Linksys by Cisco WAG320N

The WAG320N establishes itself as a good all rounder by marrying good performance with useful software and a decent set of features. The dual band is not simultaneous though, it doesn't use 5GHz to its best potential, and the short warranty period is a cause for concern.


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About The Author

CNET Editor

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.


Linksys' "UFO" design has been with us for a while now, and continues to be one of the more attractive router designs on the market. The WAG320N is the ADSL2+ modem/router offering from Cisco's little consumer arm, and manages to not only fit dual-band under the hood, but works in some gigabit Ethernet ports as well. Keep in mind this is a not a simultaneous dual-band router — you'll either have to choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless operating modes exclusively.

Specs at a glance

Firmware tested 1.00.12
ADSL2+ modem Yes
Annex M Yes
3G modem No
Wireless protocols 802.11b/g/n
Highest wireless security WPA2
WDS No
Ethernet ports 4x gigabit
USB print sharing/storage Storage only
Accessories Ethernet cable, phone cable, CD containing quick-start guide, manual, Cisco Network Magic free edition

Connections

Linksys WAG320N rear

ADSL line, four gigabit Ethernet ports, USB port for storage, reset button, power jack, power button. (Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

UI and features

Gone is LELA (Linksys EasyLink Adviser), Linksys' easy-to-use networking software. It's been replaced with Cisco's Network Magic — although Linksys has not included the full version of the software. This means that you can't use the software to share a printer, share a folder, perform an internet speed test, schedule when a PC on the network can access the internet, take a screenshot of another computer's desktop or track computer usage on the network without opening your wallet for the PC version, or opening it even wider to get Mac compatibility. You can, of course, do all of this already if you're computer savvy, but for those who aren't, it seems a little harsh that they're expected to pay more.

Cisco Network Magic

You can not only manage all your network connections through Network Magic, you can also see the topology of your network. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Cisco Network Magic

You can also manage certain elements of your router without ever loading the web UI... (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Cisco Network Magic

...or other computers on your network, although some features require you to install Network Magic on the remote PC as well. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Interestingly, the freely bundled version only supports Cisco hardware, while the paid version works wherever. We wonder why that isn't a big enough hobble for Cisco to bundle a fully featured version. Most likely because as it stands, no home networking competitor comes close to offering this kind of software, so it feels it can get away with handing out a cut-down version.

The web user interface (UI) is sadly less exciting, but is easy enough to navigate around, and highly featured. There is a help link to the right of every page that opens a pop up explaining all the options. True beginners will likely still be lost among the jargon, but those who are beginning to find their networking feet will appreciate the extra help.

Linksys WAG320N UI

Linksys keeps it simple, and thus, easy to navigate. (Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Features above the norm are plentiful here; the first Ethernet port can act as a WAN port, and the router can clone MAC addresses. It can share folders on the attached USB storage via Windows sharing or FTP and can run a UPnP media server; there's also time of day internet scheduling, and on top of the usual firewall capability there's URL and keyword blocking.

Performance

After analysing the spectrum with InSSIDer, an empty channel of either 1, 6 or 11 is chosen for 2.4GHz wireless testing. The router is restricted to the 20MHz band and will only allow 802.11n clients. If possible, the MCS is set to 15.

We use iperf to determine throughput, running eight streams, with a TCP window size of 1MB, and an interval of one second. The test is run for five minutes in three different locations, on two separate occasions. The locations are in the same room as the router, one floor down around spiral stairs and with concrete walls and floors, and two floors down under the same conditions.

The wireless throughput is tested using three chipsets, the Atheros AR5008X, Ralink RT2870 and Intel 5100AGN, then all results are averaged.

2.4GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Billion BiPAC 7800N
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)
  • Asus DSL-N13
  • Netgear DGND3300 V2
  • Location one (same room, no obstructions) 69.2065.9765.1770.13
  • Location two (one floor down, some obstructions) 64.6354.3753.4352.90
  • Location three (two floors down, some obstructions) 38.2335.2729.7322.1

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Although it doesn't show up the 7800N for 2.4GHz performance, it does manage to come overall in second place. Let's check out the 5GHz performance.

5GHz throughput (in Mbps)

  • Belkin Play Max F7D4401au (without Intel 5100)
  • Belkin Play Max F7D4401au (with Intel 5100)
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)

  • Netgear DGND3300 V2
  • Location one (same room, no obstructions) 121.0065.9793.9792.5
  • Location two (one floor down, some obstructions) 91.8554.3793.1092.5
  • Location three (two floors down, some obstructions) 004.500.06

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

We should note the dual scores we've entered here for Belkin — for some bizarre reason when set to allow only N clients, the Play Max modem/router will not allow the Intel 5100AGN to connect. Turning this off allowed the Intel chipset to connect over 802.11g, greatly distorting the results. Still, it's disturbing that so widespread a chipset could have such issues with a router.

