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Phicomm K3C AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router Reviewed

Discussion in 'Wireless Article Discussions' started by thiggins, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    I've been slowly exchanging emails with Phicomm's tech support in China regarding woes working this as an AP. No resolution yet, I've tried setting it up as a router-behind-myrouter and it's actually been working okay for a few days now.

    Right now it's just PPTP and L2TP.

    FWIW... I was able to set up L2tP with a free VPN service that I activated just for testing (uh... SecurityKISS), and it seemed to work. speedtest results were significantly slower but I don't know if that's due to the router or the service.
     
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  3. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    So to follow up on tidbits from my exchange with Phicomm support.

    With regard to unreliable behavior as an AP, they said that it was designed to be used as a main router, and that "AP may not be the best way"... so that's disappointing.

    I asked why the home page CPU utilization graph always reports the CPU as 800mhz. And she said the CPU is two cores running at 800mhz. Interesting, it conflicts with the review, although Intel isn't very forthcoming about clock rates on these CPUs, although the Koolshare teardown part number seems to match that of a 1600mhz Intel part.

    Finally, she mentioned no plans for OpenVPN support.
     
  4. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    band steering works under single ssid setting, as observed on app. can also divide and handle 16 groups of 3 mu-mimo 1x1 clients on 5ghz, then 16 more clients as su-mimo on 5ghz. handles 64 clients on su-mimo 2.4ghz, for 128 clients total. can only be tested in industrial strength situation, like classroom or office
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  5. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

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    There is a lot of confusion about the specs of the various GRX350 parts.

    It seems likely to me that Intel added the two 800 MHz cores together to reach their 1600 MHz claim.
     
  6. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    "With all due respect, Intel does not become confused." As reported by wikidevi, the GRX350 is 1.6ghz clock speed, 2 cores, Mips34kc architecture, Network capability 10G NPU(has 10gBE ethernet network capability). The firmware is flawed. see https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Lantiq
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  7. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

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    WikiDevi is not an authoritative source. I would trust what the firmware reports and the Phicomm support confirms over WikiDevi's guesses.

    If you can find some other source of information that didn't just pull their information from WikiDevi's guess please share it.

    All we get from Intel is "1600MHz" on the Ordering and spec information page but that doesn't even mention whether it is single or dual-core. No speed is listed for the non-1600 GRX350.

    A SmartRG press release for the SR900ac claims that it contains a "Intel® AnyWAN™ SoC GRX350" and "A powerful 1.6GHz dual-core CPU" but I'm still not convinced that they are not just fluffing the number for marketing purposes by calling the 2x 800 MHz cores 1.6 GHz.

    ASUS only claims that the Blue Cave has an Intel dual-core CPU with no mention of its clock frequency. A WikiDevi user tried to change the page to show that the CPU runs at 800 MHz but another user reverted that back to 1.6 GHz possibly just based on the ambiguous 1600MHz claim from Intel. This page says of the Blue Cave, "Network SoC: Intel AnyWAN GRX350 PXB4395EL1600 800MHz Dual Core Three-Thread"

    Perhaps @thiggins could get an official answer from Phicomm or ASUS or else someone who owns these devices could SSH into them and use some of the techniques described here to determine the clock speed: https://www.snbforums.com/threads/how-to-check-cpu-size-rt-68u.30782/
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  8. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Yeah, and The Attacks on 9/11 Were an Inside Job! This is really buggy firmware. List:
    doesnt report cpu freq. right?
    doesnt report cpu cores
    doesnt do "isolate ap"- snb
    doesnt resize browser on pc or ipad
    tells snb it doesnt do intelligent band steering, when it does
    can't be used as AP
    has AUTO radio power reduce!
    it pings sites in china-snb
    cant do most blocking chores-snb
    who knows the security holes, no one has run a security vulnerability scan
    there are no official answers from phicomm,

    the only reason to own this router is experimental, & only if you paid $15. we all love a great conspiracy story! hava great weekend!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
    c84 likes this.
  9. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    Correction, can't be used as an AP at all. At least not in my house.

