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Published on February 23rd, 2014 | by Sunit Nandi

32

Cisco Linksys X3500 review: the ultimate all-in-one home router

Introduction

I have been using ADSL as my wireline internet connection for quite a long time, probably around 8 years or so. My old DLink DSL-G604T router was aged and had a broken body after all these years of usage. It was time to buy a newer and more capable router. Another important reason was that the number of devices in my home had increased. Our home now has 3 computers, 4 phones, 2 tablets and 1 television. Streaming media and files across these devices was hard as the old router was incapable of handling the heavy bandwidth. After a lot of searching and comparing, I finally decided to buy a new Cisco Linksys X3500 ADSL 2+ modem router. It comes with a price tag of INR 16000 (US$ 246) in the Indian market, but I was able to get a new one off eBay for INR 9550 (US$146).

 

What is it?

The Cisco Linksys X3500 ADSL 2+ router allows the devices in your home to connect via your ADSL connection. It also has an ethernet WAN port so you can also use it as a generic router in conjunction with a cable or fiber connection. It features dual-band 802.11n wifi, which gives a bandwidth of 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 450 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. Wifi protected setup (WPS) is present. It also has 4 gigabit ethernet ports for connecting wired computers. Moreover it has a USB port for attaching devices like printers and hard drives. All-in-all it is a perfect solution for connecting all networked devices at home with awesome data transfer rates.

 

Packaging

The unit comes enclosed in a box with printed bold visuals and information. The following photo shows how the packaging looks like:

x3500-packaging

 

Contents

The box contains the X3500 itself, along with a power adapter, RJ11 (telephone) cable, RJ45 (ethernet) cable, a quick installation guide, warranty card and the Cisco Connect CD.

x3500-box

cables

cards

power-adapter

The router alone looks like this, with the LED indicators and the grey wireless aerial strip:

x3500

The back and bottom views of the router look like this, with the back view showing all the wired ports:

x3500-back-view

x3500-bottom-view

 

Installation and use

Installation and setting up is pretty easy with the Cisco Connect CD. All that needs to be done is installing the application from the CD and following the instructions step by step. Alternatively, one can connect to the router and open the web interface at http://192.168.1.1 with username ‘admin’ (without quotes) and blank password and manage the router settings. The controls are very easy and straightforward, and even a novice would be easily able to set it up. There’s also a mobile app named Cisco Connect Express to let you manage the router. Some screenshots of the web interface are given below:

Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:08:47  IST Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:09:38  IST Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:10:04  IST Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:10:24  IST Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:10:41  IST Screenshot - Sunday 23 February 2014 - 04:10:59  IST

Click on any picture to enlarge and view in full size.

Also, since the router features WPS, its easy to connect devices to it by just initiating the WPS connection on the device and then pressing the WPS button on the back of the router.

 

My experience

I have had a wonderful experience with the X3500 from day one. Setting up the ADSL connection did take a bit of trial and error, but once it was done, I did not face any sort of connection drops that I used to face with my old DLink router. Moreover the ADSL speeds were greater than 9000 kbps whereas my DLink used to average at around 8000 kbps. Plus the throughput seemed to be better.

x3500-in-action

The wifi performance was even more impressive. All my devices connect effortlessly to it and can easily exchange files and media among themselves without any performance issues. Streaming high definition videos to TV works very smoothly, without any kind of lag or buffering. The wifi range on the 2.4 GHz band is extremely good and covers every nook and cranny of the home. But the 5 GHz band’s range is a bit of a turn off (higher the frequency, lower the wavelength and hence, lower the range), but it still provides faster transfer rates than the lower band if one’s able to connect to it. On a 802.11n capable wireless card, I have been able to achieve upto 300 Mbps.

n-speed

The web interface is a really good one in my opinion, as it is very easy to configure. But there are tiny bugs, the most notable one being that the router hostname is not preserved after a powercycle or reboot.

 

Easter eggs

The X3500 has a couple of awesome features.

The first feature is the “guest network” feature which essentially runs a virtual hotspot that is isolated from the main wifi network. This allows one to share the internet connection to guests at home without giving them access to the sensitive files and data flowing through the main network.

guest-access

The second feature is that the X3500 has the capability to act as a web disk, a uPnP/DLNA media centre and/or a FTP server depending on how you configure the NAS (network attached storage) feature in the web interface. This feature is extremely handy for watching videos on a TV without attaching any storage media to the TV itself and without keeping any PCs or mobile devices running.

media-server

 

Summary

Pros:

  • Very robust ADSL 2+ modem and router
  • Full-fledged home gateway capabilities like route management, NAT, port forwarding, SPI firewall, etc
  • Superb wifi-n dual-band connectivity/range
  • Very good network throughput
  • Wifi protected setup
  • Ability to attach USB peripherals and use as networked devices
  • Guest network feature
  • Inbuilt DLNA/uPnP media server

Cons:

  • Router hostname is not preserved across reboots.
  • Price

 

Conclusion

The X3500 can be rightly called the ultimate all-in-one home gateway for its robust nature and the amount of features it has to offer. But the price is too steep, considering that rivals like Netgear DGND3700 and some Belkin models (note that the Cisco Linksys X3500 was released before Cisco sold off Linksys to Belkin) are products with similar specs. However, the X3500 has an overall better performance compared to its rivals and offers dual DSL + cable modem option, making the price tag worth it. You only get what you pay for. In short, if you are willing to spend the required amount of money to upgrade your home wireless network and ADSL2+ connectivity, then the Linksys X3500 is the way to go. You’ll not be disappointed.

