TechBargains Review - Linksys E2500 Advanced Dual-Band N Router

Posted: Jun 1 2016, 5:46pm CDT | by , in Deals

Price $69.99 + Free shipping


Time left: 11051 days


You're not still rocking a wireless router from three years ago, are you? Or even worse, a wired-only router? If you answered Yes to either of these questions, it's time to think about upgrading to take advantage of today's technologies, not the least of which is Wireless-N connectivity.

Cisco hopes you'll consider its Linksys E2500 Advanced Dual-Band N Router. The E2500 is part of Cisco's revamped E-series, which consists of five new models offering a range of options and features for your home or home office network. This particular model sits smack dab in the middle of the bunch, and is the first of the top three models to sport simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. With an MSRP of $100 (streets for around $80), the E2500 makes the strongest case for the bang-for-buck crown. It's sleek, a little bit sexy, and packs a handful of big-boy features you might not find on entry-level routers. The E2500 at a glance:

  • Simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz + 5GHz
  • Up to 300 + 300 Mbps
  • 2 transmitters / 2 receivers (MIMO antenna array)
  • Integrated on-chip amplifier
  • 4 x 10/100 Ethernet ports
  • Parental Controls
  • WPA/WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall

What We Liked:

    • Streamlined Exterior: If you're using a router that's a few years old, it's probably big, bulky, and ugly. By comparison, the E2500 is the exact opposite and sports an industrial design, as Cisco describes it. The E2500 isn't going to stick out like an eyesore, and instead will blend in with any modern décor.

    • Ease of Use: Cisco specifically built the E-series with user friendliness in mind, and the quick setup and easy-to-use Cisco Connect bear that out. Setup occurs behind the scenes; all you have to do is pop in the CD, run the Setup utility, and you'll be surfing the Internet within a couple of minutes. Once installed, you can access the familiar Linksys backend by navigating to in your browser of choice, or load up the Cisco Connect software to gain access to pertinent features through a GUI. Cisco Connect makes mucking around with settings so easy even your less computer savvy relatives can make changes without phoning you for help. Winning!

    • Dual-Band: Since this is a dual-band router, you can direct traffic to both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, based on what your gear supports. For the longest time, everything fell on the 2.4GHz frequency, and in theory, the 5GHz should be less crowded and result in better performance, assuming your gear supports this frequency. If not, you can always fall back on 2.4GHz. The point is, you have a choice here, and the E2500 works with both frequencies at the same time.

  • Price: Cisco hit an appropriate price point with the E2500 with an MSRP of $100, and we found it on the street going for $80. There aren't a ton of bells of whistles that would justify slapping a higher price tag on the E2500, but for a Hamilton less than a C-note, there's a fair bit of value here for what you do get.

What We Didn't Like

    • Performance: We compared the E2500 to Netgear's WNDR3700, another simultaneous dual-band router, albeit a higher end one that runs about $130 street. Do you really get more by paying more? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes. Quite frankly, Netgear slapped the E2500 silly in every test we ran. Inside the home separated by a single wall, Netgear benched 36.39Mbps down / 3.17Mbps up via, while the E2500 lagged behind at 20.05Mbps down /3.16Mpbs up. We saw the same discrepancy when using our local ISP's broadband speed utility, with the Netgear posting 29.9Mbps down / 3.1Mbps up, and the E2500 posting 20.2Mpbs down and 3.1Mbps up. That's a difference of about 10Mbps to 16Mbps downstream.

      When we took our laptop outside, we saw similar gaps in performance. The Netgear router benched 26.17Mbps down (a drop of about 10Mbps) and the E2500 benched 12.91Mbps (a drop of about 7Mbps) using Speednet. With our local ISP's utility, the Netgear router benched 29.72 down (virtually no drop), and the E2500 pulled 12.57Mbps down (a drop of about 8Mbps). Perhaps the E2500 would have fared better on a slower connection, but on faster speed tiers, the E2500 simply doesn't allow you to get the bandwidth you're paying for.

    • No Gigabit Ethernet: We're puzzled why Cisco would omit Gigabit Ethernet ports on a dual-band router, and instead limit the four ports to 10/100. This seems like an arbitrary downgrade to meet a lower price point when the use of 10/100/1000 ports probably wouldn't have affected Cisco's bottom line much, if at all.

  • Sparse Feature Set: You do get some basic parental controls with the E2500, but that's where the line is drawn, There aren't any USB ports or Quality of Service (QoS) controls, or any other amenities found on higher end routers, like traffic meters, for instance.

Our Verdict:

We have mixed feelings about the E2500. On one hand, the asking price isn't egregious for a simultaneous dual-band Wireless-N router, and the only way it could be easier to use is if it came with robotic limbs to take itself out of the box and plug itself in. The Cisco Connect software makes it incredibly easy to make changes to the E2500's settings, and even advanced users will appreciate the GUI frontend.

On the other hand, Cisco made some quirky cuts, starting with the 10/100 Ethernet ports. Is it really a cost saving measure to omit 10/100/1000 WAN ports, or is it, as we suspect, an arbitrary cut designed to nudge potential buyers into considering the next model up in Cisco's E-series line? We're also disappointed with performance. Even at close proximity, there's a sizable gap between what the E2500 can offer and what you'll get by spending more on a higher end router.

Still, $80 (street) is a huge investment, and the software is a saving grace. As long as you can live with what the E2500 doesn't offer, we consider this a good (not great) buy.

Our Score: 3 out of 5

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TechBargains Review - Linksys E2500 Advanced Dual-Band N Router