SMC moves away from their more interesting and curvy designs in their Barricade G routers to a more classic low profile box unit. The SMCWBR14-N has a silver and blue theme with a row of status indicators out front and three external 4dbi antennas, two of which are fixed while the middle one is removable. On the back panel, you can see a power input connector, hardware reset button, one WAN port and four 10/100Mbps Auto-MDIX LAN ports. While there isn't a power button, there is a small switch next to the WAN port that can be used to enable or disable the wireless AP.
Simple as it is, it doesn't feature any other connections or expansion possibilities such as a USB hub for print servers or storage extensions, which some routers have come to embrace. It also doesn't feature any easy setup or configuration button like most routers to help less tech savvy users setup their hardware. However, we've found out that the SMCWBR14-N is actually very user friendly and has a very well detailed help system, but more on this later.
Manufactured in a plastic chassis, the SMCWBR14-N is slim and lightweight, but the silver paint job is very prone to scratching. Ventilation grills are located on both sides of the router and should offer sufficient heat dissipation, but from our experience, it does get uncomfortably warm after a day of testing. While most users tend to hide their routers away in an inconspicuous corner, you may want to ensure that more than the antennas have a little breathing room.
The SMCWBR14-N is based on the more popular Atheros XSPAN chipset, boasting wireless transmission speeds of up to 300Mbps and MIMO coverage. Besides its Atheros Draft-N wireless engine, the SMCWBR14-N incorporates an intelligent QoS solution based on the Ubicom StreamEngine media and communications processor. Set by default to automatically detect and optimize network traffic, StreamEngine is quite configurable too. Essentially, it performs packet filtering, dynamic fragmentation, prioritization and traffic shaping to ensure best possible conditions between latency sensitive data such as video streaming, VoIP or games and regular bandwidth subjective traffic. The router also features 802.11e WMM QoS for wireless media streaming.