When considering examples of German engineering prowess, BMW and Miele are names that may spring to mind. But in the world of computer networking, AVM and its oddly named Fritz!Box range of wireless routers deserves similar acclaim. We're particular fans of the high-end AVM FritzBox 7390 and its excellent performance, elegant software and vast array of features, including VOIP functions not offered by other consumer routers. Here's our review of the AVM Fritz!Box 3370. See also: Group test: what's the best wireless router?
We were less impressed by the firm's previous attempt at a mid-range router, the AVM FRITZ!Box 3270. We'd be happy with a less expensive 7390 with just a few non-essential capabilities removed, but AVM omitted key features such as gigabit ethernet that make it harder to recommend than its big brother, and it still isn't particularly affordable either. The firm's latest mid-range model, the AVM Fritz!Box 3370, is a second attempt to crack this market.
The AVM Fritz!Box 3370 is its first '450Mbps' router, meaning it has three Multiple-In, Multiple-Out (MIMO) internal antennae, supporting three-stream 802.11n wireless networks.
The AVM Fritz!Box 3370 can operate on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band, but not both simultaneously. This is more limiting that you might imagine: set the router to 5GHz mode and no older 2.4GHz-only device will be able to connect to your wireless network.
At the rear of the AVM Fritz!Box 3370 are four gigabit ethernet ports, a USB 2.0 port (with another at the side) that can be used to share storage via a built-in DLNA server, and an ADSL/VDSL port for broadband connections, including BT Infinity. Cable connections work fine too although one of the LAN ports must be repurposed into a WAN port for your external modem, leaving only three for home networking.
AVM Fritz!Box 3370: design
It retains the red casing and wedge shape synonymous with Fritz!Box routers, along with the Fritz!OS firmware, which is AVM's trump card over other manufacturers. Some routers, even expensive models, are content to include a poorly thought out, badly designed software interface; but the Fritz!OS software is in another league. The software's visually appealing layout, simple step-by-step wizards, clear explanations of functions and regular firmware updates are better than the efforts of many other firms.
There are some extra software tools too. For example, when configuring wireless settings, a graph shows which channels are occupied by other nearby networks, so you can choose the least congested. An accurate built-in monitor can diagnose poor latency issues with long ping times, at the router level, and whether a device on the network is saturating your upstream bandwidth.
As expected, the mobile DECT base station and analogue telephone functions that push up the cost of the 7390 have been removed. SIP telephony still works though, via the Fritz! Fon mobile app for Android and iOS, and can route calls through the router. The telephony menu only appears when SIP is enabled, and has an address book, dialling rules and call routing options, as well as a list of dialled numbers and incoming calls. Admittedly, these are more useful on a device such as the 7390 that can combine analogue calls with VOIP.
AVM Fritz!Box 3370: wireless performance
In wireless performance terms, the 3370's triple antennae serve it well. At a distance of 1 metre, transferring a file via FTP from a locally connected NAS to a 2011 MacBook Pro over 2.4GHz wireless, we measured 88 Mbps. When we switched to 5GHz, the same file transferred at 132 Mbps at the same distrance.
At a distance of 10 metre, 5GHz performance dropped to 12Mbps, while 2.4GHz, which is usually stronger at long distances, dropped to 23Mbps. We tested the USB port in much the same way, transferring a file back and forth via FTP, and squeezed 58Mbps from the 3370.
None of these speeds are record breaking, as other manufacturers have managed faster long and short-range wireless transfers.