AVM Fritz!Box 7490 review
Router manufacturer AVM is a big name in its native Germany, where its spaceship-style Fritz!Box routers can be found everywhere. Although less common in the UK, there are several reasons you might consider one; in particular the flagship Fritz!Box 7490.
The first is the sheer breadth of features on offer, which even in the company of this Labs is extraordinary. The first sign of this is the number of ports around the edges. Not only are there the usual four Gigabit LAN ports (one of which can be designated a WAN port for external modem connection), but also a host of others.
There’s a port for direct ADSL2+ and VDSL fibre connections, without need for an external modem, plus a pair of USB 3 ports. There’s also a trio of extras: two ports for connecting standard cabled telephones, and a socket for ISDN phone lines.
Clearly, this is no standard router. In fact, it’s intended to be a complete home communications system, combining DECT cordless phone base-station facilities with an integrated answering machine, as well as VoIP support for making calls over the internet.
AVM Fritz!Box 7490 review: ease of use
Despite all the features, the 7490 remains easy to use. The front-end may not look modern, and it isn’t the best organised, but it’s packed with useful tools. Our favourites include the bandwidth-monitoring and radio frequency interference tracking tools, and the NAS front-end that allows you to browse, upload and download files to connected storage.
A selection of Android and iOS apps extends the router’s capabilities further, allowing you to manage the unit remotely, stream media, and even answer incoming land-line calls from your mobile phone.
It’s a mind-bogglingly broad selection of capabilities, and the Fritz!Box 7490 is no slouch on the wireless front, either, boasting the latest in top-line 802.11ac tech. Inside is a 3×3 stream MIMO antenna configuration with a top link speed of 1,300Mbits/sec over 802.11ac and 450Mbit/sec over 802.11n.
Annoyingly, the router comes set up with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks on the same SSID, so you have to rename them if you want to use each one separately; bafflingly, three of the four Gigabit LAN ports were initially set to 100Mbits/sec speed as well. They can be set back to Gigabit relatively easily, though.
AVM Fritz!Box 7490 review: performance
Even with everything set up optimally, we found performance in testing fell a little short. The fastest speed we achieved over 3×3 stream 802.11ac was 48.3MB/sec; that’s perfectly acceptable, but a long way behind the fastest routers we’ve tested.
Performance over distance, and with 802.11n in general, was weak. We saw transfer rates fall to 21.1MB/sec over 802.11ac in our long-range test, and speed at this distance over 5GHz 802.11n to our 2×2 stream iPad Air was a woeful 3.8MB/sec. Top speed over the USB 3 sockets lagged just as far behind, hitting a top speed of 24.3MB/sec, less than half the speed the best routers are capable of.
For all its weaknesses, though, there’s something undeniably appealing about the Fritz!Box 7490. It’s crammed with features, it’s easy to use and AVM’s policy of releasing updates more regularly than most manufacturers should extend its useful lifespan beyond the average as well.
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|Web content filtering||no|
|Dimensions||243 x 177 x 55mm (WDH)|