Author: Tim Higgins
Review Date: 5/29/2001

Model: BEFW11P1

Pros: – Supports 64 & 128bit WEP
– Built-in Windows/LPR print server with Bi-directional support
Cons : – Only one LAN port
– 50-60% throughput decrease with WEP enabled
– Can’t attach external “booster” antennas
– Poor routing and wireless UDP streaming performance

The Basics

 

Indicators
  • Power

  • WAN Link/Activity

  • Diag

  • LAN Ethernet 10M Link/Activity

  • LAN Ethernet 100M Link/Activity

  • LAN Wireless Activity

  • Print Error

  • Print Activity

Comes with
  • printed User Guide

  • wireless PC card

  • setup CDROM

  • 120VAC Power supply

Other
  • Has Hardware Reset switch

  • Has shared Uplink port

 

Introduction

The BEFW11P1 is the third effort by Linksys to go after market share in the hot 802.11b wireless routing market.  Although this attempt includes an LPR compliant print server with support for bi-directional printers, its routing and wireless performance aren’t equal to their previous wireless router, the W11S4 (reviewed here).

 

A familiar feeling

As soon as I typed in the P1’s address of 192.168.1.1, and clicked through the Admin screens, I knew that I was in for a different, yet familiar wireless routing experience than I had with Linksys’ previous wireless router.   The short story is that the P1 is very similar, both hardware and software to the MaxGate UGate 3300.

Since I’ve previously reviewed the UG3200 and 3200P, which have similar routing capabilities, you can see those reviews for more details on what the P1 can do in that department.

It’s important to note that the P1 doesn’t have either the URL Filter or Logging features of the 3300.  It does, however, include the LPR compliant printserver that will support printers that require bi-directional parallel ports.  The admin interface doesn’t show anything about the printserver’s status or settings, but that’s coming shortly via a firmware update.

 

 

 

Feature rundown

There are differences between the Maxgate and Linksys products however, and you may not want to dig through the Maxgate reviews, so I’ll quickly run through the list of features:

Setup
Everything you’d expect from a present-generation router is here: PPPoE support; static or dynamic WAN IP; except the ability to enter domain name info for the LAN DHCP server.  The ability to change the WAN MAC address is on a hidden page at http://192.168.1.1/mac.htm, but it’s there.

You can password protect access to the P1’s admin screens, but the router comes with no password by default.

The Status screen shows the LAN and WAN port settings, and has a Reconnect button in case your WAN connection drops.  I didn’t’ see any way to reboot the router from the Admin interface, nor is there the ability to remote manage it (although remote management will be added via a forthcoming firmware update).

DHCP Server
You can enable/disable and set the start and end IPs that it hands out.  You can also change the address of the P1 and its subnet mask.

Port Mapping
The P1 supports 10 single port maps (Virtual Servers), and triggered port range maps (Special Applications). The Special Apps let you specify TCP or UDP ports.  You can place one computer at a time in DMZ (outside the router’s firewall).

The Virtual Servers ports’ are set to 10 commonly used applications and you can’t change them.  The apps are: DNS, Finger, FTP, Gopher, SMTP, POP3, News, Telnet, Web (HTTP), Whois.

Access Control
Can define up to 4 groups of IP addresses and either allow all Internet access, deny all Internet access or block access for up to 10 single TCP and 10 single UDP ports for each group.

Routing
You can disable the NAT features of the router and just use the P1 as a LAN to LAN router.  The ability to define up to 20 static routes will come in handy if you go this way.

Other
There’s no ability to save the P1’s loaded firmware or configuration.  You can’t upgrade firmware via your web browser and will have to rely on the Windows based upgrade utility that Linksys provides.

This upgrade utility is different from the one used for the other Linksys routers and it’s not clear that a regular TFTP client will work instead.  So if you don’t have a Windows machine on your network, you won’t be able to upgrade the firmware.

That’s about it for the routing features.

 

Wireless Features

The P1’s wireless capabilities come via an 802.11b radio card inserted into a PCMCIA slot in the rear of the router.  The card is the WPC11 (reviewed here), which is based on the Intersil PRISM II chipset. There’s no installation process for the card, other than inserting it into the P1 before you power it up.

All of the P1’s wireless settings are accessed via one screen.  Both 64 and 128 bit WEP encryption is supported, and up to four 64 bit or one 128 bit hexadecimal keys can be entered.  A nice feature not usually seen on 802.11b routers/Access Points in this price range is the Access Permissions setting.  This is not the same as the Access Control routing feature, but instead controls whether a wireless client is allowed to connect to the LAN at all.  Control is via MAC address, and you can block or allow everyone, or allow up to 20 specific wireless clients to connect.

As is typical with wireless routers, you don’t get wireless network monitoring capabilities.  You can see (via the Device/LAN status screen) the IP and MAC address of all DHCP clients connected to the P1, but you can’t tell which clients are the wireless ones.  You also can’t see the state (active, roaming, etc.) of clients, nor can you access any Network statistics (error rate, packets sent/received, etc.).

 

Wireless Performance

Wireless testing was done using a Linksys WUSB11 USB wireless adapter (reviewed here) as the wireless client, and a Windows PC as the other LAN client.

Both clients are on the LAN side of the router, so these tests do not include the router. Here are the results:

 

Router Performance

I also used Qcheck to test routing performance:

[Tests run with 1.0 Release 12 firmware]

Test Description

Qcheck Transfer Rate (Mbps)

[1Mbyte data size]

Qcheck Response Time (msec)
[10 iterations 100byte data size]

Qcheck UDP stream
[10S@500Kbps]

(Actual throughput- kbps)

(Lost data- %)

WAN-LAN

2.0

 6 (avg)
8 (max)

262

 48%

LAN-WAN

3.1

 6 (avg)
7 (max)

373

 25%

(Details of how we tested can be found here.)

Comment: Routing Transfer rate shows that the P1 is definitely a different animal than the W11S4.  Although slower than many current generation routers, the speed should be fine for most Broadband connections. NOTE that LAN-WAN Transfer rate dropped to about 2.4Mbps when I put the LAN side machine in DMZ.

UDP stream performance once again shows that the router is straining to keep up at the 500kbps rate.

 

Summary

Although priced lower than some Access Points, and about the same as their W11S4 wireless router (reviewed here), the P1 trades a print server for built-in switched ports.  You can’t attach booster antennas, as you can with the W11S4, and the routing performance is not as good either.

Given all the factors, I’d give the nod to the W11S4 over the P1 if the choice were only between the two.  Lucky for you that there are plenty of other wireless routers to choose from!