of your router or modem.
The SSID identifies your wireless network when communicating with a computer. You can use a second SSID to provide compatibility with an old network or to split your network access into groups. An Internet cafe might have one SSID for staff when working in the business and a different one for the public.
Four wired Gigabit Ethernet connections
Wireless is nice when moving around. What do you do with the fixed computers in your office? Use the Gigabit wired Ethernet connections.
Gigabit wired connections are faster than the fastest wireless and do not drop out from interference. Use the wired connections for desktop computers, network attached printers, and backup data servers (usually NAS servers).
Assume you have a typical office where the telephone cabled sneaks in near the front door and the person who serves as the receptionist, usually the secretary with the big desktop and the laser printer. Place the ADSL splitter and DGND3300 near the telephone connection. Plug the desktop and laser into the DGND3300. Run a network cable to the office server. Plug a backup disk into the USB port on the DGND3300 or a NAS server into the fourth Ethernet connector.
The combination gives you lots of choice and speed for very little cost over an equivalent modem router without Ethernet connections.
802.11n or draft
The fine print says the device is designed for the draft version of 802.11n, not the final version. This means some features may work with other Netgear components but not with hardware from another company.
What you get in the box
- The modem router
- A power supply
- Telephone line splitter for ADSL
- Telephone cable
- Ethernet cable
- Software CD
You may need an updated network adaptor to use the full speed of the DGND3300. Netgear recommend their WNDA3100.
My first installation of a DGND3300, over a year ago, has worked with every device I tried to connect. Most were older 802.11g devices. They all work. For the 802.11n devices, I did not test every one for speed because some 802.11n devices work at 150 Mbps instead of 300 Mbps. Several tests across several brands produced 802.11n connections at 300 Mbps.
Only a D-Link device produced connection problems and that device had already failed to connect to a D-Link wireless router. I did make the D-link device work with a TP-Link router because the TP-Link router had a lot of settings you can change for compatibility. I did not try all the combinations on the Netgear because the netgear has fewer settings you can change.
802.11n is supposed to give you greater wireless range. I can leave the office with the DGND3300 and access the wireless network from a cafe nearby. The DGND3300 has the best range for a wireless router with fixed antennas.
A TP-Link equivalent has three external antennas and has about the same range. The TP-Link lets you replace the supplied antennas with larger external antennas for greater range and those antennas could be externally mounted antennas for extensive coverage over a large garden area or an orchard.
Netgear have to use 8 internal antennas to match 3 external antennas. Do the internal antennas have an advantage? If you have the typical 3 in a line external antennas then someone bumps them, knocking them flat, your range drops. You cannot bump the Netgear internal antennas.
The Netgear DGND3300 cost more than the equivalent D-Link and TP-Link equipment. Compared to the D-Link, the Netgear is worth the extra money for the easier configuration, better compatibility, and better range.
Compared to the TP-Link, the Netgear is not such a clear winner. You would choose Netgear mainly for better support. You would choose the TP-Link if you need external antennas. The Netgear worked perfectly out of the box. The TP-Link equivalent had some initial user interface problems and required a firmware update.
The D-Link equivalent in Australia costs from AU$121+delivery up to $191. The closest current equivalent in the Netgear range costs from $170+delivery up to $260. The TP-Link equivalent costs from $75+delivery up to $110. The difference between the cheapest and the most expensive would be lost if you had to supply 3 extra hours of support calls.
I often pay the extra money for Netgear equipment to reduce the installation and support time spent at the customer's office. The DGND3300 combination of wired, wireless, and USB connections gives you more flexibility than a plain wireless modem router and the long term flexibility is worth the initial extra cost.