Amped Wireless SR20000G Repeater

The core hardware in the SR20000G is essentially identical to that of the R20000G; the major difference is in the firmware. Instead of offering up wireless routing functions and all of the associated options, the SR20000G focuses solely on being a repeater. In theory, Amped could have supported both functions with one device, leaving it up to the users to select the desired mode—there are other wireless routers that support some form of wireless repeating, for example—but outside of business class access points our experience with such functionality is limited.

Before we get to the actual hardware and software, let’s quickly cover the question of why someone would prefer having a wireless repeater as opposed to simply adding another router. Outside of managed networks used in businesses (where you have a main server handling DHCP and routing duties and potentially numerous wireless access points), most homes consist of a single wireless network. In larger homes/yards, a single router might not provide sufficient coverage, and you can end up with dead spots. To improve coverage, you’ll either need to relocate your router, or else you’ll need another router. Let’s assume you have placed your main router optimally and you still have dead spots, so you decide to go with the second option.

When you add a second wireless router, you need some way for that router to communicate with the rest of your network; typically, that entails running an Ethernet cable back to your main router. If you then configure both wireless routers with the same SSID, you can create all sorts of issues with your wireless devices hopping between routers and not being able to properly communicate with other networked devices (which is why businesses use managed networks), so you end up with a secondary SSID. Great—that should work acceptably for most people. But let’s say you don’t want to run an Ethernet cable—that would often require either putting holes in walls/floors to route the cable, or you have an unseemly wire snaking through your house. Why not simply have a second router talk to the main router and extend your network range that way? That’s the main purpose of a wireless repeater/wireless range extender.

A secondary use of a repeater would be to add another wired network located in a separate area of your home/business, again with the caveat that you don’t want to run wires to that location. Using a repeater like the SR20000G for your home theater for example is a great option, particularly if you have multiple devices that you want to connect to your network. Sony’s PS3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Wii all support wired and wireless connections, though you might need an adapter depending on which model of each device you have and whether you want a wired or a wireless connection. The problem is, even with WiFi built into all of the latest models, the quality if the WiFi adapter may not be all that great, limiting your range and/or signal quality. If you add a repeater like the SR20000G that can get a very good signal to/from your main router (more on that in the testing section), you can then connect your HTPC, Xbox, PS3, Wii, or any other Ethernet device without worrying about antenna positioning or quality.

Unfortunately, while there are plenty of wireless range extenders on the market, I haven’t personally had a need for one or a chance to test any of the other offerings, so I can’t really comment much on how the SR20000G compares to other repeaters. I can say that it’s one of the more expensive wireless repeaters on the market, currently going for over $170 (and also backordered at several places I checked), but Amped is claiming better hardware, firmware, and support. (Incidentally, I also have a Netgear router that features a Wireless Repeater function, but it appears to only work with an identical Netgear router configured as a base station.)

Amped Wireless SR20000G Wireless Repeater Specifications
Wireless Standard 802.11a/b/g/n
Frequency Band 2.4GHz, 5.0GHz (Simultaneous)
Wireless Speed 2.4GHz: 300Mbps (Rx), 300Mbps (Tx)
5.0GHz: 300Mbps (Rx), 300Mbps (Tx)
Amplifier Dual 2.4GHz 600mW Amplifiers
Dual 5.0GHz Amplifiers
Dual Low Noise Amplifiers
Wireless Output Power 29dBm (2.4GHz)
Wireless Sensitivity -94dBm
Wireless Security WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPA Mixed, WPS
Wireless Access Scheduling Specific day and time
Wireless Coverage Control 15% - 100% Output Power
(Adjustable individually for 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz networks)
Features Guest Wireless Networks (Up to 8)
Supports Wireless Multimedia (WMM)
User Access Control (MAC Address)
Antennas 2 x High Gain 5dBi Dual Band Antennas
2 x Reverse SMA Connectors
Ports 5 x RJ-45 10/100/1000M LAN Ports (Local Ports)
1 x USB 2.0 Port (for USB Storage)
Power Adapter Rating Switching Adapter, Input: 100-240v, Output: 12v, 1A
Mounting Wall, Stand or Desktop
Warranty 1 Year
Setup Requirements Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz Network
Computer with wired (RJ-45) or wireless (802.11a/b/g/n) adapter
Package Contents 1 x High Power Wireless-N 600mW Gigabit Dual Band Repeater
2 x Detachable High Gain 5dBi Dual Band Antennas
1 x Power Adapter (100-240v)
1 x RJ-45 Ethernet Cable
1 x Setup Guide
1 x CD: User's Guide, Installation Video
1 x Stand for vertical mounting
Price Online starting at $180

All of the wireless features remain unchanged, so we’re once again dealing with a 2x2:2 MIMO dual-band device. The antennas are high-gain options and the broadcast power is 600mW, so range should be the same as with the R20000G—Amped states a coverage area of 10000 square feet, and in our experience you’ll get fairly good connection rates within that range, with the ability to connect from even farther away at the cost of transfer rate and connection quality.

