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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Updated 7/16/2008: Clarified Wi-Fi Certification issue

Linksys WRT110

At a Glance
Product Linksys RangePlus Wireless Router (WRT110)
Summary Single radio 2.4 Ghz draft 11n router in disguise using Ralink chipset
Pros • Good routing performance
• Good wireless performance
Cons • Defaults to unfriendly neighbor 40 MHz channel B/W
• Can't set channel in Auto 20/40 mode
• 10/100 switch
• WPA/TKIP mode has problems
• Needs draft 802.11n clients to get performance boost

Between Linksys' "Wireless-G" (802.11b/g) and "Wireless-N" (draft 802.11n) product lines is its "RangePlus" line, consisting of the original WRT100 and its replacement, the WRT110. The 110 will also replace the WRT54GS "SpeedBooster" router (once stock is exhausted), which was Linksys / Broadcom's answer to Atheros' Super-G throughput enhancement technology for 802.11g.

Internal Details

As I have discussed in earlier articles here and here, the RangePlus routers use Ralink's RT2700 "MIMO" chipset, which has been Wi-Fi Certified for 802.11n Draft 2.0. But neither of the RangePlus routers nor their companion WPC100 card have been Draft 2.0 11n certified, which gives Linksys some leeway in their implementation.

Updated 7/16:2008 It turns out that under Wi-Fi Alliance rules, the WRT110 is not Wi-Fi Certifiable for 802.11n Draft 2.0. See this article for the explanation.

Figure 1 shows the FCC photo of the 110's board. The design uses a Ralink 1T2R (1 Transmit, 2 Receive) "MIMO" design incorporating a RT2720L 1T2R Transceiver and RT2780. I couldn't find any information on the RT2780. But since there is no other CPU on the board, I'll assume it handles both general CPU and MAC / Baseband duties.

An ICplus IP175C provides the 4 port auto MDI/X 10/100 LAN switch and WAN port. A look at the actual WRT110 revealed that it has 16 MB of RAM and 4 MB of flash.

Linksys WRT110 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 1: Linksys WRT110 board

Linksys didn't go with Ralink for its companion WPC100 card, however. Instead the card (Figure 2) uses Atheros' draft 11n AR5416 BB/MAC and AR2133 3x3 MIMO 2.4 GHz radio. It's an odd matchup—a 3T3R client with a 1T2R access point—but that's what it is.

WPC100 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: WPC100 board

Features

The 110's feature set is the same as Linksys' other routers, with the exception of the wireless setup screens.

Here's a summary of key routing features:

  • Support for DHCP, Static IP, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP and Telstra Cable Internet connection types
  • Built-in dynamic DNS client for DynDNS.com and TZO.com
  • Router mode switches off NAT routing for use in multi-router networks
  • Scheduled Internet Access feature for outbound port-based service blocking
  • Web filtering for four URLs and six keywords per policy
  • Forwarding for 10 port ranges and 10 triggered port ranges
  • Four level priority-based upstream QoS for two MAC addresses, eight application ports and two MAC addresses (two levels only)
  • Optional HTTPs management access
  • Incoming and Outgoing Traffic logging

If you need details on Linksys' admin interface, check the WRT54G2 review and its slideshow.

The Basic Wireless Settings screen defaults to the Wi-Fi Protected Setup version, but Figure 3 shows the alternate Manual screen. You'll note that the Radio Band setting defaults to the neighbor-unfriendly Auto - 20/40 MHz Channel mode, which reveals the product's true draft 11n nature. This is kosher since the product isn't Wi-Fi Draft 2.0 certified, but I think it's a poor choice.

Basic Wireless settings
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Figure 3: Basic Wireless settings

I was surprised to find in this mode, however, that neither the Standard nor Wide Channel settings can be changed from their Auto defaults. In other words, the only way you can set the 110 to use a specific channel is to change to "legacy" friendly Standard - 20 MHz Channel mode—another poor design choice. The Network Modes available in addition to the Mixed default are: BG-Mixed; Wireless-G only; Wireless-B only; Wireless-N only; and Disabled.

I didn't test WPS because the WPC100 client doesn't support it. The only Linksys adapters that currently support WPS are still the WGA600N Dual-Band Wireless-N Gaming Adapter and the WUSB600N Dual-Band Wireless-N USB Network Adapter.

The Advanced Wireless settings also belie the 110's true nature via the N Transmission Rate selector. The maximum rate of 130 Mbps is due to the single transmit stream.

Advanced wireless configuration
Click to enlarge image

Figure 4: Advanced wireless configuration

Note that there is no transmit power control and no ability to keep wireless and wired clients from talking to each other. The AP Isolation control prevents only wireless client-to-client communication.

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