Linksys prevails in dual-band duel

Asus is tops in performance, style among 6 vendors

Wireless routers are always something of a mystery. They combine a number of features into a single box and are usually complex to set up, but require little attention after that. 

Set up properly, they can provide high-speed wired and wireless access to a wide range of devices, securely connect to storage and printers, route between parts of your internal network and protect against hackers. (See how we conducted our test.)

If that sounds like a tall order, it is. That is why wireless routers tend to be one of the more frequently returned items in general use. Wireless routers are also inconsistent in the services they offer, the way those services are presented to users, the ease with which they are enabled or disabled and the ease with which they can be found and made available by the system administrator.

Wi-Fi devices crowd 2.4GHz band; IT looks to 5GHz

The wireless routers in this test all share certain features, however. They are all dual-band wireless routers meeting the 802.11n standard. Each has four Ethernet ports, and a port for your Internet connection. All are designed for some sort of automated setup, and all will provide adequate service in a moderately sized office. Dual-band routers transmit and receive on 2.4GHz and on 5GHz at the same time.

We tested products from Linksys, Asus, Netgear, Belkin, EnGenius and Trendnet. In addition to looking at setup, documentation, manageability and feature sets, we conducted performance tests to see how far the router could deliver a streaming music video to a laptop before data loss became apparent, and  far the router could deliver ping packets before packet loss occurred.

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