Netgear Australia RangeMax Next Wireless Router (WNR854T)
Drop-outs while it's hot
- Good speed for streaming video, Gigabit Ethernet switch, keyword content filtering
- Random drop-outs, had to restart after every settings change, worked best with Netgear adapters only
Good features and wireless streaming speed were countered by random drop-outs, which caused us many headaches.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The airy box that surrounds the inner workings of Netgear's WNR854T wireless router certainly isn't the smallest we've seen. Its large size serves a purpose: it allows the unit's three antennas to hide inside. The WNR854T is an 802.11 draft-n router with a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, so it should provide plenty of bandwidth for users after quick wireless and wired speeds — when the router works.
After an extended evaluation of this router, using the latest firmware, we found it to be unreliable, both for streaming media, and for keeping an Internet connection alive. After seemingly random periods of time, the router dropped off our network completely – it would drop wireless and wired computer connections – and would only work after a reset. This happened a lot during the first few days we used it, then it settled down for a while, then it started dropping out again, then it became reliable again. It was quite moody.
We used the router with an ADSL1 connection (512Kbps) to download torrents on a main PC, to stream video to a Netgear Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 and to use the Internet on a roaming laptop and a secondary wireless PC. This usage pattern didn't change – it's the same one we use for all routers – nor was the router ever powered down for more than a few seconds during our tests. Nevertheless, the uptime of the router varied from a few minutes to a few hours, up to a few days. It's a problem that we were not able to pin down to a specific machine or task.
However, when it did stay up for a long period of time, it produced an average wireless throughput of 5.71MBps to our laptop. This was recorded in 'mixed mode' (802.11g + 802.11 draft-n) and in 'max speed mode' (strictly 802.11 draft-n). So even though 802.11g devices were connected to it in mixed mode, the router was still able to reach its maximum speed. When streaming a DivX-encoded video to the EVA8000, the 802.11 draft-n transfer rate dropped to 4.79MBps. This means there is still ample bandwidth for other tasks while streaming videos across a wireless network.
Indeed, despite its maximum transfer rate being slower than the Linksys WRT310N, the last draft-n-based router we reviewed, the WNR854T had a better file transfer rate to our laptop while simultaneously streaming data to the EVA8000.
We weren't able to use our standard Linksys 300N (version 2) notebook adapter for testing, as it would only connect to the router at 54Mbps. Instead, we had to use a Netgear WN121T USB adapter in order to reach maximum speed.
The WNR854T's interface is simple and has good features. The Setup Wizard detected our Internet connection in a few seconds, and all we had to do was enter our login details. However, the Wizard didn't offer us the option of changing our wireless settings.
The unit comes with a built-in firewall, and keyword filters can be applied. A message saying "Web site blocked by NETGEAR Firewall" will appear when attempts are made to access unauthorised content.
Annoyingly, the router restarted automatically after any settings were changed, be they wireless or firewall related. Even changing the wireless channel, or simply adding a keyword to the filter, made the router restart, which was very annoying.
Basically, the WNR854T was more of a headache than a joy to use, but it produced good speed for streaming videos when it did work. If it was more reliable, played nicer with non-Netgear adapters and didn't restart after every single change, we wouldn't have given it such a low rating.
Join the PC World newsletter!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 5 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Chips coming by June will herald the next generation of Wi-Fi
- Plume's 'routerless' mesh network blankets your home in Wi-Fi with an army of tiny pods
- Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 Smart WiFi Router goes all the way to 11
- Can Wi-Fi and LTE-U live together? The tests are ready
- New wireless tech from MIT promises password-free Wi-Fi
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTJava Developer/IntegratorACT
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer -NetApp & TSMNSW
- FTTechnical Consultant MS Dynamics AXVIC
- TPAgile Business AnalystQLD
- TPOracle Consultant - CC&BSA
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Manufacturing and Trade & Logistics Modules)QLD
- FTSenior Information Security ConsultantQLD
- CCProject Manager - Adelaide basedVIC
- TPSenior Project CoordinatorNSW
- TPSenior IT Business AnalystVIC
- FTService Desk AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Technical Business Analyst - ITMSP - Melbourne CBDVIC
- FTSolutions Software DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness/Process AnalystNSW
- CCProject Scheduler-Port MacquarieQLD
- FTSenior Functional Consultant - Data Analytics - TelcoVIC
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Supply Chain Modules)NSW
- TPChange and Communications CoordinatorQLD
- FTEnterprise Architect l Practice Manager - Archimate 3.0, eTOMNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTSolution Designer l Microsoft SMENSW
- TPAnalyst Programmer (Adabas)SA
- TPScrum MasterVIC
- CCPMO ManagerNSW
- CCCloud Solution Architect - Financial Services - Continuous IntegrationNSW