Linksys' WRT54GL router, originally released in 2005, still generates millions in sales each year

By Shawn Knight ยท 19 replies
Jul 5, 2016
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  1. Consumer electronics and computer components on average don’t last more than a handful of years before they’re obsolete and we’re itching to replace them. That’s not always the case, however, as some rare breeds manage to sidestep father time and live on long past their expiration date.

    Case in point is the Linksys WRT54GL, a wireless router first released in 2005. What’s noteworthy about the WRT54GL is the fact that it’s still on sale to this day, generating millions in revenue each year.

    As Ars Technica highlights, the WRT54GL uses the 802.11 g Wi-Fi standard which has since taken a back seat to 802.11 n and 802.11 ac. What’s more, it only operates on the crowded 2.4GHz frequency band with speeds limited to just 54Mbps. These days, you can get a new dual-band router with modern standards and much faster transfer rates for less money.

    So, why is the WRT54GL still selling after 11 years and no spec or design changes? That’s a good question.

    Linksys Global Product Manager Vince La Duca said that to be honest, it somewhat baffles his mind. But, as long as people keep buying it, they’ll keep building it, he added. That, of course, is assuming that suppliers like Broadcom continue to sell the parts needed to construct the router.

    If he had to pin it down, however, La Duca believes reliability, name recognition and its support of open source firmware to unlock more advanced capabilities all contribute to its continued success. Indeed, many users replace the Linksys firmware with third-party solutions like DD-WRT and tell their friends to do the same.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2016
  2. HamRadioGuy

    HamRadioGuy TS Rookie Posts: 19

  3. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 349   +132

    I have one to use as a WIFI bridge to devices that have ethernet only. Using DD-WRT I can enable that functionality and this is one of the easiest routers to modify and run stably.
  4. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 839   +29

    I used several of these routers until about a year ago when they couldn't keep up with the number of wifi devices I as using. Love how easy they flash with DD-WRT.
  5. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    I've had dlink routers that are priced half or even a third part of this router, are third party firmware enabled and reliable. That said, I'm also baffled.
  6. antiproduct

    antiproduct TS Booster Posts: 49   +36

    One other guess is that when you search vendor sites that allow reviews (like newegg) for wireless router, then select sort by best ratings, this router comes up. So people who don't know any better buy it. Especially because it's a fraction of the price of all the next contenders.
  7. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 711   +381

    Accounting glitch.
  8. Jibberish18

    Jibberish18 TS Evangelist Posts: 646   +89

    Can I be honest? Until this day no other router in the basement of my Mothers home gave us better WiFi reception and reliability than the router above. Rock SOLID.
    DaveBG and Chazz like this.
  9. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,988

    I had one for years and it worked flawlessly, in fact there are many times I wish I still had it over the current stuff!
  10. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    I have a couple WRT-54G series routers laying around, both with DD-WRT on them. They are still rock solid routers. You can use them for all kinds of stuff with DD-WRT.
    wastedkill likes this.
  11. Chazz

    Chazz TS Evangelist Posts: 679   +75

    This is the answer. This was just about the most reliable router back in the day in terms of range, speed and longevity(up-time). I would always recommend this router. Just the look of it brings back nostalgia. I have a buffalo wirelessN dual band, beam forming router with four antennas(no DD_WRT) and I just hate this thing. It's the worst computer related purchase I've made in years.
  12. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 930   +31

    I've read that WRT54GL is actually a WRT54G (v4). The original WRT54G has went through a couple of iterations but I guess enthusiasts liked the old one better (read: DD-WRT or Open-WRT compatible).

    I've had a short experience with the old WRT54G, but with this router I remember I never have to restart it. I didn't appreciate the stability until I upgraded to a cheap WR1043ND and I had to restart it weekly to get an acceptable performance. Until I decided to flash a stable version of DD-WRT, I feel like I bought a new router. Not only do I get solid performance, the new features allows me to do alot of things on it.

    I bet even a third of people who still buys the WRT54GL flash a third-party firmware on it.
    Reehahs likes this.
  13. DaveBG

    DaveBG TS Addict Posts: 303   +97

    That is why CISCO bought LINKSYS ... because of this thing. It wipes the floor of the competition. Too bad it is only G speed. If this was N no other routers would exist.
    Reehahs likes this.
  14. Edito

    Edito TS Enthusiast Posts: 69   +9

    Simple one of the best routers ever made in my opinion
  15. GreenNova343

    GreenNova343 TS Maniac Posts: 208   +115

    And let's not forgot, for the majority of people, they don't *need* anything faster than this router.

    54Mbps? That's *twice* the speed of my home Internet connection, & just a little bit faster than the maximum speed offered by my provider. If the router offers you Wi-Fi connectivity speeds equal to or better than the speed at which you can actually access the Internet, does it really matter that it's "only" using the "old" 802.11g standard to do so?
  16. cartera

    cartera TS Evangelist Posts: 365   +113

    If you use a NAS or share media & files between devices on wifi, yes it does matter.
  17. milliamp2

    milliamp2 TS Rookie

    I wish more companies would add more than 4 ethernet ports to routers but that will probably never happen at any price.
  18. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    Just buy a small switch, dirt cheap
  19. evolucion8

    evolucion8 TS Rookie Posts: 20   +7

    I have the Xiaomi MiFi router now and the range is far less than this router, but it is stable, fast and cheap!
  20. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    You would have to be non-tech savvy to get one of this old routers, and don't get me wrong, it was an awesome device but the G standard is really old by now, even cellphones are ditching (well not ditching per se, because new standards are retrofitted for old standards) the G, and everything is comming at least in N and AC for bigger devices as notebooks, this is the way to go after all they are faster, cover more space and supposedly are more efficient for multiple devices.

    Now please stop posting "I have this router and it's awesome" =P

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