Cisco Linksys E4200 £170
29th Mar 2011 | 11:53
Style and substance in dual-band trim
Cisco Linksys E4200 review: Overview
Staking its claim in the dual-band 5GHz/2.4GHz world, Cisco has released the Linksys Maximum Performance E4200 Dual-Band N Router.
Again unlike the Netgear DGND3300 it offers four full Gigabit LAN ports, alongside the DSL port. For optimum performance it uses a 3x3 antenna array and so can offer 450Mbps connections at 5GHz.
We also spied a single USB port to provide NAS and UPnP services from a USB drive and there's an actual power switch, which we always like to see. A WPS button is tucked at the back to make adding supported devices a one-push affair.
Clearly Cisco is trying to up the game with packaging and design, which attempts to ape Apple products such as the iPad 2. It certainly gets close in terms of design but doesn't quite manage the same levels of finesse.
Linksys E4200 review: Benchmarks
We tested the wireless performance in various scenarios to see how the Cisco Linksys E4200 performed in typical real-world situations for both its 2.4GHz and 5GHZ modes.
The first was a same-room configuration transferring a large file from the router to the laptop. The second involved the laptop being placed one brick-wall and a standard wooden floor away. Finally we ran a distance test at 25m with a direct line of sight, to see how it coped with distance.
Same room transfer speed
One room away transfer speed
25m line-of-sight transfer speed
Linksys E4200 review: Verdict
Oddly, Cisco opts for a CD-based installation with the Linksys Maximum Performance E4200 Dual-Band N Router.
We say oddly because shiny MacBook Airs, all netbooks and a host of laptops don't have optical drives anymore. It's doubly odd is there's no explanation of how to set things up without the CD.
That aside, the web interface is a wonderfully corporatised affair lacking almost any colour. Think Netgear with grey-tinted glasses.
But it's cleanly laid out, very fast to use and feature-rich.
Unlike the Asus RT-N56U the Linksys E4200 provides a unified SSID for both 5GHz and 2.4GHz modes, but also allows extensive configuration to enable or disable any frequency range along with 20MHz and 40MHz modes. It can also offer Guest zones for simple public access.
We ran tests at both frequency ranges and were hoping for good results as it's packing a 3x3, 6 antenna configuration. In the same room we got similar performance to the FRITZ!Box 7390 with peaks in the low 20MB/s and a solid average around 18MB/s, but this still lagged the stellar ASUS mid-20MB/s results.
The Cisco box continued to just lag the FRITZ!Box at all distances.
In some ways the 2.4GHz performance was better, managing to pip everything we've tested recently at all ranges, making the most of those three antennas.
While we couldn't seem to make the most of the fancy-antenna 450Mbps mode at 5GHz, importantly the Cisco Linksys E4200 put in good performances at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency ranges. Especially at 2.4GHz, it managed to keep ahead of the rest, even at 25m, with the same going for the 5GHz range. A solid no-nonsense interface provides solid reassurance.
Not making the most of the 450Mbps connection is disappointing and since the cheaper the ASUS RT-N56U outperforms it while offering the same features, it's also hard to recommend. The flawed installation doesn't help things either.
All-in-all the Cisco Linksys E4200 is a potentially lightning-fast 5GHz router that doesn't seem to make the most of its expensive abilities.