The Vilfo VPN router has some support for Wi-Fi, but is it any good as a Wi-Fi router?
Vilfo uses the MediaTek MT7612E Wi-Fi module. It’s found in a few well-reviewed routers, but there are significant design differences in all other routers with this Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi router pairs the MT7612E with a secondary Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi technology. However, what does ”support 802.11ac” 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 Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi for several minutes before the Wi-Fi module was automatically restarted by the kernel.
I could get the router working more reliably by forcing client devices to use the 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 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 Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi access point.
You can get higher speeds and better support for more devices from any generic cheap Wi-Fi access point. An unmanaged Wi-Fi 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.