BT Home Hub 5 review: BT’s fastest wireless router
We’ve come to expect the worst when testing ISP-supplied routers, but BT’s Home Hub 5 bucks the trend in a big way by embracing the latest in wireless tech. Unlike TalkTalk’s Super Router, which also delivers 802.11ac, BT’s router can hold its head high.
BT Home Hub 5 review: Specifications & performance
On paper the two are similar. Each touts 1,300Mbits/sec 802.11ac, with a 3×3 MIMO stream internal antenna setup. Each has four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear, coupled with a DSL/VDSL port for fibre and ADSL2+ connection, plus a WAN port for those who need a separate modem. There’s a USB port so you can plug in a USB stick and share files, WPS and reboot buttons sit on top of the device, and you get a power switch at the rear, which makes it simple to cycle the power should the router freeze up.
All-round performance is impressive for an ISP-supplied router. Up close, we saw similar file-transfer speeds to the TalkTalk Super Router, with 802.11ac speeds reaching an impressive 50.4MB/sec, but the Home Hub 5 is better at long range. In our 30m test, 802.11ac speed fell to 22.7MB/sec, but it at least completed the test; TalkTalk’s 802.11ac network failed to connect at this distance. In our 802.11n distance testing, the BT Home Hub 5 achieved speeds 28% faster, although compared with rivals, its performance was middling.
BT Home Hub 5 review: Features
Coupled with BT’s Smart Wireless capability, which sees the router switch channels when it spots interference, the Home Hub 5 is the best-performing ISP router we’ve seen.
However, it does lack flexibility. For example, it’s picky about the format used on shared USB sticks plugged into the rear, only recognising FAT16 partitions, and the speed of reads and writes to shared media isn’t great since the controller is limited to USB 2 speed.
The simple user interface makes setup and maintenance easy, but features are limited. Although BT has its own network-level parental-controls tool, the router itself can only block certain devices at specified times. Neither is there any media-server facility nor any form of user-configurable QoS settings.
The default setup is quirky as well, with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks subsumed under the same SSID. This means you’re never certain which network your equipment is using. Barry Collins shows you how to change this to make the most of your BT Home Hub 5 here.
BT Home Hub 5 review: Verdict
The BT Home Hub 5 can’t compete with the very best 802.11ac routers, but despite its shortcomings, customers of BT’s top-level broadband service need no longer feel shortchanged. It’s a solid, reliable router, with some neat tricks up its sleeve.
|Gigabit LAN ports||4|
|Dimensions||234 x 69 x 114mm (WDH)|