Netgear D6300 WiFi Modem Router Review
A tale of two bands?
IntroductionIt’s getting to the point where if your house doesn’t have a fast home network you're laughed at for not living in the modern age and are somehow missing out, almost like those strange breed of people who don’t have a TV and don't even miss it! With a vast array of devices such as TVs, Blu-ray players, Apple TV boxes and the like all requiring an internet connection, a fast home network is now essential. But getting that fast home network can sometimes be a struggle and often involve a great deal of expense.
There are many solutions to this issue, from devices such as Powerline convertors to get network access to those hard to reach areas, as well as wireless range extenders. The traditional home router is also now providing a number of solutions, with options such as the latest 802.11ac Wireless, dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wireless access and various other features. The Netgear D6300 is one such solution, a WiFi Modem Router offering Dual Band Gigabit wireless with the new IEEE 802.11ac standard and numerous other features such as accessing a connected USB hard drive remotely and turning a plain old USB printer into a wireless one. It sounds impressive, so lets see if our expectations are met.
Design and ConnectionsThe overall design will be one that is familiar to fans of Netgear’s products. It’s a look we do like here at AVForums, with a sleek black gloss finish and a lit Netgear logo to the front. It’s not a small unit by any means but it is very light, as is often the case with routers these days. Compare it to the new BT HomeHub 5 for example and it is about twice as high. However, it’s not going to look out of place alongside your other equipment if you aren’t like the majority who have their router hidden in a corner.
To the front we have five LED lights which, from left to right, illuminate to show that the device has power, the DSL connection is active, the internet connection is working, wireless is enabled and finally that a USB device is connected. To the rear we have 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port for connection to a cable or fibre modem, the ADSL telephone line connection and a USB 2.0 port for connection of an external USB key or drive. Lastly to the left side we find another USB 2.0 port, the Push ‘N’ Connect WPS button and a button to turn the WiFi on and off. For a modern product it’s slightly disappointing to only see USB 2.0 ports and for BT Infinity users the lack of a VDSL modem is a particular oversight, but other than that a full array of Gigabit Ethernet ports is welcome.
The D6300 has a familiar black design and it's one we like.
Setup and FeaturesNetgear along with a couple of the other home networking manufacturers do seem to excel in the easy installation and setup of their various products and the D6300 Router is no exception to this trend. Our internet is provided by BT Infinity and the installation was as easy as we have come to expect from Netgear. You simply connect the Ethernet cable from the BT Infinity modem to the D6300’s modem Ethernet port, fire the device up and open a web browser. The easy setup guide will now start asking you to enter your Broadband’s username and password and after a short while it will all be up and running. As simple as that.
The features of the Router are impressive. Firstly we have simultaneous dual band 2.4GHz (up to 300Mbps) and 5GHz (up to 1300Mbps). The high figure you will note on the 5GHz band is thanks to the new 802.11ac standard that this router employs which claims to be up to 3 times faster than the old 802.11n standard. Dual band routers are particularly useful if you are in an area containing many wireless signals. Whilst the 5GHz band doesn’t tend to cover the same distance as 2.4GHz, if you find your wireless signal dropping or speeds suffering due to interference changing bands usually solves those problems.
The router uses the very simple interface called Netgear Genie. This is also available as a standalone program along with an App for your mobile device. It shows an overview of the current status of the various features such as the wireless and parental controls and several other basic options to change the wireless key, internet connection settings and configure the access to a USB hard drive connected to the router for example. Alongside this we also have the advanced settings providing access to all the settings you would expect to find on any competent router. The basic Netgear Genie screen gives a very simple and easy to use method of changing various options, if you don’t feel too confident delving into the advance settings which for general use you may never need to alter anyway.
The other features are ones that will be familiar to users of Netgear routers but may have slipped under the radar for many. We do find them to be very useful so they are worthy of a mention. Firstly you have the ReadyShare Printer feature. By simply connecting a standard USB printer to one of the ports on the D6300 router, it will instantly (well almost) turn it into a wireless printer that you can print to from any compatible device. The next feature is the ReadyShare USB access. With a USB hard drive connected to one of the ports on the Router, you can share the contents wirelessly and to any other compatible wired device on your network. A very simple solution for a basic media server.
The next feature that follows on from the ReadyShare USB access is the ReadyShare Cloud. With a USB drive connected to the Router you can now access the files remotely. To do this you need to sign up for a free ReadyShare Cloud account which is a simple process and once logged in you can access the drives contents remotely. There are many options for security and configuration of files and folders to control who can access what, if you have more than one ReadyShare cloud user for example. The final feature to mention is that the router also offers DLNA access to any media files on connected DLNA compatible TVs and games consoles for example.
