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Linksys WPC54GS Wireless-G notebook adapter with SpeedBooster review: Linksys WPC54GS Wireless-G notebook adapter with SpeedBooster

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The Good Reasonably priced; good security features; helpful configuration utility.

The Bad Speed-enhancement feature works only with other SpeedBooster products.

The Bottom Line The WPC54GS offers a decent bang for the buck and is an excellent choice if you plan to use it with other Linksys SpeedBooster products.

8.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster

The Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster adds extra speed to the already fast data rates of 802.11g and is Linksys's answer to the speed-enhanced Netgear WG511T and the D-Link DWL-G650 XtremeG PC Card. In order to take full advantage of the WPC54GS's speed-enhancement feature, however, you'll need to pair it with Linksys's SpeedBooster router. The WPC54G also works with standard 802.11g and 802.11b gear, but it scales down its data rate to match these devices' slower data rates. With good security features and a low price of around $50, the WPC54GS is a bargain, and it's an excellent means of adding Wi-Fi to a laptop, especially if you plan to use your laptop with other SpeedBooster devices. However, if you already have speed-enhanced equipment from another vendor, we suggest that you stick with that brand so that you can take advantage of the increased data rates throughout your network.

Setting up the Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster is fool-proof. The adapter comes with a printed quick-installation guide that walks you through the process, which consists of installing the software on the accompanying CD and inserting the PC Card into your laptop. This takes about two minutes. The guide also gives you instructions on how to disable the Wireless Zero Configuration tool built into Windows XP so that you can use Linksys's Wireless Network Monitor to configure the WPC54GS. You can use either utility to manage the WPC54GS, but we recommend that you use Linksys's configuration tool because it provides more granular information about available network connections. For example, the Linksys Wireless Network Monitor lets you see the operating channels of neighboring networks, which can help you avoid interference by identifying a less crowded channel for your own network.

The WPC54GS includes support for WEP and WPA encryption. This makes the adapter both backward compatible with networks using older and weaker WEP encryption and forward compatible with networks that have already moved, or plan to move, to the newer and stronger WPA encryption scheme.

The WPC54GS uses Broadcom's Afterburner technology for its speed enhancements. Afterburner has both advantages and disadvantages compared with the Atheros-based speed enhancements in the D-Link DWL-G650 and the Netgear WG511T. In terms of raw performance, Atheros delivers better results with regard to both throughput and range. But the Atheros solution relies on channel bonding, which uses a wide swath of spectrum and is more apt to create interference for neighboring networks than Linksys's SpeedBooster products are. The SpeedBooster, a.k.a. Afterburner, solution enhances speed while limiting itself to a single nonoverlapping channel, which makes it a good alternative if you live in a dorm or an apartment building with neighboring wireless networks.

CNET Labs maximum throughput tests  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Maximum throughput tests (Throughput in Mbps)  

CNET Labs throughput tests with mixed b/g clients  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Throughput tests with mixed b/g clients (Throughput in Mbps)  

The Linksys WPC54GS notebook adapter with SpeedBooster comes with a respectable three-year warranty and one of the best all-around support packages in the business. You get toll-free, 24/7 support for the lifetime of the product and a wealth of helpful online support offerings that include product-specific setup guidelines for multiple operating systems, FAQs, troubleshooting solutions, driver updates, live chat with support staff, and a copious knowledge database that contains how-to information for the WPC54GS's setup and configuration, as well as fixes for a wide array of common networking issues.

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