The ADSL modem/router market is extremely competitive in the areas of USB, Ethernet, Wireless and PCI technology, with a considerable number of manufacturers pushing their "low cost" PCI products towards consumers who wish to take advantage of the benefits broadband Internet can offer, without leaving a hole in their wallets. In our roundup, we look at 9 popular PCI modems and attempt to discover which one is best for you.
In our roundup, there are 3 variations of modem based upon chipsets from Conexant (3805) and ITeX (Apollo 2 & 3). The chipset is the "core" of the modem and is where all of the data processing occurs. Chipsets are supplied to manufacturers along with reference PCB design layouts, which is why the cards with the same chipset can end up looking identical.
Conexant 3805 Based Cards [View Software]
DSLsource Conexant 3805
ITeX Apollo 2 Based Cards [View Software]
Creative Broadxent 7430
DSL Warehouse DSLW-700P
Alcatel Speed Touch PCI
ITeX Apollo 3 Based Cards [View Software]
We have assessed each product based upon the following areas of interest, all of which are crucial components of a successful, well marketable product. We have decided not to include price as a factor in the review because it's frequently changing (hopefully downwards!) and all modems reviewed are priced similarly around the £50 mark, with some dipping to around £40.Physical Characteristics [3 points available]
A total of 25 points are awardable.
*The test system used was running Microsoft Windows 2000 with a Celeron 500Mhz CPU and 256MB memory.
(1). Etec PT-3805
(2). MRi PDSL01
(3). DSLsource Conexant 3805
(4). Creative Broadxent 7430
(5). DSL Warehouse DSLW-700P
(6). Alcatel Speed Touch PCI
(7). Turbocomm IA-310
(8). Solwise SAR-310
(9). D-Link DSL-100D
Green cells indicate that points have been awarded. White cells are for informational purposes only (no points are available).
|Physical Characteristics (Dimensions)|
|Physical Characteristics (Scoring)|
|Data Flow LED||No||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Package Design & Contents|
|Paper docs included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|UK Specific VPI/VCI||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Physicall install guide||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Win95 install guide||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Win98 install guide||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|WinME install guide||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|WinNT install guide||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Win2000 install guide||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|WinXP install guide||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Supplied docs on CD||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hardware & Software Support|
|Average Ping||Mid 10||Mid 10||Mid 10||Mid 20||Mid 20||Mid 20||Mid 20||Mid 20||Mid 20|
|Diag Soft Quality||4||4||4||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Driver Operating System Support|
Note: Upstream speeds stated are according to chipset manufacturer specifications unless stated lower on specific product data sheets.
It was a close battle for 1st place, with the MRi - PDSL01 taking the gold medal as the best PCI modem - featuring good quality documentation, great driver support and impressive performance statistics. In general, the Conexant 3805 based products tended to collect the most points within the crucial Hardware & Software section due to their excellent diagnostic software and ease of maintenance. Congratulations also goes out to Etec who were only one point behind the winner, and Solwise for supporting the Linux Operating System.
Where to Buy
The PCI cards featured in this review are available online from the following retailers:
The contents of this review should not be relied upon in making a purchasing decision—You should always discuss your requirements with your service provider and hardware supplier.