Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

The Linksys 54GC: Dead on Arrival, Twice

Posted in Computers & Technology, Deals & Savings by Elliott Back on December 10th, 2005.

I bought a Linksys/Cisco co-branded WRT54GC personal compact home router at Best Buy on Black Friday, but I’ve not been able to enjoy it much yet because they keep dying!! The featureset of this router is great:

The Linksys compact wireless-G broadband router is really three devices in one small box. There’s the wireless access point, which lets you connect both screamingly fast wireless-G (802.11g at 54 Mbps) and wireless-B (802.11b at 11 Mbps) devices to yout network. There’s also a built-in four-port full-duplex 10/100 switch to connect your wired-Ethernet devices together. Connect four PCs directly, or attach more hubs and switches to create as big a network as you need. Finally, the router function ties it all together and lets your whole network share a high-speed cable or DSL Internet connection.

Linksys Cisco Compact Router

This would be great except for the three-show-stopping problems that I’ve had with it:

1) My first unit was mostly dead on arrival some of the leds would light up, but not all the right ones. I could plug in my PC and have that LED light, but it wouldn’t be able to see the unit or get an IP address from DHCP. The power LED also always remained dark, although the unit was definitely getting power.

2) My replacement unit was like a sluggish monster waking up. IP traffic routed through it was taking about 4 times longer to get through. I went from a 1.2MB/s to .3 MB/s connection. Something definitely wasn’t right with this replacement, as I was about to see…

3) Finally, I woke up the next day to the smell of burning silicon. Yes, and it turns out my personal home router was producing this smell, lights off. It did not turn on when I cycled the power. It had burned itself out in the night. What, too many packets to handle?

All in all, I don’t think I’ll buy Cisco/Linksys again. My old D-Link is remarkably solid.

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 10th, 2005 at 4:48 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

18 Responses to “The Linksys 54GC: Dead on Arrival, Twice”

  1. voipmania says:

    Router is working just fine. It did not come alive right out of the box using the provided CD-rom instructions and set up software. My more computer literate son-in-law was needed to do his magic.

  2. hoburto says:

    I’ve used mine for 2+ years without any problems then 5 days ago it died. The power light turned orange while the other lights remain green. I unplugged it and restarted it and the power light is green and then orange again after 2 seconds. I don’t know if it is the power adaptor problem or the router itself. I guess its time for a new one.

  3. kkirrane says:

    I wonder if Linksys has any trade-up program. I occasionally have to power off/on the router as it sometimes slows down. i have optimium boost from cablevision and sometimes i notice the big difference. i unplug it and power it back up and all is well.

  4. DirtyMcWorkman says:

    Eh, just exchange it for a WRT54G and flash it with the DD-WRT firmware. You’ll get twice the options and the ability to turn up the range; among other things. Unless you’re integrating this into your business, there is no need to buy Cisco cert gear. Linksys is Cisco anyway. If the hardware has given you two problems already move on. It’s an indicator of its design or perhaps a bad batch.

    http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php?title=DD-WRT_Docu_(EN)

  5. ND says:

    My GC is 1+ year old and was OK until I switch my ISP and now I have external IP. Since then device is not working as expected … too slow. I have used syslog option to see what happening. I notice that there are too many (broadcast) request that GC trying to block. Seems that this slows it performance and even prevent it from working :-(

  6. Texrat says:

    Mine works great except for the need to reboot occasionally. Guess I got lucky too!

  7. eldar says:

    I got the gc router and it works great for wired connections. My wireless has a great signal. It makes it from the living room to the back bedroom with good and sometimes excellent signal, with no external. It also does not get hot, are you all putting it in a insulated box or something? I have it in the open up high and it works fine. Wireless INTERNET speed is lower than my wired speed though and that is my main gripe. Has updated firmware and I have changed channels and other settings but then maybe it is my belkin pcmcia card.

  8. Kirk Badger says:

    This router is basically the same chipset as the current Linksys WTY54G ( version 5).
    With such a small case heat will be an issue which is why the problems with meltdown and reliability.
    It is acutally quite a nifty little router.
    No external antenna on purpose.
    It is meant to be a short range router – for hotel rooms or say for wireless xbox situations where you do not want a signal interferring with a more important ( say hotel) wireless wi fi signal.
    Within the smaller range the speed is very similar to the standard wrt54g . But range is limited.
    You can buy an external antenna from Linksys but it is rather expensive and not worth it.
    Linksys seems to be clearing out these units.
    Poor sales I guess.
    Either the packaging did not explain the product or people would not buy it for the small size of the box.
    These routers seem to be on clearance sales and rebates now – being cleared out.
    The standard quoted range for wireless is 300 feet indoors / 1000 feet outdoors. My guess is that the standard range for this router is 1/2 to 1/4 of that.
    If you are just sharing a wi fi signal in a room or apartment without major metal ( doors, foil insulation lined walls , heavy metal pipes) in the way this router on sale may be very good value.
    Also due to the chipset ( past wrt54g version 4) it appears that this router will not take the 3rd party firmaware upgrades ( hacks) witht he advanced features.
    Then again if heat and reliability is a problem now if you bumped up performance it could be much worse. So maybe it is a good thing in retrospect.
    http://www.sellyourmanitobacottage.com

