Cisco's sleek-looking router boasts a super-fast 450Mbits/sec top speed, but how does it fare in our tests?
Cisco’s dual-band E4200 is the first router we’ve come across that’s rated at 450Mbits/sec. That sounds impressive but, as with all routers, the real-world speeds you can achieve differ vastly from these headline speeds. Also, that top speed is achievable only over 5GHz, and you need a compatible wireless adapter – we tested with Intel’s Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300.
Given the right conditions, it’s a quick router. Over 5GHz at close range we achieved an average speed of 161.1Mbits/sec when sending large files from our test laptop to another machine hooked up to one of the E4200’s four Gigabit Ethernet ports. That’s 14Mbits/sec better than the fastest router we’ve previously seen in this test. However, it’s less consistent in other tests at close range. Speeds dropped to 95Mbits/sec when receiving the same files, and to 96Mbits/sec and 80Mbits/sec when transmitting and receiving small files. Over 2.4GHz, it’s slower still.
What’s most notable about the E4200 is its speed at long distance. Where most other routers slow dramatically or fail to connect consistently over 5GHz, the E4200 put in a sterling performance.
Despite lacking external antennae (there are six inside, three each for 2.4GHz and 5GHz), we measured transmit and receive rates of 51.5Mbits/sec and 50.7Mbits/sec for large files over a distance of 40m.
A single USB port enables NAS features, but speeds are slow at 5.4MB/sec for large file transfers, and there isn’t anything particularly distinctive in the web settings pages either. You can set up a guest network, and there are basic parental controls, but there’s no proper hardware VPN, VoIP or support for 3G dongles or printers.
For $275 we expect more. The Cisco Linksys E4200 is quick, but there are only a few adapters that allow you to take full advantage of its top speed.