Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual-Band Wireless-N Router review: Cisco Linksys E4200 Maximum Performance Dual-Band Wireless-N Router

For file sharing, the E4200 supports Windows SMB, so you can browse the share folders easily while using a network browser such as Windows Explorer. It also has the ability to turn a folder on an attached USB hard drive into an FTP site. We did find the layout of the Web interface for the storage feature rather cumbersome, though still easy enough for savvy users to figure out.

Like the E3000, the E4200 includes a simple, yet robust, parental control content-filtering system. This feature, which you can manage with the Cisco Connect software or the Web interface, allows you to change the way a particular computer on the network accesses the Internet.

Similar to other routers in the E series, the E4200's Web interface also gives access to the router's Applications & Gaming feature, which lets you set port forwarding and triggering for specific applications such as games, remote desktop, and FTP and HTTP servers. You can also assign static IP addresses to certain computers in the network, making the port forwarding much more relevant and easy to do. If you want to create a VPN connection, an FTP access, or a remote desktop connection to a certain computer in the network, you will find this handy and convenient.

Like most recent routers, the Linksys E42000 supports all available wireless encryption standards including WEP, WPA-Personal, and WPA-Enterprise. The router allows VPN pass-through for all existing VPN protocols including IPsec, L2TP, and PPTP, meaning that if you have the router at home, you can use a VPN client to access your office system.

The Linksys E4200 did very well where it matters the most: wireless performance. Note that we didn't have a client that supports the 450Mbps standard at the time of this review. (We'll retest when we get a hold of one and update this part of the review then.) Nonetheless, with general 300Mbps clients, the E4200 excelled.

In the 5GHz frequency tests, the router registered 100.5Mbps on our close-range throughput test, which is about 20Mbps faster than the D-Link DIR-825. At this speed, the router can finish transmitting 500MB of data in just about 40 seconds. On our long-range test, the E4200 did even better with 79.1Mbps, about 40Mbps faster than the D-Link, which scored 48.8Mbps. By far, the E4200 was the fastest on the 5GHz band, which is not a surprise because as we mentioned before, it's the first we've reviewed that supports the three-stream standard for this band.

On our 2.4GHz frequency tests, the router's scores were also among the tops on our charts. It scored 61.4Mbps in the close-range throughput test and 46.9Mbps in the long-range test. In the mixed-mode test, where the router was set to work with both N and legacy G wireless clients, it scored 57.6Mbps.

The Linksys E4200 also did very well in our stress test. It didn't disconnect once during the 48 hours of heavy data transferring between multiple clients. It offered great range, too, in our test, with about 290 feet for both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. This is the first time we've seen a router that offers similar ranges for both bands. Normally, the 5GHz band has a shorter range than the 2.4GHz band.

So far the E4200 is the fastest true dual-band router we've seen when it comes to wireless performance.

On the other hand, the router's NAS performance, as we've always seen in routers that have network storage features, was mediocre. We tested it with a USB portable hard drive, and the scores were nowhere close to those of dedicated NAS servers. The router's write and read speeds were just slightly faster than 60Mbps. This means it's only suitable for casual small-file sharing among network computers. If you want to do heavy file sharing or media streaming, we'd recommend a dedicated NAS server, such as the Synology DS410.

We didn't run into any problems during the review, but we did notice that the router got rather warm. It's recommended that it be set up in an open area.

CNET Labs 2.4GHz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed mode
Cisco Linksys E4200
D-Link DIR-825
Belkin N+ Wireless Router
Netgear WNDR3700
Cisco Linksys E3000
Linksys WRT610n
Apple Time Capsule

CNET Labs 5GHz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Cisco Linksys E4200
D-Link DIR-825
Linksys WRT610n

CNET Labs NAS performance (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Service and support
Cisco backs the Linksys E4200 with a one-year limited warranty. Cisco's toll-free phone support is available 24-7, as is online chat with a support representative. The company's Web site includes software, drivers, and firmware downloads as well as an FAQ section.

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