The Cisco Linksys E2000 Advanced Wireless-N Router ($119, list) is a solid router for first-time home network admins who just want to get up and running fast. If you plan to use it in the 5 GHz band, it’s super fast, too, as long as you’re not planning to use it at great distances—throughput drops off rather quickly. If you’re a power user, it’s not the router for you, however, as it lacks some higher-end management features.
Setting up the E2000 is remarkably simple. The router (which features four Gigabit Ethernet ports and 3 internal antennas with a 2×3 transmit/receive rate) comes with an installation disk and simple instructions. I just popped in the installation disk and followed the installation wizard. Setup illustrations demonstrate how to physically connect the router, which makes for a near fail-proof install (except in a few cases, listed below). In fact, my total set-up time (from plugging in the router to accessing the Internet) was just 2 minutes and 14 seconds—not bad! Like the Cisco Valet Plus ($149.99 direct, ), the E2000 does the configuration heavy-lifting by automatically establishing the SSIDs (for both the primary and guest connection), passwords, channel, and security.
By default, the router sets itself to operate on the 2.4 GHz band. I used Meraki’s WiFi Stumbler (Free, ) and Nuts About Nets’ NetSurveyor ($34.95 direct, ) wireless networking monitoring tools to confirm the E2000 selected wireless channel 11. Both utilities confirmed that the E2000 did not choose the least utilized channel in the testing area, which is too bad, but this may be by design, due to the 802.11x standard and issues like channel overlap. Both did utilities report very good or strong signal strength.
802.11n (2.4+5 GHz Dualband)
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Cisco Linksys E2000 : Top
Cisco Linksys E2000 : Front
Cisco Linksys E2000 : Back
Cisco Linksys E2000 : CD Setup
I had a second computer connected to the E2000 within minutes. Doing so required inserting a USB drive into the first laptop that was connected to the E2000 and using the Cisco Connect software to create the setup key in a simple series of steps. When I inserted the USB drive into the second laptop, the software launched a “Create setup key link.” Then I clicked the “Connect to your Linksys Router” popup that appeared. And that’s it.
Set Up Caveats
Although the Cisco Connect software makes setup simple, there are still a couple of situations where problems can arise. For instance, by default, the router is set to recognize the Internet Connection Type as “Automatic Configuration-DHCP.” That’s fine if the connection type is a residential cable modem service, but not for DSL users. DSL modems typically use PPOE, so if that setting isn’t changed in the router, you will be unable to access the internet.
You’ll also need to know which 802.11 wireless standards the adapters on your network support. The Cisco Connect software will be unable to connect a laptop to the E2000 if the notebook’s Wi-Fi adapter only supports B/G, but the router is set to N. The E2000 software doesn’t offer much help if the connection fails, other than suggesting to move closer to the router or reboot it.
When I tested in the 2.4 GHz band, I set the security the highest level (WPA/WPA2 Mixed Mode), the channel width to “Auto,” and the Network Mode set to “Mixed.” I tested 5 GHz band at the highest possible security setting (WPA2 Personal), with Network mode set to “N-only,” and the Channel width on “Auto.”
The dual band E2000’s 2.4 GHz throughput results were on a par with the Valet Plus, which is a single-band router. Maximum throughput for the E2000 reached a passable 37 Mbps. The E2000 failed to retain decent throughput as I moved farther from it; by the time I got to 30 feet away, throughput had dropped to 21 Mbps. That’s fair, but I’d prefer that the router had a more robust signal, especially in the 2.4 GHz band, which is typically more forgiving across longer ranges than 5 GHz.
The 5 GHz results were much more impressive, with a top throughput rate of 84 Mbps at 10 feet away. Still, there was a precipitous drop at greater distances at 5 GHz, too, as you can see in this chart:
Band (in Ghz) Distance From Router (in feet) Maximum Throughput (in Mbps)
2.4 5 37
5 5 82
2.4 10 34
5 10 84
2.4 15 31
5 15 82
2.4 30 21
5 30 51
5 Ghz is known to cover less area then 2.4 GHz, but this is quite a drop in a relatively short distance. Also, although the E2000’s 5 GHz throughput was great, its performance (on both bands) wasn’t reliable. I noticed that the connection would drop to just 2 or 3 bars, (down from 4 or 5 bars a few hours before) resulting in slow performance. A reboot of the router seemed to do the trick. Perhaps there’s a firmware upgrade in the near future.
The E2000 is sufficient for consumer and light-business usage, as it offers a guest SSID, has an SPI firewall, and supports VPN traffic. If you like to have ultimate control of your wireless network, or if you have a device-laden home LAN with media and print servers or NAS devices, you might want to consider a router with a heftier feature set. The E2000 lacks, for example, weightier features like the ability to change the router to work as a bridge or access point, the ability to granularly manage multiple SSIDs, and the ability to set up VLANs. These shortcomings are forgivable since Cisco is marketing this as a home router and not as a business-class product.
The Cisco Connect software is a lightweight interface to the standard management console. It handles very basic tasks like configuring Guest Access, setting Parental Controls, and connecting additional devices to the router.
You’ll find more advanced setting options in the management interface such as Dynamic DNS, the ability to setup up static routing, NAT, and Dynamic Routing. There’s also support for single port forwarding, port-range forwarding, and DMZ and QoS (for apps, games, and voice devices).
The Parental Controls menu displays a list of connected devices on your network and asks you to select one to setup for the extra layer of security (you can only choose one a time). You can block Internet access at a specific time (the software has “School Nights” as a default option for M-F between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM) or you can block by keyword.
I blocked a specific URL and it worked well, blocking the site instantaneously when I tried to surf to it. A “Blocked Site” page loaded, requesting me to enter the parental controls password. Entering the password makes blocked websites and content available for one hour. There’s no sophisticated content management like blocking all porn or violent sites, so it’s limited when compared to third-party parental control software .
Cisco Linksys E2000 Advanced Wireless-N Router is a respectable router. It’s mostly very easy to set up, and the 5 GHz band delivers greater performance, though it drops off fairly quickly with distance. If you’re in a small home or only plan to cover part of a larger home, this probably won’t be much of an issue. My larger concern is the reliability of the throughput, which can tail off after a few hours of use. Still, if you don’t mind giving the E2000 a kick in pants every now and then with a reboot, it’s decent networking device. But given that Cisco’s own Valet Plus is such a great router (and our Editors’ Choice), if you can swing the extra $30, that’s definitely the home router I’d recommend.