Buying Guide – Router (Part 3) - Buffalo AirStation 1750, Western Digital My Net N900 Central, Fractal Design Define R4

10/19/2012 3:30:49 PM


Price: $187.5

Antennas: Internal

LAN: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet

Wireless: 802.11ac

Modem: None

Description: Buffalo AirStation 1750

Buffalo AirStation 1750

Even the best wireless N routers struggle to reach the top speeds of Wired networking, especially now that gigabit Ethernet is so common. The solution to this is the next wave of wireless devices, which have support for 802.1 lac, a new standard that will support gigabit wireless connections. Of course, the standard isn’t actually formalised yet, so has Buffalo jumped the gun with the AirStation 1750, the first commercially available router to support 802.1 lac?

Don’t worry if you don’t have the hardware for the new standard; the router operates on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, meaning there’s support for wireless G and wireless N, as well as even older standards. But, let’s face it, if you’re buying this router, it’s for its 802.1 lac capabilities, and sadly they don’t quite measure up. Benchmarks show that while it’s fast, it never gets near a gigabit connection.

The router has rubber bumpers that allow it to comfortably lie flat or stand on one side, although the logo orientation clearly indicates which way it was designed to lie. In terms of appearance, it looks high quality but perhaps demands a little too much attention. It’s not exactly subtle.

Connectors include four gigabit Ethernet, a WAN port and USB 2.0 port. As you’d expect for this price, it can share storage over the network, but it’d be nice to see USB 3.0 speeds out of a router that costs over US$150. Configuration is simple, but the need to reboot the router after any major settings change can become a little wearing if you’re likely to make them regularly.

Still, it does the job, and it’s ready for the future. If you’re hoping to stay on the bleeding edge of wireless ready for its official introduction, you don’t have many more choices. It’s a premium device that you pay a premium for, but in practice, you won’t see the benefits for months or even years. Unless you have a good reason to want 802.1 lac support, you can hold off for now.

Western Digital My Net N900 Central


Price: $207

Antennas: 2

LAN: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet

Wireless: Wireless N 2.4GHz & 5GHz

Modem: None

Description: Western Digital My Net N900 Central

Western Digital My Net N900 Central

You’d normally expect to see the Western Digital brand attached to hard drives rather than routers, so it probably won’t surprise you to hear that this is a hybrid device: a router with its own networkable storage.

Aesthetically, it’s quite plain. It won’t stick out like a sore thumb, but there is a fan inside, which could cause trouble with noise if (and when) it hits higher speeds. It’s not especially loud, but it’s not a router that you’d want in a bedroom or next to a at least, is elegantly simple, with a browser-based setup wizard taking you through the process of securing and properly connecting to the router.

As you’d expect, you get four gigabit Ethernet ports, a WAN port, and a USB 2.0 port. Wireless N is supported in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges with multiple internal antennas, giving fast and even performance. Again, at this price level it would have been nice to find a USB 3 port, but the primary reason for wanting one - is sort of side-stepped by the truly killer feature: a built-in hard disk in either 1TB or 2TB flavours. The idea is that by combining a fast, high-quality wireless N storage with masses of storage space, you can use this router to stream HD video to any networked device. Western Digital’s web-based WD2Go service also allows external access, while the built-in AEP server even allows Macs to use it as an iTunes server or for Time Machine backups. Helpfully, Western Digital’s ‘FasTrack Plus’ can prioritise streaming media, so when activated there’s less chance of finding yourself staring at the dreaded buffering screen.

However, internal storage doesn’t seem like such a good the router or the drive fails, the inconvenience would be far greater than if either failed alone. And for $450, you could buy a very nice router and an even better hard drive. It’s undoubtedly convenient, but ultimately, the features don’t seem to justify a hybrid device of this sort - certainly not at this price.

Fractal Design Define R4

Fractal Design’s new case may not be revolutionary, but it still ticks all the relevant boxes.

