Best Cisco Routers – 2021 Review

Austin
| Last Updated: June 8, 2021

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With so many Cisco routers on the market, choosing the ideal model can be a challenging task.  

Each model comes with different features and capabilities. So, understanding them helps you choose the model that best fits your needs - which is what this article is all about.

We will review the 6 Best Cisco Routers on the market in 2021 and highlight their features, pros, and cons.

Let's dive right in.

Comparison of the Best Cisco Routers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Working at the 2.4 GHZ and 5 GHz frequency
  • Featuring six internal antennas for better connection
  • Offering a data transfer rate of 300mbps
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  • Best Buy Cisco Router
  • Highlighted by a beginner friendly installation
  • Covering areas of up to 4500 square feet
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  • Best Cisco Router For Small Business
  • Great connectivity with 802.11bgn Bluetooth connectivity
  • With a fantastic 24/7 uptime
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  • Best Cisco Wireless Router
  • Ideal for smaller rooms and offices
  • Featuring four ports for flexible connectivity
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Who is Cisco?

Cisco Systems Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate that manufactures networking, telecommunication, and high-tech hardware and software. 

Headquartered in San Jose, California, Cisco is one of the largest networking solutions providers - with a 49% global market share.

The Company owns other solutions subsidiaries like AppDynamics, Cisco Meraki, Cisco Webex, and many more. 

Some of Cisco's main products include networking (routers, switches, interfaces, and modules), wireless & mobility (access points and controllers), security (firewalls, platforms, and access), data centers, and analytics.

Where Are Cisco Products Made?

Cisco is a global conglomerate with many manufacturing plants located in many regions globally. Each Cisco device is designed in the US and manufactured mainly in China.

Review of the Best Cisco Routers

Cisco makes many different types of routers. Their unique features make each router series suitable for specific needs.

Let's have a look at some routers we believe should top your list when choosing a Cisco router in 2021.

Best Overall:
Cisco-Linksys E3000

Cisco-Linksys E3000 Wireless-N Router

PROS

  • High-speed wireless performance with an excellent range
  • Easy-to-use software and web interface that enhances workability
  • Fast throughput with Network Attached Storage (NAS) functionality
  • Features 4 LAN ports and a WAN port with a throughput of up to 1,000 Mbps
  • Compact and aesthetically-pleasing design that makes it stand out from its competitors

CONS

  • Comes with limited guest networking features
  • Does not work well with large files on media servers and USB printers

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyer reviews show that the Linksys-Cisco E300 is a great router worth the money over other budget options on the market. It offers users reliable connection speeds, impressive parental control features, and easy set-up options – making it an ideal router for home connection solutions.

However, most customers observe that the router's in-built LAN function lacks speed and might not be ideal for businesses that require high connection speeds.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Linksys-Cisco E300 has long-range coverage for your connected devices and features all essential functions and capabilities of a high-end router.

It is easy to set up with a software and web interface that improves workability. The router offers fast throughput for high-speed wireless performance. For increased versatility, the E3000 features 4 LAN ports and a WAN port that provide connection speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps.

You get a router that comes with features available in high-end routers but at a better price - without compromising on performance.    

Bottom Line

Are you looking for a router that offers great wireless features for your home? The Linksys-Cisco E300 is a router you might want to consider.

It stands out as an affordable product that offers an excellent wireless range for a large number of connected devices, as well as WAN connectivity.

Best Buy Cisco Router:
Cisco-Linksys E4200

Cisco-Linksys E4200 Dual-Band Wireless-N Router,Black

PROS

  • Easy to set up and use
  • Offers high transfer rates between 300-450 Mbps
  • Features a dual-band network bandwidth to boost throughput
  • Comes with advanced security features like SPI firewall and WPA/WPA2 encryption
  • Comes as a wireless router with a MIMO antenna to boost signal strength and offer wide coverage

CONS

  • Offers slow transfer speeds for long-range users
  • Does not configure well with 3rd party firmware

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent customer reviews indicate that the Cisco-Linksys E4200 router is a stable, reliable, and excellent performer.

It comes with a sleek design and architecture intended to offer high data transfer speeds. It also offers good coverage while offering some of the best security features of any router on our list.