Besides this, there are a few interesting things happening here. Only Belkin's modem/router has a fast enough internal routing speed to take advantage of wireless N's throughput when fed by a gigabit port. Both Linksys and Netgear's models have limited throughput, hitting a ceiling for both location one and two despite obstructions and distance increasing between the two points. While this doesn't matter on the Netgear as its Ethernet is limited to 100Mbit, for the Linksys it's an obvious downside. If you want the most out of 5GHz wireless N from Linksys or Netgear, you'll need to invest in the stand-alone WRT610N or WNDR3700 routers respectively.

Location three is particularly challenging for 5GHz. The Linksys is the only one that makes a stable connection, and even then performance isn't great. We should also note that Linksys' own external dongle was all it would connect to — both the in-built Atheros and Intel chipsets failed to make a connection. The number shown above is the average over the three connections, but obviously the zero scores distort the results here: the actual throughput on the Linksys dongle for the Linksys and Netgear modem routers was 13.50 and 0.18Mbps respectively.

ADSL performance is simply measured by the sync speed on an Internode ADSL2+ connection to the St Leonards exchange, on Internode's very high speed profile. If the connection remains stable over a period of time, the sync speed is recorded.

ADSL2+ sync speed (in Kbps)

  • Billion BiPAC 7800N
  • Linksys WAG320N (2.4GHz)
  • Asus DSL-N13
  • D-Link DSL-2740B
  • Uplink 1349134213461338
  • Downlink 22,30622,57921,92122,173

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Power consumption

We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

The wireless radio was turned on, and an iperf test begun for measurement, using one wireless client and one wired.

Juice Box
Transmitting 9W
Idle 7W

Warranty

Cisco offers only a one-year warranty for the WAG320N — given Billion and Netgear offer two years, and D-Link, Asus and NetComm offer three years, Cisco's warranty can hardly be seen as competitive.

Conclusion

The WAG320N establishes itself as a good all rounder by marrying good performance with useful software and a decent set of features. The dual-band is not simultaneous though, it doesn't use 5GHz to its best potential, and the short warranty period is a cause for concern.

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HamishP1 Facebook
1
Rating
 

"So happy I replaced this piece of junk"

HamishP1 posted a review   

The Good:Easy to configure, but what modem isn't these days?

The Bad:Wireless is absolutely shocking. Bad bad bad.

This is easily the worst modem/router I have ever owned. Originally had a cheap Netgear which did the job but the DSL speeds were not as good as they should be...

Purchased the WAG320N and related Cisco/Linksys branded wifi gear for my devices. Instead of doing my research, I purchased the products going off the good name of Cisco. Last time I ever make that mistake again.

The wifi is absolutely shocking - I have a linux PC running XBMC, 2 Android devices, a Sony Bluray Audio system, Xbox 360, and Macbook. Every single one of these devices could not hold a stream for longer than 30 seconds without continually dropping out... I watch Foxtel via my Xbox which instantly could not stream video at the lowest quality. My Bluray system could not download updates without losing the connection. Any device trying to watch youtube clips failed. I could not even stream audio from my Amazon account it was that bad.

During this time I spent literally $900 on an electrican to replace all phone cabling and points in the house, which did not improve the situation... I actually spent 2-3 days going through every setting and trying various changes to see if I could get any improvement. Nothing worked.

Anyways, a week ago I replaced it with a Netgear D6300 - everything is now amazing over wifi. Words cannot explain how terrible the WAG320N is, I would recommend you avoid this device like the plague.

bigBlueMango
1
Rating
 

"Time to move on"

bigBlueMango posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:Works right out of the box

The Bad:Breaks soon thereafter

I have a 3 month old Cisco Linksys WAG320N, and today, the wireless router has died. The only way to receive internet connection is via ethernet, so the modem bit still works. Still, losing steam after three months is, well, 1970's technology. Cisco seems to be losing it as a company, so on replacing this device, I'm not wasting my money with them. Such a fine 20th century company too. Grandpa's company I suppose.

Kalify
3
Rating
 

"Not the Best"

Kalify posted a review   
New Zealand

The Good:Looks good, Impressive specs, Network storage USB

The Bad:WiFi is terrible

Decided to upgrade our Thompson wireless modem router, As we have a lot of wireless devices in the house. I got everything connected including the HDD, But it kept dropping the connection DLNA errors would pop up. So i called the help desk and she blamed it on everything but the modem router. I advised that the wired devices worked fine and were able to watch movies from HDD, while the wireless devices kept getting errors or dropping the connection. I was told to take the unit in and they would check it out so i took it in and got my money back. I cannot believe this was rated the 2nd best modem router???

eng.almutairi
10
Rating
 

"best modem router ever"

eng.almutairi posted a review   
Other

The Good:stable and strong signal

The Bad:covrage not excellent

hi all i used linksys , d-link ,speedtouch , belkin almost modem router . the excellent modem router i used linksys wag320n its powerful and strong for gaming music movies all u want for multi connection they remind me of linksys wag54 best modem router , but the bad thing on the wag320n covrage only covrage but when u want stable connection and strong u has wag320n

excellent modem router ( linksys wag 54 g-series and wag320n n-series and belkin n 300 adsl2 n-series )

best company product ( buffalo - billion ) my friends experience :)

through my experience since 2002 to 2011

regards

eng : abdulaziz almutairi

NathanW2 Facebook
7
Rating
 

"Working great here!"

