A couple of weeks ago, we reviewed the Edimax nLITE USB wireless adaptor, and we were pretty impressed with it. We have now managed to get our hands on the other half of the wireless networking equation and we will be taking a very close look at it here. First let's find out a little bit about Edimax and what they have to say on the product we are reviewing, their flagship router, the Edimax nMax Wireless 802.11n Gigabit Router, also known as the Edimax BR-6574n.
Edimax Technology was founded in Taiwan, in 1986. They specialise in the design, manufacture and marketing of neworking equipment. Their headquarters are based in Taipei County, Taiwan, and the company maintains branch offices in Miami, San Jose, Beijing, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Poland, Romania and most recently, France and Russia. All Edimax's products are CE, FCC and C-Tick emission certified and driver compatibility tests are being performed by Microsoft, Novell and NSTL. In 2003, the company was ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 certified, further ensuring the highest quality of products and services. Their mission statement is pretty clear: 'Networking People Together'.
Edimax BR-6574n Overview:
• Complies with 300Mbps wireless 802.11b/g/n standards
• Built-in 1WAN+4LAN 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet Ports
• Supports Multi-language EZmax Setup Wizard to setup Internet connection, ESSID, wireless security and perform firmware upgrade
• Supports Edimax EZView central bandwidth management
• Supports DDNS, DMZ, Virtual Server and QoS
• 1 WAN + 4 LAN 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet Ports
• LED Indicators: Power, WAN, LAN and LNK/ACT
• 3dBi RP-SMA Detachable Antenna x 3
• WPS / Reset Button
• Supports Remote Management
• Supports EZView Management
• System Status and Security Log (Web Interface)
• Firmware Upgradeable
• DC 12V, 1A
• Supports cable/xDSL modem
• WAN protocol: PPPoE/Static IP/PPTP/Dynamic IP/ L2TP
• Multi-language EZMax Setup Wizard
• 4 MB NOR Flash
• 16 MB SDRAM
• NAT/NAPT IP Sharing
• 64/128-bit WEP Encryption and WPA-PSK, WPA2- PSK security
• DHCP Server/Client
• SPI Anti-Dos Firewall
• 11n: 16±1dBm, 11g: 16±1dBm
• 11n (40MHz): -68dBm
• 11n (20MHz): -71dBm,
• 11g: -74dBm, 11b: -87dBm
• 0~45 Degree Celsius
• Supports AP , AP Client , Bridge , WDS and
• Universal Repeater mode
• Port Triggering for Special Applications
• DDNS (DynDNS, TZO)
• Virtual Server and DMZ
• Access Control List and URL Blocking
• Static Routing
• VPN Pass Through (IPSec/PPTP)
• 192 x 115 x 29 mm
• CE, FCC
• Windows OS (98SE/ME/NT/2000/2003/XP/Vista)
• Mac OS X
So now its time to have a close look at what you get for your hard earned cash, starting with the packaging and contents on the next page.
The Edimax nMax Wireless 802.11n Gigabit Router comes supplied in a cardboard box. The box front exterior is printed with all the main features of the router and a nice shot of the router itself. On the reverse, there are translations of the major features, in most European languages. In all, the exterior packaging conveys a clean and simple theme, and is quite attractive and eye catching.
No nasty surprises with the overall package, and everything is taken care of to ensure the contents make it home nice and safely from the shop shelf. As I said, it is attractively packaged, and the product should stand out well on the shop shelf.
Moving on, let's take a closer look at the router itself, on the next page.
When we reviewed Edimax's nLITE wireless adaptor, we passed comment on the Apple-esque looks of it, and the same holds true with the BR-6574n. It has a clean and simple look to it, which I personally love. There are no garish or overly bold statements to be found on the router, and everything to be found on it serves a purpose, with the exception of some simple branding.
Located on the front of the router is a greyish brown panel, which features some LED lit displays that give connection status and network activity information. It also has the router name and model featured on the left hand side. This panel is in keeping with the simple style and works well.
On the rear panel, you will see the power supply input socket, 4x gigabit ethernet sockets and 1x WAN ethernet socket. There are also the 3 mounts for the wireless adaptors and the WPS / Reset button, which we will discuss further later on in the review.
