BUFFALO AirStation N600 Review 2017
It’s surprisingly affordable for the performance that it’s supposed to offer.
You can obtain the current model for around $70; this isn’t cheap, per se, but it’s certainly much less expensive than most other routers with comparable feature sets.
If BUFFALO delivers on their promises…
…they have a product that’ll really stand out from the competition here.
However, there’s good reason to be skeptical of that – there’s no such thing as a free lunch; costs have to be cut somewhere, after all.
So, how does the N600 fare? That’s what we’re about to find out.
BUFFALO HighPower N600 Hardware
Marketing focuses mainly on this unit’s technical specifications. Speed is paramount to them, so speed is paramount to us.
On either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band, this router performs very well.
You can actually come pretty close to the hypothetical 300Mbps maximum if you’re in the same room, and can easily manage 150Mbps from a few rooms away.
In terms of wired performance, you’re looking at something just shy of 1Gbps in a real-world environment; the N600 is fast, if nothing else.
The router does have issues with range, though. Beyond one or two rooms of distance, speeds start to drop noticeably, and the connection becomes unstable and erratic.
This smacks of a broadcasting power problem – but it’s not as easy to fix as you’d think, for reasons that we explore below.
Unless you’re willing to do a fair bit of tinkering, you’re only going to get those impressive speed figures within a fairly small distance of the router.
Still, even with its problems with wireless range, this machine still performs very well; you have excellent simultaneous connection speeds on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, along with five high-speed Ethernet ports.
Under the hood, everything looks great. The SoC is an Atheros AR7161, boasting 128MB of RAM alongside 32MB of onboard Flash memory.
There’s plenty of headroom for your own software – which makes sense, since BUFFALO ships this router with their customized version of DD-WRT installed.
Out of the box, performance is steady for weeks at a time; at the end of the day, what you want from your router is to set it and forget it. The N600 permits you to do exactly that.
BUFFALO AirStation HighPower N600 Software
As mentioned, BUFFALO ships this router with a customized variant of DD-WRT. This is a major boon for their product line, compared to most of the competition.
The interface isn’t quite as slick, sure, but DD-WRT is a powerful piece of open-source software.
It’s faster, more secure, and more reliable than the vast majority of the proprietary firmwares in use today.
BUFFALO’s additions consist mainly of modules for things like USB file sharing and a simplified setup wizard; you could add these functions to a generic DD-WRT installation easily enough…
…but it’s nice to have them out of the box – and it’s especially nice to have DD-WRT without voiding your warranty.
The downside here is that a handful of the more advanced features don’t work properly in BUFFALO’s version of the firmware.
For example, the TX power setting exists, but is ignored; the router continues broadcasting at the same power no matter what your settings are, complicating the otherwise fairly simple task of correcting the router’s short range.
Most people won’t exactly feel confident mucking with the TX power anyway…
…and – given that fiddling with these settings without an understanding of exactly what you’re doing can result in your damaging hardware or bringing on the ire of the FCC…
…it’s understandable that BUFFALO wouldn’t want to deal with the risks involved.
Still, it’s an annoyance that shouldn’t really exist; there shouldn’t be any reason to even consider installing a community version of DD-WRT on this router.
The BUFFALO AirStation N600 has some trouble with wireless range, and correcting that – if you choose to do so – is a needless hassle.
Still, beyond that, you’re looking at a fast, rock-solid wireless router that’s running one of the best “stock” firmwares available.
If you have a larger home, you may want to think twice – but, otherwise, this is an excellent router for its $100 MSRP.
Absolutely astounding for the $70 it goes for at several online retailers.