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Netgear WNDR3700 Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router

Netgear WNDR3700 Router Front

Sections

Introduction
What you get for your money
Configuring the router
Port forwarding
Performance
Other features
Conclusion
Specifications
Photos

Introduction

The Netgear WNDR3700 RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router is a wireless router supporting simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n wireless, Wi-Fi Protected Setup and media sharing through a USB port. It features gigabit network ports both for LAN and WAN which make this router suitable for the new generation of broadband services such as, fibre broadband, which offer speeds of 100Mbps or above.

This is not a DSL router so there is no modem included, but it will allow you to connect up to a cable-modem router such as those provided by Virgin Media, and routers installed for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) or fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) broadband.

What you get for your money

Included in the box are:

One notable omission is that the router doesn't appear to come with a manual. There is not one in the box nor on the resource CD although the latter does include a "setup manual" with a little more guidance with setting up the router than the leaflet in the box.

Following a "documentation" link, either in the router's web interface or on the CD, leads to a page on the Netgear web site offering a (149-page) download but when there's only 170MB of data on the CD it surely wouldn't be hard to include a 4MB copy of the manual.

Netgear WNDR3700 Router contents

The router is made of glossy black plastic and comes with a stand (although it is implied by the manual that the stand is optional) which allows you to either have the router vertical or horizontal (being vertical should help with ventilation to the device). There are also slots on the underside which could be used to wallmount the router, but the manual makes no reference to these.

On the front of the router are LEDs for (from left to right as pictured below):

To the right of these LED's are buttons to enable or disable the wireless network and to activate Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

Netgear WNDR3700 Router LED's

The back of the router is equipped with (left to right as pictured):

Netgear WNDR3700 Router Ports

Configuration

With the router set to its default settings, IP addresses will be automatically issued to any device connected to it via DHCP. Thus all that should be required to get connected to the router is a network adapter (wired or wireless) to connect to the router and that the operating system is configured to obtain an IP address automatically.

One useful feature we noticed was that the default IP address, username and password are all printed on a label on the underside of the router as well as an explanation of all of the router's ports and lights and some information on connecting to shared media attached to the router. This could be useful if you need to reset the router to the default settings and cannot find the documentation. For reference, the defaults are: URL: www.routerlogin.net (or 192.168.1.1); Username, admin; Password, password.

As mentioned, there is a Quick Start Guide which should be enough to get the router and any devices connected to the Internet. It also does not have the deficiency noted in the previous review of the ZyXEL NBG-419N, warning the user to switch the modem off before connecting the router.

After that, the router should be already connected to the Internet so the only remaining necessary step is to secure the wireless network. A CD is provided which should make the task easier but it is not difficult to do this through the router's web interface.

Port Forwarding

The options available here should be familiar to users of Netgear routers and are virtually identical to the Netgear DG834N reviewed previously.

The user interface here is intended to make the process simple: select a service from the list, enter the LAN IP address of the device the port(s) are to be forwarded to and click the Add button.

Netgear WNDR3700 Port forwarding

Where it fails, however, is that it is improbable any of the services in the list will be used. Who uses, let alone needs to forward ports for, Quake 2 or PPTP?

Netgear WNDR3700 Add a port forwarding service

The alternative is to add services to the list, but to have to do this practically every time makes the process quite cumbersome - it would have been better to either make this the default way to forward ports (and so make it quicker by moving the form out into the first page) or for the list of services to actually contain options that have a good chance of being useful.

Netgear WNDR3700 Add a port forwarding service

Performance

Wireless

One feature advertised on the box is support for "enterprise-class wireless security". This comes in the form of support for WPA/WPA2 Enterprise, which uses 802.1x authentication and requires a RADIUS server. As such, it hardly seems appropriate for the target audience for this router.

As in previous reviews, to test throughput over the wireless network the iperf tool was used to transfer data from a laptop on the wireless network to a server connected to one of the router's LAN switch ports. The test was repeated 5 times and an average and standard deviation then calculated.

