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Published on February 23rd, 2014 | by Sunit Nandi

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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. I read a lot of best wireless routers reviews online. 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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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.



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