AVM's flagship model, the AVM FritzBox 7390, is one of the most impressive wireless routers around. It offers strong range and performance on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networks, has a particularly well-designed and user-friendly software interface and comes with a range of extra telephony functions. It costs around £200 though, more than many people are willing to spend on a router. The mid-range FRITZ!Box 3270 is a new, less expensive version, with fewer functions. It has the same red and silver design, with its two detachable antennae now located on the outside. See also: Group test: what's the best wireless router?
Unlike the 7390, the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 cannot be used as a base station for cordless telephones, and it has fewer ports too, with no connectors for analogue phones. Whiles the 7390 can completely manage your landline telephone calls – with an answering machine, address book, smartphone app to route calls to an iPhone or Android phone – the 3270 is a much simpler device, restricted to just SiP VOIP services.
The AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 is more limited when used as a router as well. Although it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless, it cannot operate on both simultaneously. Its four LAN ports are also constricted to Fast Ethernet speeds (100Mbit/sec), rather than gigabit (1000Mbit/sec) of many modern routers. See also: Group test: what's the best modem router?
There's a built-in ADSL modem, and the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 can be used for cable broadband too. There's no dedicated WAN port, so one of the four LAN ports has to be used, leaving just three for your other devices. See also: Wi-Fi hardware reviews.
The admin interface is excellent though, one of the best we've seen on any networking product. A clear step-by-step set-up process greets new users, and all the settings are easy to find, within clearly labelled menus.
Troubleshooting wizards are just as clear and straightforward. There are some great additional features here as well, such as a page with a graph that shows local interference on each wireless radio channel, helping you find the least congested. AVM regularly updates its software with new firmware, and this installs from within the router's software, without needing to manually download any files.
Testing the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270
We connected a storage device to the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 and measured its wireless performance at close and long range distances behind a thick wall.
At a distance of one metre, when using a 2.4GHz wireless network, we measured 72Mbit/sec – a respectable, but not class-leading performance. At long range, the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 managed 26Mbit/sec.
When we switched to 5GHz, short-range performance was closer to 100Mbit/sec. This is likely to be the fastest speed you'll see, due to the restriction of the ethernet ports, not to mention the two-stream MIMO antennae array.
Design decisions made by AVM in the design of the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270 are questionable. Gigabit ethernet is now present on £20 routers, so it's unthinkable that a £140 product should lack this feature. And simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless operation is available on far cheaper models too. The performance isn't head-and-shoulders better than other wireless routers, leaving just the excellent FRITZ!OS software and SiP voice functions as a justification for the 3270's high price.