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Virgin Media Hub 3 review: A basic router that doesn't excel in any department

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
0
with new internet

This rudimentary modem router covers the basics, but a third-party alternative will serve you much better

Pros 
Offers a guest network
Free with Virgin Media broadband
Cons 
Laggy web portal
Slow performance
Severely lacking in features
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The oddly shaped Hub 3 is included with all Virgin Media broadband packages, including the company’s insanely fast 362Mbits/sec fibre-to-the-premises services. Unfortunately, the hardware isn’t anywhere near fast enough to convey that sort of speed to wireless clients. We measured short-range download speeds over Wi-Fi of just 10MB/sec – around a third of what we've seen from the best third-party routers.

READ NEXT: The best wireless routers you can buy

To be fair, Virgin's been working on that issue. In March 2019, the company announced a major firmware update to the Hub 3, including three new measures aimed at improving performance. These are automatic channel-switching, which tries to minimise wireless interference by switching away from congested radio frequencies; band steering, which shunts devices from the 2.4GHz band onto the faster 5GHz band wherever possible; and a new "airtime fairness" feature that prevents any individual device from monopolising the airwaves and slowing everything else down.

These are all good things, and we'll test the updated firmware as soon as we can. Even so, it seems very unlikely that a software fix alone can bring the Hub 3's dismal wireless performance up to the industry standard.

At any rate, speed isn't our only gripe with the Hub 3: it's also one of the least versatile routers on the market. There’s no support for dynamic DNS, no VPN, no smartphone app, no Alexa integration and nothing in the way of router-based parental controls. It does have four Gigabit Ethernet ports, but there’s no USB or other connectors, so file and printer sharing are off the table.

All of this leaves you with little reason ever to interact with the web portal – and that’s probably just as well, because it’s very laggy. Something as simple as logging in and viewing a list of connected clients becomes a chore, taking a tiresome 30 seconds.

The Hub 3 does have a few saving graces, notably a guest network, so your visitors and friends can get online without gaining access to your private Wi-Fi. But perhaps the best thing about the Virgin Media Hub 3 is the fact that you can switch it into modem-only mode and hook up a third-party router, to gain access to the latest, fastest network connections and other fancy features.

READ NEXT: The best mesh Wi-Fi you can buy

If you're stuck with the Hub 3 it's not the end of the world. It does the job, in a very basic sort of way, although you may not be getting the full benefit of your superfast Virgin fibre connection. We'd strongly recommend that Virgin customers save up for a replacement router though: you'll get more features, almost certainly better performance and a more pleasant overall experience.