The concept of a fast router that stretches to every inch of your home or office means you can situate a laptop in a corner room and still expect a laptop or a gaming console to connect from your downstairs conference room or office. With dual amplifiers, the $159.99 Amped Wireless High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Router R20000G promises just that sort of steady, consistent coverage. Does it deliver?
Click to EnlargeTraditional (read: bland) in design, the R20000G is essentially a black case with two adjustable antennas protruding out the back. Like the Netgear 900, the Amped Wireless device stands vertically, but at least that router has a clear plastic mount that lends it a bit of style.
Around back are four Gigabit Ethernet ports, plus one USB port for networking an external hard drive.
Setup and Installation
Amped provides a basic installer program that is clear and easy on the eyes. Once you fit the all-black router into its stand and power it up, you walk through a wizard that configures the wireless network name and prompts you to type in security passwords. During setup, the router had to reboot twice to re-configure itself, which can take up to 2 minutes per reboot.
It's also a bit confusing that the install CD actually points you to a website (setup.ampedwireless.com). It's better than the old days when you had to find the router's IP address, but it's a far cry from the apps and more intuitive step-by-step wizards included with recent Netgear and Linksys routers.
At least Amped includes a handy installation video on the CD that walks you through the entire setup using a voice-over, animations and examples from the Web-based interface. All told, the setup took only about 5 minutes total from unpacking to usage, even with the annoying reboots.
Click to EnlargeLike the Buffalo WZR-D1800H router, the R20000G has one USB port for connecting a storage drive. We had no trouble installing a USB drive and accessing the files from a laptop. The router uses a fast 620-MHz processor that is intended to improve wireless networking duties. While this CPU didn't outperform other routers, it didn't change our overall impression: this is a good, reliable router that matches up well with other 802.11n models.
In addition to WPA security, the Amped offers several other security features. For example, you can shorten the range of the wireless signal as a way to deter hackers in a parking lot or the next office over, block sites that would violate your company policies, and set up a guest network (for up to four users) to block access to your corporate network. The WD and Buffalo models offer blocked sites, but not range reduction or guest access.
Click to EnlargeAmped Wireless boasts that the R20000G's two 600mW amplifiers can pump out a wireless signal strong enough to cover about 10,000 square feet, enough to cover a whole house. Speeds were slightly above average for an 802.11 dual-band router. Using IxChariot, the R20000G connected at 98 Mbps from about 5 feet in the 2.4-GHz band, 70 Mbps from 50 feet, 28 Mbps from 300 feet, and about 12 Mbps from 600 feet. Beyond the 600 feet mark -- which was outside a lobby entrance -- there was no connection.
By comparison, the router category averages are 90 Mbps at 5 feet, 59 Mbps at 50 feet, and 15 Mbps at 300 feet. So the R20000G was above average across-the-board at 2.4 GHz.
In the 5-GHz band, which is a bit more stable but not as far reaching, the R20000G's speeds ran at 124 Mbps from 5 feet, 116 Mbps from 50 feet, 68 Mbps at 150 feet, and then declined to only 12 Mbps from 300 feet. The typical router gets only 56 Mbps at 150 feet, and the Amped beats the Buffalo AirStation AC1300 at 150 feet, too (40 Mbps). However, the Netgear N900 averaged 164 Mbps from 5 feet, and a still-strong 100 Mbps at 150 feet.
It took 21 minutes to copy a 6GB folder over the 5-GHz band (the one that should work more reliably but perhaps not as fast at close range), and a faster 14 minutes over the 2.4 GHz band.
While it's not the fastest or sleekest router, the $159.99 Amped Wireless High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Router R20000G provides a strong, consistent signal at a somewhat greater range than most of its competitors.