Although some customers point issues about third-party firmware incompatibility and slow speeds during long coverages, the E4200 is still a reliable and excellent router.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

The E4200 made it on our list because of the various features it offers. You get a high-end router that's worth the investment.

It features advanced capabilities like wireless connection, high-speed transfers at close range, long-range coverage, excellent security features, a dual-band bandwidth, and reliable connectivity.  

It is also easy to set up and configure with minimal maintenance. Additional in-built USB ports support external storage and tools that help you better manage your network.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a high-end router with strong security features, you might want to consider the Cisco-Linksys E4200.

Although a high-end option, the E4200 delivers great value for money spent.

Best Cisco Router for Small Business:
Cisco RV042

Cisco RV042 4-port 10/100 VPN Router - Dual WAN

PROS

  • 4 ports for increased productivity
  • Additional Bluetooth features (802. 11bgn)
  • High data transfer rate (100 Mb per second)
  • Easy setup functions that make it easy to use
  • Incorporates the Cisco IOS system, which is highly reliable

CONS

  • Its load-balancing capability is not that effective
  • Features old security certificates that don't work with modern browsers

What Recent Buyers Report

Customer reviews suggest that the Cisco RV042 router is a convenient router for your business. For starters, it has a lightweight design that makes it rather easy to install and manage.

Although some customers point to issues about incompatibility and slow speeds during long coverages, the product is still a reliable and excellent router.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

Cisco Inc. is a large enterprise with plenty of products and services. Cisco products have a reputation for quality and reliability. The Cisco RV042 is no exception. It features some elaborate characteristics that make it ideal for connecting a small business.

Bottom Line

The Cisco RV042 router is ideal for a small business. But its load over issues and slow speeds might become an issue to look out for. However, the product has a good level of performance but might need some improvements to failovers.

Best Cisco Wireless Router:
Cisco RV160W

Cisco RV160W VPN Router, 4 Wireless Ports, Wireless-AC VPN Firewall, Limited Lifetime Protection (RV160W-A-K9-NA)

PROS

  • Easy setup options for improved workability
  • Supports Single Ethernet WAN Internet connectivity
  • Comes with IP and VPN security support for secure connectivity
  • Features 4 LAN ports and a WAN port with a throughput of up to 1,000 Mbps
  • Allows connection with separate VLAN that helps you create secure wireless guest access

CONS

  • Its PPTP doesn't work even with current firmware
  • Offers poor wireless connection, especially using a 2.4GHz band

What Recent Buyers Report

Customer reviews on this wireless WAN VPN router are highly positive. It's easy to configure, deploy, and maintain. The RV160W dual-core processor and Find IT ensure smooth load balancing. However, some clients complain about the product's hefty price tag, but with all these features, it offers great value for your money.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The product is one of the more reliable routers on the list. The product features are geared towards external user management and allow secure guest access, which makes it very well suited for managing a small business. While it can have some connectivity issues, it is a viable resource for businesses or homes.

Bottom Line

The RV160W router is very well suited for home or office use. Its wide range of features makes it suitable for running a small business remotely. Its high performance, convenience, and quality are some of the few distinguishing characteristics of the particular model.

5. CISCO1921-SEC/K9

Cisco CISCO1921-SEC/K9 1921 Series Router

PROS

  • Allows deployment of high-speed WAN with speeds of up to 15 Mbps
  • Comes with intelligent power management for increased energy efficiency
  • Features embedded hardware encryption and IP security for increased scalability
  • Modern modular architecture and increased bandwidth that boosts network resilience
  • Service integration levels with data, mobility services, wireless, and security to enhance efficiency and cut costs

CONS

  • Does not support firewall, VPN, and voice features
  • Offers a weaker throughput than other routers in its category

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent customer reviews show that the Cisco 1921 router offers some of the best features in its category on the market. Although it lacks some features like VPN, firewall, and voice support, it offers high levels of agility, performance, reliability, and energy efficiency. Its features make it an ideal router for home, small, and medium-sized businesses.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Cisco 1921 router tops our list because of the variety of features it offers. It comes as an agile, high-performing, and efficient router that's ideal for home and business at an affordable price.

You get a router that offers high connection speeds, enhanced security features, energy efficiency capabilities, improved service integration options, and modern architecture that boosts performance.

