Ratings in depth

TalkTalk Huawei HG635 VDSL 802.11ac router design 4/5
TalkTalk Huawei HG635 VDSL 802.11ac router features 4/5
TalkTalk Huawei HG635 VDSL 802.11ac router performance 4/5
TalkTalk Huawei HG635 VDSL 802.11ac router usability 3.5/5
TalkTalk Huawei HG635 VDSL 802.11ac router value 4/5

TalkTalk launched its fastest wireless broadband a few weeks ago and sent one for us to review. The Huawei-built HG635 is to be the company's default kit, called Super Router, for its fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service which offers up to 38Mbps.

It's worth noting that you won't be able to buy it as a stand-alone product, except perhaps via Ebay, and it is likely that it is locked to TalkTalk anyway.

The HG635 is an ADSL2+ and VDSL2 modem with a 3x3 MiMo antenna configuration, which allows for a theoretical maximum speed of 1.75Gbps (802.11ac) when using both 2.4 and 5GHz bands.

Features

On receiving it, I promptly dismantled the router to reveal a single PCB with a couple of big purple capacitors, 128MB onboard storage (courtesy of Toshiba) and four Broadcom chips which are the brains of the HG635.

Naked Talktalk super router

There's a single-chip multi-mode ADSL2+/VDSL2 Integrated Access Device (IAD) SoC, the BCM63168, a Gigabit switch solution, the BCM53124, a 5G WiFi 3-Stream 802.11ac Gigabit single-chip Transceiver, the BCM4360 and the BCM5302.

The router's design is fairly standard, with a vertical form factor that should signal propagation. The front houses six LED lights that indicate power, broadband, internet, wireless Ethernet and TV status while the back of the HG635 has the usual router details: a USB 2.0 port, reset button, WAN, RJ11 and four GbE RJ45 ports.

Talktalk router from the back

The device's box contained two broadband cables and microfilters as well as a few leaflets. Installation is as simple as it gets, given the consumer target audience, and the HG635 comes with onboard self-help pages as well as an integrated firewall and one-touch Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS).

The USB port can be used for external storage and printers supporting network functionality. As expected, it is UPNP compatible with port forwarding and mapping plus it supports DLNA and SAMBA.

Connecting a USB hard drive to it brings up a menu in the administrator control panel, which allows you to configure SAMBA and media sharing for the storage device. The USB port is powerful enough to drive a standard 2.5in device.

Performance and usability

I initially got into some issues trying to access the router via the local IP address but it turned out that it was printed wrong. The control panel is decently laid out, with plenty of customisation options.

You get the ability to check how many devices are connected in real time to the router (either wired, over USB or wireless), manage the list and assign granular access rights to all of them.

That's alongside the usual bunch of features you'd find on standard routers: port forwarding/mapping/trigger, application layer gateway (ALG), DDNS and SNTP, static and dynamic routing, demilitarised zone (DMZ), application filter, router advertisement, DHCP server/reservation and much more.

Talktalk admin user interface

There's also an interesting multimedia sharing option. It enables you to access multimedia data on USB storage devices from devices that you can't connect the USB storage device to directly, such as smartphones and tablets.

The only complaint I had over the control panel is how slow it can be to refresh and update at times.

As a standalone wireless router the TalkTalk Huawei VDSL 802.11ac is quite impressive. As always, if you're testing your broadband speed, your mileage will vary enormously and will depend on the number of devices connected, your actual broadband speed, the layout of the building you're in and many other factors as well.

I managed to get just under 4Mbps download from about 20m away with 8 devices connected to it and a concrete wall in between.