  9. mike says:

    bought mine on black friday as well, from compusa for $20. to replace an old Linksys (non-wireless) that i have used for 3 years, without any problems.

    My Modem will not see this new unit, spent hours on tech support, with no luck…both my isp and linksys tech geeks think it is a DOA unit.

    Sad to see Linksys is not manufactureing garbage, to replace there once great products.

  10. Chris Jolley says:

    There is a place in the router settings where you have to change it from “Gateway” to “Router”.

    I haven’t had any trouble since I did that. Works flawlessly even with a ton of p2p connections.

  11. Mark says:

    Heh, how about this? My computer doesn’t even think the router exists. I plugged a brand new one in, and the setup disk doesn’t even see it. However, my TiVo and PS2 have no problems at all seeing the router, go figure…

  12. Daniel says:

    Mine also doesn’t work, in particular, either the DHCP _client_ on the device or the physical port to connect the device to a cable modem (i.e. the provider’s DHCP server) doesn’t seem to work. I tried lots of different settings, even bought an extra cross-cable as I thought this might be the reason (despite of the fact that almost any modern router uses autosensing).. to no avail. I’ll try to return it if I still find the check. Annoying.

  13. George says:

    well lads stop complaining i was using WRT54G for the last 9 months or something well i thought it as a chep investment as it was only 75 euro and it had four ethernet port to plug your cables into. but recently troubles began to appear. the real problem is that the router wil be working but i wont able to access the internet, well i can aceess my LAN but i wont be able to access the internet until i get my WRT54G rebooted. well lads if u have some helpfull tips i willbe greatfull if u share it with me thank you.

  14. myt0 says:

    I have a WRT54GC router and it has been running constantly since the moment I installed it in my house, other then the times when I restart it never gets turned off. I have had no problems with this router internet is fast and even get fast connection through a 50ft cord. I guess I might be one of the lucky ones I guess

  15. Adam says:

    I was searching the web for problems with this router to see what other people were experiencing… I am on my 4th one of these!! I got one on sale because it seemed like a good deal an d a sleek, compact router. When I brought it home, I could not get the WPA feature to work – WEP worked but not WPA, so I tried to update the firmware. It failed halfway through and was completely dead after that. I figured that was my fault – even though I followed the manufacturers instructions. So I returned it to the store and switched it out for another one. Two weeks later, that second one stopped working. I went to power cycle it and it was really hot – even after cooling down and powering back on it still did not work, so I figured it burned itself out. I didn’t have my receipt anymore, so I bought a third one and returned the dead second one with the third receipt (evil, I know). Now my third one died for no apparrent reason and since I already did a return on the receipt for the third one , I couldn’t just return it…. so I did the same thing – I bought a new one and returned the thrid one with the receipt for the fourth one. I really hope this one doesn’t die.
    At first I thought maybe I did something wrong – either I didn’t quite get it right while upgrading the firmware, or I put it in hot location or something, but now I’m just convinced that this is a poorly designed device.
    I’ve been working with home-base network equipment for about 9 years now, so it’s not like I’m a total noob. I know what I’m doing and haven’t really had problems with routers before – even installing Linux on the WRT54G went without incident.
    If you’re someone who is thinking about buying one of these and is looking around for opinions – bottom line is DO NOT BUY THIS ROUTER!

  16. David Simek says:

    Heh, I have the same trouble right now! When I had pluged it for first time I observed difficulties to start operation. After some while it got better. Yesterday, I had to unplug it. Since that moment it is completly dead.

  17. Elliot Lee says:

    Wow, I hadn’t thought web routers were so susceptible to breakdown, as they’re quite commonplace now and the circuitry must be well-established. Still, I’m using a very cheap, no-name 802.11g router, and it’s working okay. Yet your posts makes me wonder – how much can a router hardware defect affect performance/throughput, and can it go unnoticed? That is, if I replaced my router with an identical one, could I see increased bandwidth?

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