The Linksys WRT310N Wireless-N Gigabit Router is basically the Draft N 2.0 version of the RangePlus WRT110 that we reviewed earlier this month. Bearing the same sleek, antenna-free design as the WRT110, the WRT310N offers two significant upgrades: Gigabit networking and Draft N 2.0 compliance. We are a little disappointed to see it inherit the WRT110's lack of a USB port, which means it can't act as a print server or easily facilitate network storage. It more than makes up for these lacking features, however, with excellent performance in CNET Labs' testing. In fact, it was by far the fastest router we've tested to date on our mixed mode setup, which we believe to be the most popular real-life network scenario with older 802.11b/g devices operating with newer Draft 802.11n devices. It was also the top performer on our max throughput test. Unfortunately, this good performance does come with heat--and lots of it. For $120, the Linksys WRT310N makes a good investment for any networking environment, both home and office--just make sure the router is not stuck in a tight corner but a clear well-ventilated area.
Device type: Wireless router
Network standard: Draft N 2.0 and Linksys proprietary RangePlus
Operating systems supported: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X, Linux
Security options: WEP 64/128-bit,WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK WPA-TKIP, WPA-AES, Wireless Protected Setup
Features: Four Gigabit LAN ports; one Gigabit WAN port; DHCP support
Notable design features: Internal antenna design
Support: One-year warranty
Design and ease of use
Like the WRT110, the WRT310N boasts a design that is both attractive and practical. There are no external antennas to clutter the ports on the back. You'll find four LAN ports and one WAN port on the back. All of the network ports are Gigabit, which is always a welcome upgrade, especially in a Draft N 2.0 router, where the wireless speed is claimed to potentially get up to 300Mbps--higher than the 100Mbps maximum of a 10/100 Ethernet router. On its top toward the front, there is a line of cool, blue LEDs that show the status of the ports on the back and the state of the wireless network. In the middle of the LED is the button that initiates the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) feature that allows for quickly adding WPS-enabled wireless clients to the network.
The router is very compact and thin, which is great in and of itself, but it also means there's not much empty space inside. Because the WRT310N is a high-power router and lacks proper ventilation, it runs very hot. The WRT110 we reviewed earlier runs a lot cooler, though it bears the same design.
The WRT310N doesn't have a USB port to offer relatively popular USB-related features such as print serving, network storage, or Windows Connect Now, which lets you transfer the wireless encryption key with a thumb drive. This is disappointing since we view the WRT310N as a rather high-end router on par with others such as the D-Link DIR-655 .
The router comes with Linksys' EasyLink Advisor (LELA) software that walks you step by step through the setup process. It's one of the most well-thought-out setup apps we've used for wireless routers. Savvy users might still skip it and just use the Web interface, which is also relatively intuitive, but novice users will definitely appreciate LELA. We had absolutely no problem and were able to get the router up and running for testing within a few minutes.
Where the WRT110 router supported near Draft N speed, the WRT310N is a certified Draft N 2.0 router. Both routers feature Linksys' proprietary wireless enhancing technology called RangePlus. This means the WRT310N can potentially offer higher than wireless-G speed to non-wireless-N adapters that support this technology (You'll need to get those from Linksys; they are availalbe in PC Cards, USB, and PCI adapter form factors). In real life, you might not find any chances to take advantage of this at all and you won't miss much, either, as a Draft N adapter would get a much faster speed than a RangePlus adapter anyway.