The bad: The Zyxel X150N falls short in both range and features. Its signal stability could also use some improvement.
The bottom line: The Zyxel X150N is an inexpensive, entry-level Wireless-N router and should be used only for casual and light wireless networking needs.
With a street price of around $30, the Zyxel X150N wireless router is a bargain among 802.11n (Wireless-N) routers. However, you get what you pay for. The router features the single-stream N standard, which has wireless cap speeds of just 150Mbps. In our testing its actual performance is much lower than that, especially over range. The router is relatively easy to use via a simple Web interface, which, unfortunately requires restarting to apply any changes, and each restart takes a long time. If you are looking for a cheap and simple Wireless-N router for a small office space, the ... Expand full reviewWith a street price of around $30, the Zyxel X150N wireless router is a bargain among 802.11n (Wireless-N) routers. However, you get what you pay for. The router features the single-stream N standard, which has wireless cap speeds of just 150Mbps. In our testing its actual performance is much lower than that, especially over range. The router is relatively easy to use via a simple Web interface, which, unfortunately requires restarting to apply any changes, and each restart takes a long time. If you are looking for a cheap and simple Wireless-N router for a small office space, the Zyxel X150N is likely to get the job done. At the same price point, however, you should also check out the similarly configured TP-Link TL-WR741ND or pay a little more for any low-end dual-stream N router.
Design and ease of use
The Zyxel X150N comes in a spartan package that includes the router itself, a power adapter, a software CD containing the manual in PDF format, and an Easy Setup Guide poster. The poster guides you through the setup process via six well-illustrated steps, from hooking up the router to a broadband modem to opening its Web interface for further customization.
The router's Web interface, though well-organized and self-explanatory, requires you to restart the router to apply any changes. This makes working with it a pain when you want to set up advanced features, such as reserving an IP address for a particular computer or setting up port forwarding. Most routers we've seen only require restarting to apply major changes, such as changing the admin password or the name of the wireless network.
The X150N is square in shape. It's about half the size of a regular dual-stream router, and it has only one antenna that sticks up from the back. Despite the compact size, the router manages to offer four LAN ports (for wired local network devices), in addition to its WAN port (to connect to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem).
Also on the back, the router has a Wi-Fi Protect Setup (WPS) button that start a 2-minute window that other WPS-enabled devices can automatically enter the wireless network. On the front, there is an array of LED lights that show the status of the ports on the back, the wireless connection, and the connection to the Internet.
Featuring the single-stream Wireless-N standard, the X150N is considered a "light" router, so it doesn't offer many high-end features; there's no support for dual-band, USB devices, or guest networking.
It does, however, come with several useful networking features, including the ability to easily assign fixed IP addresses to network computers and forward particular services to them. This is a must if you want to use a computer in the network as an FTP or HTTP server. It's also required if you want to use remote access, such as Windows' Remote Desktop, over the Internet. For remote access, the router offers support for any dynamic DNS services, meaning you can set up remote access to the router and other network devices for free. It also has a bandwidth management feature that allows you to cap bandwidth to particular networking devices within the network.
For wireless security, the X150N supports all existing popular methods of encryption, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. It also offers MAC address filtering.
We tested the X150N against other Wireless-N routers, and though this is an unfair battle--as most of others were dual-stream routers--it performed well in our short range test.
In this test, the router was placed just 15 feet away from the client and was set up to offer the best possible throughput speed. It scored 37.3Mbps; at this speed, the X150N can finish transmitting 500MB of data in about 107 seconds.
In the 100-foot range test, however, the X150N scored much lower at 17.4Mbps. In the mixed mode test, where the router was set to work with multiple close range clients of different wireless standards, including N and legacy G, its score was close to that of the close range test at 32.2Mbps.
Overall, we were happy with the router's close range performance and wish its range performance were better. The router's range was also rather long for a single-stream router, at about 220 feet.
Unfortunately, the router didn't pass our 48-hour stress test, during which time it was set to transmit a large amount of data back and forth between different clients. The router reset once during this time, which was not the worst we've seen but we expected the router not to reset at all.
CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N performance score (in Mbps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Zyxel backs the X150N with a one-year warranty, during which time the technical support is free. The support page on Zyxel's site offers downloads for the firmware, manual, user guide, as well as other support resourses. The company's toll-free technical support is available Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. till 5 p.m. PT.