AVM FRITZ!Box 7490 review

AVM FRITZ!Box 7490 review

To call the FRITZ!Box 7490 a router is probably to do it a disservice. With so many features packed into this box you could call it a digital hub for a small business. See also Group test: what's the best wireless router?

To start with the basics the FRITZ!Box 7490 is a wireless router that uses the latest draft specification 802.11ac, with a complete 3x3 MIMO antennae setup. It also serves as a basic network-attached storage drive if you plug an external storage drive into one of its two USB 3.0 ports. These ports also support network printing. See all wireless router reviews.

The NAS facility only supports the SMB network system, the networking protocol that Microsoft uses to access networked file systems. AFP (for Apple systems) is not included although this shouldn't be a problem for Mac users as  OS X notonly supports SMB shares but will soon make it the default. You can also access your local network behind this router from the internet, using FRITZ!Apps.

The standout feature of this system compared to the usual wireless modem router is its telephony functions. You can plug the FRITZ!Box 7490 into your telephone system and use it to pick up faxes, answer calls (with four answering machines) and block specific outgoing or incoming numbers. It also includes its own DECT base station for up to six cordless telephones.  HD telephony is supported, using better-quality audio codecs, although the network and the other side need to support this too.   

Another neat telephone trick is internal phones as alarms, set for a particular time and date. You could set your phones, for example, to sound a meeting reminder every Thursday at 2pm. See also How to set up a spare router to expand your Wi-Fi network coverage.

The best aspect we found that FRITZ!Box doesn't mention on its website is the incredible user interface. It's easy to use and provides network reporting features that usually require specialist software.  

For example, when setting up your wireless network for either 2.4 or 5 GHz bands it will show you how many networks are on each channel and even associated interference. This helps you to set your wireless network to a channel that's better removed from nearby neighbours, resulting in potentially faster speeds. When connected to the internet it will graphically show the router's throughput charted against time.

AVM FRITZ!Box 7490 review: Performance

We tested the FRITZ!Box's wireless performance by connecting a laptop via the unit's gigabit LAN ethernet, to set up a TCP server with iPerf. The destination system was another laptop running iPerf TCP in client mode, connected to a TP-Link Archer C7 wireless 802.11ac router in bridge mode. Essentially we used the Archer C7 as a large 3x3 MIMO dongle for the laptop.

We arranged three test setups. Firstly at 1 m to determine maximum throughput, then at 7 m to show performance at a normal range and finally 10 m where the client setup was around a corner, direct line of sight blocked by a concrete wall.

At closer range using 11ac, the maximum throughput was 330 Mb/s, which is faster than any 11n router. Using 11n on the 2.4 GHz band, the speed was 130 Mb/s which is on par with a decent 11n router.

At the middle range, the maximum throughput was 320 Mb/s on 5 GHz 11ac, similar to the 1 m result. Using 2.4 GHz 11n, the transfer speed was a useful 120 Mb/s, again on par with other 11n high-performance routers.  

The final setup at 10 m indoors returned 125 Mb/s using 11ac, and 109 Mb/s with 11n. Given the screening effect of walls restricting the signal these final numbers are still very good. Read also: How to change the channel your Wi-Fi router uses.

AVM FRITZ!Box 7490: Specs

  • 802.11ac wireless router
  • 2.4 /5 GHz
  • 3 x internal antennae
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 128-bit WEP, WPA2
  • WPS
  • NAS server
  • IPv6
  • HD Telephony
  • 4x gigabit ethernet LAN
  • ADSL 2+
  • VDSL
  • ISDN
  • DECT base station for 6 phones
  • 4x answering machine
  • Media Server
  • 9.3W average power consumption
  • 245 x 174 x 45 mm
  • 476 g
  • 802.11ac wireless router
  • 2.4 /5 GHz
  • 3 x internal antennae
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 128-bit WEP, WPA2
  • WPS
  • NAS server
  • IPv6
  • HD Telephony
  • 4x gigabit ethernet LAN
  • ADSL 2+
  • VDSL
  • ISDN
  • DECT base station for 6 phones
  • 4x answering machine
  • Media Server
  • 9.3W average power consumption
  • 245 x 174 x 45 mm
  • 476 g

OUR VERDICT

The FRITZ!Box 7490 is a hugely flexible and fast router. It provides a host of features that are easy to use. It's expensive but in value-for-moeny terms this device could be a bargain at £245 for a business or power users that needs all its telephony functions too. If you only require good 802.11ac coverage without the bells and whistles there are cheaper options.