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The 6030VI is the larger brother of the Asus 6000EV, with the inclusion of an 802.11b wireless access point and a 4 port 10/100Mbps switching hub and of course a full G.DMT and PPPoA compliant ADSL modem. The modem/router supports both NAT and NON-NAT configurations and the wireless side supports WEP at 64bit and 128bit encryption. The router is available from http://www.solwise.co.uk/ with a retail price including VAT of £340 and £9.95 postage and packing. Whilst the price seems high - consider the price of a Asus 6000EV plus an access point and a 4 port 10/100 hub and there isn't much difference.
The picture above shows the router with the kit it arrives with, the straight Ethernet CAT-5 cable isn't shown, and the manuals were left out of the picture. You can see it has two antenna for the 802.11b - the fixings for these rotate allowing you to position them to get the best reception possible. Running through the ports on the back of the router you will see (from left to right) first antenna port, RJ11 socket for DSL line, reset switch - the switch performs a simple off/on not a full reset of the router, RS232 console port, 4 10/100 Ethernet ports, DC power connector and lastly the second antenna socket.
Around on the front of the router, you have 4 activity LED's for the LAN ports, power LED, Wireless LAN present LED, Status LED, Line activity LED and a test LED. This bank of LED's makes for one of the brightest looking routers I've seen, and combined with the styling it is a very noticeable device. One useful note about the case is that it has slots to allow you to wall mount the router using two screws.
For a device the size it is ( 27cm width, 19cm deep, 4.5cm high ) it is fairly light at 750g, the power brick is a nice size also, fitting into the width of a standard plug therefore fitting into 4 way extensions easily and only weighs 210g.
The router comes with a set of quick setup instructions which cover getting the device up and running. The first stage as with all Ethernet devices is a simple walkthrough to ensure your network card is setup correctly, the basic setup involving assigning your computer an IP address e.g. 192.168.1.2, and a gateway IP address of 192.168.1.1 which is the IP address of the router in it's default configuration. The best advice when setting any router up for the first time is to go with it's default IP configuration and make sure everything works before altering any IP settings. The Asus allows you to specify whatever IP you want for the router, so once you've checked it works it is relatively simple to integrate into an existing LAN.
Once you have the power and network leads connected from router to the PC, and a link light showing, simply open http://192.168.1.1/ in a web browser and you will be prompted for the router password (this is different to your ADSL account password, the default password is in the documentation). If your computer attempts to dial a connection when opening http://192.168.1.1/, you need to setup your browser to not dial a network connection, this will make it look across any local LAN before attempting to dial out. The Quick setup guide takes you through setting up a channel and gives the basic settings ( a set of screenshots from a working configuration can be seen at http://www.farina1.com/6030). For the die-hards there is also a console interface and telnet interface to the router - no RS232 console lead is supplied but a suitable one can be ordered from http://www.solwise.co.uk/ for £3.99.
The web configuration is fairly simple and straight forward. It's best to leave the wireless LAN configuration alone until you've got the router online and running, the channel setup that was used during the review is shown below:
Most people will want the 'Startup' option set to 'Enable'. This means as soon as the router switches on it will attempt to login for you, i.e. maintains a 24/7 connection. DoD (Dial on Demand) should be disabled for most people, if you leave DoD enabled the router will only connect when it detects traffic trying to get to out on the Internet, which can obviously delay the first few webpages. NAT should be enabled, if you are on a single IP service - I was unable to test a NON-NAT setup as I only have a single IP service. Once you commit the configuration changes to the router it will tell when they are saved and whether you need to restart for the changes to take effect. To restart the router either press the reset switch or drop the power for a second or two.
Some notes on the configuration: A couple of times, I was unable to see or connect to the router when setting up my LAN to use it, turned out one of my PC's was switching to 100Mbps, but some of them have only 10Mbps cards and thus weren't seeing the router, so it appears the 4 ports are not fully independent, i.e. either all 10Mbps or all 100Mbps. It's also worth mentioning DNS configuration, the router supports DNS relay and auto discovery of DNS servers, it's been found that using the DNS relay on the 6000 and 6030 can be a little flaky, how it exhibited itself was that the occasional webpage required a second attempt to view it. The solution is to set the computers TCP/IP configuration so that rather than the routers IP in the DNS fields, add the IP addresses of your ISP's DNS servers.
Once you've got a wired computer up and running out to the internet, it's time to play with the wireless segment. An 802.11b sub menu exists for this and comprises 3 parts, basic setup to specify which channel and a network name, an advanced setup letting you fiddle with the 802.11b parameters and the WEP configuration to provide some security to the wireless LAN ( so you can ensure only people you want on the LAN will be on it ). The wireless LAN can run in two modes, firstly on the same IP range as the LAN ports, or a routed network which is a different IP range, the choice is yours.
The router supports NAT configuration, so that you can forward specific ports to software running behind the NAT router, the forwarding will allow either single ports or ranges of TCP/UDP ports to be forwarded and in addition the router has support to allow Netmeeting to work, i.e. a H323 protocol helper. Unfortunately at this time there is no support for any protocols other than TCP or UDP so VPN's that need protocol 47 forwarding wont be supported.
When configuring the port forwarding, one thing that caught me out the first time was when you click submit to add the port to the list, but it's not actually enabled until you select 'Save' in the drop down and click submit to commit the changes into the router. If using the wireless LAN in bridged mode you can port forward to a PC over the 802.11b network as well.
The performance of the device was just as one would expect, i.e. gave me first hop pings around 20ms and steady 60KB/sec downloads - even across the wireless segment the downloads and ping seemed to be no different than been connected via a cable. The normal update/refresh of the Counter-Strike server list was fine, noticed a slightly increased tendency for links to require a double click but a lot better than the SpeedTouch Pro which hangs up when doing this. In terms of uptime of the router I cant fault it - it was in use for a solid 2-3 weeks and ran 24/7, the case got a little warm but not uncomfortably so.
One small blip in the performance was that when using fairly large websites like ADSLguide's forum and a user on another PC access's a site ( Hotmail seemed particularly affected ) they sometimes had trouble getting to the site, a single retry and all was well, this suggests it was all linked to the use of the DNS relay in the router, by specifying the DNS IP address's on each PC directly the situation was helped. The review setup was either 4 PC's with one on the wireless LAN, and then for around a week the configuration was to 2 PC's on the wireless segment and 1 wired up PC.
At first sight the device looks over priced, but for those requiring a neat setup with minimal wiring and boxes it works very well and is just about good value for money. Cheaper combinations can be arrived at, but you have the problem of configuring two different pieces of kit, two power supplies.
The one large bonus of moving to a wireless configuration is that you can relocate the PC's to reduce noise level, and using a laptop in front of TV, rather than hiding away in the back room is possible. Compared to using a normal ADSL modem/router plus an additional access point, the setup was a lot easier. In comparison to my normal peer to peer wireless setup I use, the ability to install the antenna improved the reception markedly, i.e. went from 1-2 bars to a full 3-4 bars on the laptops signal meter when used through 3 or 4 brick walls.
Compared to most other modem/routers it is very stylish, technically it cant be faulted, OK it's not quite as feature packed as the IX66 but with the cost of wireless network cards falling an all in one box is quite attractive - particularly as you could site the router in an 'out of the way' location and avoid having to run phone/network cables around a newly decorated house perhaps.
This product has been discontinued (August 2002).
Where to Buy:
This product has been discontinued (August 2002).
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.