Billion BiPAC 4500NZ review

An affordable router with valuable 4G WAN failover and decent VPN performance

IT Pro Value
Price
£187
  • Embedded 4G LTE WAN support; Small and light; Good value;
  • VPN documentation needs updating; SPI firewalls turned off by default; No WAN load balancing;

Billion's BiPAC 4500NZ is a budget-friendly router aimed at small businesses looking for a solid combination of WAN redundancy, site-to-site and client VPN support, and wireless services. Its primary WAN connection is handled by a dedicated Gigabit port, and it has an integrated 4G LTE module that only requires a SIM card slotted in the back.

Installation is easy, aided by a wizard that runs through setting up internet access on the Gigabit or LTE WAN interfaces and enabling wireless services. It was quick to get these sorted, but you must remember to manually enable the router's SPI firewall as, rather worryingly, this is turned off by default.

WAN load balancing isn't available. For WAN failover, you must select it from the web interface and define primary and backup roles for both connections. The router probes a predefined IP address on the internet and, if it fails to get a response a specific number of times, it switches over to the backup link.

Wireless services are basic, only running to support for 2.4GHz 11n operations, but the router can present up to four virtual SSIDs (each with its own encryption scheme), enforce client isolation to stop wireless users seeing each other, and use MAC address filter tables on each SSID to block or allow access for specific systems.

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The router's USB 2 port doesn't support a 3G/4G dongle, but it can present a storage device to the network as an SMB share or FTP site. We could control access to the storage device by defining up to six user accounts to determine read and write access to the SMB and FTP services.

Performance is sluggish: copies over Gigabit using a share mapped from a USB stick returned read and write speeds of 8.2MB/sec and 4.5MB/sec respectively. The FTP speeds weren't any better with copies mustering 8.4MB/sec and only 2MB/sec.

Site-to-site IPsec VPNs are easy enough to create, but Billion doesn't provide any client software or tutorials, even on the more common third-party options. We tested using TheGreenBow VPN client and saw respectable real-world read and write speeds, with our copies returning 8.5MB/sec and 7.8MB/sec.

For PPTP VPNs, Billion provides guidance for Windows 7, which was easy enough to translate across to our Windows 10 remote desktop. As expected, performance was lower than the IPsec variety, with file copies over a PPTP tunnel to our LAN systems averaging a top speed of only 2.7MB/sec.

Simple QoS rules can be used to prioritise particular services. Up to 16 rules can be used, with each defining a group of sources, destinations, ports and protocols and assigning high or low priorities.

Access controls to selected apps can also be enforced, although these are of limited value: Billion only provides a few options such as web, FTP, Telnet and Ping. Each rule can be applied to a range of IP addresses on the LAN or WAN and have a time schedule applied to determine when it's active.

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Its parental-control option supports Cisco's OpenDNS service for web filtering. The home-protection option is free, but you'll need to modify the router's WAN settings to use the OpenDNS name servers and cough up around 13 per year to get usage logging and statistics.

VPN performance is reasonable, although Billion's documentation in this area is in dire need of a major overhaul. Even so, with Ethernet and embedded 4G LTE WAN support plus basic wireless services, the BiPAC 4500NZ is a good-value choice for a small business, as well as being compact and light enough to take on the road.

Verdict

With Ethernet and embedded 4G LTE WAN support plus basic wireless services, the BiPAC 4500NZ is a good-value choice for a small business, as well as being compact and light enough to take on the road.

Desktop chassis

5x Gigabit Ethernet (4x LAN, 1x WAN)

3G/4G LTE with SIM slot

2.4GHz 802.11n wireless

IPsec, PPTP, L2TP VPNs

USB2

External power supply

230 x 43 x 155mm (WDH)

2yr standard warranty

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