A Comparison of Belkin & Netgearby Geoff Whiting
Belkin and Netgear are two of the top companies when it comes to home wireless routers, from standard models through those that support the draft version of the 802.11ac wireless standard, slated to be finalized in 2014. The race between the two heated up in early 2013 as Belkin purchased Linksys and Netgear acquired Aircard, shrinking the number of players vying for the top router spot.
Belkin and Netgear each make a wide range of routers that offer different feature sets, likely covering whichever feature you require most. In general, Belkin offers a two-year warranty on its products and will honor such a warranty for its Linksys brand, while Netgear typically provides a one-year warranty. In terms of customer support, Belkin operates both phone and chat services while Netgear relies on phone and email systems for service.
When comparing similar models based on feature sets or prices, reviewers find that Belkin models perform slightly better in tests in which the router and PC are in the same room. However, if obstacles such as walls or floors are introduced, Netgear routers performed much better. In one test by TekRevue, a Netgear router provided nearly twice as much maximum bandwidth when the test PC was in a different room or on a different floor.
For online reviews from major comparison sites and technology news sites, Netgear shows up in lists of top routers more often than Belkin. Reviewers generally have found Netgear to have a more reliable performance and offer robust feature sets, such as virtual private network support and built-in parental controls. Belkin does show up on lists comparing security features since it often supports protocols beyond the standard WEP and WPA options. Belkin also gets high marks for its support of 802.11ac and the high speed its routers achieve when they are near PCs. One other note about Belkin is that the Linksys-branded routers it now owns are consistently ranked higher than Belkin- or Netgear-branded devices.
Comparisons between Belkin and Netgear are often used as a springboard to buy a home router. If you’re considering this kind of purchase, it is best to review the top models from Belkin and Netgear that offer the feature most important to you, whether that’s ease-of-installation or supporting the fastest speeds. Because routers across all brands can be fickle when it comes to providing Internet access to your devices, it is always a good idea to make a purchase from a retailer that allows you to return a device.