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Head to Head: ASUS WL-530g vs. Linksys WRT54GC Mini Wireless Routers

Routing Performance

To test throughput across each device's firewall system, I connected Zombie to the WAN interface, and set Mercury up as a DMZ server connected to the LAN. For a baseline reference, LAN to LAN throughput with each product from any point to any point was remarkably consistent at 94.0 Mbits/sec.

From : ToLinksys WRT54GC ThroughputASUS WL-530g Throughput
LAN to WAN46.90 Mbits/sec26.47 Mbits/sec
WAN to LAN46.90 Mbits/sec24.78 Mbits/sec
Table 2: Routing Throughput

 

Table 2 shows the WL-530g is considerably slower than the GC, but in line with the results I obtained from the Linksys WRT54GP2, which uses the same Marvell chipset. After contacting the ASUS representative who provided me with the test unit, I was emailed a firmware update which was said to improve throughput. 

ASUS was correct. After upgrade and using the same testing setup, my LAN to WAN throughput jumped to an average of 38.7 Mbits/sec, and WAN to LAN increased to an average of 38.4 Mbits/sec. This is still a bit slower than the Linksys, but much improved. 

Note: The firmware as shipped was version 1.8.2.5 and the ASUS-supplied version was 1.9.3.9. It's worth noting that as of this writing, the English firmware update (which is available pagebreak

Closing Thoughts

As I write this, the Linksys WRT54GC currently can be purchased online for as little as $60 and the ASUS WL-530g for as little as $73. That's only a $10 premium over the Linksys' WRT54G bigger brother and about the same as you can get an ASUS WL-300g for. So why would you buy one of these mini routers? I think the answer mainly depends on how cool you think it is to have a tiny cable/DSL router. 

Now they do look cute, don't get me wrong. But the reality is that these things are so tiny and light that when you plug a bunch of network cables into them, they can actually be suspended in midair by the stiffness of the cables alone. To get one to sit up straight, you may have to use bricks, screws, contact cement, or some creative twisting and bending. The point is that I don't really see the point of making these things quite so small. 

To be perfectly honest, I think I'd actually prefer something a little bigger than standard if it could have a lot of pretty flashing lights on it, or maybe some kind of graphic display showing how hard it's working for me. But on the other hand, showing up at a LAN party and whipping a wireless router out of your shirt pocket like James Bond would be kind of cool.

Both the Linksys WRT54GC and the ASUS WL-530g provide a lot of functionality in a small package that won't break your budget. It's really amazing how many features can be crammed into such a tiny space. For me though, the Linksys wins out. It has a better interface, slicker design, better performance, lower pricing and is more widely available. The Linksys WRT54GC is simply a better designed product. Unfortunately, the ASUS WL-530g by comparison just doesn't seem quite as well thought out.