Review of the Cisco 806 Router
Cisco is the
undisputed heavyweight company in terms of routers.. but
lately the Linksys, Netgear, SMC,
D-Link's of the world are
eating into their market share in the SOHO (Small Office/Home Office)
Cisco has some pretty good offerings in this SOHO market, although when
you buy a Cisco router, you are paying for 3 things:
2) well engineered product
3) the name...
always been at the high end of the price scale for this market segment and
since in this market if you need a router, the money's coming out of your
pocket.. So you can see how/why cheaper, poorer quality routers like the
Linksys offerings are doing so well just because they do an adequate job,
easy to configure and are bloody cheap.... BUT today, we're going to see
if the old saying, "You get what you pay for", holds true when you compare
806 to the rest of the routers in this very crowded SOHO
The competitors in this market segment all boast of the features that come
with their routers. Although Cisco might not advertise how useful,
versitile and loaded with features, this Cisco is no slouch in the
features department. To start of with a 50MHz MPC 855T RISC which is a
class leading... Other routers in this market segment use 386, 486 or
Motorola 68040 processors, clearly a step behind the Cisco 806. 16 Meg of
RAM came with my router... more then many other routers.. In terms of
software features the list goes on and on and on, so I'll point out the
highlights: PPPoE (for DSL connections), Hostname for connecting to
hi-speed cable networks, IP access lists, stateful inspection, ability to
output to syslog, CEF
(fast switching), policy routing, SNMP access and of course the usual,
DHCP server, NAT/PAT, PAP/CHAP and Port Mappings.
Pretty good list I would say. What are the features its missing though...
Well I find them pretty minor, although many of the other routers in this
catagory come standard with the 10/100Mbps ethernet and some form of
hub/switch built into the router. The Cisco 806 unfortunately like so
many of its 800 series couterparts, comes with a 10 base-T ethernet and no
built in hub. Personally, this is no big deal that Cisco doesn't throw in
a 4 port 10 base-T half duplex hub. If you are a small to medium sized
you should put putting your own 10/100Mbps switch behind the router
anyway, and not relying on a 10 base-T half duplex hub. Cisco's are also
one of the few routers that are configurable via a Command Line
Interface(CLI). Yes you're heard about Cisco's Router Web Setup tool
(CRWS) tool, which is a Web-based configuration tool used for
configuration and setup of the router... and you have also heard me in
previous Cisco reviews comment that it would be best to do the config via
the command line interface. The Cisco Router Web Setup tool isn't all
that bad, it has been improved... but its still not simple enough for the
everybody in the SOHO market. Unless you know what you are doing and are
familiar with Cisco IOS, this isn't a trivial router to configure. On the
up side, Cisco has by far the most comprehensive technical support site of
any manufacturer. If you are looking for an answer to a problem its on
the site, bugs, well Cisco calls them 'bugs' and tells you all about the
bug, what it is, how to fix it, unlike other manufacturers who call them
'features'. Also on the Cisco website are sample configs for everything
from connecting ATM, ISDN, DSL and Cable modems to making your coffee
machine do backflips in the morning.
We tested this Cisco 806 on a Hi-Speed Cable Internet conection.
Configuring this router wasn't the easiest, but I had a default config
from the Cisco website which made things easier (except for the typo I
made which took me 30 minutes to find). Yes it was a faily easy config
but still, if you are a Cisco rookie, I wouldn't suggest doing this if you
are tired. If you are familiar with Cisco routers, then opening ports for
NAT/PAT, and access lists are the same as any other router running IOS,
which makes this router very easy to manage if you are running a Cisco
network. DHCP, NAT, again, very easy to configure.
In terms of performance, on a Cable Modem Connection, this Cisco 806 is by
far the most efficient router I've tested, partially because of CEF (Cisco
Express Forwarding) and partially because of Cisco's IOS. There is no lag
which you regularly see in windows based firewalls or the Linksys
broadband router we tested in August 2000 especially when you not just are
downloading large amounts of data, but also have multiple port mappings,
40 or 50 lines of access lists, and doing stateful inspection.... The 806
barely blinks, I never saw the router go above 5% CPU when I was hammering
it.. or when it was getting hammered to =) The only indication I had the
traffic was increasing were the MRTG graphs and blinking lights on the
front of the router. No matter what I threw at this router, it could
handle it with ease. No hung sessions, no reboots. No other router I
have tested could handle the 3 pages of access lists I used during the
test. Can other SOHO routers handle this many access lists?? I
mentioned MRTG before, and yes you are right, you can MRTG Netopia and
other SOHO routers, but I highly doubt you can measure so many features
as you can in Cisco routers. Not just bandwidth of the interfaces, but
what about packet drops? ICMP errors? CPU load, CPU temp, Memory usage..
its all there in Cisco routers (temp not available in this 806 though) and
Cisco actually has information on their website about SNMP and their
So you are thinking, "this guy is in love with this router", and you know,
you are pretty much correct. This is a great router, superbly designed,
great features, class winning logging, debugging, supportability, quality,
and a company that stands behind their product. At three times the price
of a similar SMC or Linksys broadband cable router is it worth it... Well
ask yourself how much lost time due to reboots/hung sessions/inability to
VPN etc.. have you had recently, and chances are when you add up the
lost when you were using an inferior router and you'll soon see that this
Cisco 806 isn't all that expensive.
Blistering performance, no lag, not even when you hammer the router,
create huge access lists, have multiple ports open and run stateful
inspection on every packet. NO degredation in performance whatsoever.
Cisco's website is amazing, if there is a bug, they will tell you the
truth that it is a bug, and tell you how to fix it. Sample configs, white
papers, tech bits, very detailed information on each release of IOS make
Cisco's site the industry leading technical site around.
Ease of Use/Configuration:
Well this Cisco 806 was one of the easier Cisco routers to configure since
I found a good sample cable modem config on the Cisco website... but still
unless you are fammiliar with Cisco IOS, it can be a daunting task to
configure a Cisco router.
Cisco's work with anything, and this is no exception, TCP/IP is generally
what you are running, but if you have IPX or Novell, no problem, it can
DSL or Cable modem, no problem Cisco has configs for that as well.
Hmmm features.... lets see: quality, RISC processor, quality, access
lists, NAT/PAT, DHCP, quality, PPPoE, IpSec (optional), CEF,
quality, Syslog, SNMP.
Although other manufacturers throw in 10/100Mbps ethernet ports and 10
base-T built in hubs....
This router was a joy to manage, there is nothing I could do to break this
router, it barely blinked at me no matter how much I hammered it which
makes me think... if this is a SOHO router, what could a router for a
medium sized business handle?
From a performance and technical point of view, this Cisco 806 is by far
the class leading router, with all its features, superb performance and
legendary Cisco quality, this router sets a very high standard for others
to shoot for. Yes it is more expensive, but you defeninately get what you