    But it would be interesting to determine the real clock speed of this chip more authoritatively. After all, the Asus Blue cave firmware reports three cores, which is probably wrong.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  10. Wutikorn

    Wutikorn Senior Member

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    Could the third one be network accelerator?
     
  11. Internet Man

    Internet Man Senior Member

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    It could be that the CPU supports three threads as described on this page which says, "Network SoC: Intel AnyWAN GRX350 PXB4395EL1600 800MHz Dual Core Three-Thread"

    Kind of like how systems with Intel CPUs that support HyperThreading show more than just the physical cores.
     
    Wutikorn and CrystalLattice like this.
  12. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Results of two weeks endurance test of Phicomm K3c:

    Setup as AP to OpenWrt firewalling router, never exposed directly to internet
    Uptime- 100%
    No firmware problems. Closed firmware(LEDE?) w/ few settings means few strange glitches like asus, factory or curated in forums.
    20 clients, no problems
    Use iphone app which shows clients switching between 5 & 2.4ghz intelligent band steering on subnet
    No client disconnects, no problems with clients connecting after sleep stage
    Will play nice with surrounding networks on channel assignment, easily re-set
    No wired problems, assigns IP on subnet
    No problems switching radios off or setting lower radio power levels, has auto power reduce function
    No problem on Wisp test
    Handles the few mu-mimo clients attached, no need to turn mu-mimo off
    Updates firmware no problem manually, auto update not tested.

    Prices down on amazon, up on ebay?

    No sense purchasing, or owning, better router than this until 802.11ax and wpa3 introduced at near end of year!
     
  13. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    Lattice, can you go into more detail on how you set it up as an AP? (which ethernet connections, which ip addresses, etc) Because when I set it up, man, it just didn't work well when I tried to use it an an AP behind my DDWRT router.

    Can you especially describe the DHCP setup you have? That seems to be where my failures are... clients can't get ip addresses.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  14. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  15. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    CrystalLattice likes this.
  16. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    double nat doesnt matter unless youre gaming. only game on main router. like the man captainstx says, just do it this way to get goin til a better solution comes along. yes, those r snb's articles. 2nat: https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/network/switch_router_gateway_and_nat . diff. subnet like captainstx sez. even more secure. btw, i like ddwrt as much as the next guy, but take a gander at jim salters arstechnica art. on routers, espec. the kong ddwrt on a netgear, hardly downloads for some reason! enjoy. when i figure a better way i'll pass it along.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
  17. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    Alas, I don't have time for gamin' lately.

    Double natting is, (i'm pretty sure?) preventing me from doing two things:
    1) printing to downstairs printer from upstairs
    2) using a computer downstairs as a file share for upstairs.

    So i'm not calling it optimal.

    I may try re-switching the K3C so it's my main router. Last time I did, it bumped into some sort of problem... although it may have been cable modem related. so I might give it a shot.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  18. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    could try letting k3c be the only dhcp server, re-arrange IPs and cabling
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  19. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Smart Connect feature hides on back of box.:) 802.11k,v,r,ai roaming built into chipset.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  20. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    "Smart Connect" was coined by Broadcom when they introduced their Tri-radio XStream architecture.

    Since then it has morphed into a term used to describe band steering in general.
     
    CrystalLattice likes this.
  21. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Regular Contributor

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    has anyone used the USB storage much?

    When I attach a external laptop hard drive (that draws 1 amp from the USB port), it craps out on a transfer after about 2 seconds.
    If I attach a USB thumb drive it works okay.

    Unfortunately I dont' have a powered USB HDD enclosure to test with.

    i'm wondering if the port isn't quite providing 1 amp of power, or there's some other problem. (the external laptop hard drive works fine when plugged into my computer).
     
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