Articles: Networking

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Hardware Configuration

It is rather difficult to dismantle these Buffalo devices to check out their hardware. Considering the lack of console access and alternative firmware, such information would help to estimate their performance compared to other top-end network devices.

The only hardware difference between the router and the bridge is that the latter lacks WAN and USB ports. The Broadcom BCM4706 processor can be found in top-end devices from other brands, too. There are 128 megabytes of system memory and 128 megabytes for the firmware in each device. That’s quite a lot for a router, but large amounts of memory must also be utilized efficiently. The radio modules are manufactured by Broadcom as well: the BCM4331 chip is responsible for the 2.4GHz band and the BCM4360 chip, for the 5GHz band. Each supports 3T3R mode with a data-transfer rate up to 450 Mbps in 802.11n networks. The 802.11ac standard only works in the 5GHz band and is implemented in the second chip. Using three antennas and an 80MHz channel (via four “ordinary” channels), the peak data-transfer rate is 1300 Mbps. There are six antennas in each device: three for each frequency band. The Gigabit Ethernet switch BCM53125 supports Jumbo Frames for the LAN ports to improve their performance. There are heatsinks on each of the main chips. The radio modules are implemented as mini-PCIe cards.

We used the factory firmware for our tests: Ver.1.86 (R1.80/B6.30.15-1.04-1.00).

WZR-D1800H Router: Setup and Functionality

The router’s web-interface is similar to that of other Buffalo products. It looks rather odd by today’s standards. The menu is long and there are a lot of pages with setup options, but the interface design is far from intuitive. The good news is that it is available in several languages and incorporates a help system. The web-interface can be accessed via the internet. You can use specialized wizards for initial setting-up by clicking the appropriate links on the main page. The device’s status is also reported there.

The internet connection types include static IP, dynamic UP and PPPoE. You can program up to five PPPoE connections. The router has an integrated DDNS client. You can turn NAT off and write new entries into the routing table.

You can also change the WAN interface address, specify DHCP server parameters (some of them are rather rare), and define fixed MAC-IP pairs for certain client devices.

The router has an integrated PPTP server that can be used to access the local network from the internet. It supports encryption and standard Windows-based client software.

Each of these products from Buffalo has two individual wireless modules. One module works in the 2.4GHz band and supports 802.11b/g/n whereas the other works in the 5GHz band and supports 802.11a/n/ac. There is a conventional selection of settings here: network name, channel number (11 channels in the 2.4GHz band and nine channels in the 5GHz band), encryption mode (open network, WPA, WPA2). The devices support WPS, AOSS and WMM technologies, a MAC filter, multicast streaming and transmitter’s power reduction. It is impossible to choose specific Wi-Fi standards but the number (width) of operating channels can be specified.

The integrated firewall can use up to 32 rules. Each rule contains an action (accept or decline), direction, source and destination IP addresses, protocols and port numbers.

Local services can be accessed from the internet by means of port translation. Different public and internal ports can be used in the rules for single ports only. Port ranges are translated as they are. You can also specify a computer in DMZ and use the UPnP protocol for the same purpose.

The WZR-D1800H supports QoS to manage outgoing traffic. You can program up to eight filtering rules with protocol and port number and assign priorities to them.

The system settings allow you to change the router’s name and the admin password. You can set up the internal clock, save or restore settings, update the firmware (also via the internet), and reboot the device. As for the scheduling options, you can enable sleep mode in which all of the router’s interfaces and LED indicators are turned off. There is also a user-defined mode that can be used to schedule the operation of the wireless network.

The router keeps a log file which is stored on the router itself. It can be downloaded as a file or sent to a syslog server.

The diagnostics section offers an extended status page, a table with data transfer statistics, a list of clients with connection types, and the ping utility.

Summing everything up, we can say that the WZR-D1800H is comparable to many other top-end routers in its functionality. We can note the lack of PPTP and L2TP support for internet connections as well as the lack of URL filters, guest Wi-Fi networks and email notifications about system events. On the other hand, the router supports multicast streaming via wired and wireless interfaces, has an integrated PPTP server and can work by a user-defined schedule.

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