What the Cisco 1921 does not offer (like VPN and firewall options) it makes up for with agility, performance, reliability, and affordability.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for an affordable Cisco router that is a reliable performer, you might want to consider the Cisco 1921 WIFI router. It's an ideal home and small business solutions tool that offers high-speed connection and efficiency at a more affordable price than its competitors on the market.

Best Cisco Router for Home:
Cisco RV325K9NA

Cisco Systems Gigabit Dual WAN VPN 14 Port Router (RV325K9NA)

PROS

  • High data transfer rates of up to 100 Mbps
  • Manages large files easily without affecting performance
  • Features an intuitive browser for better set-up and management of your network
  • Comes with high-performance and high-capacity IP and SSL security capabilities
  • Features Dual WAN ports that help you balance loads and enhance network connection continuity

CONS

  • Lacks essential VLAN and L2 features
  • Data is sometimes lost after a firmware upgrade

What Recent Buyers Report

Customer reviews show that the Cisco RV325K9NA is a reliable router that's ideal for all your home Internet needs. Clients are pleased with all the little add-ons included in the entire package. Users love the reset button, straightforward GUI, and elaborate setup and management system.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Although it doesn't offer higher speeds than other options on the market, it guarantees reliability, easy setup, agility, and versatility. The Cisco RV325K9NA design also makes it stand out as one of the best-looking routers on our list.

The product is very reliable, versatile, and convenient for anybody considering a home router. Besides, it also comes at a very reasonable price range.

Bottom Line

Anyone looking for a high-end router with all the features of an ideal home router might want to consider the Cisco RV325K9NA.

Although not a high-end option, the features and capabilities allow you to experience value for money and very reliable service.

What Makes Cisco Products Stand Out From the Competition?

Cisco is arguably one of the best network solutions providers globally - with ever-growing dominance on the market.

Their wide range of high-quality networking software and hardware products makes the company stand out from competitors. The following are some of Cisco's major strengths:

High-quality Products

As a pioneer in the networking device industry, Cisco has been through it all. It now makes top-of-the-class products that offer excellent performance, reliability, and longevity.   

Variety

Cisco Inc. is a large conglomerate with a wide range of enterprise-level products and services. It's unlikely to find a home or business that doesn't use a Cisco product or service, and even most large businesses are powered by a cisco enterprise router.

Cisco-Linksys E3000

Affordability

Most of Cisco's products offer the best levels of affordability on the market compared to competitor products.

Exceptional Customer Service 

Cisco's customer support is available 24/7 and solves problems promptly.

Warranty 

All Cisco products come with generous warranties ranging between six, twelve, and 24 months.

Types of Cisco Routers

Cisco makes a wide variety of routers - each designed to suit specific needs. Some types of routers the company makes include:

Branch Routers

These are routers designed for small businesses or businesses with branches across different areas. Cisco's branch routers offer intent-based networking, on-demand network services, data protection, and customer experience features.

Some of their branch routers include Cisco 4000 series, 1900 series, 1800 series, and 1000 series.

Industrial Routers

Cisco's industrial routers are designed to offer network solutions to many providers making them ideal for large companies. 

Their 800 series routers are especially common in medium-sized businesses.

They come with better reliability, high-speed connection, high-quality architecture, and enhanced scalability to cope with demand and harsh environmental conditions.

Cisco's industrial router portfolio includes Cisco 800 series, 2000 series, 1000 series, 900 series, and 500 series.

Photo credit: cisco.com

Mobile Internet Routers

Mobile Internet routers are common in homes and offer network solutions that are ideal for families. Your mobile provider may use Cisco's mobile Internet routers to connect WIFI in your home.

Mobile Internet routers might not offer better features and functions like a branch and industrial routers, but they remain ideal for home connections.

Some of Cisco's mobile Internet routers include Cisco 5000-series and 5900-series.

Virtual Routers

Virtual routers come with extra services that offer network virtualization. They enable routing services that are configured and adapted in your network.

Some of Cisco's virtual routers include Cisco Catalyst 8000 and Cisco Cloud Native Router.

How Do Cisco Routers Compare?

Many network solutions providers exist and comparing brands helps you make a better choice. Here's how Cisco's routers compare to other routers on the market.

