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Pros
Cons

Solid construction

Built-in firewall

No shortage of LED's for troubleshooting

Very easy to configure with a web browser

Share one IP address amongst your computers

A three-prong plug for the average user would be preferable

Conclusions

It is very apparent to me the amount of planning that Netgear takes when they build a component. The RT314 features sold metal construction, no shortage of LED's, and a ground connector on the rear to protect your investment. Netgear makes it a point to pack clear instructions with every unit A couple things of interest here: The Linksys BEFSR41 router I tested previously also featured four ports and was able to handle a total of 253 users (same as the RT314). It is also configured with the web-browser and its pricing is nearly identical to the RT314. The major difference is that the Linksys unit is made of plastic and has a three-prong plug to ground it, which is preferable to the grounding layout of the RT314.

The RT314, like the Linksys unit, features a built in firewall that will protect your data from unauthorized access. None of us wants to be the victim of a deliberate attack, but imagine what could happen if some of your data was stolen? A lot of people have social security numbers and credit card information on their computers so it shouldn't surprise someone that a hacker would try to access their data. I use a software firewall for each of my computers, but the extra layer of protection that the RT314 Gateway Router provides is invaluable. I use to get about 10-100 port probe attempts a day but I haven't recorded any since I began using a router. The vast majority of port probes are benign since they usually originate from web ad servers or web sites where your IP address has been recorded. Depending on the amount of personal information that is stored on your computer and whether you use your computer for business should help to determine whether you need a firewall, but I wouldn't hesitate to make an across the board recommendation that everyone have a firewall on their network. One major advantage of the RT314 is that all four of its ports may be used as uplink ports for other hubs. With the Linksys router there is an assigned uplink port - but Port 1 is disabled.

The elimination of all the unnecessary traffic that is found on a normal hub network can create a noticeable speed improvement and increase in stability if there are several nodes (computers) involved. Have only two computers on your network? You're probably ok with a normal hub. As soon as you start adding computers and networked devices such as printers the need for a switched router becomes apparent when that collision light on your hub starts blinking like a strobe light. I prefer the construction of the RT314 to the Linksys unit, and since I am a big proponent of switched network components, I definitely think you should give the RT314 serious consideration if you are in the market to purchase a router that features a firewall. I just hope Netgear begins to pack it with a three-prong plug for the average user soon.

Victor Oshiro 10 October, 2000

 





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