QoS (quality of service) features look good as they can be now be applied to applications, voice devices, individual MAC addresses and even a specific Ethernet port. The wireless access point can be enabled and disabled if required and there are plenty of security features on tap. On offer is SSID masking, MAC address filter lists and WEP and WPA/WPA2 encryption which is offered as WPA Personal and Enterprise with the latter requiring an external RADIUS server for user authentication. You also have options for choosing one or both of the 20MHz channels provided for draft-n operations.
The WPC300N PC Card was easy enough to install in our 1.6GHz Fujitsu Siemens notebook running Windows XP SP2 and the routine loads a utility for scanning the airwaves and latching on to a selected access point. Usefully, it creates a profile for each access point when you connect and if encryption is active it advises what type it is and asks you for the key.
Testing in our standard residential environment produced some disappointing results. We already know that the claimed rates for 802.11n are complete codswallop but Linksys even fell behind the draft-n routers from Netgear, D-Link and Buffalo. We used the open source Iometer utility to measure read performance with a Supermicro Pentium D 3.2GHz PC on the LAN. With no encryption over a two metre line of sight connection it reported a low average raw read throughput of 58Mbps. WPA2 encryption took a small toll as the same test with this activated returned 53Mbps. Real world performance wasn’t good either as copying a 691MB video file from the laptop over a close range open link to the PC took 118 seconds for an average speed of only 47Mbps.
Increasing the range also proved problematic as moving the laptop to the floor below and placing two brick walls in the way saw raw performance over an open link drop down to only 36Mbps.
Linksys delivers a good range of features with plenty of wireless security options and useful QoS capabilities but if you must buy into draft-n then for now the Netgear DG834N is a better choice for overall performance.