Linksys WPC300N Notebook Adapter

The Good The WPC300N has some good things going for it, including adequate maximum throughput, a painless setup process, clear documentation, an excellent configuration utility, and a long warranty.

The Bad The WPC300N's mixed-mode performance is merely mediocre, and it's especially sluggish at long range.

The Bottom Line Solid maximum throughput is not nearly enough to make us recommend the Draft N-based Linksys WPC300N. Sit tight to see how the other Draft N gear fares.

Editors' Rating
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Support 7.0
6.7 Overall

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Features
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Review

Linksys WPC300N Notebook Adapter

Linksys WPC300N adapter

The WPC300N is among the new batch of Draft N products announced today by Linksys and available immediately through BestBuy.com. The PC Card adapter, selling for an industry-standard price of $119, is based on the first official draft of the 802.11n specification, which promises significantly faster performance and longer range than the prior-generation 802.11g standard. Tested in CNET Labs with the Linksys WRT300N router, the adapter achieved decent maximum throughput but only middling mixed-mode throughput--and its speed at long range was downright disappointing. For now, sit tight and keep your sights set on the bevy of additional Draft N adapters that are currently on our Labs' test bench. If you can't wait another day for a new adapter, go with either the Netgear WPNT511 for superspeedy maximum and mixed-mode throughput or the Belkin Pre-N PC Card for great range. (Be aware, though, that in order to get blazing-fast speeds with the Netgear or Belkin cards, you'll need to have their companion routers, too.) Also, check out News.com's story about analysts' takes on the Draft N gear.

Like most PC Card adapters, there's not much to the WPC300N. The device features the standard metal PCMCIA portion, with a black-and-blue end piece that extends outside of your laptop's PC Card slot. This piece includes the adapter's wireless antenna, along with two tiny square status lights for power and wireless activity.

The WPC300N's setup process is a piece of cake, thanks to its well-organized user guide and helpful installation wizard. Both items ship on CD, which Linksys puts inside of a handy envelope. The envelope's inside flap gets you started with a directive to insert the CD; this step spurs the wizard into action, taking you through the process of installing drivers and the included configuration utility, as well as popping in the adapter. The wizard ends by helping you make your first connection to an available network in your area. From then on, you may use the excellent utility to manage the card and its connections. In addition to allowing you to store individual profiles for the networks you access most, the utility shows every pertinent detail about the network you're currently connected to, including signal strength, link quality, MAC and IP addresses, and associated security features.

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Specs / Prices

  • MSRP $80
  • Brand Cisco
  • Type Network adapter
  • Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n (draft)
  • Form Factor plug-in module
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