Visually, the only real difference between the SR20000G and the R20000G is in the Ethernet ports on the back of the device; instead of four Ethernet ports and one “Modem” port, all five ports function as standard Ethernet ports. As indicated by the “G” suffix, all of the ports are Gigabit capable. Since repeating a wireless signal is the only real difference, let’s get straight to the setup and configuration process.

Initial setup requires a wired connection to the repeater, and Amped recommends having the repeater in close proximity to your router. The process is extremely simple; the repeater scans for wireless networks, you select the 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz network(s) you want to extend, input the security passwords for the main networks, and then choose SSIDs and security settings for the extended networks. Once all that is complete, the repeater will reboot several times over the course of three minutes or so, and then if everything worked properly your repeated network will be set up and ready for use.

There aren’t nearly as many configuration options at this point compared to the R20000G, but that’s expected. USB storage is still available, and you can modify your wireless network settings and see network statistics, and that’s about it. The most useful page (after initial setup) on the SR20000G is likely going to be the Management->Repeater Status screen, where you can see the signal strength for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz home networks. Amped recommends finding a location for the router where both signals are 70% or higher, though in practice you can still get reasonable performance with 60-70% signal strength as well.

The one major “gotcha” that you need to be aware of when using a repeater is that there will be some drop in the throughput for every hop that you go through. Technically, there’s nothing to stop you from having three or five or even ten repeaters extending away from your home wireless router, but in practice I imagine network throughput would be horrible on the tenth repeater. I’ll get to the throughput with just one repeater once we hit the performance section, but my experience suggests that if you can get a stable connection to the home router, you’ll almost always get better throughput that way. Amped recommends putting the repeater about 20-30% of the distance between the router and the area you’re looking to extend coverage to, which seems reasonable. For my house, I don’t really have any dead spots to begin with, so I had to move outdoors before the repeater became necessary. Even then, throughput was still a tossup between the repeater (with a much stronger signal) and the router.

The problem is that you get interference when using the repeater: your laptop (or mobile device) broadcasts a signal to talk to the repeater, which then rebroadcasts that transmission to the router. The result is that even when there’s a strong signal from your laptop to the repeater and from the repeater to the router, you’ll see wild fluctuations in network throughput. However, throughput isn’t the only useful metric when looking at wireless networking. Even if you may not be able to transfer data quite as fast when going through a repeater, if you’re nearing the fringe of your router’s coverage, a repeater can make web surfing much more palatable, especially if you move around much and can’t be bothered to find a location with a clean signal.

Amped Wireless R20000G Router Amped UA2000 Directional Wireless Adapter
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  • blindbox - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Just to add. For people like me, I won't even be looking at these. All I look at is the hardware specs, whether the device is Atheros or not, and whether it's flashable to OpenWrt or otherwise. Any of these conditions that are not met and it's just another device to me.

    That said, <shamelessplug>TP-Link WR1043ND FTW</shamelessplug>
  • dgingeri - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    These are out of date as soon as they are released. the new WD routers exceed these on features all the way across the board.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    You do realize that comparing features that are on papers to determine which router is "better" is asking for problems, right? On paper, the R20000G and Belkin N600 are "identical", but in practice they're anything but. I wouldn't even venture to declare something as being "better" without some practical testing from a reputable source. You'll also note that if you're just after maximum performance within close proximity, even as a 2x2:2 router there are cases where Amped's previous R10000G tops the performance charts (
  • Blark - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Engadget put them through their test labs also and it worked great for them....

    I bought a R200000G after reading the review and compared it to my Linksys EA4500. The amped product goes roughly 50-70 feet past the furthest spot I used to be able to go on the Linksys router. The Linksys router how ever provided faster throughput from 0-30 feet. I would take the range over soup close speed any day as I had dead spots before.

    Tried their SR10000 also and it works well for us.
  • 996GT2 - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    How does this wireless adapter compare to the gold standard Alfa AWUS036H in terms of range?

    For those who don't know about the Alfa:
  • DanNeely - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    "One simple solution for the modem/router users would be to simply disable the wireless functionality and connect via Ethernet to the modem/router—assuming there’s at least one Ethernet port. That requires a certain amount of technical savvy of course—something I could do, but not something I would recommend to, say, my siblings or parents."

    Having tried to do this sort of setup for my parents a year ago I completely agree. It worked well for about 6mo until the ISP pushed a firmware update to their box which trashed the customization settings I'd applied to make it work with the old neatgear router I was using for the wifi. I eventually ended up having to drive out to fix things in person. The only good thing to come out of the debacle was that their boxes new firmware replaced the hard coded wifi SSID value with a textbox; allowing me to retire the netgear without having to reconfigure the wifi settings on everyone's devices. Wifi speed is uniformly bad across the house; but 3MB DSL is slow enough it doesn't matter much.
  • WeaselITB - Saturday, June 23, 2012 - link

    Wow, Jarred, thanks for the awesome and lengthy review / comparison! I can't even fathom the amount of work this took!