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About the Author

I'm the leader of Techno FAQ. Also an engineering college student with immense interest in science and technology. Other interests include literature, coin collecting, gardening and photography. Always wish to live life like there's no tomorrow.



32 Responses to Cisco Linksys X3500 review: the ultimate all-in-one home router

  1. Tim says:

    hi sunit. thx. can you precise more the settings you have done to get the ADSL running? Is ADSL2+ a must or is it possible to run it with ADSL only (germany). also i am able to run my X3500 but only when cycling through the former modem, but with the DSL cable stick into the X3500..strange behaviour..but when i turn of the old modem its not working so the X3500 is somehow cycling throught the old modem while holding the DSL cable 🙂 crazy right? i think you may have some infos…

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      You can use X3500 even if your line has only ADSL, but 8 Mbps will be the maximum in this case, instead of 24 Mbps for ADSL 2+. The modem autodetects the line technology being used so it will work without any problem.

      The only problem I feel is that the line parameters like VCI and VPI could be incorrect. And you should not connect two modems in parallel on the phone line, it won’t work. So I guess you are chaining the old modem with Ethernet to the X3500? Its not needed actually. Just carefully copy the configuration from your old modem to the X3500 using a bit of commonsense and it will work flawlessly once plugged into the DSL line.

      The only other thing that comes into my mind is you’re using a Annex A model on an Annex B line and vice-versa. Annexes A and B don’t interoperate as far as I know.

      I have another suggestion. Please try updating your X3500 firmware to the latest one from here http://support.linksys.com/en-eu/support/gateways/X3500

      The firmware that comes out of the box with the router is known to be a bit buggy.

      Hope this helps you sort your problem. If you still have any issue, feel free to reply and let me know. 🙂

  2. Chris says:

    Thank you very much for your in depth review. I’m almost ready to purchase this model for my home network, but your comment about the hostname after rebooting the router put me in doubts.
    Could you be more specific on this, because I tried to research this on the internet but couldn’t find any other references apart from yours in this review.
    Thank you!

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      Well, hostname in simple terms is “Computer Name”. You can give a name to your router. However, the router’s firmware has a tiny bug, that it forgets it own name and assigns itself a “LinksysXXXXXX” (where X is a 6-digit code) random name when you power-cycle the router. I’m not sure if it is intended to work that way or not. It only says this setting works only with certain ISPs. I don’t know if mine’s support it. Whatever, it is not a very important thing, unless you are using it as a router for business (by hosting servers behind it) or for dynamic DNS. For homes, this option is irrelevant.

  3. AMIT AGARWAL says:

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR VALUABLE REVIEW ,THIS REVIEW WILL HELP OTHER BUYER’S TO GET AT BETTER DECISION BEFORE BUY ROUTER

    YOUR IS SUPERB YOU HAVE TAKEN EACH POINT IN REVIEW PERFECTLY AND IDENTICAL

    THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN!!

  4. Sam says:

    Hi Sunit,
    Great write up! I am just wondering how to change the the wifi range to 2.4 GHz band as I am not getting the best signal throughout the house. Thanks

  5. Anesh says:

    Hi Sunit, do u use this device in India? What is the model? Annex A or Anex B?

  6. Piyush says:

    Hi Sunit. Thanks very much for sharing a detailed review of this router. I intend to buy this router, however, because of my limited knowledge of wireless router technology, I am not able to decide. I have a couple of questions – hope you can help me out.

    – How much range does this router cover (in meters or feet) ?

    – What is dual band? Which set of devices should be connected to 2.4 & 5 Ghz?

    – How many max. devices can be connected to this router (I have 4 cell fones & 3 laptops in my house) ?

    – Since this is an ADSL router, how much max. download & upload speed can it provide?

    – Are there any heating issues with this router?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Regards, Piyush

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      Hello Piyush,

      I’ll try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge.

      Q: How much range does this router cover (in meters or feet) ?
      A: One cannot simply estimate a range with a wireless router, because it depends on various the environment (like the number of doors, walls and metal objects between you and the router). I live in a bungalow. In my case, the 2.4 GHz band reaches the garden and parking lot easily, while the 5 GHz band exists for a maximum of 3 rooms.

