paws hands on the EnGenius ESR9850 to replace the D-Link DIR-300 4-Port Wireless-G 54Mbps Router at mum’s place. Others are getting it to replace their D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit Wireless Router. The EnGenius ESR9850 is a 300Mbps Wireless N router with Gigabit switch.
So theoretically for internal LAN transfers, you can transfer a 700MB file wirelessly in 19 seconds instead of 2 minutes on Wireless G. The same file transfers over wired Gigabit interface under 6 seconds while it will take close to 1 minute on routers with 100Mbps interface.
The ESR9850’s package comes with:
- two detachable 2 dBi antennas
- power adaptor
- patch cord
- installation disc
- user manual
The router is housed in a glossy white plastic shell. For the connectivity option:
- Supports ADSL, Cable and Fibre Internet plans
- One Gigabit WAN port (10/100/1000Mbps) that you can use to hook up that new >100Mbps Fibre/Cable Internet plan
- Four Gigabit LAN port (10/100/1000Mbps) to connect up to four wired devices (computer, media players, NAS, etc)
- 2.4Ghz Wireless N (300Mbps) to connect up your wireless gadgets (Apple iPad 2, Nintendo 3DS, Apple TV 2, etc). It is close to 6 times faster than your regular Wireless G router
There are some not-so-common features that are worth mentioning:
- Upload and Download QoS (Quality of Service). QoS allows you to control the bandwidth a user is entitled to on your network. Basically, you can limit his/her Internet connection if he/she is found to be using those bandwidth hogging applications. For home routers, they usually only come with upload QoS but ESR9850 offers download QoS as well!
- Bandwidth monitor. You can look at the current bandwidth utilization of your network. It is a nice to have feature and you can use it to figure out your Internet plan bandwidth usage.
- Define up to four SSIDs. Yes, up to 4 wireless SSIDs can be defined. Each SSID can be configured with different security settings (WEP/WPA/None) and whether to allow/disallow the following three features – WAN access, wireless client isolation, wireless and wired client isolation. One possible use case is to segregate devices into different trust zones, e.g., full access for laptops, wireless tablet probably just need Internet access and don’t need the rest.
- Handles up to 50,000 connections. I would say – this is A LOT! The Cisco-Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router and D-Link DIR-825 Xtreme N Dual Band Gigabit Router handles up to 200 connections. This beast (EnGenius ESR9850) is advertised to handle up to 50k! I don’t have the means to test this but I guess it must be achievable else they won’t bother printing it on their box.
Well, I didn’t perform these tests since it is readily available. SmallNetBuilder tested the ESR9850 and the results are as such:
- WAN – LAN: 619Mbps
- LAN – WAN: 640.0Mbps
- Simultaneous WAN-LAN and LAN-WAN: 740.3Mbps
Rooms for improvement
I face the following issues when doing this review (hardware: 1.0.0, kernel: 2.0.2, application: 2.0.2):
- NTP settings cannot be saved. The NTP (Network Time Protocol) settings doesn’t seems to save after clicking on the “Save” button. NTP is to allow the router to keep its system time updated by referring to a internet time server
- Wireless security key is in clear. Currently, you can see the security key you have set. I would prefer this to be masked though
- QoS bandwidth setting cannot be self-defined. Currently, they are prefixed to certain values. For power users, probably the bandwidth can be self-defined
Well, it is a nice affordable wireless router with good feature set – great routing speed, high connections limit, upload and download bandwidth control, multiple SSID with connection control. With such WAN-LAN throughput, it should be sufficient for Fibre plans nowadays. The wireless range of this router is pretty good, I face no problem with wireless connections in my 5-room flat. I reckon that I will get a better wireless connection at the park downstairs if I swap the 2dBi antennas for 5dBi ones.
Where can I get one?
Check out the EnGenius ESR9850 offers on Amazon! While you are there, you might want to check out Apple iPad 2, Nintendo 3DS, and Apple TV 2 to make full use of the router!