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 Multi-Tech RoutFinder Wireless Router/Access Point

Page 2 

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 8/22/2001


Wireless Features


The 802EW uses an embedded PC card radio that supports 64 and 128 bit WEP encryption.  The radio is connected to two dipole antennas that are hard-mounted on the rear panel of the chassis via two cables that plug into the PC card radio via miniature MMCX style connectors.  So if you want to attach external antennas, you have your work cut out for you!

Wireless settings include the basics.  You can set the Channel number (default is 6) and ESSID.  You can also set four 64 bit or one 128 bit WEP keys, either directly in Hexadecimal or by using a passphrase.

RouteFinder Manager - Wireless Settings screen

Given WEP's well-known insecurities, you need all the help you can get to make sure you don't get any unwanted wireless "guests" on your LAN.  So it's nice to see that Multi-Tech added MAC address based Access Controls, which apply to both wired and wireless clients.

RouteFinder Manager - Access Control screen

And although it requires running the Windows RouteFinder Monitor application, you'll be able to log and view a variety of information for all clients.  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.

That about does it for the feature summary.  Let's see what's she's got in the performance department!

 

Routing Performance


I ran the Qcheck suite to test routing performance, with the following results:

Firmware/Driver Version:

N4.57

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

5.9

 3 (avg)
9 (max)

499

 0%

LAN-WAN

4.7

 3 (avg)
6 (max)

499

 0%

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

Comment: Routing performance is greatly improved from what I measured for the RF500, including UDP streaming performance.  Performance was solid, with no lockups during the UDP streaming tests.

 

Wireless Performance


I used an ORiNOCO Gold PC card as the wireless test partner and ran my usual Qcheck test suite. (More details of how I tested can be found here.) 

Test Conditions:

Firmware/Driver Versions:

- WEP encryption: DISABLED
- Tx Rate:
Automatic
- Power Save:
disabled
- Channel: 6

AP f/w:
N4.57

Wireless client driver:
Variant 1, V6.44
Wireless client f/w:
 
 - Primary Functions: Variant 1,  V4.04
 - Station Functions: Variant 1, V6.16

Test Description

SNR (dB)

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- %)

AP to Client - Condition 1

53

4.1[No WEP]
1.8[w/WEP]

5 (avg)
7 (max)

495

0%

AP to Client - Condition 2

45

4.1

5 (avg)
6 (max)

491

0%

AP to Client - Condition 3

24

4.0

5 (avg)
8 (max)

488

0%

AP to Client - Condition 4

20

3.9

5 (avg)
8 (max)

487

0%

Comments: Good Transfer rate and SNR with steady signal level.  Unfortunately, throughput (Transfer Rate) takes about a 60% WEP-enabled hit with either 64 or 128 bit WEP enabled.

Thanks to the folks at NetIQ, I've recently acquired a copy of Chariot, their excellent network test application, which I'll be using in addition to their free Qcheck application.  The graph below (click for a full-sized view) shows TCP throughput over an approximately one minute period for all four of my usual test conditions, both with and without 64 bit WEP enabled. The data correlates pretty well with the Qcheck data, which is the average of only three 1Mbyte file transfers vs. the approximately 30 transfers in the graph below.

1 minute throughput test graph

NOTE: I modified the Filensds script so that it used a 1Mbyte file size per transfer (instead of the default 0.1Mbyte) to remove some of the throughput variation due to the overhead of starting and stopping connections and transfers.

 

Summary


The RF802EW has fast routing speed, better logging than many other products in its class, is the only wireless router to have a built-in RAS, and its wireless side supports both 128bit WEP Encryption and MAC address access controls.  Unfortunately, these positives are balanced by poor WEP enabled performance, a confusing interface that requires you to run two Windows applications, and pricing that's high, especially considering the lack of  built-in switched LAN ports.

In all, I found the 802EW to be a good performer, but not necessarily a good value.

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