Belkin ADSL Modem with High-Speed Mode Wireless-G Router review
Belkin is making quite a name for itself in wireless networking. Not only does it produce some of the best-value wireless routers around, it was also so early with a pre-802.11n product that the standard isn’t even in draft mode yet (see issue 125, p69). Although the Pre-N shows Belkin’s desire to push new ideas, the ADSL Modem with High-Speed Mode Wireless-G Router is based on the best of current technology.
This is yet another wireless broadband router to boast 125Mb/sec WLAN. The boost over 802.11g comes from a Broadcom chipset, which incorporates AfterBurner technology. This tightens the gaps between wireless data frames, using a process called frame bursting to enhance performance. It isn’t really capable of 125Mb/sec, but it can improve speed significantly compared to standard 802.11g.
We used an IBM ThinkPad T42 Centrino notebook for throughput testing. First, we called upon IBM’s built-in 802.11g and attempted to copy 144MB of files from a desktop PC attached via wired Ethernet. With the notebook next to the router, we achieved an impressive 18.8Mb/sec. But when we moved to a lower floor, this actually improved slightly to 19.5Mb/sec. Only when we tried the test from another room did throughput drop to 15.4Mb/sec.
We weren’t sent a Belkin-branded client adaptor, so we took the opportunity to find out if AfterBurner would work across manufacturers. We installed a Linksys SpeedBooster-equipped Wireless-G Notebook Adaptor in our IBM, and found it associated with the Belkin at the full 125Mb/sec. We then achieved a throughput of 20.2Mb/sec from both close proximity and the lower floor, and a still impressive 19.9Mb/sec from the adjacent room. These aren’t the fastest scores we’ve seen with AfterBurner, but the range shows that the Belkin has a clean and powerful signal.
As a router, the Belkin is relatively average, however. PPPoA, PPPoE, Dynamic and Static IP ADSL setups are supported. Wireless security can be enforced using WEP up to 128-bit, WPA-PSK or WPA with RADIUS server authentication. The SSID can be hidden and, using the firewall options, only known MAC addresses allowed access.
The firewall is fairly modest, though. Virtual servers can be set up, allowing computers on the local network to serve web pages or games onto the Internet. A huge selection of presets is provided, although this doesn’t include the latest titles. A single IP address can be nominated as the DMZ (demilitarised zone), with unrestricted Internet access. IP filtering can be used to impose firewall rules, but that’s about the extent of the firewall’s capabilities. Other than blocking pings from the Net and offering some Denial-of-Service attack protection, there’s nothing more to configure. Also, we found some of the features mentioned in the Help files didn’t exist in this model’s firmware, with no update available at the time of writing.
The Belkin ADSL Modem with High-Speed Mode Wireless-G Router is a perfectly capable piece of kit. It isn’t the fastest proprietary version of 802.11g, but it does offer good coverage. It’s also somewhat limited in terms of features, but considering the price, this can be forgiven. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper speed-enhanced wireless router with a built-in ADSL modem.