As an everyday router, the Netgear WNDR 4500 is a real workhorse. The Broadcom BCM4718 processor is very capable and allows the router to function as the centerpiece of your home network without missing a beat. We loaded the Netgear up with 12 wired and wireless devices to see if we could somehow trip up the WNDR4500 by forcing all the devices – phones, set-top boxes, laptops, desktops, Network Attached Storage – to stream multimedia, download large files, or exchange data within the network. We then attempted to stream a HD movie in the living room to see if the Netgear would prioritize the data using the Netgear QoS and WMM features.
QoS is an advanced feature on many routers that a user can use to prioritize internet applications and online gaming minimizing the impact when the bandwidth is busy. Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) is a subset of the 802.11e standard and allows wireless traffic to have priorities depending on the type of data that is being transmitted. Multimedia information and data has a higher priority than e-mail or file transfers so when all of these functions are occurring on your network, the Netgear priorities them automatically and throttles bandwidth based on these rules. Of course your clients on the network must support QoS and WMM, but many people don’t take advantage of these features and run their product “as-is” out of the box.
Our experience with the Netgear N900 router is that it handles complex traffic very nicely and is really transparent on your network. We never had any issues at all with trying to stream movies or music. This included 1080p movie files as well as FLAC and other lossless music files. After we tried to overload the network we did notice that WMM does make a difference in your connection speed so if there is one recommendation we can give to users out there, it is to check your router’s firmware and enable WMM. Many manufacturers will try and use the functionality of WMM or QoS and market these tools as unique to their own brand, but you should know and recognize that many routers and most newer WiFi adapters support this function already. However, most people don’t know that they need to actually turn it on.
We did have some issues with the Netgear WNDR 4500 though as it really had a problem automatically obtaining a valid DNS server from our Time Warner Cable ISP. We worked for hours trying to get the Netgear to pass a valid DNS to the device on the internet, but the automatic settings just didn’t work. We were forced to tell the router which DNS so that DHCP for the network devices would work correctly. A simple enough fix, but quite annoying to troubleshoot. We realize that this might be a problem with our ISP, but there are a couple of threads on the Netgear Support Forums indicating that it is not just our unit that has this unique “feature”.
Beyond that little frustration, the Netgear WNDR 4500 N900 Dual Band Wireless is one of the market’s best routers. With a ton of features and settings, you will be able to configure this device to your heart’s content. Under every kind of head-to-head speed matchup, the Netgear came out on top. By the end of our testing, we were pretty convinced that the upright positioning of the Netgear gives the router a built-in advantage for overall speed and coverage. There might be an issue of placement for some households, but honestly, most people will care about being able to connect at maximum speeds.
One other gem we needed to tell you about is the NETGEAR Genie App for your Apple iPhone or iPad. In this review we have already detailed many of the functions and features that you will find in Netgear’s user interface. This app is a easy way to manage and monitor your WNDR 4500 router from the comfort of your living room. It provides easy access to cool features on your router: Wireless Settings, Network Map, Live Parental Controls, Guest Access, Traffic Metering, My Media, and a bunch more. The My Media button uses the default media player on you iOS device to play media files from your shared network directories. The application supports the following audio formats: AAC, HE-AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV; Video formats: H.264, MPEG-4, and M-JPEG; and photo formats: JPG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, and BMP. Overall, the app is a great way to access your media without a computer.
If you are a pure gamer that wants to make sure you don’t DC while wirelessly playing, or you want to make sure you can stream that high-definition file to the television in your man-cave, the Netgear WNDR 4500 has enough power and features that you can fully customize your network to work for you. With the out-of-the-box ReadySHARE features, it can also help you move from a small home network to a larger, complicated, but useful small office.
The Netgear WNDR 4500 also supports custom firmware that the user can apply to the router. For those a little more adventurous, you can head over to MyOpenRouter.com to apply an ‘Open Source’ firmwares to the Netgear N900. The site is a great source of information for installing new software on your router to enable new features, change how the router works in general and more.
The Netgear WNDR 4500 N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router comes with a limited hardware warranty of 1-year with the first 90-days tech support for free. The WNDR 4500 is available for purchase for as low as $160.00.
Legit Bottom Line:
If you are looking for a fast, feature-rich dual-band router that is easily customizable, the Netgear WNDR 4500 is a router you should definitely take a close look at.