Linksys WRT320N review
Despite its inability to use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously, its outstanding speeds and low price make it our Best Buy.
Review Date: 10 Aug 2009
Price when reviewed: £61
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
Linksys's WRT320N is the first wireless router we've seen to achieve a transfer speed of over 90Mbit/s, making it about the same speed as a 100Mbit/s Ethernet network.
Even better, this is the cheapest Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band Draft-N router we've seen.
That's largely because it has only a single wireless radio. This means it can use either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band, but not both at the same time. Unfortunately, most wireless peripherals such as printers and smartphones can't communicate in the 5GHz band. You could use 5GHz wireless and use the router's wired Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect older hardware, but this may not be practical.
The setup CD makes it easy to secure your network; it defaults to WPA/WPA2 encryption with a strong auto-generated password. The disc includes Linksys's EasyAdvisor software, which helps you manage your entire network.
The router has a good range of features. Access Restrictions make it easy to prevent specific machines accessing the internet, block specific ports, blacklist websites by URL or keyword and use a schedule to determine when these policies will be enforced. WAN QoS is relatively easy to configure, although you'll have to know which ports your applications use if you want to manage anything other than Skype, MSN and Yahoo! Messenger. There's also WMM support to prioritise streaming media across your network.
The WRT320N performed brilliantly in our tests. Its channel auto-detect mode correctly selected the least cluttered channel. In 2.4GHz mode it gave us some of the fastest speeds we've ever seen, including a blistering 24.8Mbit/s to a Centrino 2 laptop at 20m.
We also tested the router with Linksys's WUSB600N wireless adaptor (£40 including VAT), which produced even faster transfer speeds, particularly in 5GHz mode, where it managed an astonishing 90.1Mbit/s at 1m, 60.6Mbit/s at 10m and 29.6Mbit/s at 20m. Even if you never use the 5GHz band, this is a great-value router that deserves its Best Buy.
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