Linksys E4200 impressions

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about the importance of WAN to LAN speeds in routers. Since then I’ve replaced my DrayTek Vigor 2910G with a Linksys E4200. Time to share my impressions so far.

Looks

When I saw the first PR shots that Cisco released, I thought the E4200 was going to be absolutely stunning. In reality, it’s still just a plastic box. It’s a little smaller than I imagined from the press shots, and although prettier than most of the competition, not quite as special as I thought it would be. Once hooked up, with all the wires sticking out of the back, it’s still something you’ll probably want to hide from view.

Speed

Unlike the DrayTek, this router is fully capable of delivering 120 mbps to my download PC. I don’t have a lab to run elaborate tests, but according to smallnetbuilder, the E4200 is one of the fastest routers out there. Don’t be fooled, not all routers currently on the market do 120 mbps, even Linksys’s cheaper E2000 barely manages that, and leaves little room for future ISP speed upgrades. Considering how much I use the internet, spending an extra €50 or so seemed like a solid investment. With routers, you usually get what you pay for.

Wireless

Unfortunately, I ran into a problem setting up the wireless. One that wasn’t the linksys’s fault though. It’s state-of-the-art dual band 802.11n configuration simply proved too advanced for my wife’s aging Compaq laptop. To get good range and speeds, I found I had to set things to plain old single band wireless-g. Not ideal, but the range is really excellent, considering.

User interface

I don’t use WPS. Instead, I prefer to log into the router’s web interface and interact with all the settings directly. And this is where the E4200 really disappointed. It’s not that the options aren’t there, it’s hot they’re presented. Basically, the user interface has not changed since the orignal WRT54G back in 2002. Compared to the DrayTek, the interface feels slow, awkward and really old-fashioned. It works, and if you’ve used Linksys routers before you’ll feel right at home, but come on Cisco!

One of the new menu options is “Storage”. I connected a USB drive to the port on the back and set it up for us with Windows sharing and FTP. It’s no full-blown NAS, but the E4200 can be used to easily set up some basic network storage.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m happy with the E4200. It delivers in terms of speed and wireless range. The DrayTek was over twice as expensive when I got it, yet the Linksys is over 30 times faster. The tired old web interface lets the E4200 down a little, but once properly set up, chances are you won’t need to go there very often. Recommended.

Roy | March 25, 2011 | English,Gadgets | Comments (12)
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12 Comments

  1. So it doesn’t look as good in real life as that photo? Because in the photo it is gorgeous!

    I guess with all the leads coming out of it then it ruins the effect, at least it performs well though.

    K.

    Comment by Katie Weston — April 23, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  2. Have you considered installing DD-Wrt and replacing the out-dated linksys’ firlware?

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index

    Comment by Christos S — May 22, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    • SUpport for the E4200 is currently listed as “wip”, so dd-wrt isn’t an option right now. Plus I don’t really feel like breaking the warranty just yet. Linksys’s firmware does everything I need it to, it’s just got a poor UI.

      Comment by Roy — May 24, 2011 @ 7:44 am

  3. Just wondering, does the e4200 support dual wan?
    I noticed your DreyTek was setup to load balance between a DSL and cable connection. I assume you upgraded the cable connection thus requiring the router upgrade also.

    Comment by ed — June 25, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    • I no longer work from home, so I had no need for redundancy there. I upgraded the cable subscription to a whopping 120 mbps, and dropped the ADSL line. The E4200 does not do Dual WAN, but is capable of handling much higher WAN speeds. If you need both, the DrayTek 2920(V)n sounds like a really cool router.

      Comment by Roy — June 27, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  4. Nice review. I recently purchased the e4200 and my signal strength has been sporadic. I noted your comment about the dual band … ‘To get good range and speeds, I found I had to set things to plain old single band wireless-g’ … this is very interesting. My signal strength has been sporadic even after relocating the router, etc. I eventually found a place that seemed to do the trick and then within a day or so, I would jump from 5 bars down to 2 and back to 5. I found your post and decided to disable the 5Mhz band and limit the 2.4 to G … now I have solid 5 bars (for at least the last hour:))! Not sure what to make of this:) I have various devices connecting to the router and even purchased two new linksys/cisco usb wireless adapters but have not connected them … I am currently using my built-in adapter from my MSI laptop (relatively cheap laptop which is about 2 yrs old). Curious to get your thoughts – thanks!

    Comment by Marcel — June 30, 2011 @ 3:29 am

  5. A quick update … after a couple of hours, I returned to see my signal bouncing around again along with my speed. I conducted more research and stumbled on a thread mentioning the QoS feature (Quality of Service). The person on the thread reported the same issues and suggested disabling the QoS. After disabling, bam – my signal and throughput are solid:)

    I called linksys support because I thought this was an odd problem and perhaps I was missing something. I have worked in IT for 15+ years and have a good amount of experience in the field. Linksys support suggest I update drivers for my wireless adapter:)

    Comment by Marcel — June 30, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  6. Marcel,

    I saw on youtube an idea to help your speeds and signals. Make sure your SSID’s for 5g and 2.4g are are not identical ex( sprint5g for the 5g and just sprint for the 2.4g) and also change your network modes to wireless n only for 5g and bg only for 2.4g.

    Comment by fred — July 28, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

  7. Hi,
    Do this E4200 allows L2TP IPSec VPN??

    Comment by Renmat — February 16, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    • Afaik it only allows “passthrough”, which makes sense I guess in a consumer grade router.

      Comment by Roy — February 16, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  8. For the interface u could use dd-wrt firmware which actually besides the interface change can take u`re router`s performance setings to max http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php?title=Linksys_E4200#Flashing_Process

    Comment by Akuba — April 9, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    • Agreed, but it would be much better if Linksys would simply get with the program and rethink their UI.

      Comment by Roy — April 19, 2012 @ 3:17 pm