Cisco Linksys X3000 review
802.11n, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
Cicso's Linksys X3000 router is designed to be as easy as possible to set up, whether you have an ADSL or cable connection.
The router comes with a setup CD which walks you through the process of getting online. You select whether you're going to use a separate modem (for cable connections) or use the router as both a modem and router (if you're on ADSL). Unlike most router setup programs, the X3000's assumes you're going to connect wirelessly, even during setup. It searches for the router, prompts you to enter your broadband username and password, checks the broadband connection is active and then takes you through setting up a wireless password.
We managed to get up and running with an encrypted wireless broadband connection within minutes, and the whole process was far easier than on most routers we’ve seen. The setup CD also installs the Cisco Connect software, which is a friendly interface for some of the router's basic functions, including setting up a separate wireless guest network for up to ten people, so they can access the internet but not the files on your network, and parental controls to restrict time spent online and access to websites. Cisco Connect can also create a USB key containing the software to run on other PCs - the key will connect the other computers to the network automatically without you having to enter a wireless password.
Cisco Connect is simple to use but rather limited
While Cisco Connect is easy to use, we feel it's rather limited; we would have liked an easy way to set up port forwarding or shared storage with the router's USB port. To set up these functions you need to go into the router's web interface. This is well-designed, fast and simple to use, so setting up more advanced features such as port forwarding and QoS is easy. We managed to share a USB flash drive full of media files over the network as a standard network drive and also in UPnP media server mode, where the router appeared as a media server in Windows Media Player and let us browse our music.
There was one problem with the web interface; it insisted on searching for devices to connect to using Wi-Fi Protected Setup at regular intervals, during which time we couldn’t use the web interface. It's nannying and incredibly annoying.
The router managed fast speeds during our file transfer tests; with a Centrino 2 laptop we saw 43.4Mbit/s at 1m range and 30Mbit/s at 10m, which is above average. At 25m we saw 2.82Mbit/s, which isn’t anywhere near other routers in this price range. Things were slower with Cisco's own Linksys AE1000 USB adaptor; 38.3Mbit/s at 1m is reasonable, but 10Mbit/s at 10m range is poor. Turning on channel-bonding made no difference in our tests.
We're fans of Cisco's web interface, but it does bug you about WPS all the time
Cisco's Linksys X3000 is admirably easy to set up and its web interface, WPS nagging aside, is fast and easy to use. It's a hugely expensive router, though, and we'd have liked to see more features in the Cisco Connect software.