It takes a fair bit to make a router stand out, but the Netgear DGND4000 has managed it: it’s one of only a handful of routers to support both ADSL and cable connections. This means you can buy it, safe in the knowledge that if you want to switch services in the future, you won’t have to dump your router.
This isn’t the only area in which the Netgear excels, though. There’s dual-band concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless, which run at 300Mbits/sec and 450Mbits/sec respectively. There are four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear, a pair of USB 2 sockets for sharing storage or a printer, and the full range of buttons and switches for power, WPS and wireless functions.
We also like that the router can be quickly associated with an OpenDNS account for powerful category-based website blocking, via a free service Netgear calls Live Parental Controls.
Setting this up is easy: download the management utility from the Netgear website, run through the wizard, and the router will be linked with an OpenDNS account, allowing you to block adult-related sites with varying degrees of strictness.
You can even use the online Live Parental Controls to set up blocks of time and link them with different filter levels, so that, say, late at night, your network isn’t restricted at all, and during the day all adult sites are blocked.
The DGND4000’s web UI isn’t particularly attractive, but it’s responsive and easy to understand. It provides access to the broadest array of features of any router we've seen. There’s support for wireless repeating, user-configurable QoS controls, guest networks, and app support for Android and iOS devices. You can use the mobile apps to manage the router’s various functions, from altering the wireless channel to setting up parental controls and temporary guest access, and browse the folder structure of connected USB disks.
Performance isn’t bad, either. At close range, we recorded average speeds of 17.8MB/sec over 5GHz and 13.8MB/sec over 2.4GHz, results that place the router firmly among the fastest routers we've tested. The router’s 5GHz long-range performance is decent too, maintaining 2.2MB/sec in our demanding file-transfer tests. Long-range 2.4GHz performance is found wanting, but USB transfer speeds were excellent, with an average rate of 14.1MB/sec over a wired connection, and we found no issues with the router’s ADSL performance.
The Netgear DGND4000 has few weaknesses. Its all-round performance is good, even taking into account that long-range 2.4GHz weak spot, and in terms of features it can’t be beaten. The only thing that prevents it from topping the A List is that its main rival – the Asus DSL-N55U – has better long-range performance.