ZyXel may not be one of the better known Wi-Fi makes out there, but we've been impressed with how versatile the company's kit is. The ZyXEL NBG-415N has a specification that is nearly identical to the SMC WBR14-N, but that's understandable when you pop the casings open and clock that they both use the Atheros AR5416 wireless and Realtek LAN chips.
The other common factor is the Ubicom StreamEngine that is also used in the D-Link DIR-655 and SMC model. It's welcome, but doesn't help us to differentiate one router from another. Unfortunately for us, the SMC and ZyXEL look very similar too, but that's mainly because ZyXEL has basically added a third antenna to the smart P-336M, while SMC has given its routers a major cosmetic overhaul.
When it comes to set-up, the ZyXEL suffers from the common complaint in that it doesn't carry the log-in details on a prominent label, but other than that it was a straightforward installation. The configuration screen is a model of clarity, but this is another area where ZyXEL no longer has an edge over the competition, as D-Link and SMC have both done a good job in this regard.
As we've come to expect from Draft-N routers, the claim of 300Mbps connection speed is hopelessly exaggerated, just like the competition. However, we did find that it offered enough speed and bandwidth to run video at a reasonable frame rate.
The one clear difference between the ZyXEL and SMC routers is the inclusion of a USB port for Windows Connect Now, which is a handy feature, but hardly worth the extra £17. You also pay an extra £20 for each ZyXEL PC card adapter and a £15 premium for a PCI adapter to go inside your PC. ZyXEL has been undercut by SMC, while the Gigabit D-Link is only a little more expensive.