Cisco/Linksys vs Apple wireless router. advance features?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by truz, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2006
    I'm looking to buy a new wireless router. Something dual band so I can support G and N devices. So the two routers I'm looking at is the Cisco E3000 ($139) and the Apple airport extreme base station ($179).

    My question is how advanced are the features for the Apple base station? Will I still have my IP/web based advanced features like dlink and linksys/cisco offer? My reason for asking is I need to be able to assign local IP's to devices such as my Polycom IP phone and macbook pro for remote desktop. I have to connect to the ringcentral server so my IP phone syncs time and works correctly. This requires a few tweaks in the router settings.

    What router would you recommend out of the two? What would you say is more reliable out of the two?

  2. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    Nottingham, UK
    I haven't used the airport extreme, but have a Linksys E3000 and that works brilliantly. Consistently get 300Mbps connection speed to my MBP on the 5GHz band, and allows you to manually assign local IP addresses.
  3. macrumors 6502


    Oct 16, 2008
    get the linksys/cisco router. apple's routers dont have the features you're looking for.
  4. macrumors 6502a


    Aug 31, 2004
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Go with the Cisco. Its feature set is more extensive than the Airport.
  5. macrumors member


    Mar 24, 2011
    Another option.

    IF you are looking for advanced configuration options I would suggest you at least look at the cisco small business line.

    IF you have any CLI experience, you could always find a refurbished cisco router online ( 2621XM or 2651XM ), and pair it with a cheaper router acting as an AP/switch. To accomplish this on most home routers you would :

    1.connect the cisco router to one of the switch ports, NOT the wan port.
    2. give it a x.x.x.2 ip address, reserving the x.x.x.1 for the cisco router.
    3. turn off dhcp on the home router and create a dhcp pool on the cisco one.

    The biggest win there is the dependability and online documentation of IOS (not the same as iOS on apples mobile devices). One more device, but 2-4x the configuration options.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 5, 2010
    I was researching routers just before Christmas and eventually went with a Draytek Vigor 2820n which I now have in my office & also at home. it has a great feature set including up to 4 separate wireless networks with selectable privileges and (the best feature IMO) built in VPN.
  7. macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2009
    I have recently become a fan of DD-WRT, an open source router operating system that dramatically opens up the feature set of routers. So I won't be buying any routers that don't work with it: that means "no" to Apple's offerings, and "yes" to the E3000.
  8. Zortrium, Apr 3, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011

    macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    The short answer for the OP -- get the Linksys E3000 and immediately replace the default firmware with TomatoUSB.

    The long answer: I've used a ton of different routers and router software setups, and here's my basic opinion of routers in general:

    1. Airport Extreme - Very well designed and reliable, but quite expensive. Rock solid stability at what it does, but doesn't have lots of advanced bells and whistles and there's really no way to get it to do anything it's not designed for. Best for someone who doesn't want to muck around with setup and can justify the cost.

    2. Cisco/Linksys routers - Not nearly as expensive as the Airport, and capable of doing everything that the Airport can. HOWEVER - the included firmware is almost always buggy and unreliable. The vast majority of bad reviews for Linksys routers have to do with the bad software. To make a Linksys router a good choice, you need to be prepared to install an alternative firmware (not hard, but scares off some people). If you do, however, you can end up with a reliable, more capable router than an Airport for a fraction of the price.

    3. Most other routers (at least consumer level) - I wouldn't bother. Usually a crapshoot in terms of reliability, and often you'll get things like random wireless dropouts without any indication what the issue is. I'd stay away from any routers other than the Airport on which you can't install alternative firmware. Linksys routers pretty much cover the price gamut anyways.

    The previous poster suggested the alternative firmware DD-WRT, which is fairly popular. However, DD-WRT itself has some issues with reliability, so I always recommend the absolutely wonderful Tomato firmware, which is slick, intuitive, and exposes pretty much every feature you'd ever want. The vanilla version of Tomato only runs on older routers like the WRT54G, but (being open source), there are many variants, such as the TomatoUSB, which adds support for wireless N and many newer and more advanced Linksys routers (including the E3000). Personally, I have two routers -- a WRT54G running vanilla Tomato, and a WRT320N (which is basically a cheaper E3000 that doesn't do simultaneous 2.4 and 5 GHz) running Tomato USB. Both are rock solid, have never required reboots, and have never had any problems talking to wireless devices (Macs, PCs, wireless printer, iPod, Linux plug computers, etc).

    The Airport is a very well designed product, but the only time I recommend it over a cheaper Linksys with Tomato is when the user is not very technically inclined.
  9. macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2009
    I have not seen this in my own installations. DD-WRT has been rock-solid and straightforward in my experience: it just works. To help ensure a positive experience, I follow the instructions for flashing the firmware to the letter and suggest anyone installing it do the same, e.g performing the 30/30/30 resets exactly as and when indicated in the documentation.

    I recently wanted to set up an E3000 as a wireless access point. The dumbware/firmware that ships with it will not let you do that, so I installed DD-WRT and followed the excellent and detailed instructions on their web site for setting up a WAP, and voila, everything works great!
  10. macrumors regular

    Mar 8, 2008
    After getting burned by Linksys and D-Link with their simultaneous dual band routers, I have had a lot of luck with a Netgear WNDR3700 (ver 1). It still holds its own against newer routers.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    Well, perhaps I should rephrase. I've definitely read about people having some issues with DD-WRT that were resolved by switching to Tomato, while I don't believe I've ever read about people abandoning Tomato for DD-WRT. However, to DD-WRT's credit, they do support a larger range of devices than Tomato does.

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