Netgear has long switched to using built-in antennas in its home-oriented products. Therefore the WNDR3800 is rather compact (21.8x16x3 centimeters) for the high-performance hardware it has inside. The bottom of the case is dark matte plastic but the top is black and glossy. The panel with LED indicators is dark red. The router can be placed flat down on its rubber feet or upright using the included stand. It can also be wall-mounted.
The indicators are all on the front panel of the case and report the status of the router’s wired ports, wireless interfaces, internet connection and USB. They do not blink much because they do not reflect the activity of the ports, i.e. the data-transfer process. You can see two buttons here: one for quickly turning off Wi-Fi and another for establishing a wireless connection using WPS technology.
The router can be reset with the hidden button on its bottom. Here, you can also find the name of your Wi-Fi network and its password, the latter being individual for each device. This feature helps you have a secure wireless network right after turning the router on for the first time or resetting it. All of the router’s connectors are expectedly on the back panel: a power connector with a switch, four LAN ports, one WAN port and one USB 2.0 connector.
The WNDR3800 is ventilated through the few vent holes in its case. It doesn’t get very hot at work, though.
If it were not for the glossy surface, we’d say this exterior design is both practical and user-friendly.
The WNDR3800 is based on an Atheros chipset that consists of a 680MHz AR7161 processor and wireless controllers AR9220 and AR9223. The amount of system memory is an impressive 128 megabytes; the firmware is stored in a 16MB flash memory chip. The USB 2.0 interface is implemented through the main processor’s controller while the Gigabit Ethernet switch is based on a Realtek RTL8366 chip. The router can work in 2T2R mode in two frequency bands concurrently (2.4 and 5 MHz), which is reflected in its specs as “N600”: up to 300 Mbps in each frequency band.
The 2.4GHz antennas are located on the PCB while the 5GHz ones are designed as micro-cards attached to the top panel of the case. The manufacturer even installed connectors for external antennas although we don’t think they might be necessary. A console connector can also be found on the PCB. The processor and switch chips are cooled with heat-spreaders.