When I started getting requests to review the V2 version of Cisco’s top-of-line Linksys E4200 router, I didn’t give them much thought. Unless manufacturers really mess things up, most product revisions are more focused on cost reduction than new features or improved performance. So re-reviews aren’t really worth the effort.
So I was surprised when I checked with Cisco and found that the E4200V2 is actually a new product, with a complete redesign. I’ll leave why Cisco chose to not give the V2 its own E-series number up to their marketing wizards, but it’s bound to cause some consumer confusion. Or wait, maybe that’s the goal?
At any rate, Cisco tells me they will continue to sell the original E4200 (with an MSRP lowered to $179.99), which I’ll refer to as “V1″, along with the V2. So be sure you enter E4200V2 when you go Googling for it…
From the outside, the V1 and V2 are identical, even down to the same Linksys E4200 (without “V2″) on the front nameplate. The back panel (shown below) is the same too, with all the same ports and switches. I’m surprised that Cisco didn’t upgrade the USB port to 3.0. From the drive-sharing performance I saw, the V2 might be able to use USB 3.0′s extra bandwidth.
Forum posts had already given me the heads-up that the V2 is based on Marvell silicon. And that’s what I found when I opened up my review sample after testing was done. Without further ado, here’s a comparison of the key components in the V2 and the original.
The V2 is definitely a beefier design than the V1 since it has a separate 1.2 GHz CPU vs. the V1′s shared (with the 2.4 GHz radio) CPU and much more RAM and flash. I’m not sure exactly what the V2′s processor is, other than it is made by Marvell. But how does it stack up against the V1? Continue reading to find out.
Other features onboard the Cisco Linksys E4200V2 include UPnP media serving, using a lightweight Twonky Media software server to share audio and video from a connected USB drive.
Don’t expect true NAS speeds from this network storage though; we measured just a few megabyte per second, but it was sufficient to stream SD video without hiccups.
The UPnP port forwarding worked well here, where other routers have failed to open requested ports correctly. Meanwhile, a security scan showed that with the Cisco Linksys E4200?s default stateful packet inspection (SPI) firewall engaged, the first 1056 ports were suitably stealthed to discourage outside intrusions.
Also available are the now-familiar software features such as quality of service (QoS) prioritization settings, parental control restrictions and VPN passthrough.
A full 3×3 MIMO aerial array for each waveband is hidden inside; and instead of blinking tech bling, the only light show visible from the front is the Cisco logo, which glows soft white at the front.
And even this can be extinguished from the unit’s web configuration page, along with green and orange activity LEDs alongside each ethernet port at the back.
There’s an option for guest users to get online, where visitors can connect to the internet through a special router login webpage, without being granted access to the rest of your local network.
A USB 2.0 port at rear is to connect thumb- or hard drives for shared network storage.
Exact same test results as the V1 See Here
Given the increased processing power of the V2, I don’t know why Cisco chose to crank down routing throughput. But that doesn’t make the V2 a bad router. On the other hand, the V2 won’t provide a quantum leap (or even a little hop) in wireless performance, despite now supporting up to 450 Mbps link rates on both bands (with three stream clients and with 40 MHz bandwidth mode used).
The only real performance improvement the V2 provides is about twice the speed of the V1 for sharing a USB drive. 20 MB/s is actually pretty good, especially when you consider that’s using an NTFS-formatted drive.
Although the E4200V2 has a faster processor, and more RAM, the performance was not all that noticeable compared to the V1. For the money I would recommend going with the E4200V1.