Linksys E2500 Review 2017
The Linksys E2500 occupies the mass-market $70-$100 segment, which means that it’s something of a surprise that this router is a dual-band 802.11n model.
There aren’t many of these at this level of the market; if Cisco delivers, they’re providing performance well beyond the vast majority of their competition.
The feature set advertised isn’t exceptional, but it’s certainly more than sufficient; in theory, the E2500 is an excellent product.
There’s a reason that most of its direct competitors aren’t dual-band, though.
Costs have to be cut somewhere, after all.
The question: where is Cisco making those cuts, and what does it mean for this router
Linksys E2500: Hardware
As mentioned, this is a dual-band 802.11n router.
This gives it a massive advantage in raw wireless speed, right out of the gate; it’s broadcasting on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels simultaneously, meaning that there’s an effective doubling of the available bandwidth.
You’ve got a peak at 600 Mbps; realistically, it’s not hard to manage speeds well in excess of 100 Mbps, and with a bit of massaging you can go quite a bit higher.
This is where a problem emerges, though – 2.4GHz performance is mediocre; speeds are under half of those of many other routers.
It’s still quite usable, and a step up over a single-band router – but the 5GHz band is going to do most of the heavy lifting.
Realistically, you’re probably best served just running two networks, one 5GHz for modern 802.11n devices and one 2.4GHz for compatibility; MIMO support isn’t great on most devices, anyway, and the 2.4GHz band doesn’t contribute that much to your wireless speeds.
Range is problematic, as well. Unless you install third-party firmware and turn up the broadcasting power, you’re going to find that your connection becomes less than reliable when you’re more than a few rooms away from the router; it doesn’t exactly take walls well, either.
You’re going to get good performance in a small house or apartment, but the E2500 isn’t really going to cut it if you need longer range.
The lack of gigabit Ethernet ports is an issue, to; it means that this is strictly for wireless networks.
If your network has a substantial wired portion, the loss of speed compared to competitors is a serious problem.
Still, the router runs quietly and relatively cool, and it’s not as bulky as a lot of others; it should fit nicely into even a cramped space.
The 300MHz CPU and 64MB of RAM aren’t going to give you a lot of overhead for tinkering, but they get the job done with the standard firmware; uptime isn’t an issue at all.
Linksys E2500: Software
The real advantage of this router is how easy it is to set up and use. The Cisco Connect software provides a very simple control panel for routine tasks; if you need a little more power, you can use the browser-based interface, which is very well-designed and easy to navigate.
It’s not as feature-packed as some of the alternatives, but it allows pretty much anyone to get started with basic networking, security, and QoS functions right away.
The guest networking features are limited, only allowing for one 2.4GHz guest network with up to 10 users – but they’re also far less difficult to configure than those more robust solutions; it’s a trade-off.
Parental controls are present, and – while simple – have enough features to cover most usage cases, while being easy to configure from within Cisco Connect.
The browser-based interface provides a dedicated control panel for port forwarding, too; this is really nice, since it makes configuring your router to handle HTTP/FTP or gaming servers – traditionally a task that requires a bit of knowledge going in – very easy.
With most common protocols, you don’t need to do any real work at all; just click the appropriate buttons and you’ll be on your way.
The E2500 isn’t a powerhouse in terms of raw performance, and it’s not a good pick if you need more range out of a wireless router.
However, for day-to-day use by less technical users, it’s fast enough to get the job done, while providing you with the tools you need to get everything in place even if you’re not exactly a tech expert.
If your first task with any new router is installing DD-WRT, this isn’t the product for you – but if you want a reasonably high-performance router that “just works” and that won’t break your budget, the Linksys E2500 is an excellent pick.
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