      Q: What is dual band? Which set of devices should be connected to 2.4 & 5 Ghz?
      A: Dual-band simply means the router operates on two frequency bands (search for ‘ISM bands’ on Google), namely 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. There is no fixed rule on what devices you can connect to what band. Most devices support the 2.4 GHz band and a few support the 5 GHz band. The thumb rule is that the 5 GHz band gives faster speed but has lesser range (due to laws of Physics), while the 2.4 GHz band has lesser performance but longer range. If your device supports 5 GHz and is bandwidth intensive, always place it on 5 GHz. Otherwise, any band is fine.

      Q: How many max. devices can be connected to this router (I have 4 cell fones & 3 laptops in my house) ?
      A: Theoretical maximum of supported devices is 254. This figure is not possible in homes. However, 20-30 devices can be easily supported on wireless with decent performance. I think all your devices will work fine.

      Q: Since this is an ADSL router, how much max. download & upload speed can it provide?
      A: This is an ADSL 2+ router, meaning you can get upto 24 Mbps on download and 3 Mbps on upload. Rest depends on your ISP, broadband plan and how far you are from the exchange. I get 9086 kbps (9 Mbps) download and 512 kbps upload consistently.

      Q: Are there any heating issues with this router?
      A: This router doesn’t heat at all. It stays plugged in to my UPS and running 24×7. I only turn it off when I go out for vacations.

      I hope I was able to answer your queries.

      • Piyush says:

        Thanks, Sunit. This was indeed helpful. Kindly allow me to come back to you in case I have further queries.

        Regards,
        Piyush

  7. Ignacio says:

    Hi Sunit

    I was going to buy it but found 2 versions e1 and ew.
    Which is the difference?

    I need to buy it asap and there is no answer.

    I live in Argentina

    Thanks

  8. Sumit Simlai says:

    Sumit Simlai
    Hi, good review and I have the same machine so I would agree with most of what you wrote. But you may not be happy to learn that the longevity is suspect and the device started dropping signals which initially was wrongly diagnosed as bad DSL signal. Airtel brought in their cheap Binatone as D Link and internet was back. Linksys simply refused to address the problem. The router part is working fine but the problem is with the modem part. Without a drawing it would be impossible to test / repair. I’m note looking to find a replacement motherboard or a service manual work circuit drawing. Any clues?
    Sumit

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      I suggest that you update your modem firmware to the latest one. The firmware that comes preloaded with the modem is buggy. Even I faced connection drops in the very start but installing the new firmware made everything okay. My router stays up for days and nights without being powered off and it works well even to this day.

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      Another culprit for connection drops could be the splitter. I once suffered from a bad splitter issue. At first I thought my device went bad but when I borrowed a splitter from a friend it started to work again.

      • Sumit Simlai says:

        Thanks for the quick response.

        Unfortunate enough that I didn’t find any firmware update on the website. It shows just one version for my version:
        Firmware Version: 1.0.01.002 Annex A
        Latest Date: 10/28/2013
        Download 11.6

        Initially I thought this would be the version that came with the device but Linksys Chat Support told me to anyway reflash it. I did, though wirelessly, not through ethernet, and the bin file went through fine. No change. Same issue. The splitter was also replaced by Airtel. In any case, had there been an issue with the splitter their own Binatone router wouldn’t have worked.

        Any clue?

  9. Sumit Simlai says:

    Splitter was already replaced as a precaution during troubleshooting by Airtel.

    The firmware on the website is one of 2013, v1.0.01 build 002 firmware. I even reflashed it but without any results.

    Any clues?

    • Sunit Nandi says:

      Try any other brand router apart from the Binatone one as a last effort. If only Binatone seems to work, it seems to be an issue with Airtel’s equipment.

  10. Waleed Jaffer says:

    Thank you for your details about this product, I was searching for some details about the Parental Control feature of this modem, my main question basicly, Can I check the visited and browsed web sites by my kids, would I get this info easily in this modem, I mean the log file is easily read-able?
    Beside assigning some web pages as Blocked, I need to know what they were looking for!

    Thank in advance,

  11. Waleed Jaffer says:

    I will be greatful if I get your answer to decide buying this modem or not,

    Thanks,

  12. Pratik Oza says:

    I have Linksys x3500 Router. In wireless configuration the 802.11 ac option is not available. How do I get it??? It’ll be appear after upgrade the firmware??

  13. Sasaili Yunus says:

    Hi Sunit,
    I’m considering to buy X3500 Modem. I like to know. can I set VPN connection on it, so all my device connected to X3500 can have VPN connection?

  14. jolly says:

    hi, how can i block youtube and facebook on my Linksys X3500? i cannot block specific website.

  15. KoteswaraRao says:

    Hello,
    I have Linksys X3500
    How many users I can connect trough Wi-Fi?4

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