Wireless Routers: The Truth About Superfast Draft-N

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Draft-N Product Look-Alikes

Logo Lookout: Check the logos on Netgear packages for different draft-n chips-the boxes otherwise look alike.
Photograph: Robert Cardin
Draft-N equipment based on different chips may not interoperate at full speeds. But it isn't always easy to tell which chips products use--even products with similar names from the same vendor.

Netgear, for example, has two RangeMax Next Wireless Routers, the WNR834B (which we tested for this review) based on Broadcom's Intensi-fi draft-n chips, and the newer WNR834M, which uses Marvell's TopDog technology (also used in Netgear's RangeMax Next Gigabit Edition router). Similarly, the RangeMax Next Gigabit Edition PC Card (WN511T) employs TopDog chips, but the RangeMax Next PC Card (WN511B) uses Intensi-fi technology.

Netgear says it will ship products based on only one draft-n technology to any given retailer, and product packages include chip logos. The company also says new firmware upgrades fix interoperability issues. But we recommend that buyers stick to same-chip products to be safe.

Yardena Arar

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