Which router to get WRT54G, GS, or GX?

Discussion in 'Cisco/Linksys Wireless Routers' started by anotherlab, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. anotherlab

    anotherlab Network Guru Member

    I'm about to upgrade my wireless network from 802.11b to 802.11g for the additional speed and WPA security. I'm replacing the router and the wireless cards (one notebook, the other USB). There is also a PC wired to the router. I plan on adding one or two Tivo's with each one using the USB200M USB ethernet adapter, plugged into a 802.11g bridge (probably the SMC SMC2870W as it supports WPA).

    I'm having trouble deciding which router to get. I have been reading all of the horror stories in this forum about the WRT54G and WRT54GS dropping connections when transferring large files. It does look like people have been having good luck with beta 4.0.7 firmware, but I'm worried about the heat issues with overclocking.

    Does the WRT54GX have the same problem as the G/GS routers? Cost is not an issue for the router, but I'm not planning on buying the SRX card bus adapter. The PCI SRX adapter is at least 3 weeks away from the distribution channels, so that one is out. I was looking at the WRT54GX for the extra range it would provide, but I'm leery of getting anything from Linksys that has only been out for a few months.

    If I'm only using standard g adapters (no speedbooster), is there any advantage to getting the WRT54GS over the WRT54G? If I did get the GS and later on picked up SpeedBooster adapters, do all of the adapters need to be SpeedBooster adapters to get the extra speed or can you mix standard g and SpeedBooster?

    Chris Miller
  2. littlewhoo

    littlewhoo Network Guru Member

    This isn't such a big problem. WRT54G < v2.2 and WRT54GS < v1.1 are not affected by this problem at all.
    And I think even from the WRT54G >= v2.2 and WRT54GS >= v1.1 most devices don't have this bug. I know, that there are many posts here concerning this problem. But don't forget, that most people are posting here, if they have a problem with their router. You usually won't hear form the majority of WRT54G(S) user, which have no problems at all with their router, so they don't need seeking for help.

    In the last few weeks and months I have installed quite a few WRT54G(S) routers for me and for friends, relatives, neighbours... and many of these were WRT54GS v1.1 routers. I have run extended load tests on each of these devices to see, if they are affected by this problem. And from my experience > 90% of WRT54GS v1.1 are rock solid, even when doing large file transfers.[/quote]

    I don't think so (different hardware). But the disadvantage of the WRT54GX is, that you'll most likely won't see third party firmware for these devices for quite a while. The Sourcecode has been released, but they are quite expensive compared to the WRT54G(S) and only very few people are using WRT54GX routers at the moment. And most firmware devolpers a still quite busy squahsing bugs in the WRT54G(S) firmware, so the won't have much time for adding support for completely new models.
    And last but not least, the 802.11n standard has not yet been officially approved. So current MIMO devices like the WRT54GX may or may not be compatible to future 802.11n devices. At least Linksys is smart enough not calling this device "Pre-N" like most other companies like Netgear do with their new routers. So customers can't complain, if in the end these devices turn out not to be compatible to the 802.11n standard.

    Concerning speed? No. But the WRT54GS has twice the memory of the WRT54G. This might be useful, if you want to install additional stuff.
  3. anotherlab

    anotherlab Network Guru Member

    Thanks, I feel better with staying with Linksys routers. I'll try to find one of the newer WRT54GS revs. The money that would have been spent on the GX could be spent on a set of HGA7T's.
  4. hqh51

    hqh51 Guest

    I'd recommend getting WRT54GS. This has the extra speed with SpeedBooster if you need it. If you're looking for range, you can always load up a third party firmware, boost up the power transmitted by the router and that would extend the range. Extended range free of charge. :) Look for the WRT54GS version 2. Serial # should start off something like CGN30E.... on the retail packaging and on the router itself.
  5. anotherlab

    anotherlab Network Guru Member


    I'm leaning towards the WRT54GS in case I decide to install one of the 3rd party firmwares. How's the extra performance of the SpeedBooster adapters in a mixed SpeedBooster/Standard .11g environment? It seems like eveeryone in my neighborhood has a wireless router, Do the SpeedBooster adapters will run faster if they can detect (but not connect to) other .11b and .11g access points?

  6. littlewhoo

    littlewhoo Network Guru Member

    Re: Speedbooster

    According to Linksys you'll get at most 35% more speed.
    In reality that's at most 10-15% more speed. So if you have a really good connection without too much noise, you may get 28-30 MBit/s compared to the 24-26 MBit/s of a normal 802.11g connection.

    If there is much activity on the 2,4 GHz band, the data rate of speedbooster enabled devices will decrease in the same way, as the data rate of normal 802.11g or 802.11b devices does. But of course the speedbooster devices will still be a little bit faster then the other ones.
    As a rule of thumb, there must be at least a distance of 5 channels between the channels of two wlan devices. If the channels are closer together, performance of both wlans will be affected. This applies to all devices in the 2,4 GHz band.
  7. anotherlab

    anotherlab Network Guru Member

    Ended up with the WRT54GS

    Thanks for everyones tips and suggestions. I went with the WRT54GS and a set of HGA7T antennas. The setting up the WPA-PSK TKIP was a price of cake, even on a Windows 2000 notebook. One the adapters must have installed the WPA bits for 2000. I was going to try AES, but I am going to be adding a pair of SMC SMC2870W bridges and they only support TKIP.

    With the WRT54GS in my 2nd floor home office, I managed to get a consistant 24-28 MBS connection with about 50% signal strength in my basement using a Hawking Hi-Gain adapter in my notebook. With the old setup, I was getting a 2mbs connection in the same location using a Microsoft 802.11b card. Needless to say, I'm pleased with the new toys.

    I've seen a few postings that say that the beta firmware supports a mode with uses both TKIP and AES. What are the differences between TKIP and AES? The Linksys documentation is, shall we say, vague on this topic.
  8. littlewhoo

    littlewhoo Network Guru Member

    Re: Ended up with the WRT54GS

    TKIP ist the encryption protocol of WPA, while AES is the encrytion algorithm ot WPA2. To be more precise:

    TKIP is an encryption protocol using the RC4 encryption algorithm (wich is also being used by WEP). Contrary to WEP, TKIP has no known security flaws and can be considered a secure encryption protocol. TKIP is used on most older WPA implementations (sometimes referred to as WPA1) and has the advantage, that in theory it can be used on every piece of WLAN hardware, that is capable of doing WEP encrytion. But the manufacturer has to provide a firmware/driver update to enable WPA-TKIP support on older hardware (which most manufacturers of WLAN equipment unfortunately don't do, because they want to sell their new products).

    WPA2, which is officially included in the new IEEE 802.11i standard, is replacing the TKIP protocol with the new protocol CCMP and the encryption algorithm RC4 is being replaced by the more secure AES algorithm. While this is a little bit more secure, the disadvantage is, that you need special hardware to use AES encryption. So it can't be applied to older WLAN devices through a firmware update.

    For everyday usage both, WPA/TKIP and WPA2/AES are absolutely secure. But be sure to use a key, that is not easy to guess and that has more than 24 characters! Because like most other encryption schemes, WPA(2) is also prone to dictionary attacks. I'd recommend to use the maximum possible length of 63 characters for the WPA key.
  9. anotherlab

    anotherlab Network Guru Member

    Re: Ended up with the WRT54GS

    Thanks, that should be in the WRTXXX manuals. When I was shopping for 802.11g bridges(for the Tivos that I'm about to add to the network) I looked at Linksys WGA54G (Wireless-G Game Adapter), but it doesn't support WPA. Which is really strange if it's something that can be handled without a hardware change.
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