Linksys WAG160N Wireless-N ADSL2+ Gateway

Linksys' WAG160N resides in an attractive package, and manages better than most Wireless N routers. Better than most, but still nowhere near the hype.

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The WAG160N shares Linksys' new design philosophy (also seen on the WRT310N), which is to make smaller, more discrete Wireless-N devices without the multiple external antennae and a sleek design that wouldn't look out of place on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. Out the back of the WAG160N it's very much business as usual however, with four 10/100 Ethernet ports, a red reset button and a DSL input socket.

In accordance with Linksys' long-standing policy for routers, the first thing that drops out of the packaging when you open the box is a large blue folder with a CD-based installation utility on board. We've not been a big fan of Linksys' CD-based installers in the past, finding many of them incompatible with Australian ISP settings, but with the introduction of Linksys' LELA (Linksys EasyLink Advisor) package, our opinion has changed. More on LELA later. LELA is Windows (XP/Vista) and Mac OS X (10.4 or better) compatible.

The setup routine itself is well laid out and animated, and includes pre-configured settings for iiNet, Internode, Optus, Soul, Telstra and TPG. If you're with an alternate ISP, you'll need to enter most of your settings manually.

The WAG160N's big selling point is the inclusion of Wireless N Draft 2.0 compatibility, although to Linksys' credit, they don't plaster the outside packaging with lots of claims of 300mbps connection speed. The back of the box does have a silly speed graph comparing 802.11g and Wireless N, but even there numbers are omitted. Something tells us that perhaps networking companies are waking up and dumping the hype cycle around 802.11n.

The WAG160N is also an ADSL2+ router. Some users love all-in devices for their simplicity, although the flip side of that is that you're setting up a single failure point in your network. As with most home routers, wireless security (WEP, WPA2 Personal and Enterprise) is supported, along with QoS settings for applications and UPnP. It also supports WiFi Protected setup if you have compatible adaptors.

Using LELA to set up the WAG160N was a suitably painless process, and we tested with both Windows and Mac boxes, just to spot if there were any particular differences. There's one big difference, and it's one that's not made terribly clear on the packaging. LELA comprises two components; an initial setup wizard that's not terribly dissimilar to the wizards Linksys has used in the past, and a network monitoring tool that identifies the elements of your wired and wireless network. Windows users get both parts of the package, but the Mac world has to make do with only the setup wizard.

As a network monitoring application, LELA works suitably well for networking novices, providing a simple network map of your connected devices. We'd argue that Network Magic Pro is a better application than LELA, especially as we had to do some tweaking around the edges to help LELA identify some of our connected systems properly, something we've not had to do with Network Magic Pro, or even the free version of Network Magic.

On the performance front, we took the WAG160N through the same set of tests we've used for 802.11n routers recently, testing for signal strength and throughput. There is an obvious problem with wireless testing, in that it can vary widely depending on your network circumstances, and your results may vary from ours.

Distance from router Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbs Linksys WRT160N
5m 70% 75% 92% 80%
15m (minor walls) 53% 59% 62% 62%
15m (multiple walls) 48% 54% 60% 50%

On the signal front, the WAG160N didn't fare particularly well; even up against the WRT160N it struggled once the going got tough. For smaller domestic residences, that's probably enough signal, but if you know you're in a wireless blackspot, or live in a larger house, it may spell wireless doom.

Distance between PCs Linksys WAG160N Billion BiPAC 7300N Conceptronic 300Mbs Linksys WRT160N
2m, no barriers 19.8Mbps 21Mbps 15Mbps 4.88Mbps
20m, multiple walls 15.2Mbps 13.3Mbps 7.7Mbps 10.12Mbps

On the wireless data throughput test, however, the WAG160N acquitted itself beautifully. While its close testing figure wasn't the fastest we've seen, with some distance and walls between it managed to pump more data through than any other router we've tested.

The WAG160N has a fair amount going for it. The AU$199 asking price is fair value (although you may need to fork out extra for wireless N adaptors to go with it), the data throughput is better than most, and the design means it's no longer a router that you'd need to hide away. At the same time, we can't help but feel deflated that, once again, Wireless N doesn't prove to be the speed demon that all the networking companies insist it is.