Netgear vs Cisco Routers

While Cisco routers are best suited for businesses and large corporations, Netgear routers mostly meet personal home needs.

Both have excellent routing capabilities, but Cisco routers are more powerful and reliable than Netgear routers.

Cisco-Linksys E4200

Cisco routers come with an inbuilt OS that boosts configuration and network deployment. Netgear uses a Linux OS but only offers two optional modules.

Both routers have impressive performance and reliability features. But their capacities are different, which makes each unique.

So, if you are looking for a single LAN connection for home use, Netgear routers might be your best bet. If you have higher connection demands at home or work, then Cisco routers are more suitable.

HP Routers vs Cisco Routers

Both HP and Cisco routers are designed to serve clients with intensive networking solution needs. The most valuable features in Cisco routers are the routing capability and performance. As for HP routers, stability and efficiency are their most outstanding features.

The main difference between the two routers is the price.

HP routers are more affordable than cisco routers. The price difference is because Cisco offers more advanced features than HP. If you are on a budget looking for a router that meets home and small business needs, HP routers are a solid option.

However, if you want a high-performance router with more features and capabilities and have no problem spending a few extra bucks, Cisco routers might be your best bet.

Juniper Routers vs Cisco Routers

Few differences exist between Juniper and Cisco routers. Both brands make routers that serve all kinds of clients from home and small businesses to large corporations.

Both Cisco and Juniper hardware is stable and offers excellent performance. The routers are also easy to configure and set-up.

The main difference between the two routers is their security features and routing capabilities. Cisco's most valuable feature is the ability to specify your routing policies on your traffic. Juniper only allows for standard routing protocols while Cisco offers more advanced routing features.

However, Juniper offers better security features than Cisco. Juniper routers have better capacities on their throughput firewall. Their firewall is easier to configure and more secure than Cisco.

In terms of performance, both routers remain largely similar. But if security is one of your top considerations when looking for a router, Juniper routers might be ideal. If routing and reliability are your top considerations, you might want to go for Cisco routers.

Photo credit: terabitsystems.com

How to Reset a Cisco Router

There are two ways to reset your Cisco router: Using the reset button or using router commands.

Using the Reset Button

  1. With your router turned off, connect your power cord to the router and plug it into a power source

  2. Locate the reset button on your router

  3. Press and hold the reset button

  4. Release the button after 8-10 seconds

  5.  Wait for 5 minutes for your router to finish the boot process

  6.  Check the router lights - when they blink in patterns, your router has completed booting

  7.  Power off your router

The next time you turn it on, your router will be reset to default factory settings  

Photo credit: cisco.com

Using Router Commands

  1. With your router turned off, connect your power cord to the router and plug it into a power source

  2. Using a console cable, connect your PC/laptop to your router

  3. Power on your router and wait 5-10 minutes

  4. On your PC/laptop, open the terminal emulator program to access your router's command line

  5. In the command-line interface, enter your commands 'Erase' in bold and wait for a reload and completion message

  6. Close the emulator window and power off your router

The next time you turn it on, your router will be reset to default factory settings.

How to Connect to a Cisco Router

  1. Ensure you are connected to your network

  2. On your browser, go to 192.168.15.1

  3. Enter your username and password

  4. Master your login credentials

  5. Speed up your WIFI connection

You should be connected to your Cisco router from here. 

How to Setup a Cisco Router

Setting up your Cisco router is easy and fast. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Check your Internet connection

  2. Install and extend your router's antennas

  3.  Identify where you want to place your router

  4. With your router turned off, connect your power cord to the router and plug it into a power source

  5. Check your router's LED lights

  6.  If they blink in a pattern, you have a connection

  7. Test your connection with a device: smartphone, laptop, or PC

At this point, if your device starts a wired connection, your Cisco router is up and running.

How to Access Cisco Router Settings

  1. Ensure you are connected to your network

  2. On your browser, go to 192.168.15.1

  3. Enter your username and password

From here, you can access all router settings.

Photo credit: cisco.com

How to Config a Cisco Router

Cisco routers are fairly easy to configure. Here are the steps you should follow.

1. Configuring Your Access Passwords

  1. Access the Cisco global configuration mode from your privileged exec mode

  2.  Enable secret password and type your preferred password

From now on, you will need to provide your secret password every time you log in.

