Keenetic Hero 4G router review

With the outbreak of the coronavirus and the ensuing self-isolation, living in a country house or any other place, as long as it is away from the city’s congestion of people and a cramped apartment, become a real trend. At the same time, interest in the mobile Internet has increased. If a year ago needed this type of communication more for smartphones, today it is on a par with the classic wired connection of stationary point

Also facilitated by the development, or rather a qualitative change, of small businesses. It is often easier and cheaper for the latter to use a mobile hotspot than a wired connection, which sometimes becomes unreasonably expensive. This situation is not uncommon in the territories of large closed factories and other enterprises. And sometimes wired Internet access is not available, as, for example, in a roadside cafe or rural village. Instead of stretching fiber optic through the village streets, Russian operators often offer ADSL communication at the cost of under a thousand rubles a month and a speed not exceeding 5 Mbps. But you can quickly solve all these tasks with a 4G modem.

Keenetic solutions are among the best in this regard. But there are much fewer devices with a built-in 4G module. But if there is demand, supply will surely grow. Most recently, Keenetic has two models of Internet centers with 4G modems on board at once: Keenetic Hero 4G (KN-2310) and Keenetic Runner 4G (KN-2210). We got the older model for testing.

⇡#Packaging and delivery set of Keenetic Hero 4G

Keenetic Hero 4G Internet Center is delivered in a cardboard box of blue and white colors, familiar to us from other modern Keenetic devices. The package, along with the device, contains:

  • power adapter;
  • flat Ethernet cable;
  • adapter for nanoSIM-card;
  • a short printed connection guide.

More detailed configuration guides and numerous articles on working with Keenetic centers and networking are available on the manufacturer’s official website.

The table shows the Keenetic Hero 4 G’s technical characteristics, which we tested, and the younger Keenetic Runner 4G model. The Keenetic Hero 4G model is built based on the well-proven Keenetic Viva router, with the same MT7621A dual-core processor operating at a clock frequency of 880 MHz and the same class of AC1300 dual-band Wi-Fi network with a maximum connection speed of 867 Mbit / s in a frequency range of 5 GHz.
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The younger Keenetic Runner 4G model has a less efficient processor and, most importantly, a 2.4 GHz single-band Wi-Fi module with a maximum connection speed of 300 Mbps. Its wired Ethernet network is also less fast – 100 Mbps versus 1 Gbps for each of the five Keenetic Hero 4G ports. The Keenetic Runner 4G Model only has four Ethernet ports. The older model also has one USB port, mainly intended to connect an external disk drive.

But in what the new items are identical, it is in the connectivity to the cellular Network. Both devices are equipped with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon X5 Cat.4 LTE modems operating in LTE / 3G / 4G networks and providing speeds up to 150 Mbps. The modems use Micro-SIM cards. Two detachable broadband antennas with SMA connectors are responsible for reception. If desired or necessary, they can be replaced with external outdoor MIMO antennas, with the help of significantly improving the bash outside the city and within its boundaries. For example, the Internet center is located in the basement.

Not so long ago, we got acquainted with the Mesh network function in Keenetic routers, which can be organized based on any of the latest devices from this manufacturer. Moreover, they all provide seamless roaming and support 802.11 k / r / v protocols. New items with LTE modems on board are no exception. Additional devices in this mesh network can be simpler models with a lower cost – for example, Keenetic Start. Thus, you can organize a reliable and secure Internet connection even in a reasonably large room with a very complex layout and thick walls.

Appearance

Even though the novelty is based on the Keenetic Viva model’s hardware component, the device’s case is more similar to the issue of older models of routers like Keenetic Ultra. The point, of course, is the need for free space to accommodate a 4G modem. It is worth noting that there are fasteners on the back of the case, thanks to which this Internet center can not only be placed on a shelf but also mounted on a wall ceiling. In this case, the antennas can always be deployed as required by the router’s location in space.

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Like other modern Keenetic models, the rectangular case is made of plastic in two colors: gray and white. There are LED indicators on its front panel. In addition to traditional indicators that inform the user about the power and status, the presence of an Internet connection, and a Wi-Fi connection, Keenetic Hero 4G has another one that shows a mobile network connection. If it is blue, the signal is weak; when the signal is strong, the indicator lights up green. The hand of the Internet connection is also made two-color. When connected via a cellular network, it informs the orange user about working in the 3G NetworkNetwork and green – if made the connection via 4G.

One side of the case houses a USB port and a customizable button for the quick launch of user-selected functions. At the back are traditionally all Ethernet ports, a SIM card slot, a reset button, and a power adapter connector.

Also on the back panel of the case are threaded connectors for connecting a pair of cellular antennas. Non-removable Wi-Fi network antennas are located on the side edges of the case. Both those and others can be deployed and rotated almost as you like.

In general, the design of the new Keenetic, like all other Keenetic models, is simple and, at the same time, easy to use. The Keenetic Hero 4G model turned out to be quite large, but at the same time, it will not be difficult for it to find a suitable place in any room.

⇡#Customization

Connecting and configuring the Keenetic Hero 4G router does not take much time and does not require any special knowledge. In my.keenetic.net case, the user will be required to select the option for connecting the device to the Internet and the time zone and allow the system to download and update the firmware automatically. At the time of testing, KeeneticOS version 3.5.2 was offered for installation. After you come up with a password to enter the web interface, you can start using Keenetic Hero 4G features.

