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3Com Home Ethernet Gateway

 Author: Tim Higgins
 Review Date: 3/14/2001

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Model: 3C510


Although the Asante, SMC, and now 3Com products are all sourced from AMIT, the 3C510 is a closer relative of the SMC Barricade than the Asante. The 510 uses a different revision board than the SMC, but the components and layouts are virtually the same.

Pros:

- Built-in Windows print server.
- Supports dialup WAN connection
- Flexible port range mapping with outbound 
  triggers!
- Fast!

Cons :

- Limited Access Controls
- Can't set LAN IP address
- Very limited LAN DHCP controls


Review Updates

6/13/01 DISCONTINUED (see 3Com Website)

5/29/01 Updated unsupported firmware available from 3COM Support site.

5/24/01 Added info about AMIT/SMC firmware


 

The Stats


Check this page for a summary of the 3C510's features.

 

The Basics

Indicators
  • Link/Activity, for each of four LAN ports

  • Link/Activity  for the WAN port

  • Status

Connectors
  • One RJ45 10BaseT for the WAN

  • Four RJ45 auto sensing 10/100BaseT LAN

  • Power

  • Printer (25p female D parallel port)

  • COM (9p male D serial port)

Comes with
  • CD with PDF copy of User guide, and Windows printer sharing software

  • one page printed foldout "Installation Map"

  • two 10 foot Normal UTP cables

  • 100-240 VAC Power supply

Other
  • NO Hardware Reset switch

  • NO Uplink or Normal / Crossover switch for LAN Ports (see this page if this concerns you!)

  • Power switch!

 

Introduction


The 3Com Home Ethernet Gateway is essentially the same product as the SMC 4 port Barricade router, but in a stylish white case, older firmware, and access controls limited to four common services, and other feature omissions.

 

What's the difference

I took the boards for both products out of their cases and forgot to label them.  When it came time to reassemble them, I had to fire 'em up and look at the admin pages to tell which was which! D'oh!

Update 5/24/01 Tip: You can load AMIT or SMC firmware into your 3C510 (see this page), but remember you're on your own for tech support if you do!

If you're not familiar with what the SMC Barricade can do, check out the Asante FriendlyNet review (that was the first of the AMIT clones that I reviewed, so it has the most feature details), or check the Router Comparison chart.  I'll just focus on the differences:

- The 510 is based on AMIT's 1.89 version firmware.  At the time of review, SMC is at 1.91a.(read the Release Notes here). This means that some of the bugfixes that are in the SMC firmware are not in the 3Com's.  One that I got caught on is the problem that causes the router to keep the WAN port connection alive, regardless of the setting of the "Renew IP Address forever" checkbox.  My ISP connection stayed up all night as a result!  This was fixed in one of the 1.90x revisions.  There are other fixes in PPPoE functions that you won't get either until 3Com issues new firmware.

3Com Home Ethernet Gateway - Status screen

- 3Com has limited the Access Controls (they call it "Client Privileges") to just Web (HTTP), Email (POP3 and SMTP), FTP, and News.  You can assign users (by IP address) to one of four groups and block access to any of those services, or limit access to just those services.  You can't specify any other ports to control access to.

3Com Home Ethernet Gateway - Client Privleges screen

- The default IP address of the 510 is 192.168.2.1, but this can't be changed!  So if you're adding the 510 into an existing LAN, you may have problems if the other LAN devices aren't flexible in their IP address setup.

- You have limited control over the LAN DHCP server. You can enable or disable it, but can't set the starting address or range, can't enter a Domain name for the server to hand out to clients (handy for @Home users), and can't get a list of DHCP clients.

- You can connect up to 99 devices vs. the SMC's 253. (Of course you'll need to add the required ports by cascading hubs or switches.)

3Com Home Ethernet Gateway - Misc Item screen

That's about it for the differences.  Fortunately, 3Com left the built-in LPR compliant printserver, support for dialup WAN connection, and port mapping (both single and triggered port ranges) features alone!

 

Router Performance


Since I never ran the full Qcheck test suite on the SMC, I ran it on the 510 to see how it would do:

[Tests run with Ver 1.89f 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

4.8

4 avg.
5 max.

499

0%

LAN-WAN

4.4

4 avg.
5 max.

465

5%

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

Comments: Results are in-line with its siblings, and just dandy for most broadband use.

 

Summary


If you're going to be late to the party, as 3Com is with the "Home Gateway" market, then you should come to the party with something that folks will want!  The Home Ethernet Gateway may be a clone, but it's a clone of one of the best inexpensive routers on the market.  All 3Com needs to do is watch their pricing, get the missing features added by catching up to the latest AMIT firmware releases, and they should have a hit on their hands!

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