Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router WNDR3300

The WNDR3300 looks the part of a shiny, fast 802.11n router. Looks are deceptive; this is a sluggish unit in what should be its best operating mode.


6.1
CNET Rating
7.7
User Rating

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Design
Like most router manufacturers, Netgear's picked its design model for routers, and as such, any given Netgear router tends to look much like any other Netgear router. The WNDR3300 is, like other Netgear models, big, and primarily designed for vertical mounting. This does reduce its footprint somewhat, but at the cost of standing out far more than a horizontally placed router.

When the WNDR3300 is powered up, you'll be struck by the blinking lights. Not that blinking lights on routers are necessarily new per se, but aside from the status lights, Netgear's also enabled the logo in the centre of the router to flash, disco light style. Tastes vary — you'll either think it's cute if you don't have to look at it too much, or hate it if it sits on your work desk and tires your eyes out.

Windows users get an automated set-up routine — and you're instructed not to plug anything into the WNDR3300's Ethernet sockets until it's run — but Mac and Linux users just get a PDF instruction manual on the set-up CD.

Features
We're seeing a number of devices on the market that sell themselves as dual-band wireless N, but just when you might have thought that networking companies might have worked out that simplicity sells, the birth of dual-band makes it all the more confusing.

Specifically, the WNDR3300 manages dual-band by running two access points simultaneously; you can run in full speed Wireless-N mode at 5GHz, but you're limiting yourself to 802.11g speeds for all your 2.4GHz devices. It's feasible to run the 2.4GHz network at "up to" wireless N speeds, but then you miss out on the signal clarity that 5GHz offers. Competing models are hitting the market that offer switching, simultaneous Wireless N at full speed, and in this regard the WNDR3300 compares poorly.

So what are your options? By default, the WNDR3300 operates in 270Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band mode, but it's also possible to run in 270Mbps (2.4GHz only), 130Mbps (2.4GHz only) or 130Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band.

For a router that sells itself on speed, it's a touch disappointing that Netgear hasn't opted for gigabit wired Ethernet ports. With the number of consumers opting for wired NAS, printer and even Media Centre connections, it'd be a great addition, but all you get is standard 10/100 Ethernet.

Performance
Our testing tables just keep on getting longer as router manufacturers offer up more modes. As we can't imagine anyone spending the extra cash on the WNDR3300 and not wanting to run some kind of wireless N set-up with it, we tested the two top speed modes — 270Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band mode and 270Mbps (2.4GHz only).

Signal Strength: 5GHz 270Mbps

Distance from router Netgear WNDR3300 Netgear WNHDEB111 Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbps Linksys WRT160N
5m 85% 84% 70% 75% 92% 80%
15m (minor walls) 45% 50% 53% 59% 62% 62%
15m (multiple walls) 44% 55% 48% 54% 60% 50%

Throughput: 5GHz 270Mbps

Distance from router Netgear WNDR3300 Netgear WNHDEB111 Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbps Linksys WRT160N
2m, no barriers 11.8Mbps 18.4Mbps 19.8Mbps 21Mbps 15Mbps 4.88Mbps
20m, multiple walls 9.81Mbps 16.7Mbps 15.2Mbps 13.3Mbps 7.7Mbps 10.12Mbps

In theory, 5GHz should offer us the best possible transfer rates, but in our tests the WNDR3300 didn't exactly shine when it came to signal strength. As always, our figures are representative of our test environment (a standard Sydney suburban home), but it's still not a bright sign. And to put it mildly, the WNDR3300's 5GHz performance under these conditions was comparatively woeful.

Signal Strength: 2.4GHz 270Mbps

Distance from router Netgear WNDR3300 Netgear WNHDEB111 Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbps Linksys WRT160N
5m 79% 84% 70% 75% 92% 80%
15m (minor walls) 49% 50% 53% 59% 62% 62%
15m (multiple walls) 51% 55% 48% 54% 60% 50%

Throughput: 2.4GHz 270Mbps

Distance from router Netgear WNDR3300 Netgear WNHDEB111 Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbps Linksys WRT160N
2m, no barriers 26.2Mbps 18.4Mbps 19.8Mbps 21Mbps 15Mbps 4.88Mbps
20m, multiple walls 20.4Mbps 16.7Mbps 15.2Mbps 13.3Mbps 7.7Mbps 10.12Mbps

Vendors haven't been slow to promote the speed virtues of 802.11n over 2.4GHz, despite the potential for interference, but in the WNDR3300's case, Netgear might just have a point. The WNDR3300 essentially redeemed itself in 2.4GHz mode, as it outperformed every other 2.4GHz network we've tested with, and even some of the modes of the 5GHz WNHDEB111. Still, with the potential for 2.4GHz interference to crop up on a regular basis, we're wary about promoting the WNDR3300 on this basis.

