MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
DrayTek Vigor 2925ac security router
Goes well beyond the capabilities of a consumer router, giving business users more security
- Extensive VPN features
- Comprehensive user monitoring and traffic management
- Redundant WAN interfaces
- Documentation is thin
Price$ 488.00 (AUD)
DrayTek's Vigor 2925ac is an NBN-ready wireless router that puts an emphasis on security and offers extensive network controls for traffic and users. You can tell that it's more than a consumer-level router from the moment you glance at it. The ports are on the front, rather than at the back, and they are there to facilitate quicker connections and troubleshooting to wired gear. It's not a big router; it has three external, removable antennas, and it can sit on a desk happily -- you'll just have to manage the connected cables a little differently.
Business users will most likely want this router, but mostly business users who also know more than a bit about networking, or who have someone who can set it up and manage it for them. It's not as straightforward as a consumer router in the sense that it offers plenty of customisaton for security and quality of service, as well as content filtering (via DrayTek's MyVigor service) and traffic analysis (via a utility that can be downloaded called SmartMonitor). If all that is required is a simple router with which to get users online and share some files across a local network, then this router will go to waste.
Instead, this router is a specialist product for businesses with higher-end connection needs, including redundant Internet connections, and VPN and user management, primarily for the purpose of bringing connectivity to two or more offices and managing site-to-site backups. There is support for up to 50 VPN tunnels, and up to eight remote Vigor routers can be managed centrally via embedded management software.
It's a router that also facilitates finer bandwidth restrictions than a consumer-level router, with controls in place not only for quality of service, but also for limiting user sessions. Furthermore, administrators can monitor Internet usage to see what sites and resources their users have been accessing, getting a glimpse into which users are taking up the most bandwidth.
On a more general level, throughput for downloads and uploads can be set according to each SSID, and the time each particular client stays connected to an SSID can be managed via MAC addresses. User management and firewall rules can also be implemented to control the way users log on to the network, and there are specific controls for isolating wireless clients from other clients on the network, as well as from VPNs.
Basically, it's not a router for an average user, with many of the controls being beyond basic and requiring a lot of research for the uninitiated. In addition to its heavy focus on security and user management, load balancing is also a part of what this router can do, and this is delivered via two Gigabit Ethernet WAN ports, which are also there in case one connection fails. Support for 4G LTE mobile broadband via USB dongles is also present; again, this can be used in the event that the main Internet connection fails.
Our review period for this router was extensive, as it is with all routers, with the router being used in our office environment for over a month. We connected it to an ADSL2+ modem using an iiNet business service (which includes a static IP) and distributed the connection across numerous wireless clients and Gigabit-connected computers and network storage devices. In this environment, the DrayTek ran happily, leaving us without cause to restart it or troubleshoot its connections.
The only interaction required was to log-in on each client that was initially connected to the router, as part of the router's user management policy. Individual users can be set up in the router with their own login details, and each user account can be fine-tuned with time and data quota limits. This will be of benefit in office environments where network access needs to be limited.
Wireless performance is aided by the inclusion of the 802.11ac standard in the 5GHz band, which can supply theoretical throughput up to 1300 megabits per second (Mbps). For laptops with 802.11ac wireless modules built in, this can currently equate to a link connection of up to 867Mbps.
Our test laptop, which features an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 module, was able to copy large files from a server on the network (connected via Gigabit Ethernet) at a rate of 27.25 megabytes per second (MBps) from a close range (3m away from the router), with the peak rate hitting 34MBps. From 15m away (and with one plaster wall as an obstruction), the same files transferred at an average rate of 12.18MBps, with the peak being 16MBps. We've seen many consumer routers go faster than this, but the point of this Vigor isn't pure speed; rather, it is reliability, and this was seen both from the close-range, and mid-range distance tests, which we replicated with consistency.
DrayTek routers are distributed by I-LAN, and the company hosts a help desk that includes instructions on how to set up some of the router's features, including VPN connections between remote offices. It's a resource worth visiting worth visiting due to documentation about the router's features being scarce. Bottom line: consider this router if you have a need for extensive VPN features and user management.
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