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LAN & WAN Reviews

Performance

The RV042 is similar in functionality and features to the recently reviewed NETGEAR FVS124G. It is also interesting to compare the RV042 to another Linksys product, the RVS4000. Further, as mentioned in the opening of this review, the RV042 is the little brother to the Linksys RV082 and the RV016.

As you can see in Table 1, the RV042 produces some solid performance numbers compared to the FVS124G and the RVS4000. Although it is in the middle regarding maximum connections at 72, it produces the most balanced throughput of these three routers. It is clear that the RVS4000 produces significantly higher LAN to WAN throughput with its Gigabit capability, but considering the typical WAN link is only 5–10Mbps down and 384Kbps–2Mbps up, it's kind of hard to utilize 500+Mbps of LAN to WAN throughput.

The VPN throughput numbers are the most impressive, indicating the RV042's ability to handle multiple VPN connections simultaneously. These throughput speeds show the RV042 shouldn't be a bottleneck to inbound traffic unless your WAN connection is greater then 20Mbps.

Throughput (Mbps)
Test Description NETGEAR FVS124G Linksys RV042 Linksys RVS4000
WAN to LAN 13 54 16
LAN to WAN 12 80 530
Total Simultaneous Throughput 12 59 526
IPsec Client Remote to Local 5.1 21.9 1.6
IPsec Client Local to Remote 3.6 32.6 1.6
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 196 72 48
Firmware Version 1.1.44 1.3.8.2 1.1.09
Price $144 $157 $113
Table 1: Product comparison

The next three Figures are directly from the slideshow, but they bear some explanation. As you can see in Figure 13, the RV042's simultaneous LAN>WAN and WAN>LAN throughput averaged about 54 Mbps over one minute. Interestingly, the RV042's combined throughput performance starts out high, and then trends downward.

LAN>WAN and WAN>LAN throughput
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Figure 13: Simultaneous LAN>WAN and WAN>LAN throughput

If we look at throughput in each direction separately, we can see the declining throughput occurs on inbound traffic. Figure 14 shows the WAN>LAN throughput, and Figure 15 shows the LAN>WAN throughput. It is clear that the WAN>LAN throughput graph declines, while the LAN>WAN throughput remains relatively steady and predictable.

We double-checked our testing, and these results were repeatable. QoS and Firewall functions weren't the cause, as the trend continued even with these functions disabled.

WAN>LAN throughput
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Figure 14: WAN>LAN throughput

The pattern above implies a condition of packet loss driving down the transmission rate, then stabilization resulting in transmission rate increase, similar to the TCP slow start algorithm. Although odd, I wouldn't be concerned about this data unless I was connecting to a WAN link with greater than 30Mbps of download speed.

LAN>WAN throughput
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Figure 15: LAN>WAN throughput

Closing Thoughts

Overall, I give this product a hearty thumbs up. However, there are some shortcomings, such as the fallback capability on the Dual WAN port. Both failover and fallback should be automatic. However, even a manual connection to a second ISP is superior to a single ISP that is down. Further, even though this product has been out awhile, I feel that the lack of gigabit ports is a negative.

In terms of pricing, the RV042 comes in at $157, slightly higher than the $144 for the NETGEAR and about $45 more than Linksys' RVS4000. If you need more ports, the RV082 runs $258 and the RV016 can be found on line for $361. This nice thing about the pricing on the RV0XX line is there are no subscription services or additional costs, other than adding VPN Client licenses.

Linksys has a product called the QuickVPN 50 Client License, which can be found on line for about $119. This increases the total available VPN Client capability to 50, an interesting number since the RV042 lists support for only a maximum of 30 tunnels.

I've been using the RV042 in my LAN for well over a year without issue. I've hacked at its features, updated the firmware, set up numerous VPNs, and used it to connect to multiple ISPs. I like the variety of network options it provides, and I like the fact that there are no subscription based services required. The RV042 is a solid component on my small network.

Check out the slideshow See the slide show for a look at the RV042 mainboard, a few configuration screens and some performance plots.

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