SmallNetBuilder

Follow SmallNetBuilder
Follow SmallNetBuilder on TwitterConnect On Facebook Google+Get the SmallNetBuilder RSS Feed
You are here: Wireless Wireless Reviews Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Wireless-N Router Reviewed - Wireless Performance 5GHz, Competitive, Closing Thoughts

Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Wireless-N Router Reviewed - Wireless Performance 5GHz, Competitive, Closing Thoughts

Print E-mail
<< Prev - Page 4 of 4 - Next

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz

Figure 15 shows the IxChariot aggregate plot for all 5 GHz band downlink tests using 20 MHz channel width. I was disappointed to find that, despite the use of discrete 5 GHz amplifiers, the E4200 could not provide a reliable connection in my dead zone locations E and F. Throughput variation is again moderately low and generally free of large, long dropouts.

Cisco E4200 wireless throughput - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

Figure 15: Cisco E4200 wireless throughput - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink

Best case 5 GHz performance was 79 Mbps running downlink in 40 MHz bandwidth mode, slightly lower than with the 2.4 GHz radio. But I measured only 90 Mbps total throughput in 40 MHz mode running simultaneous up and downlink tests, significantly less than the 2.4 GHz side.

Here are links to other IxChariot wireless test plots if you'd like to explore further:

Wireless Competitive

For a competitive comparison, I generated a Performance table, selecting the E3000, NETGEAR WNDR3700 and WNDR3700v2. Figure 16 shows the 2.4 GHz comparison. The E4200 doesn't win in each case. But if you look closely, you'll see it wins where it counts most.

I've never felt that highest throughput was the true measure of a router's worth. The high throughput game causes manufacturers to optimze designs around the wrong things and gives consumers false hope for good all-around performance.

Highest throughput is obtained only under strongest signal conditions, which usually means same or maybe next-room (with sheetrock wall) use. But if you have that setup, you're better off using Ethernet if you're trying to reliably stream high-def video.

No, the real measure of a good router can be found by looking at locations D, E and F, i.e. medium-low to low signal conditions. And except for a few cases, that is there the E4200 shines.

Wireless Competitive Comparison - 2.4 GHz

Figure 16: Wireless Competitive Comparison - 2.4 GHz

Figure 17 compares the same four routers in the 5 GHz band. Here the E4200 isn't as dominant, especially when compared to the original NETGEAR WNDR3700. But you soon won't be able to get that model and the v2 appears to have taken a step back in 5 GHz performance.

Wireless Competitive Comparison - 5 GHz

Figure 17: Wireless Competitive Comparison - 5 GHz

If you rerun the comparison chart omitting the original WNDR3700, then you see a very different story with the E4200 consistently beating the WNDR3700v2 in both bands, especially in the weaker signal location D.

Use the Wireless Charts to further compare and explore the E4200's performance.

Please note that I plan to come back and run the Total Wireless Bandwidth and Stress Tests I ran in the WNDR3700 and E3000 reviews. But I wanted to get at least most of the important results posted without further delay.

Closing Thoughts

It looks like Cisco has come up with a winner in the E4200 and it's is sure to kill off some demand for NETGEAR's WNDR3700 and even Cisco's own Linksys E3000, which I expect may start to be discounted in the coming months.

You'll be paying top price ($180) during the next few months while Best Buy is the exclusive retailer outside Cisco's own web store. Since you'll pay the same price in both places and Cisco offers free overnight shipping and 90 day returns with full refund, you'd be crazy to buy it from BB.

The E4200 is by no means perfect and lacks a few of the WNDR3700's features. And it seems to live up to its "Maximum Performance" moniker for 2.4 GHz performance. But if you're hoping that the E4200 will extend your 5 GHz WLAN coverage, you may be disappointed. To judge for yourself, though, why not just order one from Cisco and give it a shot?


Be sure to read the followup.



Related Items:

Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Wireless-N Router Review Follo
Cisco Unveils 450 Mbps Dual-Band N Router
SmallNetBuilder Giveaway Results: Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performa
Cisco Linksys E3000 High Performance Wireless-N Router Reviewed
New To The Charts: Cisco Linksys E3200 High Performance Dual-Band N Ro

User reviews

View all user reviews

Average user rating from: 17 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
3.5 Features :
 
3.8 Performance :
 
3.4 Reliability :
 
3.2
 
Ratings (the higher the better)
Features*
 
Performance*
 
Reliability*
 
Comments*
    Please enter the security code.
 
 

E4200 V1 with Victek RAF tomato firmware

Overall rating: 
 
4.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Moogle Stiltzkin
November 01, 2013
Report this review
 

Well judging the router with the default linksys firmware, of course the review is correct to say the software feature set is limited. With that said however, you should be using a tomato custom firmware for this router as it offers more features, better stability, better performance.

