Linksys WRTSL54GS Review

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I've been running the Linksys WRTSL54GS router here for a few months now, and figured it was time to write up a review on this unit. This is only a review of the hardware, though, as I've completely replaced the software.

Routers for home networks have come a long way in the last few years, and the demands placed on them have driven the market to produce models with the speed and features to keep up with the power users out there. But often, the built in software may not always be up to the tasks users demand.

When I began my search, I discovered early on that my configuration needs would be best served by a 3rd party software package called OpenWRT, and the Table Of Hardware at their site made for a great read in researching a unit that would fit my needs. I had heard good things about the Linksys brand overall, and the WRTSL54GS seemed to be at the top of the heap as far as performance and expandability. In fact, the only thing that was missing (since I'd be using a 3rd party firmware) was a serial console interface, which with some research, I was able to rectify.

The information on the OpenWRT site was very helpful, as most manufacturers do not publish information on the processor in their router, the amount of RAM it contains, or the size of the Flash RAM, a necessary bit of info when running 3rd party firmware. Obviously the processor speed will have the greatest impact on performance, and more RAM means that the system will operate efficiently. With 64Mb RAM, and a 266MHz processor, this little guy is comparable to desktop systems of just a few years ago. And the 4Mb Flash capacity meant that I'd be able to load up a new firmware with all the features I'd need here.

In running this router the last few months, I've not once had to reboot it due to any failure. A number of other routers that I've read of folks using seemed to experience freezes, slowdowns, or other failures at fairly frequent intervals, even when running factory firmware. Reliability is of prime importance, especially when the router is handling traffic for mail and web servers, and this unit hasn't let me down yet.

The unit also includes an 802.11g access point, the range of this compared favorably with my Apple AirPort Extreme base station, and the performance was every bit as good as 802.11g allows. The only downside that most folks might run into on this unit is that the antenna is not replaceable with a higher gain model, but the enterprising hacker can find ways around this. The antenna cable can be easily desoldered from the logic board, and a connector for a better antenna can be modded to the case without too much difficulty.

The 4-port switch in the unit is fantastic. Most folks probably wouldn't get that worked up over a switch, but the chipset used, along with the OpenWRT software allow for each port on the switch to actually act as a separate VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network), allowing for even more complex network setups.

A single USB port on the back allows for further expansion, a USB flash drive or hard drive can be attached for network storage, and with OpenWrt other devices such as USB cameras, GPS, BlueTooth, or even a USB VGA interface can be attached.

I'd definitely recommend a Linksys router to anyone looking for one, from my reading online, their quality is much better than most of the brands out there. A few dollars more spent for a better model is usually money well spent in terms of usability and reliability, not to mention saving headaches from performance issues or other downtime. Even using the stock firmware, this is a really great unit, and should be flexible enough for most power users at home without having to look at a 3rd party firmware.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim published on November 7, 2007 12:44 PM.

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