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Netgear RT314 Cable/DSL Gateway Router

I've been getting a lot of response every time I do a review of a networking related product. That is telling me that not only do you want more information on these products, but that a lot of you have more than one computer and would like to network them together. Netgear was kind enough to send their RT314 Gateway Router for review. I was very impressed with their DB104 Network Starter Kit and naturally jumped at the chance to review one of their routers. The key concept here is that this is a router and not a hub. A router features a switch - which is a device that sends the data to the computer that needs it. Regular hubs will send data to every computer on the network until it finds the computer that requested the data. Having a switch in your hub/router dramatically reduces congestion and helps to prevent errors caused by lost packets. Another big bonus of this router is that it is a 10/100 MBps unit and has a built-in firewall to protect against unauthorized access or deliberate attack.

Features
The Board
  • Supports 253 clients
  • 4-port 10/100 MBps switch
  • Built-in firewall technology
  • Configurable as a DHCP server or client
  • W 253 mm (9.95")
  • D 181 mm (7.1")
  • H 35 mm (1.4")


Netgear's Site

(+,-) $170USD

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
9/10

First Impressions

Yet again the RT314 weighed in quite heavily. As soon as I opened the box I could see why. The RT314 is nearly 10" wide and easily dwarfs the DS104 hub I tested previously. This is not a bad thing. Although a small size can make things convenient, in my opinion I think things like networking components should be stable and built to last. Netgear uses metal cases for their equipment and they don't take shortcuts in the design of their components. Obviously adding a switch means that the design of this router is more complex than the hub I reviewed previously, so the added size can also be attributed to the more sophisticated design that a switch necessitates. The RT314 can be wall mounted to get it out of the way if you so like, but unlike the DS104, there were no wall mounting screws included with this unit. Also in the box was a 6-foot Cat 5 RJ45 cable, the resource CD, manual, wall-wart power supply, and warranty card.

Just like the DS104 hub, there is no shortage of LED's to keep you informed of the RT314's status. On the front of the unit there are LED's for PWR and TEST, and a LINK and 100 MBps light for every port. So with four ports that adds up to 10 LED's to keep you informed of what's going on with your network. Unlike the DS104 hub, the RT314 router has its port connections on the rear of the unit. Also on the rear is an RS232 plug for those who will be using it to control the unit (rare installations), the uplink port, and the ground connection. One thing that is somewhat unusual is the ground attachment. Although a three-pronged outlet will give you a good ground, most components such as this router use a simple two-prong plug for their wall-wart power supply. Grounding the unit is cheap insurance to make sure you don't have to replace components after an electrical storm or surge. I've been surprised by the number of components that don't come with plugs that allow them to be grounded. Although I grounded the unit without any trouble, I think it would have been better to include a three-prong plug for the average user.

 





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