The Edimax BR-6574n is also supplied with a base, which clips on to the underside of the router and allows for vertical placement of the router.
On the whole, I really like the styling of the product, and it looks very clean and simple. I personally don't like products that are over complicated or try to make too bold a statement in terms of styling. The white colour may not be to everyones taste, but if you don't mind this, then the router looks well on a desktop, and I would not feel the need to hide it as I have with other routers.
Time to take a look at the install / setup process now on the next page.
Setting up the router using Edimax EZmax
Edimax claim that the router is very simple to set up, using the EZmax setup wizard software supplied on the installation CD. We shall take a closer look to see whether these claims hold true or not.
Upon inserting the CD you are greeted with the language selection page. Once the relevant selection is made, you will then land on the EZmax Wizard home page. From here, you run the wizard, view the PDF manual or update the router's firmware. for the purposes of the review, we went straight to the setup wizard.
Once you begin the setup, a diagram is shown, which shows correct ethernet cable placement. The wizard will then ask you to confirm you have connected the cables correctly, before moving on to the next stage.
The next step will ask you to confirm the exact model of your router, and then you are asked to set a password for the router, which will allow access to the router's settings home page.
Next steps are to confirm the type of modem you will be using with the router, which in my case was a Virgin Cable modem. You are then asked to set a host name and to enter the MAC address from your ISP (if supplied). If you don't have a MAC address from your ISP, you can clone the PC's MAC instead.
After all the steps above have been taken, the router will begin to establish the internet connection. It took a couple of minutes in my case, but worked without any hitches.
Finally, we come to the basic security setting for the wireless connection. You can set a memorable ESSID (Extended Service Set Identifier), which will allow you to easily identify your wireless network when connecting from a client PC. You can then set a WPA Pre Share Key, which will be asked for when connecting from a client PC. One you have completed all this, the router is then ready to go. You can enter the routers setting home page (via an internet browser) to make further advanced settings changes.
In all, the EZmax setup wizard worked flawlessly, and getting the router up and running really was both quick and simple. Options where a networking novice may stumble were clearly explained, and the PDF manual goes more into detail should it be required. There are enough options within the wizard to ensure that the connection is functioning correctly and the wireless connection is secured. It should be remembered though, that there are alot of features of the router that may need configuring in the browser based advanced settings.
So with that, lets take a look on the next page.
Advanced Features & Settings
The BR-6574n has a wealth of features available through it's browser based home page. This is easily accessed using any internet browser and entering the router's IP address. For the inexperienced, the EZmax setup wizard will do everything that you need to in order to establish the internet connection, and secure the wireless network. However, for the more experienced and/or the adventureous, the browser based setup pages unveil some powerful features. I shall take a closer look at a few of these features now.
This can be tweaked to allow or deny any specified PC's access to your network though the useage of MAC and IP filtering. You can also block specified PC's from accessing specified websites, which are defined by either URL or even certain keywords. For example, if you were to use the word 'sex' as a keyword filter, any URL with this keyword present would automatically be blocked on your chosen PC. As a family man, I consider this a great feature as it gives an extra level of protection when my kids are internet browsing. The router also offers the usual DoS (Denial of Service) protection features present in most modern routers.
Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
WPS is intended to make the job of securing a wireless network much easier and less intimidating for those who are inexperienced. The BR-6574n features support for both PIN and PBC method of WPS. Basically, any Wi-Fi Protected Setup certified product must feaure at least the PIN method, and this works by entering a PIN found on the wireless adaptor into the relevant section in the WPS settings. The PIN can be seen on either a sticker, a display or through the adaptors software. Once you have entered the PIN, the wireless network would be secured.
The other method is PBC, and this is the simplest. as long as the router and the wireless adaptor both support PBC based WPS, you would just need to press the relevant buttons on both the router and the adaptor to secure the wireless network. The button can be an actual hardware button, or a virtual one through the devices controlling software. In the case of the BR6574n, the WPS button also doubles up as the reset button, and there is a virtual button on the routers home page settings. It really is as simple as that, and this is a welcome addition to the BR-6574n.
