Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am looking to upgrade all of the components on my internal network. New wires, new router.. I am going to replace my Linksys BEFSR41 cable router and wanted to know - do I need to replace it with a "cable router" or would a standard router be OK? Are they basically the same?

I have been looking at the D-Link DGL-4100 router. Although I am not a gamer, I do like the reviews of ease of setup and of performance from this device. I transfer huge SQL Server databases across the network and to a Linksys NAS200 device and need the best speed at around that price.

I have four machines on the network with the following NICs:

  1. HP (2009) w/built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
  2. iMac (2009) w/built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
  3. HP (2006) w/built-in 10/100
  4. Linksys NAS200 w/built-in 10/100

The network will be wired only. There will be no wireless devices. So, will this effectively replace the BEFSR41 "cable" router and give me gigabit speed from the machines that support it? I just did a test to get some numbers.. I tried to transfer a 10G file from my NAS to my PC and it took 45 minutes and looked like it averaged 4.25MB/sec transfer speed. Can I do better than that with that new router? Is the performance of the NAS200 going to dictate the performance of the rest of the LAN here?

I noticed that there are "cable" routers and then there are routers but I dont know if this matters for my application or were they specified as "cable" routers many years ago when I got mine and now they're all the same or what. Do I need to consider anything else? I am not network savvy so go easy on me! Thanks!

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Here's the answers your questions in order of appearance.

  • "would a standard router be OK? Are they basically the same?"

The short answer is yes on both counts. The model number you provided is a router that has been branded with "cable" to make it easier for end users to identify what they need if they have cable internet. This was a common thing to do back in 2000 when this product was initially released. Nowadays, items that combine modem and router functions should be called "residential gateways", but those are normally branded by your service provider (like Verizon FiOS).

  • "will this effectively replace the BEFSR41 "cable" modem and give me gigabit speed from the machines that support it?"

Again, the short answer is yes on bot counts. The D-link device does perform all the routing functions you need as well as adding you gigabit communications.

  • "Can I do better than that with that new router? "

This is a little more ambiguous and I can only say "possibly". The problem with file transfer performance is that there are multiple factors that determine speed. The communication speed between nodes (computers) is only part of the performance equation.

  • "Is the performance of the NAS200 going to dictate the performance of the rest of the LAN here?"

The only time the NAS speed comes into play is when you are sending or receiving files from the NAS. Since the NAS can only communicate at 10/100 speeds, there is a limit to how much data it can transmit at any time. Communication between your other nodes can still take advantage of the higher speed communication assuming they are gigabit enabled.

  • "Do I need to consider anything else?"

To make it work? No. To have a measurable speed increase? Yes. Performance is determined by a collection of items working together. The communication protocol (gigabit), network hardware (router), and end points (computer/NAS) all can drastically affect performance. The speed of the entire chain is only as fast as the slowest link.

So in review:

Yes, you could replace the router, but it's tough to say how much of a difference it will make. If you plan on upgrading everything to gigabit, then this would be a good device to use if you don't mind the roughly $100 price tag. If price is an issue, you can always pick up a switch like this one. That would still give you the option of gigabit if you plug all your devices into it and connect the 5th port to the router. That would add another device to your network which you might not have room for.

In my personal opinion, I would buy the router you have been looking at and replace what you have. The linksys device is 10-ish years old now (though the device itself might be younger), and was designed to meet the needs of consumers then. Between then and now, we've had a number of improvements to networking technology that could make your life easier. From what the reviewers say, this is a feature rich device that will do all sorts of things that you will probably not use. That being said, it will allow your network to be prepared for future purchases. New devices will most likely have gigabit network cards installed in them which will take advantage of the increased transfer speeds.

If you add the device and you don't see a change in performance, then something else has a bottle neck and will need to be upgraded to increase speed. That is a bit outside of the scope for your questions.

Hope this helps.

[EDIT]

Don't forget that you might need new network cables to get gigabit speeds. Cat5e is what you are looking for. you have to be careful that you don't get ripped off by a big box store. I wouldn't pay more then $5 for a 25ft Cat5e cable. You don't need Cat6. More info here.

[EDIT]

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you very much for that detailed reply! I am leaning on the D-Link router that I linked to up there. I am pretty sure thats going to be the new router for my LAN. The stuff I've got (wires included) are over 10 years old now. Its time. –  Electric Automation Jan 14 '10 at 21:23
    
Then you probably have only Cat5 cable instead of cat5e cable. The e stands for "enhanced" and is designed for use with gigabit. Barely anyone sells plain Cat5 cable these days so you probably don't have to worry about it. I usually buy my cables from "pchcables.com"; but I think you can get a better price from "monoprice.com";. Now would be a great time to get new cables. –  Doltknuckle Jan 14 '10 at 23:47
    
Thank you for the suggestions of wire. I have CAT5 wire, they're all old but I try to make sure they havent been crushed or anything. I've been through quite a number of moves. I will check monoprice.com. I am actually going to order a wall mount for a 19" LCD TV from them, so I'll gladly tack on cables in that order if the price is good. –  Electric Automation Jan 15 '10 at 0:23
add comment

If the cable router is server as the modem AND router, then yes, you will need to get a new modem/router that is compatible with your internet service provider or else get a modem and router as separate units (which is what I tend to prefer myself). If the unit you are replacing is external to the modem that serves your internet connection, then a normal router is fine.

share|improve this answer
    
I already have a cable modem provided by the ISP. It is an Ambit modem I believe. I guess its working OK - its only a year old or so. They are seperate as you mentioned. There is a CAT5 wire coming out of that modem and its going into my Linksys BEFSR41 "cable/dsl router" that I need to replace. While shopping around, I noticed that some say "cable" router and some do not. There must be a distinction or is whatever functionality it built into the new routers? –  Electric Automation Jan 14 '10 at 19:16
1  
+1 for BBlake. I would suggest any router will work with your modem. In many cases your ISP will not support you if you don't use their provided/approved router. If you need to troubleshoot in the future, you can likely remove your router and connect directly whne dealing with the ISP. –  Dave M Jan 14 '10 at 19:26
    
@DaveM: Thank you. That helps me some. My ISP didnt provide me with a router, I had purchased my current router back in 1999 so its time to replace. I just didnt know if I needed to stick with a "cable" router or not. Thanks! –  Electric Automation Jan 14 '10 at 19:34
    
Well now I feel dumb writing that novel of an answer. :P I really need to refresh the page while I write my answers. –  Doltknuckle Jan 14 '10 at 19:45
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.