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The FVX performs solidly as a network router with the highest measured total simultaneous throughput of any Dual WAN router on our Router charts. With the combined throughput of both inbound and outbound traffic reaching over 80 Mbps as shown below in Figure 8, the FVX has the horsepower to handle a larger LAN with multiple WAN connections.

Throughput chart
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Figure 8: A test of the FVX538's throughput

Physically, the FVX538 compares closely to the Linksys RV082, another dual WAN router with eight LAN ports. Linksys' RV042 is another dual WAN option, with only four ports, but I used it for comparison to utilize more current test data.

Interestingly, both the RV042 and FVX538 utilize Intel IXP CPUs, with the newer FVX using a 533Mhz CPU to the RV042's 266Mhz CPU. Table 3 shows current performance measurements between the RV042, FVX538, and the FVS124G (as a reference). The FVX is clearly a step up in throughput from the FVS, and it has some performance advantages over the RV042, but not as much as you'd expect for a newer device with this hardware.

Comparison FVX538 FVS124 RV042
3DES WAN-to-LAN 12.3 5.1  
3DES LAN-to-WAN 12 3.6  
AES256 WAN-to-LAN 20.7   21.9
AES256 LAN-to-WAN 26.6   32.6
WAN-to-LAN Throughput 80 13 54
LAN-to-WAN Throughput 78 12 80
Total Simultaneous Throughput 82 12 59
Max Connections 200 196 72
Max Tunnels 200 25 50
Table 3: Device performance measurements and comparisons

Pricing and Conclusion

The FVX538 can currently be found online for as low as $325, while the physically similar Linksys RV082 runs about $258. Dual WAN VPN routers with four LAN ports referenced in this review, the Linksys RV042 and the NETGEAR FVS124G, come in at $157 and $148, respectively. (All prices include shipping as calculated by Pricegrabber.)

Additional licenses for the VPN client are available on NETGEAR's website for $44.99 each, and 5-packs can be found from various sources online for about $128.

In addition to the purchase price, NETGEAR offers a couple of service options with the FVX538. A three-year express replacement agreement for the FVX538 is $49 and a one-year 24x7 telephone support contract and next business day replacement agreement is $149.99. To increase this level of service to a three-year agreement is $299.99. Keep in mind, the FVX is covered under the Lifetime warranty NETGEAR recently began offering with the ProSafe product line.

But overall, I was disappointed in the FVX538. The FVX performs well as a network router, but I expected more. The hardware specifications, especially of the encryption co-processor, imply the FVX should be a top performer across the board. But there were instability issues with VPN tunnels using encryption other than 3DES and the lack of Vista support is annoying, In addition, the added 15–25ms latency for a site-to-site VPN tunnel is a concern and the slow failover times continue to plague NETGEAR's dual WAN performance.

At the end of the day, I've tested more stable VPN routers that cost less. Other than the DMZ port, the FVX538 has few new features compared to the FVS124G. On the plus side, the FVX538 is a faster router, and I liked its construction, its additional LAN ports, and its updated admin interface. I hope that NETGEAR will work out their issues in future firmware releases, to take advantage of the strong hardware they've built into the FVX538.

Check out the slideshow Check out the FVX538 slideshow.

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