I was having problems with my home DSL gateway device a few months ago. It was an old-ish Netgear device which had been running fine for years. Since it supported only wireless A/B/G, I decided it was a good time to replace it for a wireless (draft) N compatible device as my latest laptop supported it.
After quickly looking at supported features of different brands on the market, I decided to go for one of those snazzy-looking “Linksys by Cisco” devices, the WAG160N : Four 100Mbps ports, ADSL2+ and Wifi N. Oh, what a huge mistake!
My thoughts on the Linksys WAG160N :
- Design, very sleek
- No power button
- No reset button
- No reset function from the management interface (!!)
- Heats a lot, left a mark where it was placed for a few months
- Wireless connection VERY flaky
- Wireless DHCP packets no longer working after a few minutes of uptime
It’s basically a pile of crap. The Linksys forums are plagued with complaints about the wireless not working very well, and the typical reply is “use a different wireless channel” (it does seem to help a bit to use channels which don’t overlap with many others, but doesn’t fix the underlying problems). I’ve patiently waited for a few months for a firmware update which would fix these problems, but it never came (still 1.00.15 as of writing this). After months of reaching for the power cable at the back of the device to unplug and replug it at least once a day, it gets… annoying.
So, screw Linksys, even “by Cisco”… actually, especially “by Cisco”, because lots of older Linksys models were amazingly good. I went out and bought the latest similar device by D-Link, the DSL-2740R, which seems to be the replacement of the older DSL-2740B : Same features, but different look and guts, supposedly performing better and slightly cheaper too. It cost me 80€ vs. 90€ for the DSL-2750B still on the shelves, which might be why D-Link doesn’t seem to have the DSL-2740R on many of their websites yet (only on the UK one as of last week).
Guess what? The D-Link device works like a charm. It’s actually amazing how well it works! Even when transferring huge files over wireless, the response time for the rest of the wireless connections stays good. I managed a sustained 10MB/s rsync over ssh transfer of a DVD image between my wireless-connected laptop and a desktop, which is a first for me with Wi-Fi.
My thoughts on the D-Link DSL-2740R :
- Works really well
- Has USEFUL features like static MAC to IP address mapping in its DHCP server
- Lacks USELESS bells and whistles, the management interface is slick and fast
- Nearly never requires a reboot when the configuration is changed
- Has a power button on the back
- Has a reset button on the back (plain power reset, in addition to the typical tiny factory reset)
- Has the default settings printed on the bottom (IP address and user/password… obvious, eh?)
- Stays at a reasonable temperature
- Has a telnet management interface (!)
- Very plain design… the Linksys looks much nicer, I’ve got to admit that
- No additional Wireless modes : Only AP, no bridge, client or repeater
For me the D-Link is a clear winner, by a huge gap.
Is is saddening that Linksys doesn’t seem to care much about its customers, since the WAG160N isn’t a new device at all, and has been causing problems since day one from what can be read in the Linksys forums. On the other hand, D-Link who already had what seemed like a very decent device (the DSL-2740B) released a great replacement. I know which brand I’ll be recommending for now.
An amusing yet frustrating point is seeing the contradiction in having the unreliable device not providing any easy means of restarting it, while the reliable one has three (power and reset buttons and remote admin reset). Go figure, though the correct design decision in my option is D-Link’s : You’re better safe than sorry. I’m now safe, but also sorry to have bought a WAG160N in the first place…