Linksys WUSB54G Wireless-G USB Network Adapter

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Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G USB Network Adapter; Surprising in its Lack Luster Performance

Mar 14, 2004 (Updated Mar 21, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Ease of Installation:
  • Ease of Use:

Pros:Small; easy installation; conforms to the 802.11g standard.

Cons:Lack Luster performance (speed hopping annoying).

The Bottom Line: The Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G is a good compromise if one needs a USB connected wireless network adapter. If you can, go with a PCI adapter for much better performance.


Authors Note: This is one in series of reviews I am posting evaluating the hardware products I placed into my new home built computer. I am hopeful that this will help others make an informed choice when embarking on a similar adventure.

My experimental, but thus far successful odyssey into the world of wireless networking continues. So far I have used equipment conforming to 802.11b, 11Mbps (megabytes per second), 22.5 Mbps and recently upgraded to 802.11g, 54 Mbps standard. My setup now consists of the Linksys Wireless-G WAP54G Wireless Access Point, 1 LinksysWireless-G WMP54G PCI Network Adapter (spouses PC), 1 Wireless-G WPC54G CardBus Adapter (notebook computer), and a newly acquired Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G (my new built workstation)

**See below for a link to my review of these products.**
Wireless-G is the next wave in wireless networking technology. Wireless-G Wireless Access Point’s (WAP’s), and Network Interface Cards (NIC’s) are capable of transmitting and receiving data at speeds of up to 54Mbps, almost five times faster than the widely deployed Wireless-B (802.11b) products found in homes, businesses, and public wireless hotspots around the country, and indeed around the world. Wireless-G devices can utilize either the 2.4 GHz or 5.0 GHz band, and some can utilize both bands. Those Wireless-G devices that share the 2.4GHz radio band, can also work with existing 11Mbps Wireless-B equipment, while those which utilize the 5.0 GHz band will interoperate only with Wireless-G (802.11a, 54Mbps) equipment. Dual-band Wireless-G equipment are capable of interoperating with all three protocols; i.e. 802.11a (54Mbps), 802.11b (11 Mbps), and 802.11g (11Mbps & 54Mbps).
When I recently rebuilt my primary workstation I found to my chagrin that my existing Linksys Wireless-G WMP54G PCI NIC would not work in my new AOpen A4C Max motherboard. Try as I might (a few BIOS upgrades and disabling the card) I could not get it to work, due to the integration of the Broadcom Gigabit PCI LAN Chip into the board. Enter the Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G.

The Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz, and supports the following wireless protocols: 802.11b and 802.11g. The Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G can transmit and receive networking traffic in a range of 1 – 54Mbps. I choose the Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54Gfor three reasons; 1. The card operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz the same frequency band I currently use for my wireless communications; 2. The Linksys name is one I have come to trust for reliability and cutting edge technology; 3. The Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G is USB version. 2.0 compliant.

Installation:

The installation of the Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G is a very straight forward process: just plug it in—with the computer on—and it starts working! My Microsoft Windows XP Professional Operating System (OS) found it and installed the necessary drivers, and made it ready for use. There is no software to install; thought Linksys does provide a utility to configure the card to work with your wireless setup, which I admit a non Windows XP user might need. However, Windows XP Professional is designed—once a wireless device is installed—to seek out available wireless networks and configure the card accordingly; i.e. assign it an IP address, if DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) is used on the network. I use DHCP on my combined wired and wireless network, but I assigned the Linksys Wireless-G WUSB54G an IP address because my computer serves as my Internet gateway.

If you do decide to install the software, good luck. Like a lot of Linksys software utilities of late—even those downloaded directly from the Linksys website—the software refuses to load; e.g. the autostart start, and then stops abruptly. So I opened Windows Explorer, browsed to the CD and double-clicked on the setup.exe under the Utility directory; no dice. Only a token portion of the software loaded, enough of a token to keep render the card useless. So I uninstalled the software and left it uninstall; as I pointed out above if you are using the Windows XP OS there will be no need for the software that ships with the card. Will it install under Windows 98/Me/Se/2000?, Perhaps, but no longer owing a computer with any of those OS’s installed, I cannot credibility speak to it.

First Impressions:

I have mixed feelings about the Wireless-G WUSB54G Linksys surprisingly dropped the ball in the design of this card. While the Wireless-G WUSB54G occasionally transmits and receives at 54Mbps, the speed of the card fluctuates on a continual basis reaching as low as 1MBps, several times a minute! I have placed the card is various locations around my loft not more than 75 feet from the Wireless Access Point (WAP), but still the fluctuating carrier speed continues to my frustration. And while the antenna is small, it is larger than the one on the Linksys Wireless-G WPC54G CardBus Adapter installed in my notebook, which manages to maintains a consistent carrier speed of 54Mbps.

This annoying pervasive fluctuating carrier speed has affected at times the speed at which I access the Internet and move file to and from my workstation and the rest of the network. Linksys offers no advice on how to fix this problem other then the usual “move the adapter around and adjust the antenna” pronouncements, which do little to fix the problem. My advice: don’t but this card unless your computer will not support a PCI NIC.

Features & Specifications:

• Compatible with 802.11g and 802.11b (2.4GHz) Standards

• Support USB 2.0 with up to 54Mbps, High-Speed Data Transfer Rate with Automatic Fallback

• Plug-and-Play Operation Provides Easy Setup

• Supports up to 128-bit WEP Encryption Security

• Compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP

• Standards: IEEE 802.11b, 802.11g, USB 1.1, USB 2.0

• Channels: 802.11b/802.11g; 11 Channels (US, Canada)

• LEDs: Power, Link

• Receive Sensitivity: 54Mbps @ -65dBm, 11Mbps @ -80dBm

• Antenna: 2dBi

• Security Features: WEP Encryption

• WEP key bits: 64, 128-bit

• Warranty: 3 Year

Conclusion:

The Wireless-G WUSB54G receives a C+ from me. While I give the card high marks for ease of installation and configuration—thanks in part to Windows XP Professional—but I give it low marks for overall performance. If you are looking to make the leap to the Wireless-G protocol, and leave far behind the vestiges of the now obsolete (in my mind anyway) 11Mps standard, shy away from the Wireless-G WUSB54G unless no other option is open to you.

Related wireless product reviews:

*Linksys Wireless Products

Linksys WDT-11 Instant Wireless PCI Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_38700355204)
Linksys WPC-11 Instant Wireless PC Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_38866816644)
Linksys Wireless-G WMP54G PCI Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_102771822212)
Linksys Wireless-G WAP45G Wireless Access Point: (http://www.epinions.com/content_103141772932)

*DLink Wireless Products

DLink AP 900 Wireless Access Point: (http://www.epinions.com/content_88160636548)
DLink 650+ Wireless PC Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_86601076356)
DLink 520 Wireless PCI Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_98676674180)

*Cisco Wireless Products

Cisco PC4800B Wireless PC Card: (http://www.epinions.com/content_39004966532)


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 69.99
Driver Availability: Windows only

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