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AdamB6 Facebook

"Not that bad"

AdamB6 posted a review   

The Good:Looks, ease of setup, excelent features

The Bad:No gigbit LAN

I honestly have no idea what everyone is talking about with overheating and wireless issues with their devices, i have had mine setup now for about 6 weeks and the wireless works perfectly, am able to stream to PS3 with no issues, have had no drop outs, and still have over 80% signal about 20m away through 2 brick walls.


"New firmware fixed it all :D :D"

yehia2amer posted a comment   

The Good:Looks Stylish & Setup & Speeeeeeed

The Bad:hot, internet and wireless connection drops a lot before "Ver.1.00.16-ETSI (Annex A)" firmware update

before "Ver.1.00.16-ETSI (Annex A)" firmware update
from here

the connection drops a lot and it was very unusable

but now i don't face any problems so far :D :D

KevinJ1 Facebook

"Overrated and expensive failure"

KevinJ1 posted a review   

The Good:Good paper weight.

The Bad:wireless. What else?

Apart from it's slim design and ease of setup this was an abject failure made even more disappointing by the fact that it's not exactly cheap. Firstly the wireless just doesn't work, you get a drop in signal strength even if you're a couple of metres away and the only way you get the signal back is to either power cycle the device or to turn the wireless of your laptop or mobile phone off and on again.

Tried firmware updates and changing the frequency channel to avoid clashes with other wireless devices but that didn't work either. The worse thing about the wireless signal is that it suffers a massive drop every time it has to travel through a couple of walls which is unacceptable given that these are used in a home or office environment that are bound to have other forms of interference. Seems to me the only decent place to use this is in a big open environment that doesn't have any interference whatsoever. The modem and routing functions work but then again that's like buying a car and being surprised that the engine works.

The unit also constantly overheats which can't be good for it's performance and it makes you wonder whether the designers of this have ever owned an ADSL modem/router because if they did they would know that they are more than likely to be running 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the duration of their lifetime.



Timmo80 posted a review   

The Good:Looks and Setup

The Bad:WIreless is abismal

Agree with all of the above.

Will never buy linksys again.


waw posted a review   



brianfromoz posted a review   

The Good:Looks and Marketing

The Bad:Wireless simply does not work

I have battled to find a solution to why the wireless connection would say it was connected but not allow traffic through. Disconnect and reconnect and it works well for a short time. Look for updates and firmware upgrades, reconfigure advanced wireless settings all to no avail. Could not recommend this modem


Adrian posted a review   

Utterly disappointed with this modem router.
Might act like it's good for a while, then it turns on you.
Overheats, disconnects, has trouble repairing it's problems... the list just goes on. Telstra actually sent out me their default Thomson modem but that had trouble with the ADSL2+ speeds, so i thought this modem would fix my problems and actually live up to it's description.

I regret buying this and everything i've researched on it does not have one solution. Linksys have lost all my respect, a new modem router that lives up to what it is meant for would be great for me.


Boss posted a review   

The Good:Looks

The Bad:everything - I like how heaps of people say it looks good, but that is about it.

looks are awesome... everything else is bad :P


Kev posted a review   

The Good:It's sleek looks

The Bad:ADSL connection, Wireless connection

It's really only good as a 4port network switch, it drops ADSL and very often (every few minutes) drops any wireless connections.

DO not go near this thing!


wiz posted a review   

The Good:nothing

The Bad:drops out when hot

Was not bad for 4-5 months, than it turned evil. Waste of time and money.
Shame on you CISCO!

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User Reviews / Comments  Linksys WAG160N Wireless-N ADSL2+ Gateway

  • AdamB6



    "I honestly have no idea what everyone is talking about with overheating and wireless issues with their devices, i have had mine setup now for about 6 weeks and the wireless works perfectly, am able..."

  • yehia2amer


    "before "Ver.1.00.16-ETSI (Annex A)" firmware update
    from here

    the connection drops a lot and it was very unusab..."

  • KevinJ1



    "Apart from it's slim design and ease of setup this was an abject failure made even more disappointing by the fact that it's not exactly cheap. Firstly the wireless just doesn't work, you get a drop..."

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