Performance and TestingOur usual setup is via a BT Home Hub 5, but to be fair to all devices our review location is particularly difficult to get Wi-Fi around the house and does offer a particularly tough test to any wireless devices we review. The tests were carried out on a basic laptop with a BT 802.11ac wireless dongle. The general results after several days of using the router were that we had no issues with losing the internet signal or the router performing random resets and changing your IP address, which can cause issues if you use the likes of Netflix with UnblockUS.
Firstly we'll look at the 5GHz band and here the results were very impressive. On previous routers with 5GHz that we've reviewed, the range has been quite short, but on this router we still had a signal at distances where it normally would have disappeared. At 1m from the router we received our full BT Infinity speed of 41.16Mbps which then dropped slightly at 8m to 41.02Mbps (on the same floor with a couple of walls for the signal to go through). The most impressive was in a room upstairs where the signal is normally intermittent and we still received 41.03Mbps. This is about 7m from the router but through several walls and the 1st floor.
Now onto the 2.4Ghz band and the results were ok, but not as impressive as the 5Ghz band. At 1m we received the same as the 5Ghz band of 41.16Mbps then a slight drop at 8m to 40.22Mbps but the biggest drop came in our test room upstairs which dropped to 21.76Mbps. Although that is still a reasonable speed.
Onto the file transfer testing and this is where our biggest disappointment came. At 1m from the router we could manage 147.4Mpbs on 5Ghz and 117.4Mbps on 2.4Ghz. This then dropped further in our upstairs location to 90.3Mbps on 5Ghz and just 20Mbps on 2.4Ghz. Whilst the 147.4Mbps speeds we received are comfortable enough for multiple HD streaming and the like, it was disappointing that we got nowhere near the 1300Mbps speeds plastered all over the box and the marketing materials. To be honest we didn’t expect to get anywhere near it anyway as these quoted speeds are always extremely optimistic but a decent effort wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Testing the range with our iPhone 5 (which doesn’t have 802.11ac) and the results were similar to our previous findings. We get a reasonable 5GHz signal but a much weaker 2.4Ghz signal. At distances where the 5Ghz signal was still visible, the 2.4Ghz had gone altogether. This perhaps tallies with the technical specifications which show a 3x3 antenna array for the 5Ghz but only a 2x2 array for the 2.4Ghz. The speeds were not as good though which would suggest that if you are considering this router, which can be found for about £150 currently, it would be much more useful if you have 802.11ac capable devices.
The 5Ghz performance was outstanding with 40+Mbps being received in areas where there's normally no signal at all.
- Excellent 802.11ac performance
- Easy to setup and install
- Great user interface
- Poor 802.11n performance
- Weak 2.4Ghz signal
- No VDSL modem
Netgear D6300 WiFi Modem Router Review
The recent introduction of the new 802.11ac standard has certainly brought with it a whole host of new routers from various manufacturers offering speeds up to previously unheard of levels of 1300Mbps. But as with any new technology the price is currently at a premium. The Netgear D6300 is listed at £239.99 but thankfully it is widely available for much less. If you shop around it can be found for about £150 which is comparable to other 802.11ac routers on the market such as the Asus RT-AC662. But the always competitive TP-LINK does offer an 802.11ac router for just under £100.
As with all Netgear products we have reviewed the installation and setup could not be any easier. You simply connect the devices up as instructed, turn them on and the online setup guide will take you through the very simple options. Literally within 3 minutes, the router is up and running with a live internet signal. The additional Netgear features such as the ReadyShare USB option allowing you to access a connected USB drive anywhere on the network or even remotely and the ReadyShare Printer which turns a standard USB printer into a wireless one work very well and are good additions to the overall package.
One area where we feel Netgear have definitely missed a trick on is the lack of a VDSL modem. For new BT Infinity users with the HomeHub5 which has an integrated modem, this makes the D6300 a completely unusable product. Fortunately we had a modem that came with our HomeHub3 to use, but you definitely need to keep this in mind if you are considering this router. It claims on the box to be ‘BT Ready – Future proof your network’ but without VDSL for Infinity that’s not too helpful.
As for performance if you have any devices with 802.11ac then this router is definitely one we would recommend. The performance on the 5GHz band was outstanding with the full 40+Mbps of our internet connection received at areas where normally no signal at all would be found. A slight drop on the 2.4GHz band but still good. The file transfer tests were sadly as we expected, so don’t expect to get anywhere near 1300Mbps as we maxed out at just 147.4Mbps. Obviously that’s nowhere near the speeds quoted but a 1GB file for example was transferred in under a minute. More than fast enough for HD streaming and similar.
But for devices without 802.11ac the results were very disappointing. The 2.4GHz band had an especially poor range and signal quality. Due to the lower amplification with just a 2x2 antenna array we found the signal was lost in places that normally a good signal would be received. The 5Ghz band was slightly better but overall if you have no 802.11ac compatible devices you may not be too impressed with the D6300 router.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £239.99
Ease of Use10
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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