Exterior and Interior Design
As I noted at the beginning of this review, the WL-500W is almost an exact copy of the WL-500g Premium in terms of functionality. The same is true for the exterior design. The WL-500W looks exactly like the previous model excepting the three antennas. Some other network devices from ASUS have the same case design, by the way. It is indeed modern and ergonomic. The case of the WL-500W is made from white matte plastic and has slightly rounded-off angles. The router can be placed flat on its rubber feet or mounted on a wall using special adjustable brackets on its case. The quality of assembly is high as you can expect from a device boasting the ASUS brand. The details are all fitted together perfectly. The router is ventilated passively through the holes in the top and bottom panels. It doesn’t heat up much at work. When we reviewed the WL-500g we noted such a drawback as the light shining though the holes in the top panel. This doesn’t look nice under dim ambient lighting if the router is wall-mounted. The new model is not free from that drawback, unfortunately.
The front panel of the WL-500W contains all of its indicators. There are seven of them in total (from left to right):
- AIR. This is the indicator of the Wi-Fi module. It is alight when the module is turned on and blinking when the module is exchanging data.
- LAN 1-4. These indicators are alight when the cable is plugged into the appropriate LAN port. They are blinking during data exchange through the port.
- WAN. It works like the LAN indicators.
I really missed a USB indicator when using the router. Otherwise, the indicators are quite enough and it is easy to memorize their positions. Each indicator is based on an SMD LED and there are cut-out icons for them in the front panel.
The light from the PCB goes along acrylic light pipes that are the reason for the stray light. The indicators are bright enough for the router’s activity to be visible even under daylight, but the icons are small and hard to discern even from a short distance.
The router’s connectors, buttons and antennas are all placed on the rear panel. Here they are (from left to right):
- Power adapter connector
- EZSetup button to enable the remote administration mode
- Two USB 2.0 ports
- Reset button (it reboots the router or resets its settings depending on the duration of your press)
- WAN port (Fast Ethernet)
- Four LAN ports (Fast Ethernet)
By the way, the WL-500W has non-detachable antennas, which is a drawback. You cannot replace them or detach for transportation.
After we’ve examined the exterior we can now proceed to discussing the router’s internals. It is easy to take it apart, just like the WL-500g Premium. To reach the PCB you have to unfasten four self-tapping screws hidden under the rubber feet at the bottom of the case. The PCB is not fastened inside the case and is held in place by means of tight-fitting case details.
As you can see from the photo, the antenna cables are attached directly to the WLAN module. Their connectors are additionally fixed on the PCB with glue. When testing the WL-500g Premium we found that its antenna cable had fallen off from the PCB and its fastening was very insecure. This time the manufacturer saw that such a thing wouldn’t happen.
All of the router’s components are installed on one PCB as is often the case. The only exception is the WLAN module which is assembled on a separate miniPCI card inserted into the appropriate slot on the mainboard. The components are mounted neatly, without stains or anything. Most of the chips on both cards are covered with metallic screens. As for chips themselves, the PCB of the WL-500W is exactly like the PCB of the WL-500g Premium (compare the two photos below: the WL-500g Premium is on the right, and the WL-500W is on the left). So, this review will copy the other one in this section.