"This Best Selling Cisco-Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Broadband Router Tends to SELL OUT VERY FAST! If this is a MUST HAVE product, be sure to Order Now to avoid disappointment!"
The Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router is really three devices in one box. First, theres the Wireless Access Point, which lets you connect both screaming fast Wireless-G (802.11g at 54Mbps) and Wireless-B (802.11b at 11Mbps) devices to the network. Theres also a built-in 4-port full-duplex 10/100 Switch to connect your wired-Ethernet devices together. Connect four PCs directly, or attach more hubs and switches to create as big a network as you need. Finally, the Router function ties it all together and lets your whole network share a high-speed cable or DSL Internet connection. Once your computers are connected to the Router and the Internet, they can communicate with each other too, sharing resources and files. All your computers can print on a shared printer connected anywhere in the house.Power Requirements: DC: 12VDC, Consumption: 0.5A.1 year hardware limited warranty, Lifetime award-winning online support tools.
When I installed this wireless router, setup was very straightforward (I did not use the Setup Wizard because it didn’t work for me). I changed the IP address range (because the DSL modem uses the 192.168.1 address space), set the administrator password, chose a name for the Wireless network, enabled WPA2 encryption and picked a passphrase.
After that, I connected my laptop to the router right away, and received an excellent signal and throughput of 100 KB/sec (for comparison, my DSL connection maintains a throughput of 300 KB/sec when I connect straight to the DSL modem).
I’ve been using the router for several months now, and have not had any dropped connections (my older Netgear router dropped connections fairly frequently and did not support the newer WPA encryption scheme) and have consistent throughput. The router has been running constantly for these past few months.
For the real tech-heads, this router has customized Linux firmware available from third parties. I haven’t tried this firmware, since the base Linksys firmware more than meets my needs.
Finally, good security practices are to: Change the administrator password, disable Universal Plug and Play, disable Remote administrative access, use a unique name for the access point, and if the network is only for a small number of personal devices (i.e. a laptop you own), enable MAC address filtering. A MAC address uniquely identifies a network card, so this only allows certain computers to access the network.
It has been more than 3 months since I set up this router and I haven’t had any problem. – 8/16/06
This router has been in operation for 7 months and hasn’t had any problem at all. Not even a single reboot. – 1/16/07
The modified software versions, such as HyperWRT and OpenWRT, Sveasoft, etc. have over the years provided capabilities that Linksys themselves didn’t put in the box on their own, such as having routers that link up over the wireless connection, or routers that can work well in P2P applications with hundreds of active connections. Some of these features made it back into Linksys’s official codebase over the years, helping to make this a Truly Great Product.
Linksys has chosen to eviscerate the memory of the latest version (v5) of the WRT54G to make it cheaper. This latest version doesn’t have Linux inside and as others have reported isn’t nearly as stable as earlier versions, nor is it in any condition to have the open source community help Linksys fix the problems. If you want The Little Blue Box That Could, you now have to buy the WRT54GL.
Some background and history can be found here:
LinkSys courts Linux hackers with WRT54G”L”
LinkSys also offers a WRT54GS “speedboaster” model that uses channel bonding with I believe both A and G signals, to realize faster throughput in some use cases. Some older WRT54GS models were available with 8MB of Flash and 32MB of RAM, while current models have 4/16, and thus will also support fancy firmware upgrades, such as those from http://www.dd-wrt.com/, http://www.sveasoft.com/, http://sputnik.com, and so on. These firmwares offer things like optimization for VoWiFi (voice-over-wifi), integration with Radius authentication, bridging, etc, etc, etc.
Techie knitty-gritty on all the various permutations, serial number sequences, and so forth can be found at James Depew’s unofficial LinkSysInfo.org site.
Obviously the big downside of this router is that it predates the newer 802.11n or “N-wireless” protocol. I’m a fairly tech-savvy user who always likes to get the latest and greatest in terms of equipment, but I’ve owned 802.11n routers and I always come back to this router because of its rock-solid reliability. What most people don’t understand is that for most users, the true “bottleneck” of their wireless network is their connection to the Internet and not the speed of their wireless router. I use Comcast cable for my Internet connection, which is pretty fast (averaging about 8.5 mbps), but the LinkSys WRT54GL router can send and receive data at several times the speed of my Internet connection. That means that even if I had a newer 802.11n wireless router, or even plugged my devices into the network through a wired connection, they would not connect to the Internet any faster then they do through the WRT54GL because the WRT54GL’s speed still exceeds the speed of my Internet connection. For me, the illusory benefits of 802.11n simply do not outweigh the proven reliability and expandability of the WRT54GL.
** UPDATE 05/22/2010 **
I have to add one caveat to my review above; having the newer 802.11n may have an additional benefit that I did not mention earlier. I recently moved to a crowded metropolitan area in a building with a lot of tenants. The result is that there are now 25 wireless points/routers within close range of my unit (operated by neighbors) that are sharing the frequency bands of my WRT54GL. The result is substantial interference and moderate to significant performance degradation. A lot of these are DSL customers who have wireless routers. I am seriously considering switching to 802.11n simply because it runs at a different frequency (5 GHZ) than 802.11g and is far less prevalent (at least today), which may result in a lot less interference and less performance degradation.
Also if you like to mess with things, the third-party firmware updates are great. They will increase the performance of this router to a level greater than its competitors.
Do yourself a favor and buy this router, and you won’t be sorry.
- Compatible with third-party, open source firmware that gives you extra features.
- Fast transfer speeds over wireless.
- Easy to set up.
- A bit expensive, considering that this router is pretty much the same as older WRT54G routers.