Linksys WRT300N

Though it offers good maximum throughput, the Linksys WRT300N ultimately fails to do the new Draft N standard proud in both mixed-mode and long-range tests. Wait to see how the rest of the Draft N products fare.


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At long last, news of the first products based on Draft N of the not-yet-approved 802.11n specification are starting to trickle out. Despite numerous announcements, actual hardware has been scarce; first to the party is Linksys's WRT300N, a Wi-Fi router based on the first official iteration of the spec. Linksys claims that the MIMO-based router is capable of up to 12 times the speed and 4 times the range of older 802.11g routers. Unfortunately, those claims didn't hold water in testing: while the device managed decent maximum throughput and mixed-mode speed, it gave a dismally poor performance at long range. In terms of the rest of the current field, the WRT300N fared pretty well, but nowhere near our expectations for Draft N networking equipment.

We will soon be testing a slew of new Draft N routers that we hope will demonstrate more of the spec's promise; though the AU$279.95 WRT300N is a tad less expensive than some of its Draft N competitors, we recommend waiting to see if the other devices deliver better performance. In the meantime, those who absolutely must have a new router now should check out the Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240, which offers blazing maximum and mixed-mode throughput.

Design & Features
The Linksys WRT300N router takes the idea of multiple antennas to a new level. In addition to its two standard, pen-shape antennas, the device offers a unique third antenna that's shaped like a big paddle. All three antennas are located on the router's right edge, where they bend and rotate in multiple directions, letting you adjust them to maximise your signal. The back edge includes the usual suspects: one WAN and four LAN jacks, plus a pinhole reset button. The front edge features well-labeled status lights that correspond to the jacks on the back, as well as two more lights that indicate when the router is experiencing wireless activity and that its security settings are active. A button emblazoned with a lock icon, which the user guide claims is "reserved for a future function," sits on top of the WRT300N. You can snap the handy stand onto the router's left edge should you want to set it upright, but because the device lacks wall-mounting brackets underneath, you can't hang it up and out of the way of competing wireless signals.

Linksys does a nice job with the WRT300N's documentation and setup. The clear, comprehensive user guide and installation wizard come on a CD that's neatly packaged inside of a large envelope. Flip up the envelope's flap, and you're immediately faced with instructions to insert the CD as the first step in the setup process. The disc prompts you to start the wizard, which guides you through connecting the device to your modem and computer, then configuring settings via the Web-based configuration tool. Advanced users can skip the wizard and get directly to the tool by typing the router's default IP address (192.168.1.1) into their browsers. The tool provides access to the WRT300N's thorough features list, which includes a four-port 10/100 Ethernet switch; an SPI firewall; a DHCP server; DMZ and VPN pass-throughs; and, of course, WPA2 security.

Performance
While no wireless device ever achieves its theoretical maximum speed in the real world, the WRT300N's scores weren't even in the ballpark and fell short of our expectations of Draft N gear. In CNET Labs' maximum throughput trial, the device beat the times of most of the pre-N routers we've reviewed, such as the Belkin Wireless Pre-N (which was among the first generation of MIMO routers), but it was still considerably slower than the very fast Netgear WPNT834 RangeMax 240. In our mixed-mode test, the Linksys barely squeaked past the Belkin and again fell far behind the Netgear, though to be fair, it did best the rest of the competition. Worse, the WRT300N's long-range throughput was slower than nearly all of the pre-N routers we've tested, save Linksys's own WRT54GX2. (We should note that for all MIMO-based routers and adapters released prior to this round of Draft N-based equipment, you must use routers with their adapter counterparts in order to achieve maximum speed. Draft N of the 802.11n spec mandates that products be fully interoperable, meaning that you should see optimised speeds using any combination of Draft N equipment from various vendors. So theoretically, you should be able to use this Linksys router with a Draft N adapter from any vendor and see similar performance.)

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
TCP Protocol
Linksys WRT300N Draft N router
71.5
Linksys WRT54GX2 SRX 200 router
40
Note: Throughput in Mbps


CNET Labs maximum throughput tests with mixed 802.11b/g and MIMO clients
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
TCP Protocol
Linksys WRT300N Draft N router
46
Linksys WRT54GX2 SRX 200 router
27.6
Note: Throughput in Mbps


CNET Labs long-range tests
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
TCP Protocol
Linksys WRT300N Draft N router
17
Linksys WRT54GX2 SRX 200 router
13.8
Note: Throughput in Mbps measured indoors at 200 feet

The WRT300N ships with a good warranty for a wireless router: three years of free parts and labour, as well as toll-free tech support that's available 24/7. That said, the terms don't top Belkin's lifetime support policy. The Linksys support Web site includes the obligatory downloads and FAQ sections, along with a useful 24/7 chat feature that lets you engage in a real-time virtual discussion with a support rep.