2. Configuring Your Router Hostname

This helps to differentiate your router from other devices within your network

  1. Access the Cisco global configuration mode from your privileged exec mode

  2. Enable hostname for my router and type it.

From this point, your router's hostname will be displayed on devices as requested.

3. Configuring IP Addresses

This enables your router to forward packets within the network.

  1. Access the Cisco global configuration mode from your privileged exec mode

  2.  Enter into interface configuration mode

  3. Configure or add '# interface GigabitEthernet 0/0'

  4. Add '# ip address'

  5. Add # no shutdown and then # exit.

From now on, your IP address is configured by your router.

4. Configuring Routing

This allows your router to identify the best route path towards a network and transfer data packets through it.

  1. Access the Cisco global configuration mode from your privileged exec mode

  2.  Add # ip route command (destination network, subnet mask, and gateway)

  3. You can choose a standard static route like (200.200.200.0 255.255.255.0 100.100.100.2)

From then, all packets will be sent via the static route.

5. Saving Your Configuration Settings

To overwrite your router's start-up configuration, save your current configuration settings in your NVRAM.

  1. Access the Cisco global configuration mode from your privileged exec mode

  2. Enter # copy running-config startup-config

  3. Enter # exit.

For a detailed explanation about setting up and configuring your Cisco router, please check out the video below.

Cisco Router Troubleshooting

Cisco's routers are quite reliable. So, expect to use yours without experiencing downtime or troubleshooting problems.

Some common troubleshooting problems you can expect to experience with your Cisco router include mismatched security settings for your WIFI, restrictions with MAC addresses, overloading, overheating, wireless signal limitations, outdated firmware, and stolen bandwidth. 

In case of any mishaps, Cisco offers a variety of tools to help you deal with troubleshooting problems. Their integrated commands allow you to monitor and troubleshoot your networks like installation behavior and normal network behavior.

Debug commands assist you in monitoring configuration and protocol problems on your router.

Cisco routers also come with ping commands that help in determining the connection between your devices and network.

Trace commands offer methods to determine the route your packet data travels to reach the destination from your device.

Moreover, Cisco also offers network management tools that enhance troubleshooting functions and help you manage your network.

For example, CiscoView is a graphical management tool that provides dynamic stats, statuses, and configuration information for routers.

Internetwork Performance Monitor (IPM) is a management app that helps you monitor how your multiprotocol networks work. IPM also enables you to measure network latency between your devices while solving a variety of troubleshooting problems.

Conclusion

Cisco routers are arguably some of the best on the market. Every Cisco router is designed to offer excellent performance, high levels of reliability, and efficient connection on your devices.

Although you might have to pay more for a Cisco router than you would for most other brands, expect to get some of the best router features and capabilities.

People Also Ask

This section features some of the most commonly asked questions about Cisco routers. It is meant to offer a wider view on the topic and enhance your decision-making process as you make up your mind on what Cisco router to pick next.

What Kind of Warranty Does Cisco Offer?

Most of Cisco's products (both software and hardware) come with warranty coverage of a minimum of 90 days. However, the warranty varies with the product. The 90-day warranty covers manufacturing defects missed during quality assurance processes. In case of defects, Cisco or their designated representatives offer a replacement.

How Long Do Cisco Routers Last?

Cisco routers are built to last a long time. But it all depends on how you use and take care of your router. If preserved and maintained in good condition, your router can serve you for a couple of years without experiencing any defects.  

What is Considered the "Cleanup Rule" on a Cisco Router?

For your router to work smoothly and remain stable, you have to clean it up frequently - a process called the cleanup rule. It requires you to get rid of cache from the router system to allow it to perform fast and more efficiently. You are required to clean up your router at least once every few months. 

How to Update Cisco Router Firmware

Go to the administration section of your router and click firmware upgrade. A download will begin and save in your drive. Browse the location of the current document you downloaded and click to start upgrading. Wait for a couple of minutes as your firmware gets upgraded.



Austin

When the tech company I worked for restructured and I ended up jobless, I decided to put the wealth of knowledge and management skills to use somewhere new. I’d checked out a few buyer’s guides on the site in the past and reached out to the previous owner. A few months later, here we are. Now, I get to be behind the scenes, helping people find the best tech.