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NETGEAR WNDR3800

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NETGEAR WNDR3800

Introduction

Description on the box of NETGEAR WNDR3800 we feature for review today says that the device possesses a kind of 'premium' functionality. We are not really planning to find out how premium its functionality is, but we will try to provide you with the most detailed insight on it and test its performance. Let's get started!

External design

NETGEAR WNDR3800 wireless router comes in a plastic case which consists of two parts. The dominant colours are black, dark grey, and maroon. The upper panel of the device is glazed, whilst the bottom one is opaque. Unfortunately, we can't help but to mention that the glazed plastic the case is made of may be easily scratched so that under certain illumination one can see all scratches.

The model under review can be placed on a table horizontally or vertically, or mounted on a wall. A single-purpose support stand that is used for vertical placement of the device on the table comes in the box. To work properly WNDR3800 needs an external power unit with the following characteristics: 12 V and 2,5 А.

The upper panel (when the device is mounted horizontally) has a 3D brand tag. Side panels are not remarkable at all.

The front panel has LEDs indicating the device status, as well those of its wired ports and wireless modules, and two buttons: one ON/OFF button for Wi-Fi and the other one for facilitating the wireless user connection procedure (WPS).

On the rear side there are five Gigabit Ethernet ports (one of them is WAN and the rest are LAN), USB 2.0 port, and a power socket with ON/OFF button.

The bottom side has four rubber legs used for table mounting and two tooling holes used to mount the device on the wall. Also, a sticker with brief information about the device can be found over here. Sunken Reset button used to reset the user settings is located on this panel too.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the case.

Hardware

The hardware platform of the model under review is one green textolite card where elements are located on either side. Two tiny additional cards perform functions of antennae.

NETGEAR WNDR3800 wireless router is powered by a MIPS Atheros AR7161 CPU, and its flow chart is presented below.

Realtek RTL8366SR chip serves as a wired GE switch. Two Hynix H5DU5162ETR-E3C modules, with the size of 64 Mbytes each, act as the device RAM, making the total RAM of WNDR3800 128 Mbytes.

That is where we bring the review of the device hardware platform to a conclusion: all other components are covered with a metal screen and are inaccessible for review.

Firmware upgrade and supportive utilities

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Update group, Administration menu item of the web-interface advanced mode. Firmware upgrade may be carried out both in a manual and semi-automatic mode. In case of the latter the router gets connected to the vendor's server and checks for a newer firmware all by itself. In order to upgrade the firmware manually a user will need to download the firmware upgrade file and then upload it to the device. The whole firmware upgrade process takes about three minutes and does not require any technical proficiency from an administrator.

It would be fair to notice that there are alternative firmwares, for example DD-WRT, that may be used with NETGEAR WNDR3800. DD-WRT firmware is installed in two steps. The user needs to upload the initiate image to the device and then the firmware will be updated automatically. The firmware upgrade process is reviewed in detail on the website of the developers of the alternative firmware.

However, it's worth noticing that we could not change to DD-WRT using 1.0.0.44 firmware by NETGEAR and we had to install an older version, 1.0.0.16, as v24-sp2 (03/25/13) firmware incorrectly identified the router we used as WNDR3700 v2.

The user can change to the official firmware by uploading the applicable firmware in Firmware Upgrade group, Administration menu item, basic mode.

The method we just mentioned didn't work for us and we could not change to the factory firmware. Instead of it we had to change the router to the recovery mode (it's on when Power indicator is flashing and you can change to it by pushing Reset button for several seconds while the device is booting) to transfer the firmware through TFTP. It's worth noticing that this method of firmware recovery will also come in handy if a failure during the upgrade process took place upon usage of the official firmware.

C:\>tftp -i 192.168.1.1 put c:\WNDR3800-V1.0.0.44.img
Successfully sent: 11141313 bytes for 4 sec., 2785328 bytes/s

The user can also use the vendor's website to download software used for facilitation of the installation of a data carrier as an HDD or a printer connected to the device USB-port.

Now let's pass on to a brief review of the web-interface capabilities of the device.

Web-interface

We decided not to review all capabilities of the web-interface of NETGEAR WNDR3800 in detail in this review since they are quite similar to the ones we have already seen in WNDR4500 and R6300. The device web-interface is available in 22 languages and operates in one of the two modes: basic and advanced. Basic mode allows the user performing the primary tasks such as reviewing the router status, managing WAN connection parameters and wireless module settings, and granting access to an external data carrier connected to the device USB-port.

Advanced operation mode of the web-interface allows the user to manage settings of wired and wireless network segments, as well as those of connection to the Internet, more accurately. The above-mentioned settings are located in Setup menu item.

Groups in USB Storage menu item are used to manage operation of a flash card.

By using Security menu item the user can limit the list of websites that may be accessed and manage access to various services and utilities. Groups in Administration menu item are used to review logs, manage user settings, and upgrade firmware.

