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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Trendnet TEW-818DRU Dual Band Wireless Router review: A powerful Wi-Fi router with a friendly price tag

The Good The top-tier Trendnet TEW-818DRU AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router is fast, easy to use, and comparatively affordable.
The Bad The router doesn't recognize most portable drives plugged into its USB ports, and there's no wall-mounting option.
The Bottom Line With top performance and friendly pricing, the Trendnet TEW-818DRU is a excellent choice for those wanting a robust home network.
The TEW-818DRU AC1900 Dual Band Wireless Router is Trendnet's first in the increasingly popular crowd of AC1900 Wi-Fi routers. A little late to the game, but it turns out it's worth the wait.
In my testing, the Trendnet was among the three fastest routers on the market, with great range and an excellent Wi-Fi signal. On the downside, the router's USB ports didn't work well with portable drives, and there's no wall-mounting option.
In all, at the current street price of $180, the Trendnet TEW-818 is a formidable contender to the other best home wireless routers on the market, such as the $220 Asus RT-AC68U or the $200 Netgear R7000, thanks to its equally excellent performance and much friendlier pricing. It's still not cheap, and most home users might not need this level of Wi-Fi performance. But if you can afford it, faster speed never hurts. For more good 802.11ac router options,check out the alternatives on this list.
The TEW-818DRU is a straightforward AC1900 router.
The TEW-818DRU is a straight forward AC1900 router.Dong Ngo/CNET
Design and ease of use
The new TEW-818DRU looks exactly the same as its predecessor, the TEW-812DRU, taking the internal antenna route. The new router looks like a thick book standing in its vertical orientation. It's a little light for this position, however, which means it can topple quite easily, and unfortunately you can't mount it to a wall.
But if you can look past that, there's a lot to like about the router's straightforward design. On the front, it has an array of LED indicator lights showing the statuses of the ports on the back, as well as Internet, the power, and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) option. I like these lights since just by a glance, one can quickly find out what's going on. On the back, the router has one USB 3.0 port and one for 2.0, four Gigabit LAN ports, and one Gigabit WAN port. There's also a tiny WPS button that initiates the two-minute window in which other WPS-enabled clients can connect to the router's Wi-Fi networks. All of these ports and buttons are easily accessible.
To get the router to work, all you have to do is plug it into a power source and connect its WAN port to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem. The router comes with its default information and settings on it printed on its bottom as well as on a label attached to it. This information includes the two networks (one for each frequency band) and their passwords, and that's all you need to use the router immediately.
Should you want to customize the router's settings and features, the label also contains the default information to log in to the router's Web interface. To do this from a connected computer, point a browser to the router's default IP address, which is 192.168.10.1, and access its Web interface. Check outthis How To post on setting up a router for more information.
In all, the TEW-812DRU is very easy to use; you can expect to get it up and running in less then 10 minutes after removing it from the box.
The TEW-818DRU comes with a more refined Web interface that's, for the most part, well organized and responsive.
The TEW-818DRU comes with a more refined Web interface that's, for the most part, well organized and responsive.
Nice feature set, robust Web interface
The TEW-818DRU is an AC1900 router, meaning it offers up to 1,300Mbps of AC Wi-Fi speed on the 5Ghz band, while on the 2.4Ghz band it can provide up to 600Mbps at the same time. You can't actually achieve these numbers in real life, even when used with compatible clients. However, AC1900 is currently the designation of the fastest Wi-Fi routers on the market.
The router supports all existing Wi-Fi clients, regardless of their Wi-Fi standards, but you'll need newer clients to take advantage of the higher speeds.
The TEW-818DRU includes a common set of features and settings, which are usually found in most AC1900 routers. This would include Guest networks (one for each band), Quality of Service, IPv6, Firewall, and so on. It's one of just a few that offers the most Wi-Fi networks, however: You can set up as many as three main Wi-Fi networks for each band. In all, including the guest networks, the router can handle up to eight Wi-Fi networks at a time. This means you can create a network for each Wi-Fi standard and still have a few to spare. The use of multiple Wi-Fi networks allows you to be backward compatibile without sacrificing the connection speed.
The TEW-818DRU comes with a more refined Web interface compared to that of the previous generation. The interface is very responsive, and you can apply many changes without restarting the router. For the most part, the interface is very well designed and self-explanatory. It's a little confusing differentiating between the use of the Basic and Advanced settings, however. For example, the MACfiltering feature is listed under Parental Control, whereas it should be under Security.
There's also a nice network map that shows the connected clients. Unfortunately, this maps doesn't indicate if a client is connected using a network cable (wired) or via Wi-Fi. Also, you can't interact with a client by clicking on its icon.
