Linksys WRT3200ACM Review

Linksys WRT3200ACMLinksys’s WRT series focuses on innovation, advanced technology and customization options and the WRT3200ACM is one of the most powerful devices within this brand. This AC3200 router supports Tri-Stream 160 technology, but it is important to keep in mind that it is not a tri-band router, meaning that it doesn’t feature additional 5GHz radio. Still, the WRT3200ACM by Linksys stands apart thanks to the fact that it can support 160 MHz bandwidth channels in 5Ghz that are adjacent to each other. However, there are not many devices available that can support 160 MHz bandwidth channels that are next to each other, so this feature is only handy if you have at least two devices of the same type that can be linked in a bridge mode. If you need advanced functionality, the WRT3200ACM may be a good solution to improve your network. Let’s find out more about this router.

Design

For the WRT3200ACM, Linksys decided to take inspiration from the past, offering a design that pays homage to the original WRT54G. The WRT3200ACM is a nostalgic nod to classic routers, but it has a 21st century touch. The blue front is blue, with a glossy finish, while the back of the router has a black matte finish. The router has striking looks so don’t expect it to blend with its surroundings, it is designed to stand out. The WRT3200ACM is light and you can place on a surface or it can be mounted on a wall as each feet has special holes for this purpose. The indented LED panel is located in from of the chassis and the dual-band removable antennas are small and they are placed in the same manner: there are two on the back and there are two more, one located on each side of the router.

On the black glossy plastic, you will find a series of white LED lights that will let you know the status of the router or the connection. The LED indicators blink when the router is booting up, or when it is in self-diagnostic mode. For instance, if you see an amber color light blinking, it means that the connection is down due to hardware issues. The router also features an antenna connector, a combo USB 2.0 eSATA port, four LAN Ethernet ports. While the WRT series doesn’t focus on style and it is not exactly an elegant router so it may not look well in spaces with a classic design. That is not to say that it has an unappealing appearance. The Linksys WRT3200ACM includes a Quick Start Guide an Ethernet cable, a CD with documentation, four antennas and the Power adapter.

Features

The 1.8GHz dual-core processor of the Linksys WRT3200ACM, along with the tri-band AC3200 wireless 802.11ac/n/a 2.4Ghz/5GHz antennas, and the fact that the router supports MU-MIMO technology, make this router a powerful choice. It features four antennas, five Gigabit Ethernet ports: four LAN and one Internet, as well as one USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0/eSATA port. Other notable features are the Marvell 88E6352 switch, 512 MB of RAM (Micron DDR3) and 256 MB of flash memory. The 2.4GHz radio band relies on the Marvell 88W8964 chipset and also a Skyworks SKY85309-11 2.4GHz front-end module. THe 5GHz radio band sports the Marvell 88W8964 chipset and the Skyworks SKY85728-11 5 GHz front-end module. In theory, the WRT3200ACM can reach a maximum data transfer rate of 600 Mbps using the 2.4GHz radio band. The maximum theorical data transfer rate of 2600 Mbps uses the 5GHz radio band, on top of the promised 3200 Mbps.

The MU-MIMO technology supported by this router, is capable of handling multiple clients at the same time. Thanks to this, every connected MU-MIMO client can get an individual data stream, which allows it to provide a balanced bandwidth performance. You will be able to play online games, watch online videos and more simultaneously, without having to deal latency. Although the speed and convenience of this technology, make it a must-have, currently, the market is still working to catch up. Not all the setups are prepared to handle it, even when we are getting close to the next generation: 802.11ax. Still, the Linksys WRT3200AC provides stability and its Tri-Stream 160 feature sets it apart from the competition. With this technology, which uses 80MHz bandwidth mode, you get three streams at 160Mhz channel width, which drives data at 867Mbps on every stream, on top of the 2,600 Mps advertised on the 5GHz radio band.

While the Tri-Stream is capable of offering an impressive experience, the reality is that at the moment, very few devices can really support this technology. This means that while the router can theoretically provide the speeds advertised by Linksys, the current devices available, may not be prepared to handle this. It should be said that Linksys is not the only manufacturer that has done this. On the bright side, thanks to the advanced technology implemented, the WRT3200ACM is set to be capable to handle future developments. The benefit of a tri-band router is that it doesn’t requite any special compatible wireless adapters. Only ones that use the 5GHz radio band. Overall, the WRT3200ACM is ready for future technology and if 160MHz becomes the standard, this router will definitely be prepared for that. One more thing that should be noted is that the Linksys WRT3200ACM supports Beamforming technology, which can improve the performance of the network as it scans the area, identifying the wireless devices connected and directing the signal straight to them, rather than broadcasting it without focus.

Setup

Setting up the WRT3200ACM is easy and the set up wizard takes you through the configuration process required. You can create a new router password and set up a Linksys Smart WiFi Account that gives you the chance to access your network remotely. The connection type settings are established automatically, but it is also possible to establish the configuration manually. Once you complete the initial setup, you will get access to the interface, where you can make advanced configurations on your router. There is also a Linksys mobile app that can be used to configured the tri-band and the dual-band Velop systems.

Performance

To test the wireless performance of the Linksys WRT3200ACM, we used a laptop with a wireless adapter compatible with the router and a desktop computer that also features a powerful wireless adapter. This allowed us to measure the speed performance in different places in a large house. Overall, the speeds were satisfactory on the 2.4GHz band, even at larger distances, although in that case, the speeds decreases. The close range speeds reach 810Mbps in average, while at large range they dropped to an average of 533 Mbps. When it comes to the 5GHz band, the close range speeds reached an average of 235 Mps, while at large range, the speeds dropped to 165 Mbps. In the storage, the writing speed obtained while transferring a 2 GB folder was about 88 MBps and the reading speed 113 MBps, which are great results in this area.

Conclusion

Since it was originally launched, the Linksys WRT3200 has evolved, and while it is set to deliver impressive performance, the results are mixed since in the real world, the level of speeds promised can’t always be achieved. The latest updates show improvements on the wireless performance and the storage performance is great. The app interface is user-friendly and the 5GHz throughput was fast. The same goes for the transfer speeds. The fact that MU-MIMO and Tri-Stream technology are supported are a plus. However, some of the technology supported is too advanced for the current market.

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