Linksys WAG320N review
The WAG320N is a step in the right direction for ADSL routers, but it would be better with simultaneous dual-band wireless.
Review Date: 30 Dec 2009
Price when reviewed: £90
Reviewed By: Kat Orphanides
Linksys's WAG320N is the first ADSL router we've seen to come with dual-band WiFi. It's not short of other features, either; it has a USB port that lets you share an external hard disk over your network and across the internet via FTP. It can also act as a UPnP media server.
Unusually for an ADSL router, the WAG320N has Gigabit Ethernet, which is great if you need a fast connection to move large files across your local network. The first Ethernet port can be reconfigured as a WAN port, making this router suitable for use with a cable modem. Linksys's similar WRT320N is £33 cheaper, though.
It's easy to set up and secure, thanks to a simple installer that even provides pre-configured settings for the UK's most popular ADSL providers. The web interface is also easy to use, despite the huge number of settings. There are the usual Quality of Service (QoS) options to prioritise bandwidth-sensitive internet traffic such as streaming video, a remote management interface so you can log into your router from anywhere and Dynamic DNS so you can give your network a URL that points to it even if your IP address changes. Advanced security settings allow you to block potentially risky content such as Java Applets and ActiveX controls and determine when and where specific computers on your network are allowed to go on the internet.
The WAG320N defaults to 802.11n wireless networking at 2.4GHz but can also be used at 5GHz. However, it has only a single wireless radio, so it can't use both bands simultaneously.
Although some wireless adaptors support 5GHz, the vast majority of devices - including all the laptops, wireless printers and WiFi-enabled smartphones we've seen - don't. This means that most users will have to stick with 2.4GHz, even if they buy 5GHz-compatible devices in the future.
Channel bonding is enabled by default to create a theoretical maximum throughput of 300Mbit/s, but this can cause performance problems, so we perform all our 2.4GHz throughput tests with channel bonding disabled. The WAG320N's performance in tests using a Centrino 2 laptop was remarkably consistent: 26Mbit/s at a distance of one metre is below par, but then it managed a respectable 20.3Mbit/s at 20m.
Linksys's own-brand WUSB600N USB adaptor (£28 incluing VAT) produced significantly faster speeds in most of our tests, although it managed just 15.8Mbit/s at 20m, despite our attempts to improve this by switching channels. It achieved excellent speeds in 5GHz mode, giving us 90.1Mbit/s in our 10m test, although this precludes the use of any 2.4GHz devices.
At £90, the WAG320N is a great buy if you'll use the USB storage server and Gigabit Ethernet. Even though it can transmit on only one band at a time, this isn't a disaster given the small number of 5GHz devices currently available.
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