NathanW2 posted a review   
New Zealand

The Good:Stable and works, unlike some other crap we've had.

The Bad:Cost, 2.4Ghz stopped working after a year?

Got it about a year ago, was easy to set up, wireless had good range and strength, sped the wired network up considerably and as a bonus, now our connection doesn''t drop out every damn day (thanks to **** Netgear routers).

Everything works as it should, other than just recently we had to swap back to 2.4Ghz when a family friend visited....
only then nothing worked! We could connect to it, but it was painfully slow and dropping 99% of packets, even when right beside the router..
Swapped back to 5Ghz, everything worked fine again, full speed N, even through the floor... Just no connection for the friend's laptop/iPhone/iPad (they didn't support 5Ghz)

So...Not sure what to think, everything we use it for (media PC and file server connected wirelessly to the router through the floor, watching streaming blu-rays over the network etc.) works just fine, never drops out.

Guess we got lucky and got a good one? Shame nobody else here seems to share our success?

 

13th posted a comment   

The Good:clear voip

The Bad:drop outs

Just bought this modem a week ago to replace a netgear modem that was causing problems with voip. It worked well then started dropping out every 20mins or so. Checked online forums and it seems to be a problem everywhere I looked with no solution evident. My mates an IT guy and checked my settings, but it still drops out. Taking a loss and replacing it this week with a billion modem, just need a good stable modem that gives me good voip. Not this one.

Simon
8
Rating
 

Simon posted a review   

The Good:Great speed, great wireless super fast gigabit ethernet

The Bad:No support for Multiple PVC's and IGMP

Haven't experienced any of the problems listed above on 2.4Ghz wireless.
The wireless seems to work fantastically, though all our wireless devices are class N wireless now.

And as for the wired network, it's absolutely fantastic, I've been moving large files around my network at up to 80MB/s while 3 other people surf the net and experienced no problems.
Fantastically great router.

mossko
1
Rating
 

mossko posted a review   

The Good:Looks pretty, ADSL works well

The Bad:WiFi apalling

This unit cost the most out of other units in it's class, and Linksys has a good reputation in the SoHo ADSL/WiFi router market

This unit is clearly the worst I have ever used, which is saying something about the cheap Dlink, TP-Link and Netgear ADSL/WiFi routers I have used over the years

The wireless signal drops out frequently, all Wireless gear has trouble connecting, wireless performance is so slow it's apalling, a trickle of a few KBytes/s

I plugged in my old Linksys WRP400 WiFi G Router and now have super fast WiFi access at 600KBytes/s which is what my wired connections see

How can Linksys make such a crap piece of equipment?

I phoned their support 3 times and there was a slight improvement after changing some settings away from the defaults. They offered a replacement and I filled out an RMA form to take to the shop but the shop took the router and offered no replacement, stating they would send my router off and when a replacement comes in they would call me. No internet for a week while working from home and being on call, no thanks

Linksys offered a postal service where I post out my router straight to the distributor and the distributor send a replacement, again at least 2 days of no internet

Why should I have to pay for a faulty unit and be without internet while it's fixed? This is ridiculous

Do not buy any Linksys products in this range

I am looking at alternate suppliers for an ADSL / WiFi router

 

Gerrydir posted a comment   

I too upgraded from a cheap Belkin I had had for six years. The WAG320N is a piece of Junk. The only wireless that works is if you are in the same room as it. Do not buy and dont take any nonesense from the retailer

 

Skolink posted a comment   

The Good:Features

The Bad:Very low signal strength

Quite impressed with all the features this router has, but very unimpressed by the very low signal strength (on 2.4GHz), esp compared to the crappy DLink modem/router/AP we 'upgraded' from.


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User Reviews / Comments  Linksys by Cisco WAG320N

  • HamishP1

    HamishP1

    Rating1

    "This is easily the worst modem/router I have ever owned. Originally had a cheap Netgear which did the job but the DSL speeds were not as good as they should be...

    Purchased the WAG320N..."

  • bigBlueMango

    bigBlueMango

    Rating1

    "I have a 3 month old Cisco Linksys WAG320N, and today, the wireless router has died. The only way to receive internet connection is via ethernet, so the modem bit still works. Still, losing steam a..."

  • Kalify

    Kalify

    Rating3

    "Decided to upgrade our Thompson wireless modem router, As we have a lot of wireless devices in the house. I got everything connected including the HDD, But it kept dropping the connection DLNA err..."

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