Netgear WNDR3700 - full review
Netgear's newest wireless cable (broadband) router is here and we can tell you its good. But is it the Ultimate Gaming Router Netgear promised?
Opening the packaging we find all the expected items: installation cd, a quick start guide, a stand and a particularly robust network cable. Netbook users should note that there is no printed manual, only the one on the CD.
Setting up the router is nice and simple, but do be aware the router defaults both wireless bands to a mixed b/g/n mode limiting the bandwidth at "up to 130Mbps". So if you're running an entirely wireless n network you should make sure to update these settings to get the maximum speeds.
The router is a fully-spec'd beast with full-on dual band, this means in areas with lots of interference or just lots of other networks you can rise above the noise for a rock-steady signal. The dual band capability is fully separated on this router allowing you to run two separate networks with different setups or one dual-band network at 2.4GHz and 5 GHz. It also has a guest network at each of these frequencies for visitors, sports Gigabit ethernet ports for wired connections, and has all the usual security features you'd expect along with easy set-up.
This glossy black
finger-print magnet wireless router is easy on the eye, and is aiming to be a complete solution as you get a NAS function thrown in, whereby you can connect any USB hard-drive (NTFS or FAT32) into the router and share it across the network. This worked very well, but it wasn't the fastest router NAS we've seen, so for super-fast streaming from the network we'd still recommend a dedicated NAS box. Talking of streaming the router is DLNA compliant so hooking it up to your Xbox360 or PS3 should be a piece of cake. Continuing with the top-of-the-line functionality the WNDR3700 offers a Repeater / Bridge mode, again at both frequencies, so you can use it for extending an existing wireless network or sharing one with your neighbours. Finally in terms of features the router has Netgear's Traffic Meter which tells you how much internet traffic the router's handled since it was last reset. We still
can't find a use for this but if you think of one do let us know.
Of course all of these fine features come at a price. You can currently get the WNDR3700 online for around 130 pounds.
Performance-wise, the router handled very well in dual-band mode, with a maximum throughput of 118.4Mbps in our favourable lab conditions. In our "real world" tests the router was much closer to normal wireless n levels, but as you can see is clearly faster transferring larger files than an equivalent singleband router, and when we ramped up interference levels there was no comparison.
Overall, we are delighted to say that this is another really good router from Netgear. Good performance, good looks, good features. The only catch here is that we wouldn't recommend relying on the NAS if you're after great speed, but as a free bonus feature on an outstanding router it's great.
If you've got a cable connection and you're looking for a router for streaming video or online gaming this is the one we'd get!
We have no hesitation in awarding this our best broadband router award.