Wireless Settings, Wireless AP, and Wireless Repeating Station groups in Advanced Setup menu item allow the user to manage the wireless module very accurately and select its operation mode.

All other groups in this menu item are used to manage DDNS, port forwarding, static routing, USB-port, maintain support of IPv6, and estimate the user traffic count.

That is where we bring a brief review of NETGEAR WNDR3800 router web-interface to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its command line.

Command line

Access to the router command line is prohibited by default. One can access it using a standard utility for NETGEAR devices called telnetenable. The only thing we would like to point out is absence of a password upon connection via telnet.

=== IMPORTANT ============================
Use 'passwd' to set your login password
this will disable telnet and enable SSH
------------------------------------------
BusyBox v1.4.2 (2012-12-04 18:24:49 CST) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
_______                     ________        __
|       |.-----.-----.-----.|  |  |  |.----.|  |_
|   -   ||  _  |  -__|     ||  |  |  ||   _||   _|
|_______||   __|_____|__|__||________||__|  |____|
|__| W I R E L E S S   F R E E D O M
KAMIKAZE (7.09) -----------------------------------
* 10 oz Vodka       Shake well with ice and strain
* 10 oz Triple sec  mixture into 10 shot glasses.
* 10 oz lime juice  Salute!
---------------------------------------------------
root@WNDR3800:/#

BusyBox 1.4.2 library is installed in Linux 2.6.15.

root@WNDR3800:/# busybox
BusyBox v1.4.2 (2012-12-04 18:24:49 CST) multi-call binary
Copyright (C) 1998-2006   Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, and others.
Licensed under GPLv2.   See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
or: [function] [arguments]...
BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
utilities into a single executable.  Most people will create a
link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
will act like whatever it was invoked as!
Currently defined functions:
[, [[, addgroup, adduser, ash, awk, cat, chmod, chown,
cp, crond, crontab, cut, date, dd, delgroup, deluser,
df, dirname, echo, egrep, env, expr, fdisk, fgrep, find,
free, fuser, grep, halt, head, hexdump, ifconfig, init,
insmod, ip, ipaddr, iplink, iproute, iptunnel, kill, killall,
killall5, klogd, ln, logger, logread, ls, lsmod, md5sum,
mkdir, mknod, mount, mv, nice, passwd, pidof, ping, ping6,
pivot_root, poweroff, printf, ps, pwd, reboot, rm, rmdir,
rmmod, route, sed, sh, sleep, strings, su, switch_root,
sync, syslogd, tar, test, tftp, touch, traceroute, umount,
usleep, wc, wget, zcip
root@WNDR3800:/# cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.15 (josn@dnisw3) (gcc version 3.4.4 (OpenWrt-2.0)) #1 Tue Dec 4 19:26:56 CST 2012

Let's see what processes are currently running via ps command.

root@WNDR3800:/# ps
PID  Uid     VmSize Stat Command
1 root        392 S   init
2 root            SWN [ksoftirqd/0]
3 root            SW< [events/0]
4 root            SW< [khelper]
5 root            SW< [kthread]
9 root            SW< [kblockd/0]
12 root            SW< [khubd]
53 root            SW  [pdflush]
54 root            SW  [pdflush]
56 root            SW< [aio/0]
55 root            SW  [kswapd0]
651 root            SW  [mtdblockd]
758 root        284 S   klogd
762 root        304 S   datalib
890 root        108 S   /usr/sbin/potval
1036 root        240 S   udhcpd /tmp/udhcpd.conf
1040 root        208 S   /usr/sbin/net-scan
1058 root        276 S   /usr/sbin/lld2d br0
1113 root        140 S   udhcpc -b -i br1 -h WNDR3800 -r 0.0.0.0
1158 root        324 S   /usr/sbin/dnsmasq -r /tmp/resolv.conf
1166 root        340 S   crond -c /tmp/etc/crontabs -T GMT-3
1192 root        332 S   /usr/sbin/miniupnpd
1206 root        932 S   uhttpd -e /usr/sbin/detwan
1209 root        136 S   inetd
1223 root        932 S   uhttpd -e /usr/sbin/detwan
1224 root        932 S   uhttpd -e /usr/sbin/detwan
3105 root        680 S   hostapd /var/run/topology.conf
3170 root        364 S   syslogd -m 0 -T GMT-3 -c 511
3187 root        236 S   /usr/sbin/ntpclient
3192 root        336 S   crond -c /tmp/etc/crontabs -T GMT-3
3212 root        272 R   /usr/sbin/utelnetd -d -i br0
3234 root        556 S   /bin/ash --login
3286 root       1012 S N /usr/sbin/afpd -F /etc/netatalk/afpd_RU.conf -P /var/
3287 root        452 S   /bin/sh /usr/sbin/send_wol 300
3296 root        860 S   avahi-daemon: running [WNDR3800.local]
3326 root        316 S   /sbin/traffic_meter
3347 root        144 S   /usr/sbin/net-disk
3348 root        284 S   hotplug2 --persistent --coldplug
3358 root            SW  [ telnetDBGD ]
3361 root            SW  [ acktelnetDBGD ]
3362 root            SW  [checkSBusTimeou]
3365 root            DW  [NU INITSOCK]
3366 root            SW  [NU UDP]
3367 root            SW  [NU TCP]
3375 root        212 S   init
4689 root        324 S   sleep 300
4691 root        424 R   ps

