Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT320N

The Linksys WRT320N forces you to pick either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band for your wireless network. Given that, it's not an ideal choice for an environment with both types of wireless clients.


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CNET Rating
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The Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT320N is a good deal for those looking to create a network that only supports the 5GHz band. While the router supports 2.4GHz as well, unfortunately it does not support them both simultaneously. However, it does have gigabit Ethernet support. The router achieved good throughput speeds, with decent range.

Like most of Linksys' recent wireless routers, it comes with a comprehensive set of networking features that you can access via an easy-to-use web interface. The router also has a useful desktop application that helps set up and manage both the router and the local network. For a "does everything" router that has simultaneous dual-band support, gigabit Ethernet, and even better performance, check out the AU$349.95 Linksys WRT610N.

Design and set-up

The Linksys WRT320N comes in an aesthetically pleasing, sleek, flat, UFO-shape chassis. The router's antennas are hidden within the chassis, making it look much more compact than other, similarly sized routers do. This is a very welcome design that Linksys has been using for its wireless routers for about a year.

The WRT320N's layout is straightforward. On its back, it has four gigabit Ethernet ports and one gigabit WAN port. The former are for local wired clients, while the latter is to connect to a DSL or cable modem for connection to the internet. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a USB port; that means there are no USB-related features, such as print serving or network storage.

On the front of the router is an array of LEDs that show the status of the ports, the wireless network, and the internet. In the middle of the LEDs is the Wi-Fi Protected Set-up (WPS) button, which initiates the window of time when you can hook other WPS-compliant wireless clients to the network without manually having to enter the encryption key. For example, if you bring a WPS-enabled client close to the router and press the WPS button on both devices, they will be automatically connected.

Like all Linksys routers, the WRT320N has a very intuitive web interface that you can access from any network computer or via the internet. Savvy users can use the web interface to configure and manage the router. Novice users are not shut out either, since the WRT320N comes with Linksys' EasyLink Advisor (LELA) software for both PC and Mac. The software is well designed and offers a thought-out, step-by-step set-up process that novices can follow.

Features

The WRT320N is one of two dual-band routers we've reviewed that function only in one band at a time. The other is the D-Link DGL-4500. Considering the popularity of existing 2.4GHz-based wireless clients, you'd be hard pressed to find a situation where you can use the router in 5GHz mode. Still, it's nice to have the option.

Like most Linksys routers, the WRT320N has a comprehensive web interface that allows access to the router's long list of advanced features. The router's most prominent and useful features include an elaborate content-filtering system, called "Access Restrictions", that lets you restrict or filter the internet access of particular networked computers. This is helpful if you want to block, say, "Eric's computer" from certain websites. The "Applications & Gaming" feature lets you set up port forwarding and triggering to set specific ports for specific applications, such as games, remote desktop, or FTP and HTTP servers. You can also conveniently reserve static IP addresses to certain computers in the network, making the port forwarding much more relevant and easy to do. If you want to assign a VPN, FTP or remote desktop connection to a certain computer in the network, you will find the above handy and convenient.

The router supports Dynamic DNS services, including TZO.com and DynDNS.org, which means you can set up remote access and many other over-the-internet services. It can also take a client's MAC address as its own. This can be a useful feature when you want to use the router with a service, like those found in college dorms, that requires you to register your computer's MAC address before you can access the internet.

This doesn't mean you can skip the desktop software LELA entirely. The software has some original post-set-up features, and we especially liked the capability to see a map of all clients connected to the network and manage each of them in real time. For example, if you see an unidentified device connected to the network, the software lets you mark it in red to distinguish it from other known devices. If a client in the network has LELA installed, you can do more, such as viewing its complete status, including its MAC, IP address, operating system, CPU information, and so on.

For security, the WRT320N supports all available wireless encryption standards, including WEP, WPA-personal and WPA-Enterprise. The router allows for VPN pass-through for all existing VPN protocols, including IPsec, L2TP and PPTP. If you're using the router from your home, you can use a VPN client to access your work offices via a VPN connection. It can toggle the built-in SPI Firewall on, or block potentially dangerous web services — such as Proxy, Java, ActiveX and cookies. This is not something you'll want to get into the habit of doing, however, as a lot of websites will not function properly if you block Java or ActiveX.

