Customer Reviews: Trendnet TEW-684UB Wireless N 450 USB Adapter
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Model: TEW-684UB|Change
Price:$57.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on December 3, 2011
Rating revised (1 -> 4). Original review kept as-is for reference purposes in case others have similar problems. See final update for solution to performance problem.

The purpose of a cutting-edge dual-band (and simultaneous at that!) multi-stream adapter such as this is to allow you to create a modern wireless environment using the newest 2 and 3 stream dual-band wireless routers. In practical terms, though, the 2.4GHz radio band really only has 3 clear channels to choose from so unless you live in a rural area the likelihood of getting more than one channel to bind together to get the multi-stream link speeds advertised by the manufacturers is nil.

So, you set up your new multi-band multi-stream router to use one channel of the 2.4GHz band (if you can find a clear one) just for legacy g and single stream n purposes (your smart phone, older laptops, etc). Then you set up the spacious 5GHz band with as many streams and 40Mhz channels as your router will let you claim. Your new laptop probably already has a multi-stream card that can sit on the 5GHz radio band. This TEW-684UB adapter would theoretically be the perfect add-on to a desktop PC in an awkward location for running Ethernet cable. And with simulcast radios you can use the 5GHz for your main connectivity and the 2.4GHz band for monitoring the rest of your network with free software such as InSSIDer.

I read the mixed reviews of this device and as usual I thought I would be smart enough to make it work to my satisfaction. My conclusion, however, is that either there is a huge variability in the quality of the adapters, or perhaps they only work well with the same brand chipset on the routers, or the praising reviews here are confusing link speed with actual throughput. Do not trust any review that does not include a speed test (available from various websites) comparing the speed of connecting your PC to the Ethernet port of the router with a test using the wireless interface. The link speed your computer reports is of little real significance. The actual throughput relative to a known quantity (your Ethernet connection to the router and onward to the Internet verified by a speed test site) is all that is important. The difference will show you your true wireless speed.

And therein lies my extreme disappointment. I should have known something was going to go bad when the setup program had extreme difficulty installing the drivers and the utility under Windows 7-64bit. After installation, the adapter would ignore the enable device function in Windows and the utility did not even list the 5GHz band as even existing. Note the utility, though not strictly required, is the only way to manipulate the radios used and does provide some useful functionality such as listing the local networks in your area and some dBm signal strength meters. I was finally able to to get it installed by using the old workaround of using the compatibility mode and telling the installer (the second setup.exe) that I really have Win XP. Do we really still need to do that in 2011? The next clue that this was more toy than tool is that the profiles that can be set with the utility only allow WEP for the encryption. Puleeze! 802.11n requires WPA2 minimally. Not really a problem since everyone uses Windows itself to control wireless these days and the Windows profile worked fine for setting WPA2.

In my environment (using a cable modem) I get between 22-24Mbps download througput with a 1Gb Ethernet connection. On a laptop using an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 card set to 5GHz priority I get 18-20Mbps download throughput with clear line-of-site across an average size living room (no walls) but much faster connectivity to other local devices on my LAN (true n speeds to hardwired devices, for example). With TEW-684UB at the same location, the 5GHz a/n mode will get me around 0.3-0.5Mbps download and on the regular single stream 2.4GHz g/n mode I get up to 2Mbps download throughput and similar uselessness on the LAN.

And the adapter, though it has simultaneous radios, can't have the band to use be selected as a preference as with Intel. It will always default to 2.4Ghz when both radios are enabled. When you disable the 2.4Ghz radio in order to use the 5Ghz band you lose monitoring capability of the 2.4GHz band. Why have simultaneous radios if you can't have them both turned on? I will have to resort to multiple SSIDs to access the 5GHz band while the 2.4GHz band is on. I did find a more up-to-date driver and utility from Ralink, the manufacturer of the RT3573 chip used in the adapter (Trendnet just slaps their name on the driver and utility, they don't write anything themselves). They also had all the same shortcomings of the Trendnet provided driver and utility.

