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DrayTek Vigor 2860Vac wireless router review

DrayTek Vigor 2860Vac wireless router review

The pricey, business-grade router has some powerful features. But you pay for them.

The V stands for VoIP.

The V stands for VoIP.

DrayTek has long been synonymous with business-focused routers and the Vigor 2860Vac is one of the company’s first to offer the faster 802.11ac wireless standard. This allows a theoretical throughput of 1,300Mb/s on its 5GHz band and 300Mb/s on the 2.4GHz band simultaneously.

The 2860Vac is different to its 2860ac predecessor by integrating VoIP support in a way that doesn’t put your regular fixed analogue line out of play. The router gives you the option to make and receive calls either via VoIP, fixed line or both. For example, you can route local calls via your fixed line and elect to have international calls go via your preferred VoIP provider.

It’s also ‘nbn Ready’ in that it supports VDSL2 so Fibre-to-the-Node and Fibre-to-the-Basement internet connections should work fine.

The 2860Vac comes with features not normally found in consumer grade models but they’re certainly not exclusive to business users. These include a six-port Gigabit switch, an extra Gigabit WAN port for cable modem connections, ‘failover’ reliability with multiple internet connections, several SSIDs, sophisticated content filtering and traffic analysis, support for up to 20 wireless access points and centralised VPN management.

The extra business grade features do, however, drive up the cost to a $479 street price which is double the price of most consumer models.

The business focus of the router is reflected in its looks which are markedly bland and lack the visual “flair” of other routers in the consumer space. However, the solid construction and practical design may equally be more appealing to some domestic users.

Unlike most consumer routers, the 2860Vac puts its ports on the front for easy access along with an accompanying bank of LEDs that give you an indication of activity on the various ports and connections.

Our favourite feature of the 2860Vac is its ability to automatically switch all traffic over to a 4G or 3G connection whenever it notices your ADSL or cable connection has dropped out and then reverts back to your primary internet connection once it is up and running again, ensuring constant uptime. This modem connects via the onboard USB port and although not every model is supported, the 2860Vac 3G/4G compatibility list is quite extensive and it does include Australia’s big three carriers. A list of supported USB modems is available on the DrayTek website.

The 2x USB ports on the modem can also be used to convert regular USB external drives into network shares. However, the USB drive must be formatted to FAT32 storage and the files can only be transferred using FTP rather than SMB (SMB is slower but generally more convenient).

Read more: Back to Business: school and work guide

The 2860Vac also offers support for up to 32 simultaneous VPN tunnels with comprehensive secure protocols. It is restricted to IKEv1, AES-128 and DH2 which limits its use in organisations that require AES-256 and DH5 or greater.

To access any of these features, you’re going to need to dive in to the router’s admin interface which is text-heavy and confusing at times. It’s easy enough to set up the router for basic use but anything more advanced requires a lot of searching and digging through sub-menus. We understand that this is a router geared towards experienced users but router manufacturers like Asus and more recently, Synology, have proven that it is possible to have a slick and clean interface without skimping on features and customisation options.

Unfortunately the 2860Vac underperforms on the fundamentals of what makes a good router, namely wireless transfer speeds and range.

2.4GHz performance was particularly poor with speeds of just 1.5 Megabytes per second (MB/s) at 10 meters over a 802.11n connection while the router failed to hold a stable connection over 20 meters. Speeds improved over the 5GHz band, reaching 13.15 MB/s within a 10-metre range while maintaining speeds above 6 MB/s over 20 meters. It’s important to remember, though, that performance can dramatically fluctuate in different locations and different times due to differing environmental effects, so our measurements aren’t the be all and end all.

Transferring large files from our Synology NAS (connected via Gigabit Ethernet) to our 802.11ac-enabled Macbook Pro achieved almost 25MB/s at 10 meters and 18.5MB/s at over 20 meters.

Though improved, these speeds were still decidedly average when compared to some other consumer grade 802.11ac enabled routers.

The 2860Vac expensive price tag and average wireless transfer speeds makes it a tough recommendation for home users. The 2860Vac is a much more compelling option for SMBs who are looking for a reliable modem router with advanced security and enterprise features. Its support for a backup internet connection and the automated nature of how that works is particularly compelling, particularly for businesses who require constant uptime. However, if you don’t have a need for extensive VPN features and user management, then a high-end consumer router will likely be a better and cheaper option.

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Tags 802.11ac compatible access pointsrouter securitywirelessrouterrouterswireless networks

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