    That directional antenna actually sounds like a good solution for the family room HTPC/HDTV that I was considering, but kept rejecting since I didn't have a way to get wire there ...
  • gstrickler - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    2.4GHz testing "in the real world" is challenging because of channel overlap and poor deployment of channel usage. 40MHz operation makes it even worse. First, you have to understand that 802.11B/G/N don't use a single 5MHz channel, they use a 22MHz wide band centered on one channel. That means they need 5 channel spacing between to be interference free, however, in reality, the signals are so week at the edges that 4 channel spacing works with essentially no impairment. In the USA it has been common to use channels 1, 6, and 11, because the USA only allows full power operation on channels 1-11. However, that allocation never allows for 40MHz operation without interference because the secondary channel must be +/- 4 channels, meaning the secondary must be at 5 (1 primary), 2 or 10 (6 primary), or 7 (11 primary). In each case, the secondary is 1 channel away from another commonly used channel, resulting is significant interference.

    It's better to share the same channel as another router than to be only 1 channel away, that is the worst possible configuration. If the routers are within about 50ft (16m) of each other, even being 2 channels away will almost certainly cause interference. With his 40MHz tests using 11+7, any nearby routers on channel 6 would be likely to cause interference.

    Jarred didn't indicate what channels are in use by his neighbors, nor how strong those signals were (at the router and at the laptop), so there may have been interference affecting his tests. Throwing out the outliers as he did helps minimize those, but without such information, I can't make much use of the test results.

    A short guide to channel allocation in 2.4GHz Wi-Fi:
    It's been common practice to use those same channels in most countries despite the fact that most countries allow full power operation on 13 channels. In most countries, the ideal allocation is to use channels 1, 5, 9, and 13 only, never use other channels. This allows 4 20MHz channels, and allows 40MHz channels while minimizing interference. If you're operating a router in a country that allows 13 full power channels (most of the world outside North America), use this 1, 5, 9, 13 channel allocation. Even if your router doesn't allow setting channel 13 (some firmware restricts you to 11 channels even in other countries), stick with channels 1, 5, 9 so you don't cause problems for those using 1, 5, 9, 13.

    Back to the USA and Canada, rather than 1, 6, 11, a better channel allocation (with the possible exception of some high density office environments, and even those might benefit from this configuration) is to use channels 1, 4, 8, and 11, exclusively, with 40MHz operation supported only on 4+8 (and 8+4). That's only 3 channels minimum separation, but when there is 30+ft and/or walls between the routers, 3 channel separation is shows sufficient attenuation at 3 channels that interference is minor, typically resulting in no more than 10% performance degradation even when both routers are simultaneously transmitting, and often shows no degradation.

    The problem is that many routers default to (or auto-select) channel 6 or channels other than 1, 4, 8, & 11. Using channels 4 or 8 with a nearby router on channel 6 may cause interference for both. Which leaves 3 options for the USA, Canada, and any other country with fewer than 13 full power channels:

    1. Coordinate with your neighbors and get everyone to exclusively use channels 1, 4, 8, and 11, with any 40MHz operation exclusively on 4&8. This is the best option for 99% of installations. Even if you can see some other routers on channel 6, but with weak signals, this may be the best option.

    2. If that's not possible, and channel 6 is in use, use channels 1, 6, 11 exclusively and do not use 40MHz channels at all. This may be best in large, open offices/halls where there are 3 or more routers within ~100ft and no walls between them, but you should still try #1 first.

    3. Finally, if you must use 40MHz in an area where Channel 6 is in use and can't be changed, use 5GHz if possible. If that's not possible use channels 4 & 8 for 40MHz, and locate your router as far as possible from any routers using channel 6. There are some other compromise channel options, but they're dependent upon which channels are in use and the relative signal strength, and they add to the problem for other users, so I can't recommend them, and they should only be configured by someone who thoroughly understands Wi-Fi channel allocation, interference, and the local Wi-Fi environment.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, June 24, 2012 - link

    Thanks for the post -- there's a lot of good information for people not familiar with WiFi. I'm actually aware of most of this stuff, but obviously there's only so much you can cover/rehash each time we do a wireless article. While I didn't provide it directly, you can get some idea of the channels in use in my neighborhood from this image:

    I used channels 11+7 for testing, as channel 1 is in use by my next door neighbor (and 3 is used by another neighbor two houses away -- bad choice, I know). Thankfully, there are no networks in the 6-11 range that are near my house. In terms of RSSI, I believe the signal strength from the other channel 11 networks in the area was something like -85dBm (or worse), and the same goes for the channel 6 network, so my choice is mostly free of interference.

    I used channel 161 for 5GHz, but that's not nearly as important as there's very little traffic on that spectrum.
  • gstrickler - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Thanks Jarred, that gives some credence to your tests.

    Now, go change your neighbor's router off channel 3, get him drunk first if necessary. :)

    Yes, 5GHz is comparatively open, more channels, less usage, and always at 4 channel spacing. The main issue to deal with in 5GHz is that there are 2 or 3 different power levels allowed depending upon the frequency, so some have better range than others. Unfortunately, I can't locate the details right now, although some routers will list them as hi/low power.

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