Aside from the StreamEngine Technology, the Sitecom Gaming Router also packs an excellent array of software tools to configure your home network and connection with, as well as being a breeze to setup – it genuinely is plug and play (although there are a large number of configuration options if you need them).
The browser based menu system is clearly laid out, although might be a little overwhelming for inexperienced users. There is a whole host of information available, ranging from connected WAN, LAN and Wireless MAC and IP addresses to the total amounts of data sent and received via each connection method and even current wireless signal strength to connected devices.
There’s also a comprehensive selection of data logging (including the option to write to hard disk), DHCP and security options, including a fully schedulable Firewall and extensive routing and port forwarding options too. The only thing we found the Sitecom Gaming Router really lacking was any built in option for VPN support, but otherwise it delivers an extremely comprehensive package of features, networking options and bandwidth data.
Thanks to the triple wireless antenna, the Sitecom Gaming Router was also able to provide excellent wireless coverage as well. With the router on the third floor of a modern house, an Xbox 360 was able to connect at full signal through multiple walls on the ground floor, despite struggling to get a signal at all using the single antenna router originally provided by our ISP.
Click to enlarge
Value and Final Thoughts
The Sitecom WL-308 300N XR's price here is a little bit of a sticking point, especially as the company sells an identical product bar the inclusion of the StreamEngine Technology, the Sitecom WL-306 Wireless 300N XR Gigabit Router
, for a good £10-£15 less. There's also another model without the StreamEngine Technology or the Gigabit switch for just £60
While the £90-£95 still isn’t unreasonable for a high-end router, especially considering the included four port gigabit switch, 802.11n wireless support and excellent ten year warranty Sitecom offers on all its products, we’re unsure as to whether the traffic management system alone is worth the extra investment over the cheaper models or similarly priced competitors.
The Sitecom Gaming Router is also currently only available as a cable router right now, so while it’s perfect for Virgin Cable customers or those who receive their ADSL via a Cat5e modem, the majority of broadband users connecting with ADSL2+ with a modem/router supplied by their ISP will be left out in the cold.
It’s all a bit frustrating really, as when we started testing we really thought Sitecom was onto a winner here by combining all the high end networking features we crave with a unique advantage of an inbuilt traffic management system. Unfortunately, while the StreamEngine technology does indeed work in managing the downsteam bandwidth and is clearly a fantastic new technology with a lot of potential (and one we’ll be keeping close eyes on), it doesn’t do enough to ensure playable pings in online games when a connection’s upload traffic gets busy, which is a real shortcoming considering it is the router's unique selling point..
As broadband technology has advanced, we’ve been given more and more ludicrous download speeds become available (seriously, who needs 50MB of downstream bandwidth?), while upload speeds have barely budged, and it’s always going to be in the upstream bandwidth where a connection, especially a shared one, is going to be most congested.
While we admire Sitecom for bringing a feature like the StreamEngine Technology to the market, a feature that here in the office we all agree is long overdue in home networking gear, the end result just doesn’t work as well as we’d originally hoped. While it's still an extremely capable router in its own right, at this stage we don’t think the StreamEngine Technology alone is worth the extra investment unless your downstream bandwidth is getting heavily contested, or you're doing a lot of downloading (and not uploading) while playing games.
- Ease of Use