For tomato firmwares, there are a few variants being developed by different people, and these are Shibby, Toastman and Victek. Any of these would be fine for use, as they are active developers for their tomato firmware updates.

Reliability for the router, if using one of the top 3 tomato firmwares, is amazing. I haven't had my router failed me for a very long time. I leave the router on 24/7 and hardly have any issues.

Performance wise, it's good, but obviously there are newer routers out there with newer hardware. So of course the Linksys E4200 V1 is outdated, but it's still considered a solid performer, if not the best. Seeing as it's widely supported by the tomato community, you can be sure this model will have long time support from these developers :) so it has that for it.

Wireless performance people mentioned about range. But for home usage it's not bad, but if your expecting to get more range beyond that, then you may need to look elsewhere.

Software features as mentioned is not an issue as highlighted why, but as i said it's outdated, so hardware wise it lacks the newer wireless 802.11ac, but instead has 802.11n

Over all it's a good router, so if you can come by it second hand for a good price, it's most likely a good deal.

But if your a new buyer, and can afford buying the top 5 latest, then get one of those, but be sure it's a model supported by the tomato community ^-^;

 

Tomato Shibby firmware saved this router from the garbage

Overall rating: 
 
3.0
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Patrick
February 08, 2013
Report this review
 

My ratings reflect my experiences with the Cisco firmware. The Cisco firmware for this router had one problem after another. The only somewhat reliable version was 1.0.01, but this version had the WPS security hole. I could not use any of the Cisco firmware newer versions as they always broke some feature, such as compatibility with my VOIP device. As my network got more complex, this router became less reliable needing daily reboots. Cisco's firmware is complete garbage in my opinion.

Thankfully I tried Tomato Shibby firmware and this has completely transformed this router. With the Tomato firmware, Features get a 5, Performance still a 4 (because of the limited range of the internal antennas), and Reliability now a 5.

If you have one of these, do yourself a favor and install Tomato Shibby:
http://tomato.groov.pl/download/K26RT-N/build5x-105-EN/Linksys%20E-series/tomato-E3200USB-NVRAM60K-1.28.RT-N5x-MIPSR2-105-AIO.bin

Be sure to clear the NVRAM after installing before you configure the router.

 

Linksys blows

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Evin
February 28, 2012
Report this review
 

As a caveat, it is quite fast when working properly. however a majority of the time this sh*t crashes CONSTANTLY. not worth the $150

 

I must be crazy - i keep buying these useless devices

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
3.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Phil Morgan
January 18, 2012
Report this review
 

There must be something wrong with me, I keep buying product from Linksys but they ALWAYS let me down. the latest E4200 after 6 months has suddenly started hanging and has cut throughput from my internet connection from 30MbPS to about 3MbPS. When they work they are fine but how can a company this large get away with building such fragile products?

Even though these jokers offer 12 months of hardware support there is only 90 days of telephone support so you have to pay to get this useless hardware working despite the hardware warranty. So after countless WRT54G's, two E3000's and now the E4200 I paid my money to Apple and bought an Airport. It may not have all of the fancy features of the Linksys but I have a feeling it will be working in 6 months time.

Any suggestion for what to do with my Linksys graveyard of 6 dead wireless routers?

 

not impressed

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
2.0
Reviewed by not that
August 04, 2011
Report this review
 

Not impressed. Maybe the reviewer got a golden sample. The range on my first one was about 30 feet before signal dropped off massively. Straight shot down the hall of my house, no metal. The second one, after RMA, was better for the first day until it had a chance to heat up (overheat?) then it's range dropped off as well. THAT seemed very telling to me. I live in a cool region of the country, and this thing still gets very hot here. Designed with no thought to heat dissipation, the top is cup shaped, holds heat in. If it lasts long enough to be out of warranty I'll drill holes in it to let heat out. They could have put unobtrusive lights on the top to indicate cable connectivity, just make them muted and unblinking, like my 5-port D-Link switch. Antenna design is poor, but maybe the best you can do in a saucer shape?

Pros:
Easy to set up
Separate 2.4 & 5GHz SSIDs.
Looks swoopy like a flying saucer
Can run DD-WRT
RMA process was quick. (something of a pro, I guess)

Cons:
Short radio range
HOT, HOT, HOT
No lights on top, you wonder if your cable is plugged in, no?

Other:
I think it would have great radio range straight above and straight below it, just based on the antenna design. Do you live in a tall, thin, tower ? Put it on the top floor and try it out !!
I would also keep in mind that my perceived radio range is affected by the laptops antenna design as well, maybe I just have a crappy laptop.

 
 
View all user reviews

Amazon Top-Selling Wireless Routers