An absolute steal at this price – great performance and superb value make this a must for next-gen WiFi junkies
If your modem and home networking equipment currently resides in your lounge room, the WRT310N’s futuristic design will be a godsend. There are no feng shui-disrupting antennas sprouting from it, and at just 34mm high at its thickest point you could even hide it under the sofa. You’ll need to hope for a similarly-stylish look from your modem, though, as the WRT310N has a WAN port but no integrated ADSL hardware.
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The WRT310N is draft-N compliant, and produced some excellent results in our tests. In an environment with a few other wireless networks, some dividing walls and plenty of interference-causing electrical equipment, transferring 100MB of large files took 1:50 – an impressive rate of just over 19Mb/s. We tested using both the Intel 4965AGN wireless adapter in our Core 2 test notebook and Linksys’ WPC300N PC Card adapter – the speed of our 100MB test was virtually identical with each adapter, suggesting the WRT310N has good draft-N compatibility.
Small-file performance was good too – copying 2997 tiny files from the next room happened at 5.6Mb/s with our Intel adapter, and a marginally faster rate of 5.9Mb/s with the Linksys adapter.
Linksys has attempted to simplify the process of setting up the WRT310N by including its LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor) software in the box. In practice, the software will ease the set up process for anxious first-timers – we had great success finding and setting up the router from our test laptop. Advanced users, however, will be perfectly comfortable with the WRT310N’s logically-laid out and well-presented web server, through which all of its settings are available.
There are just a few features on the WRT310N that advanced users will miss. The outgoing A List resident, the D-Link RangeBooster N 650, had a USB port for file or print serving, and some routers include support for applications such as BitTorrent to allow you to download files without the need for a noisy, power-hungry PC.
It lacks a few bells and whistles, but the rest of the WRT310N’s features are solid. MAC address spoofing and support for Dynamic DNS services such as DynDNS and TZO.com make it easy to customize your internet connection, while an SPI firewall and the ability to prevent internet activity such as Java, ActiveX and Cookies allow you a good deal of control over what your users can do.
It’s also possible to create internet access policies, either on a network-wide basis or by the MAC address of each PC on your network. You can select certain times of day that internet access is available, or you can block sites by their URL. Keyword blocking is another useful addition, while application blocking – by port range and internet protocol – allows you to disable certain activities from the router.
The WRT310N also allows a good deal of control of QoS, to ensure that bandwidth-intensive applications get priority over standard traffic. MSN Messenger, Skype and Yahoo! Messenger are all supported out of the box, and you can add your own applications as long as you know its port range.
There’s also a list of current games that you can prioritise, and you can even choose entire PCs to give traffic preference to, selecting each by its MAC address. Standalone voice devices such as Skype phones are supported as well – just pop in the device’s MAC address.
The odd missing feature aside, the WRT310N is a great choice. It’s fast, well-featured and easy to set up for both beginners and advanced users. It’s also $53 cheaper than the D-Link RangeBooster DIR-655, and a worthy addition to the A List.
FEATURES & DESIGN 5
VALUE FOR MONEY 5
802.11n wireless router; 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports; 1 x WAN port; WEP, WPA; WPA2; SPI/NAT firewall; 1yr warranty.
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