As Linksys is owned by Cisco, the company that builds much of the infrastructure behind the internet, you’d expect a little of that know-how to trickle down to its consumer products.
But we’ve been a little underwhelmed by its routers in the past. Its Linksys WRVS4400N
, for instance, picked up average performance scores in our last routers Labs and scored four out of six overall. Its new WAG160N, however, is a different beast entirely.
Like Belkin this month, Linksys has bucked the beige box trend: this router looks more like a flying saucer than a piece of networking equipment. There’s a distinct lack of external aerials – two 2dBi gain aerials are built into the chassis – which adds to the clean look. This does mean you can’t add higher gain aerials if you need to, but as a fit-and-forget product, no other router in this test beats the Linksys.
The Linksys performs well, losing out only to the Belkin in the average file transfer stakes. It achieved an overall average adjusted rate of 26.9Mb/sec; not far below the Belkin’s overall rate of 30.1Mb/sec. Speeds were more consistent throughout the house, though, varying only between 34.5Mb/sec (in the kitchen) and 36.3Mb/sec (upstairs). Long-distance performance was less impressive at just 13.9Mb/sec, but that’s still the third fastest here.
Where the Linksys impresses most, however, is in its software package and ease of setup. In addition to wizard-based setup on the router itself, you get an excellent disc-based wizard and Linksys’ EasyLink Advisor software.
Once installed, the latter provides a clear diagram of the devices on your network and how they’re linked, depicting connected clients and information associated with them.
You can even click through and change settings from here – it’s an excellent alternative to Vista’s confusing collection of network administration tools and status views.
There are no swanky extras such as gigabit ethernet, dual WAN/ADSL ports or WDS bridging. The warranty isn’t the most impressive either at one year RTB; and business features are on the short side – there’s no WPA Enterprise or intrusion detection, for example.
But for just $131 this is a very good deal. It’s a whopping $139 cheaper than the Belkin N1 Vision , doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of speed or looks and is very easy to use. A worthy winner.