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Wireless Reviews

Routing Overview

The WRT310N uses the new "UFO" enclosure with internal antennas that is the standard for Linksys by Cisco draft 11n routers, including the WRT160N and WRT610N.  I like the sleek design with enclosed antennas since it's a nice change from the usual boring boxes.

We covered the WRT310N's innards in this slideshow over a year ago and they still apply because Cisco hasn't revised the product. The Broadcom-based design uses a BCM4705 High-Performance 802.11n/MIMO Intensi-fi GbE Processor, BCM4321 Draft 11n Baseband/MAC and BCM2055 2.4/5GHZ Intensi-fi draft 11n radio. The gigabit switch chip part number is covered by a thermal pad, but it is probably a BCM5397 5 port gigabit switch.

The WRT310N implements Linksys' standard routing feature set, including:

  • DHCP, Static, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Telstra Cable WAN types
  • Built-in Dynamic DNS clients for TZO and DynDNS
  • Static and dynamic routing
  • SPI firewall disable, multicast, WAN ping and IDENT filtering and Proxy, Java, ActiveX and Cooking blocking
  • IPsec, PPTP and L2TP VPN passthrough (enabled by default)
  • Single port forwarding and Port Range forwarding and triggered ports
  • HTTPS admin access, remote management (HTTP / HTTPS) enable with IP range restriction and port setting
  • Logging with support for Linksys Logviewer recording

As mentioned earlier, please reference our review of the 610N for more details.

I appreciate the fact that the 310N has Gigabit Ethernet ports. But as with the 610N, the 310N doesn't support jumbo frames. I confirmed this by taking a pair of jumbo frame capable devices and was able to successfully pass 7900 Byte frames between them over a known good network supporting jumbo frames.  But when using the 310N, the largest frames that would pass between the same two devices were non-jumbo 1514 byte frames.

If you’re playing along at home with a Windows PC, test jumbo frame capability by typing ping -f -l (frame size) (destination) at the command line.  With a Linux PC, test jumbo frame capability by typing ping -s (frame size) (destination) at the command line. 

For example, to determine if you can pass 7000 byte jumbo frames from your PC to a device at 192.168.1.100, type ping -f -l 7000 192.168.100.1 in Windows and ping -s 7000 192.168.100.1 in Linux. 

If you get a reply, you're passing 7000 byte jumbo frames.  If no reply, keep trying smaller frame sizes until you find the largest that works.

The 310N also supports including RIP and static routing.  I was able to easily set up and use a static route to a downstream router on my LAN.  (See this how-to if you're looking to set up multiple routers on a network.)

Access to my work VPN was no problem via both an SSL and IPSec client with VPN Passthrough enabled, which is the default.   Port Forwarding and port triggering were also useful.  I set up port forwarding to allow access to my internal router over the Web.  Port triggering was useful to ensure ports were opened on the firewall to keep my VoIP line connected.

The Linksys WRT610N has a built-in Application Layer Gateway (ALG) function, which changes Layer 5 SIP messages, replacing the internal private IP address assigned to the VoIP device with the router's external public IP address.  This can create problems for VoIP networks, causing them to erroneously assume a registered device is not behind a NAT.  The problem with the 610N is an end user can't turn the ALG feature on or off.  I was pleased to see the 310N didn't have the ALG function at all, so this wasn't an issue.

I like the QoS configurations on Linksys' 160N, 310N and 610N routers.  I've had customers at my day job (a VoIP service provider) complain of dropped calls.  We often find the problem is due to multiple devices inside the customer's home network competing for bandwidth.  The 160N, 310N, and 610N can successfully resolve dropped call problems by prioritizing upstream bandwidth utilization. (Most Linksys routers cannot prioritize download traffic.)

With a MAC based rule, a VoIP device can be given top priority to the Internet, while still allowing access for the other devices.  The key is being able to apply prioritization based on MAC address, which eliminates the hassle of assigning a static IP to a device.

Figure 12 shows that I've assigned High Priority to a device I've called "Phone"; with MAC address 00:20:F0:00:00:20.  I have over a dozen other devices on my network, but this single QoS rule makes them all play together happily.  This is the configuration I recommend to customers with VoIP devices using the 160N, 310N, and 610N models of Linksys routers.

QoS settings
Click to enlarge image

Figure 12: QoS settings

Two small things I hope Linksys will address in a future firmware release include correcting the sharpness of the color in the web GUI and an error message that occurs when using Dynamic DNS.  The washed-out look of the configuration menu in Figures 12 and 13 isn't due to the images we posted, it is the look of the actual configuration pages.  Linksys' previous 310N firmware 1.0.06 did not have this washed out coloring; it surfaced in firmware 1.0.07.

Dynamic DNS functionally is fine and I was able to configure my DynDNS.org account which successfully tracked my domain to my public IP.  However, the 310N's configuration page displayed an erroneous DDNS server is currently closed message (Figure 13). I didn't experience this with 1.0.06 firmware.

DDNS status error
Click to enlarge image

Figure 13: DDNS status error

Routing Performance

Testing and analysis by Tim Higgins

I tested routing performance using our standard router tests, using desktop machines with Gigabit Ethernet cards running Windows XP SP2 for both IxChariot endpoints and the LAN client in DMZ.

Table 3 shows around 148 Mbps of total simultaneous routing throughput, which places it in the #11 slot in our current Router Performance Charts. The 160 simultaneous connections result was a surprise, given that the WRT610N hit the 200 connection limit of our test setup and it uses the same BCM4705 processor. But the WRT310N's simultaneous connections are more the norm for Linksys' Broadcom-based routers.

Test Description Throughput
(Mbps)
WAN - LAN
136.3
LAN - WAN
156.2
Total Simultaneous
147.8
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 160
Firmware Version
v1.0.07-LS-HND
Table 3: Routing performance

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