The Vilfo VPN router has some support for WiFi, but is it any good as a WiFi router?
Vilfo uses the MediaTek MT7612E WiFi module. It’s found in a few well-reviewed routers, but there are significant design differences in all other routers with this WiFi module and the Vilfo.
Vilfo only supports one 5 GHz or one 2,4 GHz network; it can’t do both at the same time. Every other WiFi router pairs the MT7612E with a secondary WiFi module so that one can handle the 2,4 GHz network and the other can handle the 5 GHz network.
With Vilfo, you must decide whether you want to use the latest WiFi technologies and get the fastest theoretical speeds, or be compatible with lower-end and legacy devices.
The Vilfo website lists the following feature:
802.11ac is the latest and fastest WiFi technology. However, what does ”support 802.11ac” really mean? The big deal with 802.11ac is support for up to eight simultaneous input–output streams between multiple devices (MU-MIMO) at speeds up to 1,69 Gbit/s.
Vilfo is only designed for a two-transmitting–two-receiving antennas (2T2R) array. This limits the theoretical max speeds of 867 Mbit/s to one double-antenna device at a time, or 433 Mbit/s to two single-antenna devices simultaneously. When not acting as a VPN gateway, the Vilfo can max out my 250 Mbps internet connection over WiFi under ideal conditions.
I was unfortunately not able to perform any real performance tests as the review unit I received didn’t have working 802.11ac at all. The wireless network driver kept crashing after a few seconds of communicating with any device over 802.11ac. This caused the Vilfo to stop transmitting or receiving anything over WiFi for several minutes before the WiFi module was automatically restarted by the kernel.
I could get the router working more reliably by forcing client devices to use the older older 802.11a standard. Vilfo would still go radio silent after a few minutes of use, however.
This may have been an issue specific to the review unit. I discussed the issue with the vilfo team, and they said they’d never experienced this issue before. It’s a bit worrying that they’re having this type of issues so close to release.
You really should expect to get a dual-frequency capable (2,4 GHz and 5 GHz simultaneously) with support for more simultaneous channels from a 430 USD router. The Vilfo is quite unimpressive as a WiFi access point. The router would be better as a Ethernet-only device as it wouldn’t give people the impression that it’s usable as a WiFi access point.
You can get higher speeds and better support for more devices from any generic cheap WiFi access point. An unmanaged WiFi access point plugged into one the Vilfo’s LAN ports will get you higher speeds and better device compatibility for 100–150 USD.
Continue to Part 3: Not designed for security or privacy.