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Wireless Reviews

Advanced Dual-Band N Router
At a glance
ProductLinksys E2500 Advanced Dual-Band N Router   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based simultaneous dual-band N router with 10/100 ports.
Pros• Simultaneous dual band
Cons• No WDS
• Guest SSID on 2.4 GHz band only
• Relatively low 5 GHz band throughput

Typical Price: $34  Shop Amazon

Overview

This review rounds out our complete coverage of Cisco's revamped Linksys E series of wireless routers. The E2500 is one step below the E3200, with 10/100 ports vs. Gigabit and no USB port for drive sharing.

You could easily confuse the E2500 and E3200 since both enclosures are virtually the same. The main difference is the E2500's silver-gray logo band vs. the E3200's dark blue. Figure 1 summarizes the E2500's ports, indicators and switches, which are all on the rear and bottom of the device.

Cisco E2500 ports and indicators
Figure 1: Cisco E2500 ports and indicators

Inside

The E2500's FCC photos were really crappy, so I opened up my review sample after testing was done. I was expecting to see a design similar to the E3200's, so was surprised to see something completely different.

The E2500's designers sharpened the pencil to squeeze more componenet cost out and turned to a different Broadcom SoC as its heart.

The Broadcom BCM5358U Intensi-fi dual-stream 2.4GHz 802.11n router SoC comes in flavors with and without VoIP support. The "U" version used in the E2500 is the "without" flavor.

Cisco E2500 inside view

Figure 2: Cisco E2500 inside view

RAM size is the same as the E3200 at 64 MB, but flash has been cut in half to 8 MB. There are also no power amplifiers in those RF cans in Figure 2, just transmit / receive switches. The 5 GHz radio is the same for both, a Broadcom BCM43236.

Linksys E3200 inside
Figure 3: E3200 inside view

Figure 3 shows the E3200's internal view for your reference and Table 1 summarizes the key components of both products. One last difference is that the E2500 uses only two antennas per radio vs. the E3200's three.

  E2500 E3200
CPU Broadcom BCM5358U Broadcom BCM47186
Switch In BCM5358U Broadcom BCM53125
RAM 64 MB 64 MB
Flash 8 MB 16 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - In BCM5358U
- No power amps
- BB/MAC In BCM47186
- Microsemi LX 5535 2.4 GHz power amps (x2)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM43236
- No power amps
- Broadcom BCM43236
- Microsemi LX 5530 5 GHz power amps (x2)
Table 1: E2500 and E3200 component summary

Features

The E2500 supports the standard Linksys router feature set:

  • DHCP, Static, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Telstra Cable WAN types
  • DHCP server with MAC address reservation
  • 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
  • Incoming, outgoing, Security and DHCP onscreen log access with support for Linksys Logviewer recording
  • Access Restrictions with 10 deny or allow-based policies, each with its own list of clients and day/time schedule
  • Uplink (LAN to WAN) only QoS with High, Medium, Normal or Low Priority that can be applied to specific applications (divided into Application, Online Game and Voice Device groups), physical switch ports or specific MAC addresses.
  • WMM (Wireless MultiMedia) (enabled by default)
  • Wireless Guest Access - Internet-only access with its own SSID, but no security except a common password for all guests and the ability to limit the number of guests from 1 to 10. 2.4 GHz band only

I loaded up the latest firmware (1.0.01 build 3 May 6, 2011) before testing and found that it doesn't include any IPv6 controls.

One other feature that the E2500 and E3200 share is that neither will let you access the Internet unless you run the Cisco Connect software or check a box in a captive portal that says you understand that the router isn't secure (Figure 4).

E2500 security checkoff
Figure 4: E2500 security checkoff

I've included a few more admin screens in the gallery below.

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