Let's find out what kind of content /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin catalogues have.

root@WNDR3800:/# ls /bin
addgroup   cp         egrep      iptunnel   mv         rmdir      uci
adduser    datalib    fgrep      kill       nice       sed        umount
ash        date       grep       ln         pidof      sh         usleep
busybox    dd         ip         login      ping       sleep
cat        delgroup   ipaddr     ls         ping6      su
chmod      deluser    ipcalc.sh  mkdir      ps         sync
chown      df         iplink     mknod      pwd        tar
config     echo       iproute    mount      rm         touch
root@WNDR3800:/#
root@WNDR3800:/# ls /sbin
80211stats                      insmod
ant_set                         ipconflict
app_mount                       klogd
artmtd                          ledcontrol
athstats                        logread
athstatsclr                     lsmod
cfg                             mtd
cgiMain                         net-util
cmd_autoreset                   pivot_root
cmd_ddns                        pktlogconf
cmd_ebtables                    pktlogdump
cmd_sipalg                      poweroff
cmd_traffic_meter               printhosts
cmddlna                         qos.sh
cmdftp                          radartool
cmdigmp                         reboot
cmdroute                        rmmod
cmdsched                        route
cmdsched_wlan_status            rs_send
cmdupnp                         run-ramfs
detwanv6                        switch_root
dfs_set_rate                    syslogd
dni_apup                        tfm_led
fdisk                           traffic_meter
fetchPIN                        udevtrigger
generate_traffic_meter_conf     udhcpc
get-default-wan-mac-from-flash  udhcpd
halt                            umount_unapproved
hotplug-call                    update-wifi
hotplug2                        usb-storage
hotplug2.mount                  viewer
hotplug2.testbusy               wan_debug
hotplug2.umount                 wifi
ifconfig                        wlan
ifdown                          wlanconfig
ifup                            wps_led_control
igmpproxy                       wpsled
init                            zcip
root@WNDR3800:/#
root@WNDR3800:/# ls /usr/bin
[              dirname        fusermount     md5sum         strings
[[             env            head           ntfs-3g        test
awk            expr           hexdump        ntfs-3g.probe  tftp
crontab        find           killall        passwd         traceroute
cut            free           killall5       printf         wc
detcable       fuser          logger         smbpasswd      wget
root@WNDR3800:/#
root@WNDR3800:/# ls /usr/sbin
afpd                 inetd                remote_smb_conf
afppasswd            ip6tables            restart_ap_udhcpc
avahi-autoipd        ipp                  ripd
avahi-daemon         iptables             ripngd
avahi-dnsconfd       iwconfig             runfuppes
brctl                iwgetid              select_partition
chkfuppes            iwlist               send_wol
cmd_cron             iwpriv               smbd
cnid_dbd             iwspy                smtpclient
cnid_metad           lld2d                stamac
crond                minidlna             tc
detach_afp_shares    miniupnpd            telnetenable
detwan               monitor_smbd         uhttpd
dev-scan             net-disk             update_afp
dhcp6c               net-dump             update_smb
dhcp6ctl             net-scan             update_usb_led
dhcp6s               net-wall             update_user
dni-bandwidth-check  nmbd                 usb_cfg
dns-hijack           ntpclient            usbled
dnsmasq              ntpst                utelnetd
dsyslog              potd                 vol_id
ebtables             potval               wget_netgear
ebtables-restore     ppp-nas              wol
ebtables-save        pppd                 wpatalk
ez-ipupdate          proftpd              zebra
fuppes               radvd
hostapd              radvdump

Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM.

