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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Good for locations with numerous Wi-Fi signals
Good for gaming
Frustrating setup process
Shelf space hog
App is somewhat sparse
The Razer Portal is great for gamers in apartments, but if you don’t suffer from interference from other routers it’s really not a major upgrade over the typical router/modem combo.
When you live in a packed apartment building you may well be frustrated by the negative effects the dozens of other competing Wi-Fi signals have on the performance of your own wireless network. That’s where the Razer Portal comes in with its promises of consistent, lag-free connection even in crowded urban environments.
The smooth, futuristic design of the Portal has a definite UFO quality to it that I can’t help but admire. It’s a very minimalist design, the only issue being that its wide oval shape does hog shelf space to some extent. It, unfortunately, can’t be stood vertically on its side to save space, though brackets on the back make it easy to wall mount. The status indicator light is located in the O in the Portal logo.
On the back, you have the power jack, WAN port, four ethernet ports, two USB ports, and the reset button. The Portal comes with a power adapter and an ethernet cable to connect the router to your modem.
The setup process for the Razer Portal is streamlined through the Portal app, and fully guided me through getting it up and running. However, it was not entirely smooth sailing, as I ran into bugs and glitches at several points. I ended up having to restart the router once, and go through different portions of the setup process several times. Because of this, a short and simple task dragged on longer than it should have.
The setup process was not entirely smooth sailing, as I ran into bugs and glitches at several points.
The Portal’s claim to fame is its Fastlane technology, the purpose of which is to slice through crowded airspace thick with various Wi-Fi networks and provide you with an unencumbered signal. Furthermore, the router is optimized to provide a superior online gaming experience. Though my region has neither particularly fast internet nor locations with particularly crowded Wi-Fi, I nonetheless was able to appreciate the benefits of the Razer Portals' unique talents.
The Fastlane technology does indeed deliver a fast, unencumbered signal for lag-free connection ideal for wireless gaming. This 5Ghz network is particularly effective and delivered higher speeds than my ISP provided router’s 5Ghz network. However, it has a relatively short range and is really only adequate for Razer’s advertised 3,000 square feet of coverage.
The router is optimized to provide a superior online gaming experience.
There is also the slower 2.4Ghz network if you need a longer range, but it lacks the advantages of the 5Ghz Fastlane. Nevertheless, I was actually quite impressed by the range of this 2.4Ghz network, which allowed me to connect to the router throughout my 4,000 square foot house and a respectable portion of my yard. At such ranges, however, the speed of the connection was reduced yet further, and it wasn’t really that much better than my basic ISP router.
If you do need a larger Fastlane network, you can purchase an additional Portal unit to create a mesh network. It is also possible to have the system form a dynamic dual-band network that switches between the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies automatically, but I found the system not to be as reliable as the separate networks, and features such as beamforming are disabled.
The Portal mobile app isn’t bad by any means, but it’s a bit buggy, and the menu location for router settings isn’t exactly where you’d expect it to be. I’m conditioned to click on the little gear icon to get to a settings menu, but that only takes you to a menu with a few options for the Portal app. To find the router settings in the app, you have to tap on the portal icon on the main screen. This will take you to a single page with a shortlist of basic settings.
Also from the main app menu, you can add another Portal to create a mesh network, alter the guest network settings, and check which devices are connected. It’s simple enough once you get used to the unusual layout, but that’s when you realize that the system lacks features like device prioritization or parental controls. It should be noted that on some retailer's websites parental controls are advertised, but I was unable to locate any such controls in the app.
At its MSRP of $150, the Razer Portal is a little on the steep side. However, it is widely available for less than half that cost, and at such discounts, it’s something of a bargain. At its commonly discounted price point of $70, it’s possible to put together a powerful, long-range mesh Wi-Fi network on the cheap.
The TP-Link Deco P9 (view on Amazon) is a mesh Wi-Fi system that provides not only a much less frustrating setup process but is an overall better choice for large houses. The Razer Portal is better suited to apartments where its anti-interference tech can reduce the impact of airspace cluttered with too much Wi-Fi activity. It also lacks the seamless, powerful quality and an extra level of control afforded by the Deco 9’s tri-band mesh network.
The Razer Portal is a great router for gamers in apartment buildings.
The fastlane tech in the Razer Portal really is a boon for apartment dwellers dealing with the intruding networks of neighborhood routers. However, if you live in a more isolated home, the limited range of the Fastlane 5G network can be a problem. Whether or not it’s right for you will very much depend on where you live.