SMC7004VWBR 2.4GHz Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router Review

Wireless Details

The wireless feature set is pretty basic, letting you set just ESSID, transmit rate, and channel (you can also set the wireless base rate, but the User Manual and help were not very instructive with regard to what this setting really does). Security features are limited to enabling 64 or 128 bit WEP, with no MAC address Association control, ability to disable ESSID broadcast, or deny clients using "ANY" or "default" as their ESSIDs. Make sure you write down the WEP keys that you put into the VWBR, too, because it neither stores them in clear text, nor lets you save or load them to/from a file.

Wireless Performance

My wireless performance testing revealed both good and bad news. The good was that, paired with my standard ORiNOCO Gold PC card test client, it performed well under all four test conditions, with throughput staying consistently above 4Mbps. The bad news was that I measured a 30% throughput reduction with WEP enabled, enough to give some users pause in enabling it. (I still recommend running with WEP-enabled unless you want to make your LAN available to anyone who comes into range.)

Routing performance was pretty much in line with that of the non-wireless VBR, with one exception. The VWBR ran the UDP streaming tests in both WAN-LAN and LAN-WAN directions without incident, and with essentially no performance degradation. (The VBR would not complete the LAN-WAN UDP streaming tests.) I hope that means that the VWBR won't have the DMZ and port-forwarding problems that have been plaguing some owners of the VBR, but I'll have to wait for user reports to come in before I'll know for sure.

802.11b Wireless Performance Test Results

Test Conditions

- WEP encryption: DISABLED
- Tx Rate: Automatic
- Power Save: Disabled
- Test Partner: ORiNOCO Gold PC Card

Firmware/Driver Versions

AP f/w:
V1.00 (Jun 27 2002)
Wireless client driver:
7.42 Variant 2
Wireless client f/w:
No Info

Test DescriptionSNR (dB)Transfer Rate (Mbps)Response Time (msec)UDP stream
Throughput (kbps)Lost data (%)
Client to AP - Condition 1554.55 [No WEP]
3.14 [w/ WEP]
176 (avg)
253 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 2444.46179 (avg)
264 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 3264.44180 (avg)
321 (max)
Client to AP - Condition 4254.45180 (avg)
267 (max)
See details of how we test.