Western Digital My Net N900 Router Review

Western Digital is entering into the router market with the launch of 3 routers and 2 routers with built-in storage. These routers are priced pretty competitively!

I will be reviewing the My Net N900 which is retailing for S$239.

Specifications (From WikiDevi)

  • Processor: Ubicom IP8260U
  • RAM: 256 MB (Samsung K4B1G1646G-BCH9 x 2)
  • Flash: 16 MB (Macronix MX25L12835EMI-10G)
  • Technology: IEEE 802.11 n/g/b/a
  • Bands: Simultaneous 2.4 GHz & 5 GHz
  • 2.4 GHz Band
    • Up to 450 Mbps
    • Atheros AR9381
    • 6976691A205 (manufacturer unknown)
  • 5 GHz Band
    • Up to 450 Mbps
    • Atheros AR9380
    • Skyworks/SiGe SE2595L
  • USB ports: 1x USB 2.0 & 1x USB 3.0
  • Ports: 7x Gigabit (Atheros AR8327N) & 1x WAN Port (Ubicom IP8260U)
  • Exclusive FasTrack Plus technology
  • OS Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Dimensions (w x h x d): 156 x 30 x 237 mm
  • Weight: 480g

WD My Net N900 Router - Box Front
WD My Net N900 Router – Box Front

WD My Net N900 Router - Box Back
WD My Net N900 Router – Box Back

WD My Net N900 Router - Box Contents
WD My Net N900 Router – Box Contents

WD My Net N900 Router
WD My Net N900 Router

Ports/Buttons On My Net N900
I am very impressed with the available ports on the My Net N900, there are 7 Gigabit LAN ports, yeap 7. I have not seen any consumer routers in the market with 7 LAN ports.

WD My Net N900 Router - 7 LAN Ports + 1 WAN Port
WD My Net N900 Router – 7 LAN Ports + 1 WAN Port

Besides the LAN and WAN ports, the back of the router also houses the power button, power socket, 1x USB 3.0 port and 1x USB 2.0 port.

It is weird to see the power button there, this is the first time I am seeing a power button in a router. If I want to reset the router, I normally would just plug out and plug in the power cable, now I just have to toggle the button which is somewhat simpler.

I still find the power button a waste of space as I only reset the router at most once per month.

WD My Net N900 Router - Power Button, Power Socket, 1x USB 3.0 Port, 1x USB 2.0 Port
WD My Net N900 Router – Power Button, Power Socket, 1x USB 3.0 Port, 1x USB 2.0 Port

There are 4 blue LED indicator at the front of the router indicating the power, wireless, Internet connectivity and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).

WD My Net N900 Router - LED Indicators
WD My Net N900 Router – LED Indicators

There is also a WPS button located at the front which I think is a waste of space and “messes” with the overall front design, if there is a need for this button, it should be at the back, perhaps replacing the power button?

WD My Net N900 Router - WPS Button
WD My Net N900 Router – WPS Button

Built-in Fan
I am not too sure whether existing consumer routers have fan inside them but I have not owned any that has a fan. My Net N900 surprises me with a built-in fan at the bottom. The 4x feet located at the bottom corners of the router provide a gap of 0.5cm between the router and the table for air ventilation. This ensures that the heat can be dissipated easily.

WD My Net N900 Router - Built-in Fan
WD My Net N900 Router – Built-in Fan

Problem With iOS 6 & Cisco Linksys EA4500
I am previously using the Cisco Linksys EA4500 router (S$299) and I had issues with iOS 6.0. The issue I had was: it is awfully slow when accessing the App Store and updating apps on the iPhone/iPad. My whole family uses iPhone/iPad and this issue affected all of us ever since we upgraded to iOS 6. I knew it was the router issue because I do not encounter this issue in my office, my mom’s office or Li Xiang home.

Ever since I changed my router to the My Net N900, this issue is no longer there.

Setup
As a Mac user, you have to configure the router via your favourite browser. The default router IP address is http://192.168.1.1 and the default login credentials is admin/password, “admin” is the username and “password” is the password.

If you are a Windows user, there is a CD included which guides you through in setting up the router.

I still like the old fashion way of setting up the router via browser instead of CD because most computers don’t include CD drives these days.

Admin Interface
The admin interface of the router is not very visually appealing, in fact it is the ugliest I have seen. Despite being ugly, every page in the admin interface loads very fast. Given a choice, I rather it loads fast than have a nicely designed one and loads like a tortoise.

They are using PHP instead of Perl (which is what most routers used) to code the admin interface.

WD My Net N900 Router - My Dashboard
WD My Net N900 Router – My Dashboard

After logging into the router, you will be presented with the Dashboard view which you will see the overall view of the router network status.

There are 5 other tabs, Connect to Internet, Setup Wireless, Set up Storage, Add a Wi-Fi Device and Advanced Settings apart from the My Dashboard tab mentioned above. The only 2 tabs that probably interest you after you setup the router is Dashboard and Advanced Settings.

WD My Net N900 Router - Advanced Settings
WD My Net N900 Router – Advanced Settings

I wish there is a toggle for you to display the tabs under Advanced Settings as the main screen after you login once you setup the router.