Within the NAS settings you will find a section labelled 'Special Applications'. Some games and applications require multiple connections to the internet, and would not work with Network Address Translation (NAS enabled.) To get around this problem, you can specify the open ports that are needed by the application within this section. To make life even easier, there is a drop down list of some popular games and applications within the settings page, and you would just need to select which application or game you wish to open ports for, and which PC the rule would apply to. Once this is done, the relevant ports would be opened automatically. Although the list is not extensive, there are quite a few options there, and Edimax could expand on this list in future Firmware updates. If the application isn't in the drop down list, then you can set the port setting manually.
This isn't an extensive list of advanced features of the BR-6574n, we would need to spend alot more time to give a detailed description on each and every feature. Suffice to say that everything you would need to tweak when using a router is included. The settings home pages are laid out clearly and concisely. Information on each option is given and it is good to see Edimax have put some effort into this. On the whole, I am very satisfied with the advanced features, and the way in which you access them.
Now it's time to see how the BR-6574n performs, on the next page.
Testing the BR-6574n
Here is our test system setup:
Testing of data transfer rates
I will be transferring a 701MB AVI file from the host to the client PC, testing the router for data transfer rates. The transfer will be run at 802.11n mode and via gigabit ethernet. At the time of writing this review, I did not have another router to be able to draw comparisons with, but the test results will be a good indicator of performance. As the only wireless 802.11n adaptor I had to hand was the Edimax nLite USB adaptor, the maximum data rate would be limited by the wireless adaptor to 150Mbps. Full speed 802.11n offers a maximum of 300Mbps, and the router is capable of this.
Testing of Wireless Signal Strength
As in the previous test, I can only test the router's wireless signal strength at 802.11g and half speed 802.11n modes. The results will still indicate the improvement of 802.11n in terms of signal strength though. I set fixed locations at set distances from the router and recorded the strength in dBm. It should be mentioned that the results shown here are not conclusive, as environmental factors can affect results. I tested in a victorian, 2 story house, with solid brick partitioning walls, and it does put any wireless network through it's paces.
The router clearly offers an increase in working range when in 802.11n mode, and I did not experience any network drop outs in either 11n or 11g mode anywhere within my property, something I have experienced with other routers and wireless adaptors. The data transfer rates were entirely acceptable, and the wireless connection would have shown an increased speed if I had been able to use a full speed 802.11n adaptor.
On the next page, I will give my final thoughts and scores.
The Edimax nLite Wireless 802.11n Gigabit router has some great features that other, more expensive, routers lack. It is also very easy to configure, thanks to the EZmax wizard. The router looks great either laid flat on stood vertically, and the LED status display is simple, yet effective. The router sports 5x Gigabit Ethernet ports (1x WAN, 4x LAN), and this helps keep data transfers nippy. The data transfer speeds aren't going to break any records, but they are still quite respectable, as was the working range of the router. As I said, I have often had problems within my property with connection drop-outs, and I have never experienced any since using the BR-6574n.
There are a few things I want to mention though, one of these being the fact that the router cannot transmit over the 5Ghz bands, and is restricted to 2.4Ghz. This won't be a real problem unless your location is one which experiences radio interference.It should also be mentioned that this router does not have a built in modem. You would need to connect your modem to the router via the Ethernet WAN port to be able to establish an internet connection. For cable ISP connection users like myself, this is normal and not a problem.
All in all, I am very pleased with the BR-6574n. I have been using the router for a few weeks now, and I have nothing bad to report. I even managed to get a reliable wireless connection to my garage, something I have struggled with for the last two years. At the price point the router is at, I feel it would make a very worthy contender for anyone wishing to upgrade from an 802.11b/g router, or anyone considering going wireless for the first time. There are other routers out there that will beat the BR-6574 in features and performance, but you should expect to pay alot more for them.
The Edimax nLite Wireless 802,11n Gigabit router is available to purchase from Novatech for £59.98.
+ Very easy to set up.
+ Styling - Simple and effective.
+ Good data transfer rates & signal strength.
+ Very reasonably priced.
+ WPA RADIUS encryption
* White may not be to everyones tastes, but thats a personal choice.
* Cannot transmit over 5Ghz bands.
- Nothing to report
Our thanks go out to Edimax for kindly providing us with this review sample. Discuss this review in our forums.