With a street price of around $30, the Zyxel X150N wireless router is a bargain among 802.11n (Wireless-N) routers. However, you get what you pay for. The router features the single-stream N standard, which has wireless cap speeds of just 150Mbps. In our testing its actual performance is much lower than that, especially over range. The router is relatively easy to use via a simple Web interface, which, unfortunately requires restarting to apply any changes, and each restart takes a long time. If you are looking for a cheap and simple Wireless-N router for a small office space, the Zyxel X150N is likely to get the job done. At the same price point, however, you should also check out the similarly configured TP-Link TL-WR741ND or pay a little more for any low-end dual-stream N router.
Design and ease of use
The Zyxel X150N comes in a spartan package that includes the router itself, a power adapter, a software CD containing the manual in PDF format, and an Easy Setup Guide poster. The poster guides you through the setup process via six well-illustrated steps, from hooking up the router to a broadband modem to opening its Web interface for further customization.
The router's Web interface, though well-organized and self-explanatory, requires you to restart the router to apply any changes. This makes working with it a pain when you want to set up advanced features, such as reserving an IP address for a particular computer or setting up port forwarding. Most routers we've seen only require restarting to apply major changes, such as changing the admin password or the name of the wireless network.
The X150N is square in shape. It's about half the size of a regular dual-stream router, and it has only one antenna that sticks up from the back. Despite the compact size, the router manages to offer four LAN ports (for wired local network devices), in addition to its WAN port (to connect to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem).
Also on the back, the router has a Wi-Fi Protect Setup (WPS) button that start a 2-minute window that other WPS-enabled devices can automatically enter the wireless network. On the front, there is an array of LED lights that show the status of the ports on the back, the wireless connection, and the connection to the Internet.
Featuring the single-stream Wireless-N standard, the X150N is considered a "light" router, so it doesn't offer many high-end features; there's no support for dual-band, USB devices, or guest networking.
It does, however, come with several useful networking features, including the ability to easily assign fixed IP addresses to network computers and forward particular services to them. This is a must if you want to use a computer in the network as an FTP or HTTP server. It's also required if you want to use remote access, such as Windows' Remote Desktop, over the Internet. For remote access, the router offers support for any dynamic DNS services, meaning you can set up remote access to the router and other network devices for free. It also has a bandwidth management feature that allows you to cap bandwidth to particular networking devices within the network.
For wireless security, the X150N supports all existing popular methods of encryption, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. It also offers MAC address filtering.