EnGenius ESR-9710 Wireless-N Gigabit Router review
draft 802.11n, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
EnGenius isn't a well-known brand in the UK, but is gaining recognition thanks to its distributor Solwise.
The ESR-9710 is a Draft-N wireless router that is compatible with the latest Draft 2.0 specification, which means theoretically better compatibility with Draft-N kit from other manufacturers.
It doesn't have a built-in ADSL modem, so it is best suited to those who have cable broadband. Usefully, though, it has a four-port gigabit Ethernet switch and three removable antennas, which could easily be replaced by high-gain versions.
The router has a handy push-button for enabling WiFi Protected Setup (WPS). It's similar to Buffalo's One-Touch Secure System, which we've found very convenient for automatically setting up a secure wireless connection. Unfortunately, when we tested this with EnGenius's EUB-9701EXT USB Draft-N adaptor (which costs £54 from Solwise), we found no button in the adaptor's software. Instead, we tried the WPS PIN mode, which involves keying in a number printed on the adaptor to establish a connection, but this refused to work. Eventually, we settled for manually configuring a WPA2 password, which was a simple process.
Oddly, there was no CD-based setup wizard to help you connect to the router and configure settings. Fortunately, the manual includes the default IP address, username and password, which gave us quick access to the router's web interface. This has an internet connection wizard that does the job, though. The wizard asks for some security settings and offers choices of Good, Better or Best security modes such as WEP, WPA or WPA2 encryption.
Browse the rest of the menus, and you'll find the usual UPnP support, plus Stream Engine QoS and a wireless traffic prioritisation system. We particularly liked the website-filtering capabilities. Instead of creating a simple blacklist of URLs, you can apply policies that determine which sites each computer is allowed to access. It's possible to apply schedules to policies and also use them to log sites being viewed or block access completely to any sites except those on your allowed list.
The ESR-9710's performance was excellent. With our Centrino laptop, the router managed 17.86Mbit/s at 1m, 19.21Mbit/s at 15m and an amazing 10.33Mbit/s at 25m. Switching to the EUB-9701EXT adaptor, transfer rates were boosted to 61.46MBit/s at 1m, 45.15Mbit/s at 15m and 16.5Mbit/s at 25m.
The ESR-9710 is a fast Draft-N router that's packed with features, but it's expensive. Linksys's WAG325N is nearly half the price, has an ADSL2+ modem and only lacks a gigabit Ethernet switch. It's much better value.