So, though at first I did not believe them, I now wish I trusted the reviews that questioned this adapter's capabilities. It would have saved a lot of hassles and time. Unfortunately, I also bought a Trendnet TEW-680MB Media Bridge at the same time which I have just started to play with and the same mediocre performance is present. I am probably going to stay away from any Trendnet products with Ralink chips for the time being. They might work with their own Trendnet routers but are very incompatible with my high-end Netgear router (WNDR3800) which works perfectly with Intel n wireless cards and all other legacy g cards I have. It seems to me that compatibility testing was not an important element in the development of this product and the lack of any upgraded drivers, firmware, or utility since release is telling. And one final thing, for such an expensive adapter you'd think they could put a USB cable that was not so ridiculously short and of such poor quality or at least use a standard USB B connector on the adapter instead of a micro-USB connector which few will have lying around.

Update 12/8/2011 - By turning off all n functionality on the 5GHz band on the wireless router (making it a single channel a band 54Mps network), the TEW-684UB throughput is as expected for that bandwidth (now reporting 16Mps instead of a fractional amount). Usable for Internet purposes but not very good for intranet purposes on my LAN with other functional n 5GHz and hardwired devices. Sorry, Trendnet/Ralink, you have to be compatible with the big guys. If Intel works perfectly with Netgear so must you. No change in review. It is just an overpriced a/b/g adapter in my environment.

Update 12/15/2011 - While playing around with the TEW-680MB Media Bridge I was noticing the same behavior as with this TEW-684UB adapter. In trying to discover the incompatibility with my Netgear router I basically went through all the multitude of settings on the router. The key appears to be forcing the Netgear router into Wi-Fi Multimedia Mode (Advanced - Setup - QOS Setup - Enable WMM settings on 5GHz) which makes no sense but, hey, it works and the speed is now blazingly fast, even faster than the Intel Centrino reference point and indistinguishable from hardwired connection (cable modem is now the bottleneck as it should be) . Note: the Multimedia setting in the advanced configuration setup of the TEW-684UB adapter itself does NOT also need to be set. This router setting combined with using two SSIDs to workaround the lack of the needed band priority setting in the adapter to allow simultaneous use of both radios removes the two show stoppers for me. The performance is now as expected. Loses one star for the mediocre documentation and inadequate QA compatibility testing, but terrific otherwise.
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on July 16, 2011
Having used the Netgear WNDA3100 and the Cisco AE1000 adapters previously this adapter beats them handsdown.
Neither of the previous adapters could maintain near the 300Mbps advertised, they would typically fluctuate between 54 & 150 Mbps (maybe hitting about 200Mpbs on 5mHz channel), but never holding a constant signal. The TrandNet holds 450Mbsp constantly. I am using the Cisco E4200 router (it also performed well on a Neatgear n750 router).
Range and signal reception are both FAR better than either of the mentioned USB thumb-tpye adapters.
This is the way to go if you need a high speed network connection for streaming or gaming and have a router that supports 450Mbps.
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on December 10, 2010
Can't say enough good things about this item! Although I've not had it long, so far so very good. My HP DV6000 lost it's wireless ability (like every other DV6000 that HP ever built..) and all Hp offers is to replace the motherboard for 250.00. I replaced the internal wireless card but that didn't help, just more wasted money. So, I stated using an older, much larger USB wireless adapter. It worked but the signal strength was very weak and it struggled to stay on line. Read reviews on the Trendnet and decided to give it a shot. Installed on Windows 7 super easy and is pegging the signal meter. Signal is coming in loud and clear! All I've lost is one USB slot but that's way better & cheaper than anything that HP offers for DV6000 owners. Still got 2 USP slots to work with but at last I'm on line again and the signal strength is probably better than it was when the original HP internal wireless was working. Love to buy stuff that does what it claims to do. Thanks Amason...thanks Trendnet!
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on January 9, 2014
I recently purchased a CybertronPC Assassin 4242B desktop pc from Amazon and I needed to buy either a wireless card to install or buy an adapter like this. After reviewing the stats on the Trendnet 450 Mbps Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter I decided to purchase one, and give it a try. I am so glad that I did! It works absolutely wonderful connecting me to my DIR-857 wireless router. My connection speed between my new desktop and the wireless router is a solid and steady 216.7 Mb/s! My tests for online speeds were hitting 38.50 Mb/s D/L and 2.26 Mb/s U/L. My old HP laptop only hits 22.5 to 24 Mb/s D/L and 2.25 Mb/s U/L sitting right next to my desktop... My room is also on the second floor of our house, and the modem/wireless router are on the first floor with thick insulated walls. Our max speed setup on our internet connection is 50 Mb/s D/L, so it is performing absolutely wonderful!

