Belkin N600 DB wireless modem/router

Despite looking similar to its modemless cousin, the N600 DB wireless modem/router is a different entity. Problems with Intel and Ralink chipsets, worrying heat output, middling wireless performance and long waits between changing settings mean that this one should be passed over.


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CNET Rating
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User Rating

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Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Right from the outset, it's important to note that there's a Belkin N600 DB that's just a wireless router, and one that's a wireless modem/router. While they share many similarities, these are very different beasts performance-wise, so the results here should not be conflated with the other product. For this review, we're focusing on the modem/router version.

It's an odd shape, this one. A vertically standing, convex wedge in piano black, with a rim of grey and an activity light on the top. Despite looking near identical in pictures, the modem/router version is larger than the wireless router version.

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 1.00.09
ADSL2+ modem Yes
Annex M N/A
3G modem No
IPv6 No
Wireless protocols 802.11b/g/n
Dual band Simultaneous
Highest wireless security WPA2
WDS Yes
Ethernet ports 4x 100Mb
USB print sharing/storage Storage, printer
Accessories Ethernet cable, phone cable, installation CD

Connections

The N600 DB takes the standard approach; four 100Mb Ethernet ports, and a USB port that can manage either printing or storage. A phone jack is on top to connect to the internet. Belkin isn't particularly friendly with where it stores its ADSL settings; they're filed under "Internet WAN".

Belkin N600 DB rear

Power jack, USB, 4x 100Mb Ethernet and 100Mb WAN port.
(Credit: Belkin)

UI and features

Belkin hasn't given its UI a once over for a very long time. It's still the same old grey, which works well enough, but it's certainly dull. Page level contextual help is given via a link at the top right. While a techy will be right at home, for a company that appears to pitch itself at less-educated users, the UI is nigh on hostile, hiding ADSL settings under headings like "Internet WAN" and putting parental controls under "Firewall" and calling them "Access Control".

Belkin N600 DB UI

Same old same old, but it works.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Unlike the N600 DB wireless router, this model carries on the incredibly annoying Belkin bugbear of not allowing spaces in SSIDs. It supports such features as guest wireless (on 2.4GHz only), QOS, outbound WAN stats, a media server and the standard glut of features that you'd expect on a standalone router.

In a disturbing trend, saving settings on the router is incredibly slow, which is a vastly frustrating experience for someone who is trying to set up their network just right. Often, it restarts the router to apply a setting that shouldn't need a restart, dropping all connections. Although the time varied depending on what changes we made, on one particular settings change we were asked to wait for 100 seconds — utter madness.

Performance

After analysing the spectrum with InSSIDer, an empty channel of either 1, 6 or 11 is chosen for 2.4GHz wireless testing. Usually, the router is restricted to the 20MHz band if the option is available.

We use iperf to determine throughput, running eight streams with a TCP window size of 1MB and an interval of one second. The test was run for five minutes in three different locations on two separate occasions. The locations are in the same room as the router: one floor down around spiral stairs and with concrete walls and floors, and two floors down under the same conditions.

The wireless throughput is tested using three chipsets (the Atheros AR5008X, the Ralink RT2870 and the Intel Ultimate-N 6300), and then all results are averaged.

2.4GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Belkin N600 DB (wireless modem/router)
  • Belkin N600 DB (wireless router)
  • Netgear WNDR4500
  • Netgear DGND3700
  • 139.00107.5387.7682.5
    Location one (same room, no obstructions)
  • 114.3390.8083.7374.27
    Location two (one floor down, some obstructions)
  • 53.8349.1744.9040.43
    Location three (two floors down, some obstructions)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


5GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Belkin N600 DB (wireless modem/router)
  • Belkin N600 DB (wireless router)
  • Netgear WNDR4500
  • Netgear DGND3700
  • 189.67151.3391.7091.20
    Location one (same room, no obstructions)
  • 135.50100.9791.1766.40
    Location two (one floor down, some obstructions)
  • 8.537.7300
    Location three (two floors down, some obstructions)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


The N600 DBs aren't class leading, especially when it comes to close quarters. Despite our best efforts, our Ralink-based USB adapter would not see the 5GHz network on the modem/router, so the results above for 5GHz are averaged from only two adapters. Even then, performance appears capped to some degree.