I have no issues finding all my usual configurations (DHCP, wireless, admin credentials and port forwarding) under the Advanced Settings. In fact, I think it is more functionally organised than the Cisco Connect Cloud admin interface.

WD My Net N900 Router - DHCP
WD My Net N900 Router – DHCP

WD My Net N900 Router - Wireless
WD My Net N900 Router – Wireless

WD My Net N900 Router - Port Forwarding
WD My Net N900 Router – Port Forwarding

Do note that the router will logged you out of the admin interface if you are inactive for 10 minutes, which I think is irritating. The router should only log me out when I close the browser!

FasTrack/FasTrack Plus
Western Digital My Net router boosts their own Quality of Service (QoS) technology called FasTrack and FasTrack Plus. FasTrack is available for My Net N600 and N750 routers while FasTrack Plus is available with the N900 and N900 Central routers.

WD My Net N900 Router - FasTrack Plus
WD My Net N900 Router – FasTrack Plus

FasTrack is designed to allow the most popular streaming services (such as Netflix, HuluPlus, CinemaNow, Pandora, YouTube, Skype and Spotify) to use a pre-set configuration to optimize the quality of the stream. FasTrack automatically analyzes and prioritizes these services to ensure they get the proper bandwidth.

FasTrack Plus is designed to allow the WD router to do more than just recoginzing pre-configured services (like FasTrack does), or standard data packets (like traditional routers do). Instead, it instantly recognizes and prioritizes data for all videos, games and chat (voice and video) sessions on your network. A router with FasTrack Plus automatically allocates more bandwidth opening a wider lane for this type of service, while providing efficient bandwidth to all the other things happening on the network.

I am pretty impressed with the FasTrack technology when the WD guys demoed it to us during the launch event, one immediate thing you will notice when streaming 1080p movie from your network wirelessly is that there will be lesser buffering pauses.

I don’t think there is any disadvantage in leaving FasTrack switched on in your router settings.

Performance
Using LAN Speed Test v3.4.0, I tested the wired network transfer speed between my desktop and my NAS, Synology Disk Station DS210j, on RAID 1.

My house is wired using Cat6 network cables and my desktop computer and the NAS supports Gigabit connection.

As you can see on the screenshot below, the transfer speed between my computer and the NAS is about 8% slower at 28MB/s (write) and 40% slower at 34Mb/s (read) then the Linksys EA4500, which is pretty disappointing.

I don’t know whether is there a difference in benchmark calculation between LAN Speed Test v3.4.0 and LAN SpeedTest v2.0.8. However, a good thing to note is that the speed I gotten is almost the same as SmallNetBuilder’s review of the My Net N900.

NAS LAN Speed Test (Left: My Net N900, Right: EA4500)NAS LAN Speed Test (Left: My Net N900, Right: EA4500)
NAS LAN Speed Test (Left: My Net N900, Right: EA4500)

I am using WiFi Explorer on my MacBook Air to test the wi-fi signals at 2 of my favourite spot in my house.

  • MacBook Air (5GHz) – My Room: 64% (My Net N900) vs 65% (EA4500) vs 46% (DIR-855)
  • MacBook Air (2.4GHz)- My Room: 75% (My Net N900) vs 78% (EA4500 vs 80% (DIR-855)
  • MacBook Air (5GHz) – Toilet: 35% (My Net N900) vs 33% (EA4500) vs 31% (DIR-855)
  • MacBook Air (2.4GHz) – Toilet: 46% (My Net N900) vs 72% (EA4500) vs 56% (DIR-855)

The My Net N900 has slightly weaker wireless signal strength when compared with the EA4500, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference as a whole.

I am using Speedy Net for Mac to test the transfer speed between my MacBook Air and my Dad’s iMac. I managed to get 113Mbps when transferring from my MacBook Air (LAN) to my Dad’s iMac (Wireless) on 5GHz band. But for wireless transfer between the both computers on the same wireless settings, I got about 63Mbps. Comparing the performance with Linksys EA4500, I am getting 108Mbps and 65Mbps respectively.

MacBook Air (LAN) to iMac (Wireless) vs MacBook Air (Wireless) to iMac (Wireless)MacBook Air (LAN) to iMac (Wireless) vs MacBook Air (Wireless) to iMac (Wireless)
MacBook Air (LAN) to iMac (Wireless) vs MacBook Air (Wireless) to iMac (Wireless)

Summary
I would totally recommend the My Net N900 router because it is pretty affordable (S$239) for a high end model router. Most high end routers are in the range of S$279 to S$299. Also the My Net N900 has more LAN ports then a typical router which is useful for people with more wired computers (small office & some homes) as they do not need to get a separate 5-port switch which would cost an additional S$50 and another electrical power socket.

WD My Net N900 Has Replaced Linksys EA4500 Router In My House
WD My Net N900 Has Replaced Linksys EA4500 Router In My House

If you want a more technical review on the My Net N900 router, checkout SmallNetBuilder.

Pros:

  • Competitively priced despite comparable performance with more expensive routers
  • 7x Gigabit LAN Ports
  • Built-in fan provides good air ventilation
  • 2x USB Ports with one of them being USB 3.0

Cons:

  • Ugly admin interface
  • Admin interface logs you out after 10 minutes of inactivity
  • Slow wired transfer speed
A

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