I am really glad I gave this wireless adapter a try! I have had absolutely no problems with disconnects, lag, or lockups. If you are looking for a quick, easy, and very reliable wireless adapter then this is the right choice by far!
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on April 24, 2016
Works very well, even on my 2006 Dell with Windows XP. I use this when I am working on client computers in my office. It has a good reach and is so much less expensive than the others I reviewed.

I am totally happy. 24 years as an IT professional and I feel like this is one of my best finds when you're talking bang for buck and quality!

Thanks guys!
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on May 18, 2016
Well I purchased a today's special HP Laptop computer deal from HSN for $399.00. Its a pretty nice 15.6 Intel Pentium quad core N3700 processor, 4 gigs of ram, etc., etc., Now at that price HP saved money by no Bluetooth, and of course a cheap Real tech 2.4 gig wireless WiFi card that I could only get a max download speed of 25 mbs even having a top tier Linksys AC 1900 dual band fast WiFi router with Cox communications 100 mbs download speed internet service. I had a Cisco USB AC dual band USB adapter which wouldn't let me install the software as I am running Windows 10 and Cisco/Linksys wont bother coming out with a driver update for Windows 10 and it would only allow me to use the 2.4 Mhz band and it wasn't any faster than the installed card.It costs $29.and change on Amazon too. so needless to say I was looking for hours on Amazon for the best Windows 10 AC WIFI USB adapter at the best price. After reading reviews for hours on different branded adapters I came across this Trendnet TEW-804UB dual band AC USB WIFI adapter at a great price if less than $19.00 and change.
Well the software CD that came with it installed on Windows 10 with no problems. It even has a WPS button on the end of it, with a cool blue led light. The adapter is only one inch long too, so it doesn't protrude very much.
Well if your trying to increase your speed on a laptop or PC and you have Windows 10 look no farther! Trend nets own software found my 5 Ghz band from my router right away. Let me tell you now I get blazing fast speed of 95 mbs to 118 mbs down and around 10 to 20 mbs upload speed now making this lower end computer a great buy now! Another great thing about this adapter is it comes with a 3 year warranty! Trust me this is the one to buy! I have had and have many Trendnet gigabit Ethernet switches so I can attest to how good of a brand TRENDnet is!
look at the picture of my Ookla speed test after using this adapter. My 5 Mgz signal is very strong using this adapter!
(You must have a dual band AC wireless router to get the fastest speed, which is always on the 5 Mhz band)
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on January 9, 2010
worked out of the box the 1st time exactly as advertised with minimal reference to instructions & excellent range through walls in house. performed much better than more expensive adaptor from Verizon which it replaced.
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on April 25, 2016
Got this years ago (September of '11) to pair with a then top of the line E4200. The router and 684UB were about 30 feet, a floor, and two walls apart. That combo served me well playing a myriad of dungeon crawlers, Diablo III and Torchlight 2 amongst them. I've racked up several hundred hickup-free hours on those two games alone, and a good portion of that I had played with my brother on the same network. When he and my usual group of gaming buds moved on to Path of Exile, I of course followed suit.
Around that time though, I had updated to Windows 10, and to my dismay, the available drivers for the 684UB were either incomplete or wonky. The latest drivers from Ralink/Mediatek at the time only supported 2.4Ghz, or if I did use older drivers that allowed for 5Ghz my computer's internet speeds were hobbled. I have Optimum 55down/25up, and with Windows 7 my desktop was actually achieving 58down/29up on either band (tested using Ookla's Speedtest). With Windows 10, it was down to 37/22 on 5Ghz and 27/8 on 2.4Ghz. Pings were around the same time, between 9-12ms, but when I was browsing on Firefox, webpages would hesitate to load. Gaming was still smooth though, but streaming from my NAS, a DLINK DNS-320, suffered. Not that the 320 was a speed demon in the first place, but it could provide a steady ~40mbs read speed, but after the Windows 10 update, it was down to ~18mbs. Absolutely maddening!