Other problems cropped up. The N600 DB modem/router ran worryingly warm, which is something its plain wireless cousin didn't have an issue with. Our Intel adapter, which usually gives wireless performance its best chance, would only connect to 2.4GHz at 144Mbps, regardless of what settings we applied. The 5GHz channel would do the same, only connecting at the full 300Mbps if we turned off the 2.4GHz channel first.

Warranty

Belkin covers the N600 DB with a "lifetime" warranty, considerably outstripping its competitors.

Conclusion

Despite looking similar to its modemless cousin, the N600 DB wireless modem/router is a different entity. Problems with Intel and Ralink chipsets, worrying heat output, middling wireless performance and long waits between changing settings mean that this one should be passed over.

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NiklasH Facebook
2
Rating
 

"Don't buy it"

NiklasH posted a review   

The Good:Looks okay

The Bad:Missing features, long update times, unstable

I bought this router because I thought it was quite high-end, especially considering the price. But I was so wrong. First of all, configuring the port forwarding was a huge mess, sometimes it saved my settings, sometimes it didn't. Also, between every time I needed to restart the router, something not even my 8 year old other router needs to do.

Also, it lacks proper LAN settings. Everytime the router is restarted the router gives different devices different adresses again, so I will have to change the port forwarding again, if it even will save it.

Also it gets very warm, and it seems to be made more as more eye-candy than a router.

 

PaulaC posted a comment   

Installed ok Internet very slow contacted support after many attempts to solve issue and replacing one machine I gave up. I will never buy anything with the name Belkin

 

SogniaV posted a comment   

We bought this modem a year ago and we had so many problems with it. It had a melt down and the Belkin Help centre were awesome but it was unrepairable. We are onto our second unit and we have only had to re install our setting every other month instead of weekly. We bought this particular modem to use the parent control "Access Control" to only find that my teenagers have worked out a very simple glitch, that if you try to log onto the internet out of their time slot, Belkin goes through a 60 second start up phase whilst it works out if it can log on. In the mean time the kids have 60 seconds of internet every time they do this.......So whats the point of spending such an amount of money on a modem that we got specifically for the Access Control?

MagikarpKing
1
Rating
 

"Ridiculous that Belkin would even let this out"

MagikarpKing posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Connectivity, reliability, functionality, everything

How anyone testing the product let these issues slip by amazes me
I bought the unit, went home and installed it with the default factory settings. Technically, everything should have been up and ready to go but unfortunately this was not the case. Firstly, even after re-installing the drivers and going through the setup process multiple times, the computer would just not pick up the device and connect to it.
Only after calling Belkin support and getting given a new set of login keys did it run on the pc. But even then, it didn't actually work.
Straight off the bat the router configuration page could not detect an internet connection, despite the solid blue light on the unit. I reset and restarted the modem several times until i was once again forced to call Belkin support.
I spent a good hour on the phone running through the user log and running through every possible cause of this issue trying to resolve it while waiting for 40 seconds in between each change due to the ridiculous time it takes to change settings.
Eventually, it was discovered that for some reason my MTU on iPrimus was not configured correctly to the 1454 setting standard. Neither was it to the others that were supposedly listed on the tech supports chart under iPrimus.
After an arduous ordeal of entering some 100 different values under the MTU, we managed to get it to connect to the internet. Relieved and happy that i could get back online, i thanked the tech support and hung up. The first thing i did was load a youtube video, but not a minute after hanging up the signal dropped out.
I went through each and every process, turning off and on, checking the connection settings, re-installing the drivers again but no matter what the connection only lasted longest a few minutes before dropping out completely.

This is not even mentioning that although other devices can detect the wifi signal in the odd times it is working, it cannot connect to it even when manually connecting.

I will be returning this unit tomorrow. It gave me more problems than the ancient faulty unit that it was supposed to replace.

Absolutely ridiculous

allonmax
1
Rating
 

"My BELKIN N600 Wireless Modem Router Is Incompatible With APPLE TV"

allonmax posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nothing particularly outstanding

The Bad:Hard to set uip. Can't use it with Apple TV

Found it was incompatible with my APPLE TV.

After a few starts and stops of a Movie, it would refuse to reload. That little rotating "thingy" on the Screen just kept on turning ........ and turning ......... and turning ........ and .........

