Linksys WAG54GX2 SRX Modem Router Review

It wasn't my intention but I ended up being an early adopter of the new Linksys Modem Router. So I thought perhaps a review would be of benefit to others.

In the past few years I've been through ADSL modems from BT, Binatone, D-Link, Hermstedt and Netgear. The BT one was like a rock, but I couldn't reconfigure it when I moved. The Netgear one was okay but I asked a lot of it and I ran into some firmware issues which wouldn't bother most, same for the D-Link but it was a little less user-friendly than the Netgear. The others aren't worth discussing.

Through this modem orgy I stuck by my Apple Airport Extreme basestation (sans modem or aerial port) and it coped fairly well. The administration software is lovely, the USB printer sharing is fabulous and of course it looks nice. But range and performance is pretty uninspiring, especially if you allow for 802.11b and 802.11g clients.

With my recent move the Airport was just not reaching all corners of the house and garden, modest as they are. I also was tired of the occasional game of reset the routers when one began to diagree with the other, or something, I couldn't be bothered to diagnose the issue hence my fiendish use of an unbent paperclip on the reset buttons.

So I warmed up Google and set about finding an all-in-one ADSL modem and Wireless router which was going to be stable, fast, secure and easy to configure for my occassionally demanding needs. It was harder than I thought it might be – really high-end stuff like the Proxim ORiNOCO AP-700 (for Xmas please!) assumes a big corporate network so have no ADSL functionality. At the other end loads of no-name boxes have minimal reliability thanks to their absurdly low pricing.

To cut a long story short I found out about the WAG54GX2 which wasn't actually showing on the UK Linksys site but I tracked it down on the oddly named NickKnows.com for an excellent price and had the box in my hands in no time.

Let's manage expectations here – it's not like taking an iPod out of its box, but nevertheless the out-of-box experience was pretty darn good. I was up and running in no time, once I read the help to understand the different terminology Linksys use compared to other vendors. The configuration interface is sensible and filled with piles of useful and intelligent options. The two aerials for MIMO (basically more speed, more range) are not precisely attractive, but who cares – I've been using this baby a week or two and it's been rock-solid reliable and fierce fast.

Here's my signal-strength test data collected using a 15″ PowerBook with an built-in Airport Extreme card with iStumbler's signal readout…

Apple Airport Linksys WAG54GX2
Study 19-33 37-49
Lounge 39-42 46-55
Garden steps 21-28 19-27
Hammock
at end of garden
0 8-23

Quite a difference… I can actually surf from the hammock – bliss.

The only problem I can report is that the router's DMZ option doesn't seem to be honoured, so that if you set an IP address to be in the DMZ it should be fully accessible to the outside world but it isn't. I got around this using the port-forwarding options, more fiddly but good enough. I really couldn't recommend this box enough, it's the best I've found anywhere