The lure of dual-band wireless is a strong one — at the very least, it lets you run two concurrent networks in place, and, say, stream video smoothly with one while performing file transfers with another. The WNDR3300 doesn't offer full speed Wireless N on both of its networks, and it performed exceptionally poorly in the "faster" 5GHz range, making it a dual-band router with very little upside, unless you like flashing disco lights.



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Ben posted a comment   

The Good:Speed, Reception,

The Bad:Can't simultaneously operate 5Ghz and 2.4 Ghz at wireless N speeds.

I don't know what people are talking about in regards to bad reception. I get great reception and at LEAST 17.6 Mbps (as I can download at 2 MB/sec) and I am over 20 metres away and down stairs! Perhaps earlier reviews were based on old firmware.

Anyway I've never had any problems, very good especially for its price!

 

dady posted a comment   

crap

 

Craig posted a comment   

The Good:Price?

The Bad:Poor Signal Strenght.

While setup was ok it asks to re-verify the security key quite often and has terrible signal strenght. For example, it has lower connection strenght than the 802.11g router I have and is lower than 3 other routers I pickup from neighbors. It also has much lower than a neighbors that is labeled "NETGEAR-24-G" so it looks like the N is slower than Netgears G products. Do not buy in my opinion. I only bought because my existing system wasn't compatible with vista. What a let down when I thought it would be faster than my old system.

MBTX
3
Rating
 

MBTX posted a review   

The Good:Nice looks, wirless bridging function (if they can get it to work)

The Bad:Unit does not perform at all. Firmware? HW? Who knows! DO NOT BUY

Upgraded to the 3300 and what a waste of time, effort & money! One of the worst products on the market. Brand new from best buy and the router did not accept wireless bridging, repeating. Called tech support was asked to "upgrade to new firmware". Well that really did not work and unit dropped all wired & wireless connections every 30 seconds. Reset to factory defaults and tried again but even level 2 tech support could not get it to work. Went back to my old MIMO Rangemax824G router.

joshua
10
Rating
 

joshua posted a review   

The Good:nice beatiful good gaming router badass good. worth=router speed=fast

The Bad:nothing.****

Performance
Our testing tables just keep on getting longer as router manufacturers offer up more modes. As we can't imagine anyone spending the extra cash on the WNDR3300 and not wanting to run some kind of wireless N set-up with it, we tested the two top speed modes — 270Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band mode and 270Mbps (2.4GHz only).
cnet you guys are **** up netgear the best

 

ChrisB10 posted a reply   

which swear word did you intend?

cnet you guys are f*ck up netgear the best

cnet you guys are sh*t up netgear the best

cnet you guys are c*nt up netgear the best

I can't think of any 4 letter swear word that would make sense with that sentence.

jesse
10
Rating
 

jesse posted a review   

The Good:Features
We're seeing a number of devices on the market that sell themselves as dual-band wireless N, but just when you might have thought that networking companies might have worked out that simplicity sells, the birth of dual-band makes it all the more confusing.

Specifically, the WNDR3300 manages dual-band by running two access points simultaneously; you can run in full speed Wireless-N mode at 5GHz, but you're limiting yourself to 802.11g speeds for all your 2.4GHz devices. It's feasible to run the 2.4GHz network at "up to" wireless N speeds, but then you miss out on the signal clarity that 5GHz offers. Competing models are hitting the market that offer switching, simultaneous Wireless N at full speed, and in this regard the WNDR3300 compares poorly.

So what are your options? By default, the WNDR3300 operates in 270Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band mode, but it's also possible to run in 270Mbps (2.4GHz only), 130Mbps (2.4GHz only) or 130Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band.

For a router that sells itself on speed, it's a touch disappointing that Netgear hasn't opted for gigabit wired Ethernet ports. With the number of consumers opting for wired NAS, printer and even Media Centre connections, it'd be a great addition, but all you get is standard 10/100 Ethernet.

Performance
Our testing tables just keep on getting longer as router manufacturers offer up more modes. As we can't imagine anyone spending the extra cash on the WNDR3300 and not wanting to run some kind of wireless N set-up with it, we tested the two top speed modes — 270Mbps (5GHz) and 54Mbps (2.4GHz) dual-band mode and 270Mbps (2.4GHz only).

The Bad:nothing

nice router




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User Reviews / Comments  Netgear RangeMax Dual Band Wireless-N Router WNDR3300

  • Ben

    Ben

    "I don't know what people are talking about in regards to bad reception. I get great reception and at LEAST 17.6 Mbps (as I can download at 2 MB/sec) and I am over 20 metres away and down stairs! Pe..."

  • dady

    dady

    "crap"

  • Craig

    Craig

    "While setup was ok it asks to re-verify the security key quite often and has terrible signal strenght. For example, it has lower connection strenght than the 802.11g router I have and is lower than..."

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