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D-Link RangeBooster N 650

Based on Atheros silicon, the D-Link RangeBooster N 650 was one of the first Draft-N products to ship and early samples failed to impress. New firmware, however, has addressed most of the teething problems, and the DIR-635 router we examined performed well on both our throughput and range tests.
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Written by Alan Stevens on
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7.0/10

D-Link RangeBooster N 650 Wireless Router

Very good
Pros
  • Router with built-in ADSL modem available
  • RADIUS authentication
  • Windows Connect Now support
Cons
  • Not as quick as Netgear's Draft-N product
  • Patchy Draft-N interoperability
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Based on Atheros silicon, the D-Link RangeBooster N 650 was one of the first Draft-N products to ship and early samples failed to impress. New firmware, however, has addressed most of the teething problems, and the DIR-635 router we examined performed well on both our throughput and range tests.

The DIR-635 is also a compact device with three prominent MIMO antennas at the rear, an integrated 4-port 10/100Mbps switch and a USB connector that can be used to configure the security settings using Windows Connect Now. A separate Ethernet port is provided for Internet connectivity, although a version with an on-board ADSL2+ modem is also available (the DSL-2740B). On the client side, PCI and USB adapters are both available, together with the PC Card we tested.

Setup is straightforward, with a wizard to locate the newly installed RangeBooster N 650 router and step you through the initial Internet and wireless configuration. The usual web-based interface handles everything from this point onwards.

By default, the wireless interface is configured to handle both 802.11b/g and Draft-N clients, although you can restrict it to just work with legacy clients if preferred. You can also disable the channel bonding if this is found to interfere with other Wi-Fi networks. Security is well catered for with legacy WEP support, missing from the first products, now available as well as WPA and WPA-2 encryption with shared key and optional RADIUS authentication if required.

An SPI firewall comes as standard, along with Network Address Translation, content filtering tools and VPN pass-through.

D-Link makes a number of performance claims, including up to 650 percent more throughput than 802.11g and speeds in excess of 100Mbps wired Ethernet. Elsewhere the company quotes a raw throughput of up to 270Mbps. However, all this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt: in our tests, the RangeBooster N 650 posted sustained transfer rates of between 60-70Mbps. Clearly this is well short of the marketing hype, and not quite as fast as the Netgear RangeMax Next. Even so, performance is pretty good, and a lot better than standard 802.11g.

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Interoperability with 802.11b/g adapters was good, but patchy with other Draft-N products. With the Belkin N1 and Linksys products, for example, we got figures pretty close to those from an all-D-link setup. But then these cards use the same Atheros chipset. With non-Atheros adapters the RangeBooster N 650 dropped back to 802.11g rates or lower.

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