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Wireless Reviews


Linksys By Cisco WRT120N Wireless-N Home Router

At a Glance
Product Linksys By Cisco Wireless-N Home Router (WRT120N)
Summary 802.11b/g router built with Atheros Align single-stream (1x1) draft 802.11n chipset
Pros • 90 Mbps routing speed
Cons • Not Draft 802.11n Certified
• Only guaranteed to support 54 Mbps link rate with draft 11n clients
• Low throughput and/or high variation with some draft 11n clients

If you've been following along, you know that I'm not a fan of the emerging crop of routers using single-stream draft 802.11n technology. If you haven't, then take a few minutes to read Buyers Beware! Single Stream Draft 802.11n Products Bring Back Spec Spin for some general background and Three Things You Should Know About The Linksys WRT120N for my specific criticisms of the misleading marketing that Cisco is doing with the WRT120N.

For those of you who are in a rush, here are the three bullets from the latter article:

  • It's not Draft 802.11n Certified
  • It supports only a maximum 150 Mbps Link Rate (actually 65 Mbps with out-of-the-box defaults)
  • You don't really save that much vs. a real draft 11n router

My real beef with Cisco is that they are marketing the WRT120N as a "Wireless-N" router. This is the same naming they use with their draft 802.11n compliant and Wi-Fi Certified products, which the WRT120N is not. And to add to the confusion, the 120N recycles the product name (Wireless-N Home Router) from the now-defunct WRT150N, which was a Wi-Fi Certified draft 11n router.

But even worse, the PDF spec sheet downloadable from the product webpage said that the WRT120N complied with the draft 802.11n standard (Figure 1).

WRT120N spec change

Figure 1: WRT120N spec change

Cisco changed the data sheet just a few days ago as shown above, however, when I pointed out that the 802.11n spec requires that draft 802.11n APs support two spatial streams (which is why single-stream APs / routers can't be draft 802.11n certified).

But I hope that Cisco will also address my request to either rename the router to incorporate the "150" nomenclature that is used by Belkin (N150 Wireless Router), D-Link (DIR-600 Wireless 150 Router) and NETGEAR (WNR1000 N150 / RangeMax 150 Wireless Router) in their single-stream products, or to use the RangePlus-n branding used for the single-stream WRT110.

I'll step off my soapbox now and get on with the review. Figure 2 shows the WRT120N's front panel, which uses the series of backlit icons seen in other current Linksys routers. There is also a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) pushbutton for quickly setting up a secure connection with a wireless client that supports WPS.

WRT120N Front Panel

Figure 2: WRT120N Front Panel

The rear panel layout (Figure 3) is pretty standard, too. There are wall-mount screw slots on the bottom panel.

WRT120N Back Panel

Figure 3: WRT120N Back Panel

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