Sell the Belkin and buy a D-Link or Airport!

At the beginning of this year I bought a fabulous new LAN router from Belking, the Belkin N Wireless Router F5D8236-4. It's a modem-less router that I use linked to my ISP's router (I am connected through Fastweb).

With its double band (one for B/G WiFi connections, the other for N WiFi connections) it has always served very well for my home devices: an iPod Touch, an iPhone 3G, a Dell XPS 630i, an iMac and a PS3. By the month of April I bought this fantastic brand new MacBook Pro 15", and after a short period I sold the XPS.

Apple Airport Extreme

I used, and I currently use, very often aMule at home to share private media with my friends. At the beginning aMule was running exclusively on the XPS, where a Windows 7 OS was installed. After the "switch" in April, I started using aMule on the MBP. And here comes the pain. The Belkin router seems not to be capable of handling the traffic and the connections generated by aMule, and frequently stalls. The only thing I can do to solve the problem is rebooting the router. I tried to modify the connection settings on aMule, reducing the total number of concurrent connections and doing some other little adjusting, but the situation did not change.

D-Link DIR-685

Surfing the web I discovered that this router, and Belkin routers in general, suffer from this problem. They cannot efficiently handle a lot of connections and a lot of P2P traffic, eventually resulting in a complete stall. Always surfing the web, I discovered the site SmallNetBuilder, which you can find an interesting comparison page on. Various brands that produce routers and various models are tested and compared. There are four main parameters they are compared to:

  • WAN to LAN throughput
  • LAN to WAN throughput
  • Total simultaneous throughput
  • Maximum simultaneous connections

You are free to take a look at all the models, I will not review all of them here :). I will focus on three products: the D-Link Xtreme N Storage Router (DIR-685), the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station and the D-Link Xtreme N 450 Gigabit Router (DIR-665).

I tried to sort these three routers on a performance basis; by the way, they are also ordered by descending price. The D-Link DIR-685 is the best overall product, it has a 2,5" bay for using it as a NAS, and a handy LCD display which will show photos or which you can use to set up the router itself. The Airport Extreme just follows behind, having a lower global throughput, but similar overall performances. The D-Link DIR-665, one of the newest D-Link products, has been placed last, but not least. You can see that it has worst performances in terms of throughput but, geez, it can handle more than 10,000+ simultaneous connections, while the other two are limited to "only" 200.

D-Link DIR-665

I am going to accurately valutate them in the upcoming days. Since I will use the router to handle the aMule connections, I'm more oriented towards the D-Link DIR-665 (more connections). Since I am heavily interested in performances, I'm more oriented towards the D-Link DIR-685 (best performance). And since I'm an Apple fan, and have lots of Apple-made devices, and am interested in aestethics, I'm also oriented towards the Airport Extreme (best looking and almost best performant router).

Any suggestion?

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