Cisco Linksys WRT160NL review

27 Aug 2009

A good, solid draft-n router with handy NAS and media streaming features and a tempting price. Only the lack of an ADSL version counts against it

Cisco Linksys WRT160NL
Price when reviewed: 
64(£64 inc VAT)
4

There's not much to distinguish between the various flavours of Cisco Linksys routers these days. They all come in the now-familiar flat, flying saucer-style chassis, with activity lights and a WPS button ranged along the front edge and sockets ranged along the rear. The new WRT160NL doesn't break this mould.

What it does boast are a few features beyond the usual wireless router fare, the most interesting of which is Storage Link. On the rear panel, alongside the four Ethernet sockets and WAN port (the router is only available in cable variety), is a downstream USB port. This allows you to hook up a USB hard disk and use the router as a basic NAS drive.

It's not the first time we've seen this facility in a router – our current A List resident, the Belkin N+, can pull off the same trick – but it's a rare enough feature to earn the Linksys a few extra brownie points. It's an excellent option for those who don't want to waste electricity or invest cash on an expensive, dedicated NAS drive, and there are a couple of bonus features too.

You can impose user- and group-based read and write restrictions, and the WRT160NL has a UPnP media server facility, so you can stream media stored on your external hard disk to a connected player or computer.

Another difference comes in the shape of a pair of external aerials, which will please those who are forced to site the router in an awkward location.

Elsewhere, it's a competent rather than spectacular router. The WRT160NL's wireless capability is restricted to single-band 2.4GHz 802.11n draft-2.0, there's no Gigabit Ethernet, and you don't get niceties such as guest access or an on-router display.

Wireless speed is also nothing to write home about. Although we found the router to be generally reliable over a week of testing, in our file-transfer tests the WRT160NL performed significantly slower than the A-Listed Trendnet TEW-633GR (which we tested at the same time to act as a control) and roughly half the speed in our long-range test.

So although the WRT160NL is reasonably priced and boasts a good range of features for the money, we can't recommend it. The Belkin N+ (see A List, p32) remains the better all-round choice, thanks to its faster performance, and its availability as an ADSL router.

Details

Price ex VAT £56
Price inc VAT £64
Overall rating 4
Performance 3
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
WiFi standard Draft 802.11n
Modem type Cable

Wireless standards

802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes

LAN ports

Gigabit LAN ports 0
10/100 LAN ports 4

Features

MAC address cloning yes
Wireless bridge (WDS) no
Interior antennae 0
Exterior antennae 2
802.11e QoS yes
User-configurable QoS yes
UPnP support yes
Dynamic DNS yes

Security

WEP support yes
WPA support yes
WPA Enterprise support yes
WPS (wireless protected setup) yes
MAC address filtering yes
DMZ support yes
VPN support yes
Port forwarding/virtual server yes
Intrusion detection no
DoS protection no
Web content filtering yes
Email alerts no
Activity/event logging yes

Dimensions

Dimensions 203 x 159 x 33mm (WDH)