capsule review

Belkin N Wireless Router F5D8233-4 v3

At a Glance
  • Belkin N Wireless Router F5D8233-4 v3

    PCWorld Rating

    A low-cost router that doesn't skimp on performance or design, though it lacks gigabit ethernet. Great setup software and a lifetime limited warranty.

When we reviewed an earlier version of the Belkin N router in 2006, we loved everything about it except its performance. But various manufacturing revisions and firmware updates have fixed that deficiency, and the speed and range of the latest Belkin N are more than acceptable for a budget router. In fact, even with one less antenna, the Belkin performed almost as well as the pricier Netgear RangeMax Next Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNR3500 in our tests.

The unit's design, usability, features, and customer service remain stellar. And the out-of-box experience is second to none--from the numbered cables, to a step-by-step install wizard that connected perfectly, to a great user manual. The Belkin has a lifetime warranty, whereas the five competing models that we tested at the same time carried one-year warranties.

The Belkin N supports many key router features, including UPnP, WMM, WPS, and DDNS. (For details about these and other useful router technologies, see "Wi-Fi Buzzwords: Features to Look For.")

Missing are automatic channel selection (which enables a router to choose the least crowded of the 11 available 2.4-MHz channels so it can improve performance in busy areas) and DHCP reservation (which enables a router to set fixed IP addresses for specific computers or peripherals)--useful for networked printers, NAS drives, media servers, and the like.

Like most low-end routers, the Belkin doesn't support WPA/WPA2-Enterprise encryption. But if you don't need gigabit ethernet or high-definition streaming-media performance, the Belkin N Wireless Router is a great value.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    A low-cost router that doesn't skimp on performance or design, though it lacks gigabit ethernet. Great setup software and a lifetime limited warranty.

    Pros

    • Lifetime warranty
    • Inexpensive; superior setup; easy to use

    Cons

    • No gigabit ethernet
    • No DHCP reservation
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