Netgear DGND3300 v2

Netgear's DGND3300 will best suit new networking users thanks to its helpful interface. Wireless performance is acceptable, but its configuration limitations are of concern for power users, and for the price we'd expect gigabit Ethernet.


7.9
CNET Rating

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About The Author

CNET Editor

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.


Netgear's DGND3300 is possibly one of the shiniest routers we've seen; a combination of piano black, powdered blue, clear plastic and a clear bubble on top, which seems blue thanks to the circuit board visible beneath. This odd protrusion is actually Netgear's Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, which if held for five seconds will open a two-minute window to connect to WPS devices. There's also eight blue LEDs under it representing the eight internal antennas found in the DGND3300, showing which ones are currently receiving the strongest signals. They can be quite distracting, and thankfully can be turned off by holding down the dome for a second, and not so much the "tap" that the manual states.

It also holds the distinction of being one of the few simultaneous dual-band ADSL2+ modem/routers on the market, along with Belkin's Play and Play Max units. Although as we'll mention later, this comes with some surprising caveats.

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 2.1.00.42
ADSL2+ modem Yes
Annex M Yes
3G modem No
Wireless protocols 802.11b/g/n
Highest wireless security WPA2
WDS Yes, as "repeating function"
Ethernet ports 4x 100Mb Ethernet
USB print sharing/storage Storage only
Accessories Ethernet cable, phone cable, line filter, CD containing quick-start guide, manual, ReadyShare connect

Connections

Netgear DGND3300 rear

ADSL line, four 100Mb Ethernet ports, USB port for storage, reset button, power button, power jack. The dome on top initiates a WPS window if held for five seconds. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

UI and features

Despite being in desperate need of a redesign, Netgear's user interface (UI) is the most friendly we've used for new networkers, with an entire right-hand frame dedicated to explaining the features currently being displayed. If you have an internet connection, you're also given access to Negear's online knowledge base and documentation for the router.

Netgear DGND3300 UI

It's damned ugly, but it's the most helpful router web UI we've seen thus far. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Netgear's modem/router presents a few oddities we've not seen before. You cannot select 20MHz or 40MHz bands. You can transmit on 2.4GHz only, but you can't transmit on 5GHz only — you have to have both radios going if you want the higher frequency. If you are running 5GHz, you'll have to be content with the 2.4GHz running at 802.11g. It is, in a word, bizarre.

Features above the norm include guest internet access, although once again separated into g and n variants; the USB storage can be accessed by SMB, FTP or HTTP; there's URL filtering; time of day scheduling for the firewall rules; and automatic firmware update checking.

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, to only allow 802.11n clients, and the MCS set to 15 but in this case, there is simply no option to set these on the DGND3300. As such the results below can't be taken as a complete apples-to-apples scenario.

We use iperf to determine throughput, running eight streams, with a TCP window size of 1MB, and an interval of one second. The test is 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, Ralink RT2870 and Intel 5100AGN, then all results are averaged.

2.4GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Billion BiPAC 7800N
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)
  • Asus DSL-N13
  • Netgear DGND3300 v2
  • Location one (same room, no obstructions) 69.2065.9765.1770.13
  • Location two (one floor down, some obstructions) 64.6354.3753.4352.90
  • Location three (two floors down, some obstructions) 38.2335.2729.7322.1

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The Netgear performs exceptionally well at short range, but drops down the order as distance and obstructions are added.

5GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Belkin Play Max F7D4401au (without Intel 5100)
  • Belkin Play Max F7D4401au (with Intel 5100)
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)

  • Netgear DGND3300 v2
  • Location one (same room, no obstructions) 121.0065.9793.9792.5
  • Location two (one floor down, some obstructions) 91.8554.3793.1092.5
  • Location three (two floors down, some obstructions) 004.500.06

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

We should note the dual scores we've entered here for Belkin — for some bizarre reason when set to allow only N clients, the Play Max modem/router will not allow the Intel 5100AGN to connect. Turning this off allowed the Intel chipset to connect over 802.11g, greatly distorting the results. Still, it's disturbing that so widespread a chipset could have such issues with a router.

Besides this, there are a few interesting things happening here. Only Belkin's modem/router has a fast enough internal routing speed to take advantage of wireless N's throughput when fed by a gigabit port. Both Linksys and Netgear's models have limited throughput, hitting a ceiling for both location one and two despite obstructions and distance increasing between the two points. While this doesn't matter on the Netgear as its Ethernet is limited to 100Mb, for the Linksys it's an obvious downside. If you want the most out of 5GHz wireless N from Linksys or Netgear, you'll need to invest in the stand-alone WRT610N or WNDR3700 routers respectively.

Location three is particularly challenging for 5GHz. The Linksys is the only one that makes a stable connection, and even then performance isn't great. We should also note that Linksys' own external dongle was all it would connect to — both the in-built Atheros and Intel chipsets failed to make a connection. The number shown above is the average over the three connections, but obviously the zero scores distort the results here: the actual throughput on the Linksys dongle for the Linksys and Netgear modem routers was 13.50Mbps and 0.18Mbps respectively.

ADSL performance is simply measured by the sync speed on an Internode ADSL2+ connection to the St Leonards exchange, on Internode's very high speed profile. If the connection remains stable over a period of time, the sync speed is recorded.

ADSL2+ sync speed (in Kbps)

  • Billion BiPAC 7800N
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)
  • Asus DSL-N13
  • Netgear DGND3300
  • Uplink 1349134213461346
  • Downlink 22,30622,57921,92122,419

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Power consumption

We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

The wireless radio was turned on, and an iperf test begun for measurement, using one wireless client and one wired.

Juice Box
Transmitting 9W
Idle 7W

The DGND3300 has a common power draw when both idling and transmitting — there's nothing out of spec here.

Warranty

Netgear offers a two-year warranty on the DGND3300.

Conclusion

Netgear's DGND3300 will best suit new networking users thanks to its helpful interface. Wireless performance is acceptable, but its configuration limitations are of concern for power users, and for the price we'd expect gigabit Ethernet.

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