Lightning fast dual band.
Linksys’ first simultaneous dual-band 802.11n router is one of the best on the market, providing a bevy of features and blisteringly fast speeds.
- Extremely fast, Gigabit Ethernet, adequate range, Wi-Fi Protected Setup
- LELA set up is inconvenient, larger footprint than other routers
Though the WRT610N isn’t first to the Australian market with simultaneous dual-band operation, it’s definitely one of the fastest and most consistent at the moment. Setting it up can be slightly annoying, but these minor niggles are easy to ignore when the router performs this well.
Price$ 349.95 (AUD)
The WRT610N boasts a stylish enclosure with a minimalist design. The router is not very tall but this space-saving measure is compromised by its width. This increase in size can largely be attributed to the use of internal wireless antennas rather than external as found on most other units. Although this makes the design look cleaner, it means you are unable to add high-sensitivity antennas. Connectivity is fairly standard for a high-end router. The WRT610N provides a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch for wired connections, as well as an extra WAN port for connection to a modem. The router’s USB port can accommodate an external hard drive. The router has integrated media and FTP server capabilities.
Standard wireless security protocols are supported, including WEP, WPA and WPA2-AES encryption. Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is also supported on the device, though the Linksys WUSB600N USB Wi-Fi adapter Linksys provided with the WRT610N doesn’t support it.
The router is essentially ready to go once it's plugged in, though attempting to configure beyond default settings can cause a few headaches. Linksys’ LELA simplified set up tended to cause more problems during initial set up than it was worth. Unlike most competitors, LELA set up must take place over an Ethernet connection rather than wireless. Although this does simplify the process somewhat, it’s inconvenient. When initiated in Mac OS X it actually disabled the Mac’s integrated Wi-Fi during installation.
Once LELA is installed it does provide a good user interface for basic network tasks. Though it is a plus for novices, it is little more than a hindrance for tech-savvy users.
Transferring some large files from a test-bed system with a Gigabit connection to a laptop with an integrated 802.11n dual-band receiver, the router managed some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen. At close range, 2.4GHz operation delivered average speeds of 9.9 megabytes per second; 5GHz operation was only slightly slower at 9.1MBps. Using both bands simultaneously, these speeds dropped significantly to 6.2MBps over 2.4GHz and 7.7MBps over the 5GHz band. Although the drops are significant, even simultaneous operation yielded faster results than single-band operation from D-Link’s DIR-855, with 5GHz showing no real sign of suffering from interference.
At a distance of roughly 20m, the WRT610N was somewhat weaker though still quite fast. Single band operation yielded an average throughput speed of 4.4MBps in 2.4GHz mode and 3.4MBps over the 5GHz band. Simultaneous dual-band operation delivered speeds of 2.5MBps over 2.4GHz and 3.2MBps over 5GHz. These speeds are adequate for typical Internet use, though high-definition media streaming is likely to suffer from some lagging.
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