Sitecom WL-309 Gaming Router 2 review

Does adding dual-band operations make a better router?

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Designwise, the Gaming Router 2 is a step backward from its simple, sheer predecessor. The faux-leather casing is passable, but it's much bigger and the two antennas are huge and poorly supported. If you try to angle them for best coverage there's a high chance they'll flop like the ears of a dead rabbit.

Our biggest concern, though, is whether or not a 5GHz network is worth it. The argument in favour is that the 2.4GHz spectrum is crowded: your neighbour's router, wireless DECT phones, Bluetooth devices and microwave ovens are all fighting for the same radio space as your precious Counter-Strike ping.

There's less clutter in the 5GHz range, so you should get a clearer signal with fewer dropped packets.
There's a couple of problems though. For a start, existing 2.4GHz network cards won't be able to see a 5GHz network, so if you want to get them working on the higher frequency, you'll need to invest in a dual band USB key too. That's another £50 right there.

The next issue is that the 'simultaneous dual-band' moniker can misleading. The WL-309 can create multiple networks on each frequency, but your PC can only log on to one network at a time. So you can't download a P2P file over 2.4GHz and game over 5GHz at the same time. Every vendor selling dual band gear is guilty of wanting you to believe otherwise, or so it seems from the packaging.

The deathblow, though, is that 5GHz signals don't penetrate through solid objects as well as 2.4GHz wavelengths. As our benchmarks show, it doesn't take much in the way of wallage to leave you better off with cluttered old 2.4GHz kit. The only area in which the 5GHz network shone at this range was transferring large sequential pieces of data.

This is a good router. The WoW scores show how adroitly it filters network traffic to keep pings low. But no gamer who cares enough about their ping to spend £200 on networking gear should use that money for dual band. Get a high quality, StreamEngine toting router like Sitecom's older model and spend the change on getting your house cabled for Ethernet instead.

We liked

Just like its predecessor, the WL-309 Gaming Router 2 is an excellent example of how to build a StreamEngine-powered router. Wireless will never compete with cabling for low latency gaming, but its good enough that in most cases you won't notice the difference too much.

We disliked

The antennae aren't just ugly, they're too flimsy by far. More critically, there's not a lot to be gained by using a dual-band router unless you're PC is in the same room. In which case, why not just use an Ethernet cable for gaming?

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