Review of the SMC Barricade Wireless Router
This spring we bought an SMC Barricade wireless access point (router) to
test. SMC has a good well established name in terms of hubs, ethernet
cards, switches, routers and now they are applying their wealth of
wireless products and SOHO (Small Office Home Office) products like this
wireless Barricade router. We've used and enjoyed older SMC barricade
PPPoE SOHO routers and were impressed with their performance and
reliability. Performance, quality, reliability and added features are what we were looking forward to in
The wireless Barricade is a sexy looking little router, not an off the wall pastel coloured piece of
artwork, but a nice clean looking professional router. The built in 4 port 10/100mbps hub is also a nice
addition mainly for the small office and home users. Originally when we planned on testing this router
we planned on testing the wireless portion mostly but were more then pleasently surprised to find out you
can take an external DSL modem (alcatel, speedstream, etc..) plug it into the WAN port, fire up PPPoE on
the router and boom your wireless accesspoint is now your LAN gateway to the internet.. PPPoE worked
great on this Barricade just like the old standard PPPoE, Barricade routers SMC is famous for. As to the
wireless portion, this Barricade does the usual 802.11b (and newer versions of the same router support
higher.. maybe just a software/firmware upgrade for mine, but unfortunately didn't have time to check
out). We tested with both a Cisco 340 wireless card and a Dlink wireless card. Both worked great with
the SMC, although we had some problems with the Dlink and 64bit WEP on the SMC, but that was more user
issues I think... Compared to a linksys wireless access point we've used, the SMC seemed to have
slightly more range indoors, was more reliable (few dropped connections) and good 11 mbps speed most of
As to features, this router has a bunch of them. I already mentioned PPPoE built in and the 4 port
10/100mbps hub which are two great features. You can open up ports on this router for your web/mail
server which is nice on a SOHO router like this as well as basic access lists and being able to
manipulate the routing table which are also good
features. There is also a printer port built is, so this little router can also act as a print server
for your LAN and wireless LAN, nice value added feature!!! DHCP like usual is standard on this router.
My personal favorite was the MAC address lockdown for the wireless connections. Essentially
I configured the Barricade to only accept wireless connections from the MAC address of my wireless card,
or the wireless cards of my staff and associates.
when used in conjuction with WEP this makes wireless networking as safe, and in many cases safer then
Configuring the SMC was a breeze, the initial config manager for the web interface was a breeze to setup,
just asked questions and you filled in the blanks, very good for beginners. Although later on when I
wanted to play with the settings (and add extra safe MAC addresses of friendly staff wireless cards), the
web interface wasn't as nicely laid out.... So its a good web interface for initial configuration, but
its subpar for extended configuration at a later time.. Although I'm not a fan of the Linksys routers,
their web interface is one of the better ones I've seen, and I wish other manufactures would model their
after that one. Pretty good web interface from SMC, just part of me expected more because of the quality
I've come to expect from SMC over the years.
The SMC support site is pretty good, they've had years to work on it and its a very good resource for
users. Emailing tech support brought sub 12 hour responce from an engineer, which was great ... although
the question I asked didn't bring the responce I would of liked. With routers, one of the features of
many routers, is the ability to SNMP monitor the router. This is how you get those lovely MRTG network
graphs which are a huge resource to IT departments and ISP's when dealing with tech support requests..
The engineer was kind but he said that this Barricade isn't a router, its an access point.. Which
confuses me, because in my mind this is a full blown router, most access points are. This device makes
routing decisions, opens and closes ports, does access lists, PPPoE etc... all router functions... A
access point is a wireless router, or a router that uses ethernet and wireless ethernet both for TCP/IP
connections. This might be a small point but the marketting departments for some "wireless access point"
manufacturers should look at making sure SNMP monitoring is incorporated into their routers.. ex: ISP's
are currently deploying Cisco 827's and Netopia (and other makes to but I'll stick with these examples)
because they are fast, reliable and fuly supportable (all things this SMC has), but the Cisco and
Netopia products also have the ability to be SNMP monitored, which is a big thing for many ISP's. Being
able to graph your customers bandwidth, cpu and memory usage of their router is a huge thing. Why? You
can look at the MRTG bandwidth graphs and see how close you are to running out of bandwidth, and
accordingly either change your bandwidth usage habits (no more kaza) or buy a bigger connection (ISP can
upsell customers based on this). It's also a great tool for troubleshooting for LAN admins/tech support.
It may be a small feature but when ISP's are paying $300-$400 more on a Cisco or Netopia and the only
thing those have over this SMC is SNMP, I'd think about incorporating SNMP into these routers... and then
go after ISP's to deploy them (just think to add 4 medium sized ISP's who deploy 300 corporate
DSL/wireless routers a
year... adds up to a lot of added sales). Yes SNMP is a nitpicky point I have, but its a very useful
SMC has a reputation for excellent products and this Barricade wireless router is no exception. They have
done their homework and designed a fast, efficient, well engineered product with just a couple of minor
extra value software issues that will probably be addressed in future editions of this product.
Great performance, PPPoE for DSL worked great, and the wireless connections were fast (usually around 11
mbps) and stable.
Great support site... Fast email responce... wish the router could do SNMP.. maybe in future firmware
Ease of Use/Configuration:
Initial config was a breeze, great for a beginner. Configuring later on wasn't to bad, just the web
interface for subsequent configurations could of been laid out a bit easier for newer users..
Works with any wireless card manufacturer who supports 802.11b, and likewise compatible with any TCP/IP
PPPoE, WEP, access lists, MAC address lockdown, printer port, opening tcp/ip ports, logging all add up to
a ton of value added features for this router... Only reason it lost point here was because of the
absence of SNMP functionality in this router.
Great company, great product, well engineered, well designed just needs a couple minor software tweeks.
A very nice full blown wired/wirelss router at a very very very reasonable price for any SOHO/home user.