Way back when the 2.4GHz band was still somewhat useful, Linksys' WRT54G and WRT54GL were the enthusiast's choice in routers. Linksys is hoping to restart the love affair with the WRT3200ACM. All of those digits provide clues about the router's key features: compatibility with the open-source DD-WRT and OpenWRT firmware and maximum combined Wi-Fi throughput of 3.2 Gbps via 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support. The cherry on top of this technological sundae is a feature Linksys calls "Tri-Stream 160."
MU-MIMO extends MIMO's capabilities to communication with multiple simultaneous clients, using multiple antennas for each client. Tri-Stream 160 refers to the WRT's ability to extend channel width from 80 MHz to 160 MHz when Dynamic Frequency Selection conditions allow. The upshot of the doubled channel width is a theoretical doubling of peak bandwidth to 2.6Gbps aggregate—in this case, an increase to a maximum of 867 Mbps per stream. The remainder of the claimed 3.2 Gbps peak bandwidth comes from the crusty old 2.4 GHz band.
Additional hardware specs include a 1.8GHz dual-core ARM-based CPU, 512MB of DDR3 memory, and 256MB of flash storage. The router has USB 3.0 port combo USB 2.0-and-eSATA ports around the back. Linksys added has day-one support for both DD-WRT and OpenWRT open-source firmwares. The company highlights privacy controls, VPNs, and VoIP as potential applications involving alternative firmware.
The WRT3200ACM is available for pre-order now for $250. Linksys expects the router to start blinking its lights in basements next to cable and DSL modems within a week.