Linksys is one of the most popular brands of routers and its N300 v2 model is a low priced option that while basic, has a lot of potential. The stock unit (not flashed) can be purchased for less than $30 online. For this price, you won’t get advanced functionality. For instance, it lacks options like dual band 5 GHz reception, processing power or USB ports. However, the device works well and it can be improved by flashing it with DD-WRT, which will also allow you to use it to secure all your internet devices with a VPN. You can get the unit and flash it by yourself, following the online guides for DD-WRT. However, if you prefer to save some time and hassle, you can get a device that is already flashed. Although this device has been in the market for a few years already, its low price make it a good option for beginners and you can even find some units that are already flashed with DD-WRT in Amazon.
The N300 is sleek and simple. It features a power socket, 5 Ethernet ports (1 x in, 4 x out) and the resent knob is located on an underside edge of the router. Although it can’t be vertically or wall mounted, you can place it flat on a surface. Since it has two internal antennas, there is nothing sticking out of the unit so you can place it in a space under your desk for instance. Only the LED’s and the LAN ports are visible as the unit doesn’t have status lights.
As previously stated, the N300 is quite basic and that becomes an advantage when it comes to setting up the device and using it.All you need to do is to plug the router and connect it to the modem/router (turn it off previously) using the Ethernet cable included. Once you turn off the two units, you should be ready to go. While using a wired connection may be recommended in the instructions, the truth is that you shouldn’t have any issue connecting your computer using WiFi. Once you are connected, you can go to the router setup page and follow the instructions, which are straightforward. One of the first things to do is to change the network name and setting up a secure password, but this can be do easily.
Speed and performance
Getting a flashed router allows you to enjoy enhanced functionality and in some cases, better speed. If you have flashed your router already or if you got a router that is ready to go, you can connect all your internet enabled devices to the unit. To measure the speed of the device, you can go to speedtest.net, although the results for this specific case may not always be reliable so you can try tbbMeter software instead. Overall, we confirmed that the N300 offers stable speed and performance. It practically provided the same signal power of the stock modem.
Keep in mind that it is possible to improve the WiFi performance on your router, using a program like inSSIDer to check the signal interference. This will let you select the best channel for your location. By default, the N300 is ideal for connecting up to 3 devices at the same time. However, once you upgrade the firmware, you should be able to connect more devices without experiencing any issues or slow speed.
Linksys N300 and VPN
Flashing the router is the first step, but once you have completed this process (or if you bought a flashed router), you will be almost there. One of the main advantages of getting a router flashed with DD-WRT is that you will be able to route the internet traffic of all the devices connected to that unit, through a VPN. Most VPN services offer guides that will allow you set up their service on your router. In some cases, you can even get flashed routers that have been pre-configured with a specific VPN service.
When it comes to the N300, the results are not impressive due to the fact that the router doesn’t offer much in terms of processing power, and this is a requirement for running a VPN client. This is why the speed of the connection is affected when you use the N300 to tun a VPN. Still, you will be able to use it to add VPN coverage to devices that normally can’t use this technology.
Although the N300 is not a powerful machine, it is likely that its performance is not too far behind from the router/modem provided by your ISP. Unfortunately, once the unit is used to run a VPN, its performance is slower. With that being said, the router is very affordable and may be a good choice if you are a beginner and are considering flashing the device on your own. It is simple, but has a nice design and will allow you to connect all your internet devices. If you want a cheap, practical choice for basic use, the N300 should be fine. However, if speed is your main concern, you will need to look for another option.