Performance

We tested the Linksys WRT320N on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands and were happy with the results.

In the 5GHz band, the router scored 52.8Mbps in our throughput test and 47.7Mbps in our range test. The throughput test was conducted with the wireless test client just 4.5 metres away from the router. In our range test, the client was 30.5 metres away. These scores were about average, but we were impressed that there's a very small degradation between the two ranges. Based on these scores, the router can finish transmitting 500MB in about 80 seconds.

In the 2.4GHz band, the WRT320N did even better in comparison with other routers. It achieved 45.3Mbps in throughput, 32.6Mbps in range, and 40.8Mbps in our mixed-mode test. The mixed-mode test was done with the router set to work with both Wireless-N and legacy Wireless-G simultaneously.

It's important to note that the scores, while lower than the theoretical ceiling of the Wireless-N specification (300Mbps), were actually sustained data rates, with all software and hardware overhead and interference taken into account.

We were very impressed that the router could apply many changes without needing to restart. For example, when we switched the router's wireless function from operating in one band to another, our test client — which supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands — didn't disconnect at all, even briefly. Other routers, such as Apple's AirPort Extreme Base Station, need to restart to apply even the slightest change.

CNET Labs 2.4GHz Wireless-N performance test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed mode
Range
Throughput
D-Link DIR-825 (2.4GHz)
55.04
40.4
57.44
Linksys WRT320N (2.4GHz)
40.8
32.6
45.3
Linksys WRT400N (2.4GHz)
38.2
37.4
40.1
Linksys WRT610n (2.4GHz)
27.04
28.8
35.76

CNET Labs 5GHz Wireless-N performance test (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range
Throughput
D-Link DIR-825 (5GHz)
36.48
80.96
Linksys WRT320N (5GHz)
47.7
52.8

The WRT320N's maximum connection range was decent and about the same as the WRT400N's. In our testing facility, which is an office building and not optimised for wireless range, we connected to the WRT320N from about 280 feet away. In both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, the WRT320N performed within our expectations for a Wireless-N router.

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MUz posted a comment   

The Good:Easy to use, runs decent via cat5/6

The Bad:Wifi drops out frequently.it's def' not my wireless devices, happens on 4 different laptops, iPhone, iPad, epad (android), ps3, etc

Don't buy this if you intend to use wifi.
I had the 310 which had the same issue + others, that was replaced with the 320n with the same problems. Seriously link sys, WTF ???
After a reboot it comes good for a random amount of time, usually need to reboot several times a night if I want wifi devices to have access.

Wrt310/320n = RUBISH

Gee
1
Rating
 

Gee posted a review   

The Good:It can whipe my arse, The router looks fancy

The Bad:Everything else you can think of. Yes, everything.

This router is just a BIG source of problems, there's nothing else to be said. WHATEVER you do, I implore you, DO NOT but this 'wannabe?' router.
I just (1 minute ago) ordered a new D-Link router. I thank god that this piece of cr*p a.k.a the Links(hit)ys WRT320N would let me surf to cnet.com and write this review.

Making a connection with this router is easy. The hard part is to maintain this connection. The WRT320N's control panel is good, no fancy bells or stuff, it makes configuring the WRT320N real simple. Sadly, this is the only good thing you'll get.

Unless you're connected to the internet trough a cable, the WRT320N makes maintaining your connection to the internet a real problem. While eating a ham-sandwhich, the WRT320N probably disconnected about 12 times (and yes, I've counted them). As a ICT (computer science) student, I've messed with the WRT320N's settings. Changing the Beacon Interval, Channels and such. None helped.

The WRT320N is NOT the router you're looking for when going wireless. Cable connections DO suffice though. But simply because of the 'lacking' wireless performance (speed, connectivity), the WRT320N does not deserve to cost 80 euro's (Netherlands). Linksys should be ashamed to even sell this router since the only thing it's able to rout is your wallet.

firebuddha
10
Rating
 

firebuddha posted a review   

The Good:good performance, nice design, dd-wrt

The Bad:no usb

I use this router 6 months ago, and I never have had any problems with it... It works just fine...

