The Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall router is not for everyone, but those who need it will appreciate its simplicity. The router offers a built-in VPN for up to five clients at a time. Other than the VPN this is a simple single-band Wireless-N router that doesn't support dual-band wireless or Gigabit Ethernet. At an estimated price of less than $120, though, it's still a good choice for a small business.
Design and ease of use
The Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall router is square and compact. It has four little rubber feet on the bottom to keep it grounded, and is also wall-mountable. Unlike other home routers from Cisco, such as the E series, which have internal antennas, the RV110W has two antennas sticking up from the back. Also on the back you'll find the router's one WAN port (to hook up to the Internet) and four WAN ports (for wired clients). None of these ports, unfortunately, is Gigabit Ethernet, meaning the router offers at the most 100Mbps for its wired networks.
The router doesn't have a USB port, either, which means there's no built-in network storage or print-server capability.
On the front, the router has a Wi-Fi Protected Setup button that helps quickly add Wi-Fi clients to the network. There's also an LED array to show the statuses of the ports on the back and the connection to the Internet.
Unlike other routers, the RV110W doesn't come with the Cisco Connect software. Instead, it has a well-illustrated Quick Start Guide that takes you through the setup process, from hooking up the cables to getting the wireless network up and running. Part of the process involves logging in to the router's well-organized and responsive Web interface, which includes a wizard to make the setup process even easier.
The RV110W's most important feature is the built-in support for hosting a VPN network, which allows clients outside the office to connect to the network as though they were within the local network. This enables remote workers to access local resources such as printers, remote desktops, and databases.
Generally, you'd need a domain server to do this, or you'd need to opt for a much more expensive router. The RV110W is possibly the cheapest simple VPN hosting product that offers an easy-to-use built-in PPTP VPN server on the market. Nonetheless, you'll need to be fairly well-versed in networking to configure a client to connect to the router. On the router side, however, it takes just a few mouse clicks to get the VPN ready.
The router's VPN network-hosting support is limited to up to five concurrent clients at a time, so if your business has more than five employees who work remotely, this router is not for you.
The RV110W is a single-band wireless router, offering Wireless-N (802.11n) on the 2.4GHz band. Most new home routers offer support for dual-band, meaning they can also broadcast on the higher-bandwidth 5GHz band. For a business router, however, it's still normal not to offer 5GHz. What's not normal, and is disappointing, however, is the fact that the RV110W doesn't offer Gigabit Ethernet.
To make up for that, it's one of the few routers on the market that are IPv6-ready. The new version of Internet protocol promises better security and speed and, most importantly, is future-proofed as the world is now moving on from IPv4, which is running out of addresses.
The RV110W has a comprehensive built-in firewall for controlling the Internet connection. It also supports Quality of Service to prioritize the Internet connection for different types of traffic.
Furthermore, the RV110W offers guest networking, which can be an important feature for a business that wants to enable guests to access the Internet but not allow them to access the business' local resources.
Like most recent routers, the RV110W supports all available wireless encryption, including WPA and WPA2. It also supports restricting access via MAC address. In addition to hosting a VPN network, the router supports VPN pass-through for all existing VPN protocols including IPsec (Internet Protocol security), L2TP, and PPTP, and you can use a connected computer to connect to another VPN network outside of the office.
In our testing, the Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall router performed well for a single-band router.
In the throughput test, it scored 62.6Mbps, making it the second fastest on our chart. At this speed, it can finish transmitting 500MB of data in slightly more than 1 minute. In the range test, when the client was placed 100 feet away from the router, it didn't do as well, at 28.4Mbps, about average among its peers. When used with both Wireless-N and legacy wireless clients at the same time in a close-range test, the router did well at 52Mbps.
We were also happy with the RV110W's range, which was about 280 feet in our testing. Note that a router's range varies a great deal depending on the environment and we found that the RV110W is best used at a range of 100 feet or less. The router passed our 48-hour stress test, during which it transferred a large amount of data between clients, both wireless and wired, and didn't disconnect.
Service and support
Cisco backs the RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall router with a lifetime limited warranty. The company also offers three years of small-business support service for an additional cost of $69. Cisco's toll-free phone support is available 24-7, as is online chat with a support representative. The company's Web site offers software, drivers, and firmware downloads, and has a FAQ section.
We liked the Cisco RV110W Wireless-N VPN Firewall router's performance and simplicity. The lack of support for dual-band and especially Gigabit Ethernet, however, makes it less than ideal for a business that needs a fast wired network. Nonetheless, it would still be a good choice for a business of five employees or fewer.