If you are looking for a wireless router for your home or small office, look no further. Xiaomi has recently launched a powerful, smart and feature-rich wireless router for home and small offices, which looks elegant enough to match your home décor.
The Mi Router 3C is the first router by Xiaomi in India. The router costs just Rs 1,199 and is a perfect accessory for your home networking needs. As simple as it looks, the Mi Router 3C is pretty powerful, smart and feature-rich. Built within an elegant white plastic frame, it features four high-gain antennas, two for transmit and two for receiving. The four antennas together form a powerful wireless network that is designed to reach the far ends of your home.
Built on an MT7628N processor that features 16MB of ROM and 64MB of DDR2 RAM, the router features 802.11n connectivity on a single band with 2.4GHz frequency. Sadly, the 3C does not sport the 5GHz band, which could be beneficial for higher data speeds of up to 300Mbps. On the physical interface front, the router sports one WAN port and two LAN ports, all three being 10/100Mbps speeds. We did expect 1Gbps ports; however, this router is mainly dedicated for wireless connectivity and 1Gbps internet speeds are yet to be affordable in our country. A single status LED greets the user upfront, which changes between red, blue and yellow to indicate the status of the router.
The highlights of the 3C router are its smart features and high transmitting range. With the four antennas, it can transmit signals with strength of 90dBm that can help penetrate through walls and rooms to give you the range where other routers in the category usually fail.
Setting up the router is fairly simple. Unlike other routers, this one is paired with a smartphone app. Install the Mi Wi-Fi app on your iPhone or Android smartphone and turn on the router. The app will guide you through a series of steps to place your wireless (SSID) name and passwords. Users unfamiliar with setting up their routers will be pleased to find out how simple the operation is. All one needs to do is additionally setup a Mi Cloud account (if you don’t already have one) and you are ready to connect. The router can then be controlled from anywhere on the planet using an internet connection.
As for the smart features, the Mi Router 3C features a few too many add-ons which can help you monitor your network from afar. The app will immediately alert you if any new device connects to your router without your knowledge. Also you can monitor your network users, check the amount of usage the devices are consuming and also tweak their bandwidth or cut off the internet to the particular device completely. In short, you have the option to control each and every user on your network, a huge benefit over traditional routers that don’t give you these options/features.
Additionally, you can also create temporary guest networks so that you can give an internet connection to your friends and guests that come to your home. These guests can be isolated from your existing network so they don’t intrude into your other connected devices.
The router also has another smart feature — called boost. Most wireless routers operate on a channel, which can be changed according to the congestion with other wireless devices in the area and operate at full bandwidth without any signal, speed or data loss. However, in order to do this, you need to log into the router using browser, and change it. The task is tedious as you need to first use a third-party app to find the existing channels being used, free channels in your area and then switch to the appropriate channel. This takes time and moreover, it needs expertise.
In the case of the Mi Router 3C, you don’t need any of these skill sets. All you need to do is open the Mi Wi-Fi app, hit the boost button and the router will take care of all these issues within a few minutes. It senses the surrounding congested channels, picks up the best channel that is suites and changes to that channel on the fly.
Tech buffs can relax too — hit the browser with the IP address of the router and your can configure it like other routers too. You can manually take charge if you don’t want to connect to a Mi Cloud account or use the app.
The Mi Router 3C has another additional feature that helps with accidental wrong and corrupted firmware updates. Similar to dual-BIOS motherboards, this router too sports a dual ROM partition which will save you from a dead router in case you upload a corrupted or mismatched firmware. The router will first test the new firmware and will only allow it to be flashed if the firmware is correct, or will revert back to the working firmware saved on the second partition. The router also checks for automatic firmware updates and will alert you on the app and update it OTA.With 64MB of RAM, the 3C router also helps you connect up to 64 wireless devices at the same time. This additional built-in RAM helps with stable connections in case you go overboard.
Other features include QoS, where you can set your router to give preference to devices that use video or gaming so that the experience on particular internet-based activities are not hampered and you get a seamless video or gaming mode.
Lastly, the router also features a built-in parental control option where you can restrict access to websites you do not want your family members to browse. This is a great feature for parents that are built right into your smartphone app, making it easy to manage your home network even if you are away.
As for the performance front, we found no issues with the router. The signals were seen farther than most routers being used in the same office/zone. The major reason behind the higher signal strength is the engineering of the transmit/receive antennas that Xiaomi has used on the Mi Router 3C.
Conventional routers make use of antennas that have copper wires, but are just half the length of the entire antenna. In the case of the Mi router 3C, the antenna is completely packed with a combination of PCB and copper antenna that occupies the entire length of the antenna. This helps boost the signal strength to a longer distance.
We found the router pretty convenient to setup and use. The router shows a great balance of features to performance ratio and is best suited for those who are first-timers in setting up a home router. However, we did find a few drawbacks that we would like to highlight. Firstly, the router is white in colour, which, though looks elegant, would probably get tarnished with dust and grime in the long run. Secondly, there is no wall mounting option too. This means it would take up table space and you won’t have the option to mount it in your desired location — high up on a wall or between rooms. Lastly, the router has just two LAN (RJ45) ports which mean you are restricted to using only two physical devices. With most devices being wireless-enables, this could be ruled out. But the lack of gigabit Ethernet and 5GHz dual band on the Mi Router 3C, you would probably face issues such as high speed data for 4K streaming and alike.
All-in-all, for the price of Rs 1,199, the Mi router 3C is a great investment for those looking for a wireless router for your home or small office. The good looks and smart features are beneficial over conventional routers and the longer transmitting range can help you eliminate those additional wireless extenders that you may need to invest on.