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At a Glance
Product Zyxel Zywall 2 Plus (K28388)
Summary Zippy IPsec VPN endpoint router supporting two VPN IPsec tunnels and lots of options for use in multi-router networks
Pros • Extensive routing and firewall configuration features
• Built-in 32 user authentication
• Plenty of routing and VPN tunnel throughput
• Lots of documentation
Cons • Easy things aren't easy
• Documentation lacks useful examples
• No bundled IPsec client
• Only two tunnels

Zyxel Zywall 2 Plus

I've been getting requests lately for recommendations on routers that include VPN endpoints. But when I checked my past reviews, I found that the last time I looked at one of these products was back in 2004. Yikes! So one of my (early) new year's resolutions is to get back to reviewing wired routers, starting with this review.

Zyxel's Zywall 2 and 2 Plus are the entry-level products in Zyxel's Security Appliance portfolio. Both are four port 10/100 routers with SPI firewalls and IPsec endpoints capable of supporting two tunnels, with feature sets supporting use in larger networks behind multiple layers of routers. The key differences between the two products are summarized in Table 1 below.

Spec Zywall 2 Plus Zywall 2
CPU Intel IxP 422 266Mhz Samsung 2500 166Mhz
Flash/SDRAM 8 MB / 32 MB 2 MB / 16 MB
Firewall performance 24 Mbps 12 Mbps
VPN performance 24 Mbps 2.2 Mbps
Key Features Zywall 2 feature set plus:
- Bandwidth Management
- Bridge mode
- VPN High Availability (HA)
- Firewall
- IPsec VPN endpoint
- Content Filtering
- Dial Backup
- 4-port 10/100 switch
Table 1: Zywall 2 and 2 Plus comparison

The router has the footprint of a typical plastic DVD box and stands about two such boxes high. The enclosure is plastic and there are two screw slots on the bottom cover for wall mounting. Figure 1 shows the complement of LEDs on the front panel, which are bright and viewable from a wide angle.

Zywall 2 plus front panel

Figure 1 : Front panel

Figure 2 shows the available ports, which include two RJ45 sockets supporting serial port connections to a console device and analog modem (remember those?) for dialup failover.

Zywall 2 plus rear panel

Figure 2: Rear panel

Internal Details

Figure 3 is a photo of the 2 Plus' board, which is built around a 266MHz Intel IXP422 CPU with 32MB of SDRAM and 8MB of FLASH memory. A Marvell Link Street 88E6060 6 port Fast Ethernet Switch rounds out the essential components.

Zywall 2plus board

Figure 3: The 2plus board (click image to enlarge)

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