It shares the net for 2 servers and two pc-s with cable, and 3 laptops on wireless... For some reasons I use static dhcp for the cable connections, and its working fine... I wonder that you had problems with this...

The wifi newer dropped the connection... Maybe the problems was your settings, or your wireless devices...

I advised to some of my friends to buy this, and they also use it, and they also satisfied with it...

So feel free to buy this product...

 

skywok posted a comment   

The Good:looks pretty, can be recycled as paperweight or frisbee

The Bad:connection issues, frequently drops out, linksys won't refund, needs factory settings restored frequently

Do not buy this router unless you would like a world of pain. If you would like to waste time pursuing an array of configuration specifics, firmware upgrades, and extended wait times for linksys tech support, knock yourself out. Really though - who wants this on a brand new router?

Change the IP addresses to statically map to a device? Goodbye router. Hard reset to factory settings. Automatic refresh of DHCP to get the same IP from the modem? Too much to ask. Hard reset to factory settings.

Drops out every 24 hours and won't renew IP address from modem (which has not even renewed its IP address to warrant any renewal "complexity" to begin with) This knocks out both wired and wireless connections to this router.

Frequently drops connection whilst wirelessly scanning. So much fun rescanning - not.

Linksys tech support is logical enough, but annoying. They will not provide you with a refund, even a day after you get this baby home & it proves itself a disaster. After the first replacement, (yes the same design and model, yae) they'll send your router away to Headquarters for who knows how long. Then you'll have to buy a new router to cover the service gap. Not so cheap anymore.

I will never buy another linksys product again, and would even think twice about dealing with Cisco, as I am disappointed they could have even been affiliated with this product.

This is the review I wish I had read on cnet before I purchased this, unfortunately all 2 were glowing reviews.

If you are reading this after a harrowing purchase, then try these things which may slightly improve its glub performance:

In your router settings,
Under Wireless Settings > Advanced Wireless Settings

Beacon Interval: 50
RTS Threshold: 2304
Fragmentation Threshold: 2304

Usually this beast comes with Firmware Version: v1.0.01, which at the time of writing this review was not the latest. Linksys Tech Support will suggest upgrading to 1.0.03.

Really though, firmware upgrades are somewhat risky and should not need to be performed from the word go.

This product required a significant amount more testing and better design prior to release. It's like using an appalling beta that you paid good money for.

Try Netgear instead. They have much better options in their firmware anyway (the log file capabilities in the WRT320N are beyond lame). In my experience Netgear routers also have basic stability in their favour.

Bob
2
Rating
 

Bob posted a review   

The Good:Nothing

The Bad:Speed, conectivity isues, web ui

This router sucks waste of money

Bubber
9
Rating
 

Bubber posted a review   

The Good:No Fancy gimmics, Just a router that works.

The Bad:Could be a little faster, but still fast enough.

If your looking for a decent router that has good range and decent speed that will just work, then this will not disappoint. Switching between two channels seems to be a non issue, 2.4 ghz is good enough, in the future when all devices work on 5 ghz then just use that. Overall its just what I wanted, sure there are faster routers, but they also cost more.(Unless you go for an Asus, which I don't have enough confidence in) You can pick this up for around $150 at the moment.




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User Reviews / Comments  Linksys Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WRT320N

  • MUz

    MUz

    "Don't buy this if you intend to use wifi.
    I had the 310 which had the same issue + others, that was replaced with the 320n with the same problems. Seriously link sys, WTF ???
    After a ..."

  • Gee

    Gee

    Rating1

    "This router is just a BIG source of problems, there's nothing else to be said. WHATEVER you do, I implore you, DO NOT but this 'wannabe?' router.
    I just (1 minute ago) ordered a new D-Link r..."

  • firebuddha

    firebuddha

    Rating10

    "I use this router 6 months ago, and I never have had any problems with it... It works just fine...

    It shares the net for 2 servers and two pc-s with cable, and 3 laptops on wireless..."

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