Wireless Routers: The Truth About Superfast Draft-N

Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless Router (WNR834B)

Netgear RangeMax Next.
Netgear RangeMax Next.
Among the draft-n routers, only the RangeMax Next, based on Broadcom's Intensi-fi draft-n technology (as opposed to the newer but identically named WNR834M model based on Marvell's TopDog chip, which we did not test), came close to the Asus and Netgear RangeMax 240 models in short and midrange performance. However, it faltered in our long-range tests, indicating a smaller coverage area than that of its top-rated RangeMax 240 sibling.

In other respects the RangeMax Next is much like the RangeMax 240, offering the same straightforward setup and advanced client-card connection utility, although its cost is a little higher. Only a few settings differ significantly, mostly those having to do with draft-n. For example, the RangeMax Next is the only draft-n router in this group that does not support WEP encryption when in high-speed 40-MHz channel-bonding mode, since that would result in poor performance for draft-n adapters.

The most visible difference between the RangeMax Next and RangeMax 240 is in case design. The RangeMax Next is a slim upright box with internal antennas, as opposed to the typical external design. While attractive, it has no wall-mount option, and we found it hard to use in the upright position since our cables kept pulling the lightweight box over. You can place the unit flat, but then the internal antennas will likely not be oriented optimally since, unlike external antennas, they cannot be flipped to accommodate the box orientation.

If you want to purchase a draft-n router now and bet on the product's being upgradable to the final standard, Netgear's RangeMax Next is our top choice, with the only major disadvantage being its long-range performance.

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