Getting good transfer speeds to your PCs, laptops and mobile device from a wireless router is sometimes a dark art. While other aspects of computing performance are easily predictable, wireless routers seldom perform identically when used in two different locations. Transfer speeds are not only affected by the router and the device receiving data from it, but also the distance the device is from the router, the thickness of walls in between and the materials they are made from.
Another problem is interference from other wireless devices and networks that use the same 2.4GHz wireless frequency. In a crowded residential area, your wireless devices will have to compete with perhaps dozens of other wireless networks, as well as TV remote controls, Bluetooth devices and electromagnetic noise caused by home appliances, which all affect the 2.4GHz band.
To avoid this performance degradation, some routers such as the Edimax BR-6475nD support an alternative 5GHz wireless frequency, which is less widely used by other devices and should theoretically offer better performance. The router broadcasts two separate wireless networks, which can be configured independently, with individual settings for each.
The Edimax BR-6475nD has four LAN ports and a single WAN port, which all run at Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mbps) speeds. There's also a USB port to share storage or printers, a Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) button, and a switch at the back to manually disable the wireless network.
Correction: the Edimax BR-6475nD does not in fact include a USB port for adding storage or printers.
Navigating the Edimax BR-6475nD's built-in administration pages wasn't a pleasant experience, since they're neither well-structured nor user friendly. The menus have six tabs at the top of the page, with labels such as General Setup and another confusingly labelled ‘S'. Underneath each tab are more specific sub menus to adjust the WAN or LAN settings, then more menus on the page itself. Make any changes to the router's configuration and it requires a 60-second reset, which becomes infuriating by around the third time you have to do it.
Once you're used to the menu structure, all the necessary settings can be found within it, such as parental controls, wireless security, a NAT and SPI-based firewall, port forwarding and MAC address filtering.
Edimax has included a simplified Quality Of Service (QOS) system, labelled iQOS. QOS is often ignored because of the vast amount of configuration it requires. With the BR-6475n, rather than having to manually define every type of network traffic, applications can be prioritised by arranging icons on the page. We suspect this is of most benefit to multi-user households with a slow broadband connection, since when we had fully saturated our 50Mbit cable internet connection, we didn't find that adjusting these settings made a noticeable difference to browsing speeds or our ping times.
The Edimax BR-6475nD router's outstanding performance made up for its clunky menu system. Using the 2.4GHz wireless network, at short range a 1GB file transferred to our test laptop at 97Mbps, while at long range it managed 41Mbps. This is faster than nearly every other router we've used, and in some cases almost double the transfer rate.