As Linksys continues to reinvent the ways we all get online while still sticking true to what fans of their routers love, the company has since slowed down its “revolutionary” designs for more “evolutionary” choices instead. The WRT3200ACM is another in what’s looking to become a whole series of routers that rely on nostalgia to hook old users, and performance to bring in new ones. But will those two factors alone be enough to recapture some of the magic that’s been lost in the router market over the past few years?
Keep reading my Linksys WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO wireless router review to find out!
Summary: The Linksys WRT3200ACM is another step in the right direction for a company who seems to be able to do no wrong when it comes to producing solid, reliable routers in the second half of 2016.
What We Liked
- Friendly, nostalgiac design
- Good performance at short range
- Linksys Smart WiFi is still king of router software
What We Didn’t
- Could use more wired ports
- Ranged performance and reliability suffered
- High price for average internet users
Linksys WRT3200ACM Router Specs
|Linksys WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO Wireless Router|
|Processor||1.8GHz dual-core ARM processor|
|Operation Modes||Wireless Router, Wired Networking, Access Point, Bridge|
|128-bit Wireless Encryption|
|Ports||4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,
1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
|Dimensions||9.1 x 9.1 x 1.7 inches|
While router manufacturers around the globe continue to try and revolutionize the way routers are designed by adding crazy color schemes, changing up the antenna placement, or making the whole thing look like something straight out of a military hangar from the future, Linksys and its new WRT3200ACM router go exactly the opposite direction, and the choice pays off in spades.
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Relying heavily on the nostalgia factor, the WRT3200ACM brings back all the things we loved about the original WRT54G and updates them for the 21st century. If all this sounds vaguely familiar, you might remember we gushed over the same design choices when the WRT1900ACS first came out earlier this year, and the WRT3200ACM improves on this even further with an indented LED panel that sits in front of the classic blue-on-black chassis, as well as an ever-so-slightly lighter footprint at 1.76lbs (compared to the WRT1900ACS’ 1.77lbs).
This isn’t a router designed for people who want something that will blend in with their decor, though. It is quintessentially, unapologetically a router lover’s router…and we’re okay with that.
The Linksys WRT3200ACM features a beefy 1.8GHz dual-core processor, tri-band AC3200 wireless, 802.11ac/n/a 2.4Ghz/5GHz antennas with MU-MIMO beamforming capability, four high-powered antennas, five gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN, 1 Internet), one USB 3.0 port, and one USB 2.0/eSATA port for setting up external storage or adding onboard media servers.
What more can we say about the Linksys Smart WiFi dashboard that we haven’t already said a dozen times before?
Linksys continues to update the Smart WiFi system here and there with minor tweaks to the mobile app and desktop platform, but on the whole it’s already as good as it needs to be thanks to an intuitive UI, super simple setup, and easy access to all the configuration settings the amateur or expert router owner would need.
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Competing router manufacturers take note: the Linksys Smart WiFi dashboard is how you do router settings right, full-stop.
Speed & Distance Tests
|All number in Mbps||2.4GHz (5ft)||2.4GHz(30ft)||5GHz (5ft)||5GHz (30ft)|
Netgear Nighthawk X10
|Up: 69.30 Down: 69.67||Up: 388.04|
AmpliFI HD Mesh Router
TP-LINK Archer C5400
Linksys EA9500 AC5400
D-Link DIR-879 AC1900 EXO
Netgear Nighthawk X4S
Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300
TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900
Netgear NightHawk X6 AC3200
Linksys EA7500 AC1900
TP-Link P5 AC1900
D-Link DIR890L/R AC3200
Despite its AC3200 rating, the Linksys WRT3200ACM still managed to pump out even, consistent performance which only suffered slight drops at ranges of 30ft or greater. On the 2.4GHz frequency at 5ft, we recorded a par-for-the-course score of 73.26Mbps down/102.65Mbps up, which isn’t the fastest speed we’ve seen, but it’s also by no means the slowest either.
Unfortunately, the WRT3200ACM didn’t really hold up all that well once we jumped to a distance of 30ft, with 48.68Mbps down and 43.52Mbps up. Luckily, it was quickly (no pun intended) redeemed by its 5Ghz performance with a score of 449.84Mbps down/475.24Mbps up from a distance of five feet, and 311.96Mbps down/276.98Mbps up at a distance of 30ft.
The Linksys WRT3200ACM takes many of the same concepts and features we originally loved in the WRT1900ACS, and mildly improves on performance across the board. That in mind, there’s not a whole lot left to make you turn your head (and pull out your wallet) if you don’t have MU-MIMO-ready devices or a connection that only pumps out 120Mbps or less.
If you’re itching for a new router, at $249.99 the WRT3200ACM may be a bit pricey for some, but it’s also quick and pretty enough to justify the top-tier cost.
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