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 MutliTech RouteFinder DSL/Cable Router

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 12/5/2000



Model: RF500S

Pros:

- COM port supports both PPP dialup Internet connection and dial-in RAS
- Good logging and hack protection

 
Cons:

- Very Limited support for non-Windows management
- No port range forwarding

 

 

Updates

4/26/01 Revision 4.48 firmware adds IPsec passthru,Netmeeting support, and other fixes.  See this page for the ReadMe and download info.

2/21/01 TZO Dynamic DNS service 30 day trial software now bundled.

 

The Basics

Indicators
  • "Link/ACT",  "100", and "FDX/COL" for each of 4 LAN ports

  • "DATA" (activity) and "DCD" (carrier detect) for Serial COM port

  • "Link", "RxD", "TxD" for WAN port

  • Power

Connectors
  • One RJ45 10BaseT for the WAN

  • Four switched RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT LAN 

  • Power

  • RS232 Serial DB9F

Comes with
  • System CD with manuals, drivers, software

  • Tucows CD

  • Power Supply (100-240V "brick")

  • printed RF500S RouteFinder Quick Start Guide

  • DB9M to DB25M serial cable

Other 
  • Hardware Reset switch

  • Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch for LAN Port 4

 

First One!


If you've been looking for a way to dial into your shared broadband connection and didn't want to spend the money to install WinNT or 2000, MultiTech's RouteFinder DSL/Cable router (RF) may just be the ticket.  There are other Ethernet to Ethernet routers that include a serial COM port, but the RouteFinder is the first to let you use that port either as an alternate WAN connection method, or as a full-featured Dial-in Remote Access Server (RAS)!  Got your attention?  Let's see if it's the one for you.

 

Setup and Administration


I'll tell you right off that if you're not going to use a Windows (95/98/NT/2000) computer to setup and administer the RF, then you're going to have a tough time.  There is no web interface, and although there is a Telnet admin Interface, it doesn't give you access to everything that the Windows "Manager" program does. It also gives you none of the monitoring capabilities of the "Monitor" program.  I've included a few screen shots below to give you a flavor of two programs.

NOTE: The RF ships with no administration password, so be sure you set a strong password while configuring the router.  

RouteFinder Manager - Main screen RouteFinder Manager - Filter screen

RouteFinder Monitor screen shot

You can see all the screens and get the complete info on the RF's capabilities by downloading the User's Guide from the MultiTech support site (1.3Mb PDF file). The site also has links to the latest firmware and other info.  You can download either of the above from MultiTech's FTP site, too.

The tools have a lot of depth, and I encourage you to explore all the screens and/or read the User's manual (the printed Quick Start Guide doesn't even scratch the surface of what's in the RF)!  However, there were a few things that I had to ask MultiTech to help me hunt down, so I'll pass them on to save you some time:

  • DHCP Release / Renew: Use the Monitor program "Terminate Connection" button.  Port 1 is the Ethernet WAN port. Port 2 is the serial WAN port.

  • "DMZ" or "Exposed" computer:  Enable IP Mapping in the Manager program, and enter zero as the port number to map for the IP address of the computer that you want to be completely outside the firewall

  • WAN IP info: You'll find it in the Monitor Program's Event messages.

  • DHCP Client list: Monitor program, Statistics tab.

The logging capability is pretty good, showing traffic, system events (boot, DHCP leasing, etc. and attacks).  You can save a snapshot of the logs to text files, or autosave to an Access database on a schedule you can set, from every 1 to 24 hours.  I also found the RF's firewall to be locked down pretty tight, and the attack detection really worked.  It detected and blocked a UDP flood Trinoo attack and the port scans that I threw at it.

 

Dialing in


The RouteFinder is the first router in its price class to offer dial-in RAS, and it's pretty full-featured.  Take a look:

  • You can assign a specific IP address or let the DHCP server handle it

  • Set TCP/IP or IPX/SPX prototols and set the IPX/SPX frame type

  • Set PAP or CHAP Authentication, using either a list you define or a RADIUS server.  You can also disable Authentication.

  • You can set Main, Backup, and Accounting RADIUS servers

RouteFinder Manager - Remote Access screen

The serial port settings are pretty complete too, as the screen shot below shows. The installer comes with the setup profiles for a number of popular modems.  You can control idle timeout, auto reconnect, and dialing retries, too.

RouteFinder Manager - Port Settings screen

The RAS feature worked reliably, connecting me each time I dialed in.

 

Not bad for speed either


The RouteFinder didn't disappoint for speed, either.  Take a look:

(Tests run with 4.24 firmware)

Test Description

Qcheck Transfer Rate (Mbps)

[1Mbyte data size]

Qcheck Response Time (msec)

[10 iterations 100byte data size]

Qcheck UDP stream 
[10S@500Kbps]

(Actual throughput- kbps)

(Lost data- %)

WAN-LAN

2.9

< 4

497

0.3%

LAN-WAN

2.5

< 4

430

13.7%

(Details of how we tested can be found here.) 

Although it's not the fastest router we've tested, it's more than adequate for most cable and DSL connections.  (Remember, a router that can route faster than your Ethernet connection doesn't do you much good!)

 

Negatives?


Although it has some great features, there are still some features that the RouteFinder lacks:

  • No port range or triggered port mapping

  • IPsec VPN is currently not supported 

Update 4/26/01 Revision 4.48 firmware adds IPsec passthru,Netmeeting support, and other fixes.

  • No remote administration

Not a long list, but if you need the above features, you'd better look elsewhere.

 

Summary


MultiTech has come out swinging with the RouteFinder!  A four-port switched router with a good feature set, decent speed, dial-in RAS (that no one else has...yet!...), and on-line priced as low as $140!  If you're ok with Windows-only setup and administration, it's definitely worth a look!


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 Opinion Summary:     81.3%   |   18.8%  |   out of 16 reviews  
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