Netgear WNDR4500 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router review
802.11n dual band, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
With all the hype around 802.11ac it’s easy to forget that 802.11n is still the most prevalent Wi-Fi standard in use and can still deliver excellent value and speed. We’ve been mightily impressed by recent Netgear routers, especially the 802.11ac R6300, but although they’ve delivered great performance, not all of them have provided the more comprehensive features of rivals, such as a print server.
We were therefore pleased to get hold of the top-of-the-range WNDR4500, a dual band router that has four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB2 ports and built-in media, file and print servers. It has concurrent dual band, which means you can use the 2.4GHz and the less congested 5GHz bands simultaneously, so those with compatible devices can enjoy the faster speeds and greater range of the 5GHz band while those with 2.4GHz-compatible continue to enjoy network access.
The unit looks sophisticated and high quality, being a sleek black router mounted on a transparent plastic stand. The icons on the front of the router are writ large, so you can see them from a distance, and are easy to understand. This is a router you really wouldn’t mind having on show next to your TV or home cinema system.
With a router, performance is the most important factor in its desirability, and we’re pleased to report that the WNDR4500 performs brilliantly. Somewhat predictably, its weakest data transfer speeds were recorded when we connected to the WNDR4500 using our Centrino laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor. We recorded 48.4Mbit/s at one metre, 48.4Mbit/s at 10 metres and 25Mbit/s at 25 metres. These are extremely good 2.4GHz band data transfer speeds, with no other routers we’ve tested under the same conditions coming close, making the WNDR4500 perfect for those whose devices have basic Wi-Fi adaptors.
We tested the WNDR4500 again using the 2.4GHz band, but with Netgear’s WNDA3100 Wi-Fi adaptor (£8.50, www.pixmania.co.uk) in place of our Centrino’s Wi-Fi adaptor. We saw a slight but welcome increase in transfer speeds, getting 55.9Mbit/s at one metre, 53.6Mbit/s at 10 metres and an impressive 36.6Mbit/s at 25 metres. The first two scores are fast, although the DrayTek Vigor 2850n comes close.
Of course, it’s the 5GHz band where we see the fastest scores. When we connected to the WNDR4500 on the 5GHz band using our Centrino’s built-in Wi-Fi we got transfer speeds of 90Mbit/s at one metre, 93.2Mbit/s at 10 metres and 16.7Mbit/s at 25 metres. These speeds are good for an 802.11n router, but not phenomenal, with recently reviewed 802.11ac routers such as the Netgear R6300 and Asus RT-N66U providing similar scores.