After a LOT of GOOGLING, the only useful answer I found said to restart I-tunes. That got it going again, but after only a few minutes testing, it happened again!

Belkin Australia service personnel were outstanding! However, the bottom line was that after a LOT of effort, they were unable to offer a cure.

I had to decide to give up and reinstate my 4 year old Belkin model N Wireless Modem Router. That doesn't have the problem.

And then as a "parting gift".the Belkin N600 Router software gave me a LOT of heartache when I tried to uninstall it! But that's another story.

JN
3
Rating
 

"barely does its job, a poor investment."

JN posted a review   
Australia

The Good:provides internet signal around the house

The Bad:struggles to do its job

This has been a bad buy, the unit drops out often, usually necessitating multiple reboots before it will start working again. This may be related to overheating, but whatever the reason, it's inexcusable. The range is adequate but nothing spectacular and it often has laggy response times.

When it is functioning it's average in its performance. The fact that it often crashes out and has problems makes it far more trouble that its worth and a waste of money. You will be far better off spending your money on a different modem router.

Belkin are selling a product that, looking at the other user reviews is not even fit for purpose. To continue selling a product that is clearly very poor at doing it's job is ripping off customers. Don't give Belkin your money, they haven't earned it.

ivestar
1
Rating
 

"Belkin, hang your head in shame"

ivestar posted a review   
Australia

The Good:it looks pretty if your into that kind of thing

The Bad:everything else

Well..... I purchased this yesterday to replace my 4year old N Wireless Modem Router which works well with my ADSL2+ connection but as it was pre ADSL2+ does not go as fast as it could; (also have wifi issues connecting and drop outs) Now having installed its now 3 hrs later and 5 phone calls to Belkin and im taking it back to the shop so it can be sent back and destroyed which is where it belongs. I used both the Belkin Setup and also setup through 192.168.2.1 , went through endless troubleshooting/restarts/resets/unplugs and the exact per verbatim responses and further troubleshooting from Belkin's overseas call centre. And where am I? Well the modem router is connected to the net but the speed is slower (much slower) then even dialup.. Tech support have just told me that is DOA, but I suspect they know that this model just has major compatibility issues with computers so brushed me off. Won't ever buy a Belkin item again; now to find a replacement.

AllenL1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"A worthless piece of junk!"

AllenL1 posted a review   

The Good:Nothing!

The Bad:Totally unusable!

I agree with all of the reviewers so far. This device is worse than useless. To keep it running requires that it be hard reset 2-3 times every day! The effective range of the wifi is less than anything I've used previously. I've been completely unable to detect any transmission on the 5GHz channels and the USB port never works when you need it. It has no useful indicator lights and I can't even find a firmware update that it will recognize! On the whole a complete waste of money and just about unusable. I don't understand how any reputable company can put a device like this on the market!

kitty555
2
Rating
 

"Unsatisfied"

kitty555 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:It looks nice

The Bad:It is crap wirelessly

I just brought this router 3 days ago and I wish I read this forum first! Using ethernet the modem is effective, however I brought it to use it wirelessly due to having multiple users in my household. As a wireless modem it is basically hopeless, it gives me 5-10 minutes of browsing time and connection either drops out or runs so slowly its like using dial-up! I've spent hours pouring over forums trying to work out if I have done something wrong with the setup but seems everything is fine in that department. I'm going to buy another modem tomorrow, very unsatisfied and unhappy!

 

SaumitraK posted a comment   
India

Really this is a third class modem, does not work at all. constantly drop out frustratingly inconsistent wifi operation.

Constantly resetting router. Do not buy this modem.


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User Reviews / Comments  Belkin N600 DB wireless modem/router

  • NiklasH

    NiklasH

    Rating2

    "I bought this router because I thought it was quite high-end, especially considering the price. But I was so wrong. First of all, configuring the port forwarding was a huge mess, sometimes it saved..."

  • PaulaC

    PaulaC

    "Installed ok Internet very slow contacted support after many attempts to solve issue and replacing one machine I gave up. I will never buy anything with the name Belkin"

  • SogniaV

    SogniaV

    "We bought this modem a year ago and we had so many problems with it. It had a melt down and the Belkin Help centre were awesome but it was unrepairable. We are onto our second unit and we have only..."

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