This router supports simultaneous 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz 802.11n wireless networks, with separate sets of options (such as for the SSID) for each band. Thus, both bands were tested separately.

Distance Band Bandwidth configured Measured speed
Close range 2.4Ghz 130Mbps (20MHz) 76 ± 4 Mbps
300Mbps (40MHz) 116 ± 3 Mbps
5Ghz 130Mbps (20MHz) 76 ± 2Mbps
300Mbps (40MHz) 119 ± 1Mbps
Far range 2.4Ghz 130Mbps (20MHz) 20 ± 10 Mbps
300Mbps (40MHz) 38 ± 3 Mbps
5Ghz 130Mbps (20MHz) 21 ± 2Mbps
300Mbps (40MHz) 48 ± 2Mbps

The trend observed is that with the faster wireless mode the average throughput is increased (although not doubled) and using the usually less-occupied 5GHz band results in less variable speed, especially at distance.

WAN-LAN

To test how fast the router could handle passing traffic from the network to the Internet (and vice versa) the same process was repeated with the iperf client wired to one of the 4 LAN switch ports and the iperf "server" connected to the WAN interface.

The WAN interface connects at 1Gbps and the average throughput was measured at 345 ± 7Mbps. The web interface was still responsive during this time so, although there was no apparent way to measure CPU utilisation, this router should have enough power for some future-proofing.

Other features

Traffic meter

The router has a facility to monitor either the volume of traffic passed across the Internet connection or the time the Internet connection was in use. This can also be set to show a warning or to disable the Internet connection when a specified limit is reached.

Netgear WNDR3700 Traffic meter

While this is definitely a welcome feature, with more services having some kind of limit, it would have been nice to see more detail: a breakdown of how much data was transferred by each device on the network, what type the traffic was, more historical data.

USB media sharing

As mentioned before, there is a USB port on this router to connect some kind of storage device to (external hard drive, USB flash stick etc.). The router then makes the contents of the device accessible to all the computers connected to the network.

The initial page gives a link to access the storage using Windows file sharing (SMB/Samba for Mac OS and Linux users), some basic status information and a button to "safely remove" the device, i.e. to ensure no files are open when the device is disconnected:

Netgear WNDR3700 Readyshare

From the Edit button above there are further options. The data stored on the share can, by default, be accessed only from inside the network. There are settings to allow access from the Internet using either HTTP or FTP and the URL required to access the files is also given.

Netgear WNDR3700 Readyshare settings

Each share can be protected with a username and password, although the accounts used here are tied to user accounts on the router, e.g. anyone can read from the storage device but only the admin user can write.

Netgear WNDR3700 Individual share settings

The router can serve any content on the attached USB device to networked devices which support the ReadyDLNA standard, such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Netgear WNDR3700 Media server settings

To test the performance of the feature, a USB flash drive was connected and the times taken for a a 1.5GB file to be transferred to and from the device, testing write and read speeds respectively, were measured. For comparison the same file was transferred using a laptop with the flash drive directly connected.

Speeds in either direction were approximately constant regardless of whether the drive was connected via the router or directly, indicating that the slowest part was the device itself.

Conclusions

At a price comparable to other simultaneous dual band routers, the Netgear WNDR3700 performs well. Although there are a few minor flaws it would be hard not to recommend buying one of these. With gigabit Ethernet ports, the router will allow you to future proof offering support for faster broadband services such as fibre-to-the-home.

Specifications

LAN four 10/100/100Mbps Ethernet
Wireless Simultaneous 2.4 and 5Ghz 802.11b/g/n, WEP and WPA/WPA2 supported including WPA(2) Enterprise, guest network with Internet access only
Dimensions 223 x 153 x 31 millimetres (8.8 x 6.0 x 1.2 inches)

Photos

Please click on an image to see it in full size.

Stuart Swindells
01/11/2010