I resigned myself to eventually buy a Windows 10 certified wifi adapter but never actually got around to it. Again, gaming was still smooth, and I used my laptop to stream from the 320. One day however, I needed to back up my desktop's hard drive, and good God the ~15mbs write speed to my new NAS (a repurposed Lenovo PC) was just unbearable. On a whim, I decided to check out Mediatek's website for updated drivers, and lo and behold there was one released on January 2016. Downloaded it (the file name was IS_Setup_ICS_011916_1.5.39.173), uninstalled the old drivers, installed the new one, and rebooted. And like an old friend recovering from a debilitating injury, the 684UB was back up to full speed. If anyone is familiar with Courage the Cowardly Dog and his distinct way of saying Yay, that was my reaction. Yay!
Also did some quick speed tests to the Lenovo (Core 2 Duo with 7200rpm Hitachi HDD) and was able to get over 100mbs on both read and write. The 684UB achieved that easily on 5Ghz AND 2.4Ghz. Keep in mind that is with channel bonding activated (that's the option in most routers that have you choose 20Mhz or 40Mhz) and a new router, an Archer C8.
Even with the venerable E4200 retired, I'm a bit reluctant to replace the 684UB. My brother has upgraded to a rosewill AC1200UBE wifi adapter, and it doesn't significantly outperform the Trendnet LAN to LAN despite being USB 3 and AC spec. Internet speeds aren't affected of course since that is limited by my ISP. With nearly five years of reliable service, I think I'll be hanging onto this little device a bit longer.
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on February 2, 2016
The internal wifi adapter in my Dell Laptop became intermittent and finally stopped working, and I spent endless hours troubleshooting, re-installing drivers, running Command Prompts, searching on the web for answers, etc. Then I took the laptop to a local computer repair shop and the tech confirmed that it was indeed not working. He advised that he would have to run a full diagnostic on the computer, then suggested that just buying an external $10 WiFi Adapter would be far more economical.

The TRENDnet TEW-804UB was a good choice. It took me 10-15 minutes to run the setup from the included CD and install the driver, plug in the adapter into a USB port, and then I was back in business with a strong signal. I haven't had any problems with wifi access at all after installing it several days ago. The only reason I've deducted one star is that it sticks out of the case quite a bit and fits rather loosely in the USB slot so I have accidentally knocked it out of position a few times already. When I place the laptop in my briefcase the adapter sometimes fall out. I'll have to be extra careful not to lose it.

I am using this adapter with a Dell Inspiron 15" Laptop running Windows 10.

Note that Amazon combines reviews of various models, so you'll have to read the label at the top of the review to be sure you're reading a review for the model you intend to purchase. This is a very annoying feature of the Amazon review system, since not all products from one manufacturer are equal!
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on October 14, 2012
I used it a couple of times and then I had it stored away and when I tried to use it again, it was dead. Luckily it was still under warranty (within a year), so I sent it to the manufacturer and they sent me a new one. While I was getting this one exchanged, I purchased another one for under $8.00 (generic brand) and worked great too.

You can find the under $8.00 one in Amazon, by searching for: Bl-lw05-5r USB 802.11n 150m Mini Wireless Lan Adapter
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