The VMG8324-B10A is a combined Modem Router for both ADSL & VDSL recently released into the UK which may be attractive to FTTC users in the UK looking to replace the BT Openreach modem & ISP supplied router.
Its the first combined FTTC GbE switch unit to hit the UK market place with a price tag in the region of £100 which should make it attractive to consumers.
The router has a smart modern design that looks good on the desk but can also be wall mounted.
VDSL1, VDSL2. Profiles 8a, 8b, 8c, 8d, 12a, 12b, 17a.
ADSL1, ADSL2, ADSL2+. Annex A, I, L, M.
G.INP & G.vector
802.11n 2.4GHz (up to 300Mbps)
WPS, WEP, WPA/WPA2. Multiple SSID
4 x 10/100/1000 LAN ports
1 x RJ-11 port for ADSL/VDSL
1 x GbEthernet WAN RJ-45 port for VDSL (Can be used as additional LAN port)
2 x USB2 host ports
2 x FXS (telephone) ports.
We took delivery of a VMG8324-B10A on the 31st of March 2014. Unfortunately we didn't get off to a good start as neither the quick-setup nor the save interface functions would work for VDSL2, which made it a bit impossible to get connected. Zyxel support promptly issued a new firmware update that resolves this problem. Although some users may still need to set up a new interface manually.
Once connected, we were pleasantly surprised to gain an additional 3.5Mbps Max Sync speed when compared to the previous BT Openreach HG612 modem. The VMG8324 provides full linestats as well as advanced information via the telnet CLI. It has now been running on my line for 4 weeks and is very stable.
Web GUI /CLI
The web interface starts of with some nice features, with some of the more advanced features in i-frames. Unlike many manufacturers Zyxel hasn't skimped on advanced settings via the web interface. For a consumer grade router, this is one of the most feature rich for Web GUI options and configurations in its price range I've seen in a long time.
The CLI isn't cut down either and all Broadcom commands are available. If we have to fault anything it would be that not all configurations are intuitive, so you may need to read the 400+ page manual if making anything other than the most basic changes. There are lots of security features and parental controls.
The wifi is quite good, the signal reaches through 2 walls and my smart TV will happily stream HD quality movies via wireless. This location was a previous wi-fi dead spot and Id previously had to install CAT5 to get a decent stream to the TV. The VMG8324 totally negates the previous need for a run of ethernet cable. I haven't performed accurate or extensive tests, but the signal is good all around my house and even reaches the bottom of the garden unlike many other routers. Results of my tests are here. Conclusion is it seems relatively good for distance and through walls, but don't expect blistering top speeds. Read more about why here.
Under the hood (for the techies)
The VMG8324-B10A identifies the system type as 963168VX which means it has one of the new BCM63168 chipset. We like Broadcom chipsets, traditionally known for their stability and also line diagnostics that are available from the BCM shell. ZyXEL haven't messed with these and all BCM commands are available as soon as you log into the CLI via telnet.
You can also enter the full Busybox shell into a linux environment by typing the command
> echo && bash.
The firmware contains the latest 039 adsl_phy which could be the reason for increased sync speeds and stability. Using the Zyxels 039 adsl_phy.bin on another router saw speed improvements of 10Mbps on a long line - link
For diagnostics and problematic lines, the VMG8324-B10A will work well with both DSLstats and the latest version of HG612 Modem Stats.
Impressive features, definitely a higher end consumer rate product, also suitable for small business possibly aimed more at the technical type user, but once set up it should prove trouble-free for more novice users.
If you want faster wireless speeds perhaps consider the more expensive VMG8924-B10A which is the same modem but has dual band 802.11ac. Remember your devices also have to be able to support the higher speeds. However for me the wifi range (and price) of the VMG8324-B10A its more than adequate and I'm happy with its range.
Bearing in mind this is a new router on the market and I had some initial teething problems. AFAIK I'm the first UK user using this on VDSL2 with non specific ISP firmware. I have been impressed with Zyxel support and resolving any issues I have raised by releasing new firmwares.
If you want a combined VDSL modem/router/GbE switch, then this is one to consider. I'm definitely keeping mine :)
- All in one modem/router/GbE switch/ wifi
- Increased my max headline sync by 3.5Mbps compared to the HG612. SNRm is very stable
- Web GUI starts off looking nice and most functions are available to the EU direct from the GUI.
- Full access to the CLI via telnet.
- Seems to be lots of security options, groups, permissions, parental controls etc.
- Smart looking unit. I have it on the desk but it can be wall mounted using the supplied bracket.
- Broadcom chipset - these historically behave best on my line
- Wifi reaches a previous dead spot in the corner of my lounge, negating the need for the CAT5e which I had to lay. Range is decent in my home and reaches the bottom of the garden.
- ZyXel support have been very pro-active in any issues I've raised
- First FTTC unit that ticked all the right boxes for me in the £100 range
- Full access to line stats inc QLN and Hlog etc
- Feature rich when it comes to other stuff such as USB, 3Gbackup, VoIP, - although I haven't tried them
- The Quick start set up doesn't work for FTTC, so be prepared to set up a new interface yourself - this may be fixed in later FW versions. Zyxel VMG8324 FTTC set up guide
- The GUI isn't the most intuitive when it comes to advanced functions, so although it may not be a router for n00bs, it has plenty of things to play with for the more geeky user
- The wi-fi is wireless-n, so there are more advanced units out there if you want faster wifi speeds - be prepared to pay the price for them though.
- The GUI doesn't seem to work well in Firefox & Safari as some settings wont save correctly. Works fine in Chrome.
Review based on my own independent opinion.
kitz - 26-04-2014