The netgearis a wireless-n adapter, capable of “n900″ speeds – that is, 450Mbit/s maximum speed. It’s designed to plug into a desktop or laptop that lacks wireless-n, to give it additional speed and range. This particular model allows both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, so even if your laptop has wireless-n, it could add additional features such as multimedia streaming over a dedicated 5GHz connection.
Setting it up is a straightforward affair, though it requires an optical drive for the associated software. I added the WNDA4100 to my desktop, which had only a single rear USB port free and two front panel USB ports. I tried attaching it at the front, but that was a no-go (my PC couldn’t find the device). At the rear, the dimensions of the free space meant that I couldn’t plug in the rather chunky dongle, but fortunately, Netgear provides a very convenient cradle that comes with a decent length cable (around 1m) which allowed me to plug the whole thing into the rear of my desktop and get it up and running.
The software didn’t distinguish between my existing 2GHz ad 5GHz networks, although it could see both – they looked identical – so I just joined up to the first one on the list. The device has a row of lights that show activity, so I liked having it in view.
Performance was respectable. I don’t know how much the networking speeds may have been slowed by the fact that I only have USB 2.0. USB 2.0 has a theoretical top speed of 480MBit/s, higher than the N900’s 450Mbit/s maximum theoretical speed, but it usually doesn’t crack more than 240Mbit/s. Regardless, while transferring files from the internet I didn’t see the speed get above 4MByte/s, but then, I didn’t see anything higher than that via a gigabit Ethernet connection, either…
I couldn’t readily test the network speed, rather than the internet speed, because the WNDA4100 lackssupport: that means no Windows Homegroup.
For me, that means that this is ideal only for a home user with a single computer that needs fast wireless speeds, rather than for a family or multi-computer setup.