As designed, the router's USB ports can be used to host external hard drives as network storage. In my trial, however, the router's interface didn't seem to recognize any of the portable devices I used for the tests, even when the LED light on the front of the router is on, showing that the port is being used. This is likely because the ports don't provide enough juice to power a connected drive.
The default settings are printed on the router's bottom making it very easy to use.
The default settings are printed on the router's underside, making it very easy to use.Dong Ngo/CNET
Performance
The TEW-818DRU's performance more than makes up for the USB issue mentioned above. I tested the router on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands with both 802.11n and 802.11ac clients, and the router performed very well.
When used with 802.11ac clients, which work only on the 5GHz band, the router registered a sustained speed of 465Mbps at close range (15 feet) and 307Mbps when I increased the distance to 100 feet. These numbers place the Trendnet in the top three and top two, respectively, for these criteria among 802.11ac-enabled routers.
CNET LABS 802.11AC PERFORMANCE(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Asus RT-AC68U
336 
521.4 
Trendnet TEW-818DRU
306.7 
465 
Netgear R7000
295 
431 
Linksys EA6900
251.2 
580.5 
D-Link DIR-868L
221 
271 
Netgear R6300
208 
331.32 
Trendnet TEW-812DRU
192.4 
263 
Asus RT-AC66U
178.5 
339.2 
Amp Wireless RTA15
165.5 
205.5 
AirStation WZR-D1800H
144 
233.6 
D-Link DIR-865L
135.2 
199.2 
D-Link DGL-5500
113.8 
157.8 
Cisco Linksys EA6500
113 
244.5 
When used with Wireless-N clients on the 5GHz band, the TEW-818DRU averaged 175Mbps for close range and and 91Mbps at long range, both slightly below the average among high-end routers. Using the 2.4GHz band, the router scored 156.5Mbps at close range and 66Mbps at long range; both were comparatively very fast.
CNET LABS 5GHZ WIRELESS-N PERFORMANCE(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Asus RT-AC66U
166.6 
208.2 
Linksys EA6900
87.3 
207.7 
Asus RT-AC68U
176 
202.8 
Trendnet TEW-812DRU
160 
195.3 
Netgear R7000
181 
188 
Apple Airport Time Capsule
117.7 
182.2 
Netgear R6300
144.8 
178.8 
D-Link DIR-868L
161.5 
178 
Trendnet TEW-818DRU
90.6 
174.8 
AirStation WZR-D1800H
120 
172 
D-Link DGL-5500
97.6 
156 
D-Link DIR-865L
121.6 
147.6 
Amp Wireless RTA15
64.8 
141 
Cisco Linksys EA6500
105.7 
124.6 
CNET LABS 2.4GHZ WIRELESS-N PERFORMANCE(In MB/second; longer bars indicate better performance)
Range  
Throughput  
Linksys EA6900
95.8 
241 
Asus RT-AC68U
211.4 
225 
Trendnet TEW-818DRU
65.6 
156.5 
Netgear R7000
62 
117 
Amp Wireless RTA15
35.2 
74.6 
D-Link DIR-868L
55.6 
63.3 
D-Link DGL-5500
41 
58.6 
Trendnet TEW-812DRU
37 
52.8 
Netgear R6300
41.6 
51.2 
Cisco Linksys EA6500
33.6 
48.8 
D-Link DIR-857
29.6 
47.8 
Asus RT-AC66U
15.2 
36.8 
The router offered very good range in my testing, up to 270 feet. However, like all routers, I found that the most effective range is around 150 feet. Within this range, the router passed the 48-hour stress test without any hiccups. During this time, none of the connected clients, on either band, was disconnected even once. Note that I tested the router at CNET's offices, where there are walls and many Wi-Fi devices that are out of my control. Generally, walls shorten the reach of a Wi-Fi signal, and other Wi-Fi devices create interference. As with all Wi-Fi routers, your results may vary depending on where you live.
Conclusion
If the issue regarding portable devices mentioned earlier doesn't throw you off, the Trendnet AC1900 Dual Band Wireless TEW-818DRU router offers the most value among its competitors, such as the Asus RT-AC68U or the Netgear R7000, thanks to its friendly pricing. With solid Wi-Fi performance on both bands and gigabit Ethernet, it will give you a robust home network and the ease of use is a nice extra. Note that you need Wi-Fi clients that also support the same standard to enjoy the faster wireless speed, while you will see almost no improvement with legacy clients. That said, as is common to other AC1900 routers on the market, the TEW-818DRU's appeal is that it will work great now and also the near future.
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