root@WNDR3800:/proc# ls
1                 3348              br_iptv_port      meminfo
1036              3358              buddyinfo         misc
1040              3361              bus               modules
1058              3362              cmdline           mounts
1113              3365              cpuinfo           mtd
1158              3366              crypto            net
1166              3367              devices           partitions
1192              3375              diskstats         pci
12                4                 driver            scsi
1206              4712              execdomains       self
1209              4713              filesystems       simple_config
1223              5                 fs                slabinfo
1224              53                igmpsnoop         stat
2                 54                interrupts        switch_collision
3                 55                iomem             switch_led
3105              56                ioports           switch_phy
3170              651               irq               sys
3187              758               kallsyms          sysvipc
3192              762               kcore             tty
3212              890               kmsg              uptime
3234              9                 lan_prio          usbled
3286              MFS               led_mode          version
3287              NetUSB            loadavg           vmstat
3296              ath_attached_dev  locks             widi
3326              ath_pktlog        mcast             zoneinfo
3347              br_iptv_enable    mcast_set
root@WNDR3800:/proc#
root@WNDR3800:/proc# cat uptime
1353.80 1318.73
root@WNDR3800:/proc#
root@WNDR3800:/proc# cat loadavg
1.00 0.97 0.74 1/47 4715
root@WNDR3800:/proc#
root@WNDR3800:/proc# cat cpuinfo
system type             : Atheros AR7100 (hydra)
processor               : 0
cpu model               : MIPS 24K V7.4
BogoMIPS                : 451.58
wait instruction        : yes
microsecond timers      : yes
tlb_entries             : 16
extra interrupt vector  : yes
hardware watchpoint     : yes
ASEs implemented        : mips16
VCED exceptions         : not available
VCEI exceptions         : not available
root@WNDR3800:/proc#
root@WNDR3800:/proc# cat meminfo
MemTotal:       126824 kB
MemFree:         83360 kB
Buffers:          3592 kB
Cached:          19472 kB
SwapCached:          0 kB
Active:           7064 kB
Inactive:        18440 kB
HighTotal:           0 kB
HighFree:            0 kB
LowTotal:       126824 kB
LowFree:         83360 kB
SwapTotal:           0 kB
SwapFree:            0 kB
Dirty:               0 kB
Writeback:           0 kB
Mapped:           4808 kB
Slab:            14152 kB
CommitLimit:     63412 kB
Committed_AS:     7076 kB
PageTables:        568 kB
VmallocTotal:  1048560 kB
VmallocUsed:      2560 kB
VmallocChunk:  1045656 kB

That is where we bring review of the device command line to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing it.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP. WNDR3800 starts sending the first echo-replies in 20 seconds after booting. However, we think that the booting procedure takes more time since the device becomes unavailable after sending several first replies. This way we can assume that the booting time of NETGEAR WNDR3800 amounts to 50 seconds. We believe that this result is decent.

The second test we traditionally performed was a security scanning procedure which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were eleven open ports discovered, and they are TCP-23 (Telnet), TCP-53 (DNS), UDP-53 (DNS), TCP-80 (HTTP), TCP-548 (afpovertcp), TCP-3333 (dec-notes), TCP-5555 (HTTP), TCP-20005 (unknown), TCP-33344 (unknown), TCP-49152 (HTTP), and TCP-49153 (HTTP). The most interesting data are presented below.

Prior to carrying out performance tests we can't help to mention the key specifications of the test stand we used.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus V Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 3770K 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes
NIC Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter
ASUS EA-N66
Atheros AR8131
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

At first we decided to test WNDR3800 IPv4 routing performance using NAT/PAT translation, as well as without using this feature, for 1, 5, and 15 concurrent TCP-sessions.

Also, NETGEAR WNDR3800 supports IPv6. We couldn't help but to test the routing performance using this IP. Connections from the external network to the internal are prohibited.

We connected a 750 Gbyte Transcend StoreJet 25M3 hard drive to the device USB 2.0 port, and formatted it into three file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and EXT3. Measurements of data access speed were carried out using Intel NASPT 1.7.1 utility. Results of the measurements are presented below.

Neither did we keep away from performance tests of the wireless network segment of the device. NETGEAR WNDR3800 supports simultaneous operation under two wireless frequency ranges: 2.4 GHz and 5GHz.

For majority of Russia's citizens the thing that really matters when buying a good router is the device performance margin upon operation with PPTP tunnels. The data transmission speeds via PPTP without encryption are presented on the diagram below. Unfortunately, WNDR3800 does not support encrypted tunnelling.

That's where we draw the testing chapter to a close and move on to summing it all up.

Conclusion

Generally, we are quite glad about the wireless router we have tested; some of its strength areas are specified below. NETGEAR WNDR3800 went on sale about two years ago and the final users had enough time (from the telecommunications point of view) to test its firmware, so at the moment it is really stable and well-tuned.

  • Excellent performance results upon operation with PPTP
  • Used traffic meter
  • IPv6 support
  • Ability to select USB devices which are to be granted access to the device
  • Support of two wireless frequency ranges
  • Presence of a USB 2.0 port

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention certain drawbacks of the model.

  • Absence of encryption support for PPTP
  • The web-interface in Russian looks slightly distorted and it is not fully translated
  • Password-free telnet access
  • High price.

As of when this article was being written, the average price for NETGEAR WNDR3800 in Moscow online shops was 5000 roubles.

 
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