Overall, the Linksys WRT300N is a good router from a dependable networking company. While its maximum throughput and mixed-mode throughput were good, its long-range performance was poor, which is especially disappointing given that one of the strengths of the 802.11n spec is high throughput at great distances. If you're interested in buying Draft N equipment, we recommend that you wait until we review the rest of the pack to see how the Draft N gear fares. After all, you may end up having to upgrade yet again when the 802.11n spec is finalised; it's still too early to tell.



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Mack
7
Rating
 

Mack posted a review   

The Good:Excellent range.
Easy to setup.
Cheap and reliable.

The Bad:Extra charge for using Telstra GSM when 3G signal is too weak

Best for multi player games. I like this and prefer to all other gamers that this device is not junky for your wireless internet service. Some times i see cricket wireless and i also use my wireless keyboard on two computers in each time.

AndySebastian
1
Rating
 

AndySebastian posted a review   

The Good:creates spectacular gaming lag. so i guess it amused me for a while.

The Bad:port forwarding doesnt work. SLOOOOOOWWWW.... gets worse with distance. get ready to become really familiar with the reset button.

Do not buy this product. i thought buying this N router was gonna be great for gaming, but it really disappointed me. first, it was horrible for gaming-spectacular lag. Did the whole port forwarding thing but it still acted like i didnt set the port forwards. i was okay with it for a while(just gave up wireless gaming on it completely), then i realized that i was resetting the router twice a week, if not more. Do not buy this router! I am taking time out of my life to tell you this. my friend recently bought a wrt54gs and we tested it out at my home, worked perfectly.

ysmuse
3
Rating
 

ysmuse posted a review   

The Good:cheap?

The Bad:bad performance

I have version 1 wireless router and sometime my 2 laptops couldn't get signal. VPN connection is not stable or cannot work while I am using Safenet IPsec client to connect to company network. Don't buy it...

som
2
Rating
 

som posted a review   

The Good:Easy to set up

The Bad:Doesn't work as advertised

Garbage. My signal degrades at 10 feet. Unstable as all get out, even at that range (will drop connection, etc). I should have known better given my previous Linksys router was a piece but I was optimistic that they had gotten their stuff together. I was very wrong.

petros4x4
3
Rating
 

petros4x4 posted a review   

The Good:cheap,high security,high speed in short distance

The Bad:unstable,unbalanced,weak in long range-not recomended

horrible.....the speed gets very low when the distance is not that much.....very low range which you can get with even a mimo g router.....

mikejonessmith
2
Rating
 

mikejonessmith posted a review   

The Good:Well it's sunny today

The Bad:signal...numerous features not work !!!!..

I own this unit. feel like a sucker for buying. The last time I will ever buy a LINKSYS again .. after 10 years of products ... I am going to be smart and go to another manfacture

doodoo
4
Rating
 

doodoo posted a review   

The Good:Cheap
Flashy Design
Easy Installation
Very Stable

The Bad:15 meters = good
30? ... good(not)
4x rangemark?... lies

Err... Nothing Special

dismalproduct
2
Rating
 

dismalproduct posted a review   

The Good:- A good laugh

The Bad:- 50 meters is a boon. I cant get a good signal (after moving router numerous time) past 15M - QOS is non-functional

Dont go too far away

notABestBuy
3
Rating
 

notABestBuy posted a review   

The Good:- Cheap

The Bad:- features including Logging, Access Control and port forwarding can be configured but DONT WORK

Only the basic functions work.

pcland
5
Rating
 

pcland posted a review   

i have WRT300N, low connection on 50 meters and the specs. of this unit 300 meters, it a lies from us, as a customers. please give me a feed back what kind of setup to use 300 meters away from this router.


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User Reviews / Comments  Linksys WRT300N

  • Mack

    Mack

    Rating7

    "Best for multi player games. I like this and prefer to all other gamers that this device is not junky for your wireless internet service. Some times..."

  • AndySebastian

    AndySebastian

    Rating1

    "Do not buy this product. i thought buying this N router was gonna be great for gaming, but it really disappointed me. first, it was horrible for gaming-spectacular lag. Did the whole port forwardin..."

  • ysmuse

    ysmuse

    Rating3

    "I have version 1 wireless router and sometime my 2 laptops couldn't get signal. VPN connection is not stable or cannot work while I am using Safenet IPsec client to connect to company network. Do..."

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