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Written by Carl 'lowlight' Nelson [07.25.00]
***Please read Part 1 if you haven't yet.***
Manufactured by: ZyXEL, Umax, Netgear, Linksys, D-Link, Nexland, and MacSense
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Netgear RT311 and ZyXEL Prestige 310: Twin Brothers?

Out of the hundreds of emails we received in response to Part 1 of our Cable/xDSL Router Shooter, about a third of them were stating, "Did you know that the ZyXEL and Netgear routers are exactly the same?" or "You #$*^ing idiot, the ZyXEL and Netgear are exactly the same! Why are the scores so different?!?! U SUCK U FAGOT!!!!" You can probably tell which ones I deleted right away, but the basic message was delivered.

I ripped them apart right away, and yes, they are exactly the same, hardware wise.

Pay attention, I'll repeat it for you; they are exactly the same... HARDWARE wise.

Let's get into more detail here...

I can't see the difference, can you see the difference? 

You may be wondering why the ZyXEL received such a high mark, since it is just the exact same as the Netgear RT311.  Well if you look back, you'll see that the main thing I was impressed with was the PNC, or "Prestige Network Commander".  This was a handy software utility that came with the router that allowed ALL SORTS of configuration, within a much more user-friendly GUI than telnet.

So yes, they are the exact same hardware wise.  If you were to ONLY set either router in TELNET, you would not know the difference.  ZyXEL's PNC is what gives it a (huge) advantage over the Netgear (and most of the other routers).

If you telnet into each router, you'll see that they offer the same features.  The Netgear even had undocumented features, such as dynamic DNS name server capabilities.  I'll say it one more time though; the ZyXEL PNC rocks! You don't need TELNET at all anymore, even for the most advanced features.

Flashing The Firmware

So if they are the exact same hardware-wise, and in TELNET, there MUST be a way to use ZyXEL's PNC with the RT311, right?

Wrong. :-(

The PNC searches the network for all ZyXEL products supported.  It looks at the "Model Name" to determine whether that product is supported in the PNC.  We crossed our fingers, and flashed the Netgear RT311 with ZyXEL's latest firmware.  It did flash properly, and the unit still functioned.

However, even with the new firmware, the product was still identified by the PNC as "Netgear RT311".  Also, if you telnet into the router, you will see the name on the top: Netgear RT311.  The firmware version was that of the ZyXEL Prestige 310 though.  Too bad. 

Does it Really Matter?

When we wrote Part One, the Netgear was considerably cheaper than its twin brother.  I thought that if you could use ZyXEL's PNC (available from their web site for free) with the Netgear, you would have a kick ass router, for an even better price! Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

The good news? ZyXEL currently has their Prestige 310 on sale for only $159!!! While this is still a little more than the Netgear (which can be found on IBuyer's search engine for around $114), that is a stunning deal at almost half price.  Keep in mind, though, that this is a limited time offer.

You really can't lose with either router, since they are both awesome, but I still give the nod to ZyXEL for its PNC software.

Next: Comparison Table & Conclusion!

Cable/xDSL Router Shootout Part 2 Table of Contents:

Page 1: Introduction
Page 2: Nexland ISB2LAN-H4
Page 3: MacSense XRouter PRO MIH-130
Page 4: Linksys BEFSR41
Page 5: Security!
Page 6: ZyXEL and Netgear: Twin Brothers?
Page 7: Features/Comparative Matrix/Conclusion

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