From the photographs you would be hard pressed to tell the Fractal Design Define R4 from its predecessor, the R3. Both are plain black monoliths of minimalistic Scandinavian design and have a noise- absorbing door hiding their front bays and fans. Look a little closer, however, and there are traces of evolution to see. First of all, the R4 is slightly wider than its predecessor. The 120mm fans of the R3 have been replaced with larger 140mm variants, and the optional dial-based rheostat has been replaced with a three- way dipswitch. The fan filter is now a single piece for easier removal and a second USB 3.0 port has been added.

The bay allocation of the case remains from before, with two 5.25” bays for optical drives and eight 3.5” bays for hard drives. The hard drive caddies insulate your hard drives from the chassis via rubber grommets to cut down on vibrations, and each bay can also accommodate 2.5” SSDs. A key difference is that the bulk of the hard disk bays can now be removed to make way for massive video cards. This was a major problem with the original case, as the largest video cards (like the Direct CU Il from Asus) wouldn’t fit. Now, so long as you can live with just three drive bays, you can enjoy better ventilation for your components and accommodate video cards of any currently available size.

Two fans are bundled with the R4, but remove the noise- absorbing pads from around the case and you can fit many more. An additional two 140mm fans can be mounted to the roof, an extra 140mm to the front and an additional 140mm in the side panel. You can even mount another fan in the base, allowing for a maximum fan count of six. That’s enough expandability for even the hottest-running triple-SLI setup, making this a one-case-fits-all solution for those not looking to change their chassis any time soon.

Where the Fractal still excels is in its acoustic prowess. With the dip-switch set to its lowest setting, the fans are simply not audible unless you’re centimetres from the system and it would be entirely possible to make a PC that was silent for all intents and purposes. Despite this, the cooling credentials of this case belie its low noise nature. Even when filled with an overclocked Core i7 chip and a GeForce GTX 680 video card, both CPU and GPU temperatures were a match for a much louder-running Cooler Master CM 690 II - that’s a showing that almost defies the laws of physics.

At US$134.9, the Fractal R4 is moderately pricier than its predecessor, but as this is a larger case with more expensive fans and additional materials, this is a fair enough trade-off. Some critics may have been looking for more innovation from the R4, but Fractal has taken a timeless design and tweaked it for the better. If it ain’t broke, as the old adage goes, don’t fix it.

  •  Imation DataGuard T5R – Good Choice For Off-Site Backups
  •  Tiffen Steadicam Smoothee, Arcam Rpac, TP Link Wireless N Nano Router, Aftershokz Sports
  •  Understanding the Basics of Collaboration in SharePoint 2010 : Microsoft Office Integration
  •  Understanding the Basics of Collaboration in SharePoint 2010 : Advanced List Concepts (part 2) - Editing List Input Forms
  •  Understanding the Basics of Collaboration in SharePoint 2010 : Advanced List Concepts (part 1) - Large List Support, Site Columns
  •  The Terminator, Apple And Six Months Into Your Future
  •  MiniStack MAX - Adds Versatility To External Drive Options
  •  Snake-Oil Solutions For Electrosmog (Part 1)
  •  Snake-Oil Solutions For Electrosmog (Part 2)
  •  HP Network Node Manager 9 : Before we Manage with NNMi (part 5) - Installing software
    Top 10
    SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
    The latest Audi TT : New angles for TT
    Era of million-dollar luxury cars
    Game Review : Hearthstone - Blackrock Mountain
    Game Review : Battlefield Hardline
    Google Chromecast
    Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 3) - Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air 2
    Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 2) - Zagg Slim Book for iPad Air 2
    Keyboards for Apple iPad Air 2 (part 1) - Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
    Michael Kors Designs Stylish Tech Products for Women
    - First look: Apple Watch

    - 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 1)

    - 3 Tips for Maintaining Your Cell Phone Battery (part 2)
    Popular Tags
    Video Tutorail Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft Project Microsoft Visio Microsoft Word Active Directory Exchange Server Sharepoint Sql Server Windows Server 2008 Windows Server 2012 Windows 7 Windows 8 Adobe Flash Professional Dreamweaver Adobe Illustrator Adobe Photoshop CorelDRAW X5 CorelDraw 10 windows Phone 7 windows Phone 8 Iphone