The web interface design and the main features of Keenetic Hero 4G remain the same as we saw them, for example, in the Keenetic Viva model. Using the web interface, you can view a list of devices connected to the network, organize the home and guest Wi-Fi networks with separate settings for different frequency ranges, configure filters and a firewall, as well as organize a Mesh network, which we have—already discussed in detail about earlier.

Now we are more interested in the section “Internet,” in which, in addition to the wired and wireless WISP-connection options, there is also a subsection “Modem 4G / 3G”. Here, you configure the connection of the built-in LTE modem to the Internet via the cellular NetworkNetwork.

The user can manually select the type of NetworkNetwork (3G or 4G) and set the operating frequency ranges, establish a mobile connection as the primary type of Internet connection or make it a backup, and find out complete information about the current relationship. There is a lot of data here. The overwhelming majority of users will be pretty satisfied that this page contains information about the values ​​of the connection and data transmission speeds and the signal level. As with other types of connection, you can set a schedule for Internet access for connecting using an LTE modem.

If you use several options for connecting to the Internet simultaneously, you can set the priority. Simultaneously, for different registered and not yet registered network devices, you can select your connection profile. And in this section, the user will find a page with an SMS. They can be viewed and deleted, as well as written and sent to any mobile numbers. This is very convenient and useful when activating or canceling various services when there is no way to go to your account on the mobile operator’s website. Support for USSD commands in the web interface will soon appear (in the console and the beta version, it is already available).

The rest of the web interface has not undergone any significant changes. All settings are clear and straightforward. The KeeneticOS modular system with the ability to add components in the settings section allows you to tailor the Keenetic’s operation to your needs.

Keenetic

⇡#Testing

We tested the Keenetic Hero 4G internet center in the south-west of Moscow; As a cellular Internet provider, we have chosen the operator “Megafon” with the tariff “Download! In some moment”. Internet connection speed testing was carried out using an ASUS ZenBook UX331U laptop with a built-in Intel Wi-Fi 5 802.11ac (2 × 2) network adapter Xiaomi Redmi Note 9Pro smartphone with a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi module. Both devices connected to the Internet Center via Wi-Fi, which will see in the tests, are not a bottleneck in this case.

Speedtest Ookla and nPerf applications for measuring Internet connection speed were installed on the laptop and smartphone. At the first stage of testing, the Internet center was located on a windowsill and discovered client devices about two meters from it. The test results are shown in the screenshots below.

Depending on the remote server and the current load on the cellular NetworkNetwork, the download and upload speed ranged from 30 to 50 Mbps. These results strongly depend on the router’s location, time of day (that is, the load on the mobile NetworkNetwork), and many other factors, but not on the actual value of the throughput of the built-in LTE modem, which is significantly higher.

When you move deeper into the apartment, the cellular signal weakens noticeably, and the data exchange rate drops by 5-10 times. Below are the full speed test results for a smartphone using Speedtest Ookla:

  • the bottom three lines – the Internet center is located on the windowsill;
  • three middle lines – the Internet center is located in the back of the apartment;
  • the top three lines – the Internet center is located in the bathroom (the point of the condo farthest from the windows).

In addition to the speed of the Internet connection, we checked the pace of work over Wi-Fi. 

software tools:

  • iPerf3 – for PCs running Microsoft Windows 10 Pro;
  • Magic iPerf – for smartphones running Android OS.

The server (desktop PC with a dual-port gigabit network adapter Intel I350-T2), which exchanged data with client devices, was constantly connected to one of the LAN ports of the Keenetic Hero 4G Internet center. As client devices, we used an ASUS ZenBook UX331U laptop with a built-in Intel Wi-Fi 5 802.11 ac (2 × 2) network adapter and a Xiaomi Redmi Note 9Pro smartphone with a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi module. We used data transmission in eight streams.

The speed of data exchange between the server and the client through the Keenetic is from 500 to 600 Mbps. Moreover, these results are indeed a laptop acts as a client device and when data is exchanged with a smartphone. In general, the test results confirm the new router’s declared technical characteristics and put it on a par not only with older models of Keenetic devices but also with routers from other manufacturers, the cost of which is slightly higher than that of Keenetic Hero 4G.

⇡#findings

Keenetic Hero 4G Internet Center is one of the most balanced devices in its class regarding price and capabilities on the market. There are more and more models with built-in LTE modems. But all of them either lose to Hero 4G in terms of functionality at a comparable price of devices or are more expensive due to LTE Cat.6 support and still do not reach the Keenetic firmware in terms of capabilities. Among the advantages of the novelty, it should be noted:

  • removable 4G antennas;
  • the presence of a USB port;
  • the ability to organize a seamless mesh network;
  • extensive customization options via the web interface;
  • high speed of data exchange via Wi-Fi.

We also note that Hero 4G is one of the very few routers that simultaneously support 4G and wired access to the network, and at the same time can be the basis for a Mesh network, thereby increasing the Wi-Fi coverage area almost indefinitely. -Fi. And for any decent “smart home” Internet channel reservation is simply a must, and here Hero 4G with support for Mesh, network segmentation, remote control, including access to services in the local NetworkNetwork, and push notifications are practically unmatched.

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Simultaneously, the user will not be limited in the options for configuring the router or in the network administration functions, which can often see in 4G modems and Mesh routers. For many, this can be a weighty argument in favor of buying Keenetic Hero 4G. Moreover, it can be equally helpful for both home users and small businesses, where the conditions for connecting to the Internet are often much more severe.

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