Linksys WRT3200ACM tries to rekindle that WRT54GL love affair

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.

Comments closed
    • sweatshopking
    • 3 years ago

    who has their router in their basement?

      • davidbowser
      • 3 years ago

      Me. I have my APs on the first floor, but most of my gear (servers, switches, NAS, etc.) is in a rack and shelf in the basement.

    • torquer
    • 3 years ago

    Honestly, for my purposes I’ve been very happy with the rapidly aging Airport Extreme. The only thing I’d change about it is the lack of real QoS controls but for a household full of wireless Apple devices its rock solid, easy to configure, and just works in a multi-unit setup. Its also unobtrusive enough in terms of size and design that the wife doesn’t mind having them in various places around the house using wired extended networks.

    That being said, for people looking for QoS or even a reasonable amount of control its not a great option. Its also too expensive for what it is and offers few benefits for non-Apple users.

    • Kretschmer
    • 3 years ago

    Wireless gear quality has little to do with aping the look of the WRT54GL and a lot to do with rigorous testing and software quality. $250 completely misses the point of their previous success: it just worked, and was cheap enough to easily replace after death (all of my WRT54GX units died within a year).

    I don’t need massive bandwidth. Most things that I do is constrained by my Cable Modem’s 60mb connection. The remainder (e.g. file transfers or the like) can either be done overnight or expedited with good old cat5 cable.

    It took several router purchases last year before I settled on the AC1750, and no amount of reviews or research could tell me which modems would intermittently drop signal and which ones would be rock solid. Trial and error lead me to a unit that works at AC speeds, and it would take a quantum leap in my network needs to play the instability roulette again.

      • southrncomfortjm
      • 3 years ago

      All within a year? I think mine lasted a solid 5.

    • SuperSpy
    • 3 years ago

    Is it just me or is anyone else getting sick of the silly bandwidth numbers/model names they come up with?

    3200? 3.2 GBit? Pleeeeeeeeeease. Why don’t they call it the WRT 19200 because it also includes 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports (5×1000), a USB 3.0 port (5000) and an eSATA port (6000)?

    EDIT: It’s probably also got a JTAG header and a Serial header on it too, can’t forget those!

      • Magic Hate Ball
      • 3 years ago

      It’s the exact same naming scheme as the old WRT54GL?

      Think about that. 54 megabit? Now it’s 3200 megabit?

        • SuperSpy
        • 3 years ago

        The difference is you could actually get a 54 Mbit connection out of a WRT54G(L). How exactly do you get a 3200 Mbit connection out of this device?

      • meerkt
      • 3 years ago

      19200 is too unofficial a number. I suggest 14400 or 33600.

      802.11g could never do 54Mb actual. More like 20 if you’re lucky.

        • BurntMyBacon
        • 3 years ago

        [quote<]I suggest 14400 or 33600.[/quote<] And we've come full circle. I love it. [quote<]802.11g could never do 54Mb actual. More like 20 if you're lucky.[/quote<] At least you could in theory. Current routers have no way, even in theory, to aggregate the bandwidth that they are advertising.

    • kvndoom
    • 3 years ago

    As soon as I can get 3.2 gigabit internet in my home without it costing more than the mortgage, sign me up!

    • backwoods357
    • 3 years ago

    Can someone explain why people love these things so much?
    I’m assuming as I keep seeing a new practically every week.
    I get it, I custom flashed my WRT54G back in the day just like everybody else. But the prices are just ridiculous on these “enthusiast” models. These days I don’t want an all-in-one box, I’m just looking for an AP and I can find better dedicated devices for half the money.
    If I was willing to drop north of $200 on a wireless deployment I would be going with Ubiquiti Amplify or the new google mesh stuff, there’s no way I would shell out for this gimmicky crap or the next stupid batman box from ASUS.

      • cygnus1
      • 3 years ago

      100% right there with you. Enthusiast networking equipment, to me, does not include any sort of combo wireless router. Access points are almost never best placed where you want to put your network (modem/router/switches) gear.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 3 years ago

        Get a proper AP like the Ubiquiti that is $90 for 802.11ac.

      • adisor19
      • 3 years ago

      Some of them have dual 5GHz radios and those definitely cost a lot more.

      This particular example offers the first consumer implementation of contiguous 160Mhz channels for 802.11ac in a 3×3:4 MU-MIMO arrangement so for sure it will cost more.

      What makes this one even more interesting is that DD-WRT is pretty much supported on it which really makes it a lot more powerful than you typical router.

      For the time being, it’s the best router money can buy but I’m sure Broadcom will soon come out with their own implementation that will hopefully be 4×4 and so a bit more future proof.

      Adi

        • backwoods357
        • 3 years ago

        Eh, “best” is pretty subjective. Wave 2 devices are just hitting the market, so any lead this has will vanish quickly. Also, I highly doubt most people have any hardware that can fully support it yet anyways. It would probably be prudent to wait for the final spec (wave 3) to hit market before buying something like this, and by that time device support will be much more widespread.

        I guess I’m not your average user either. The last time I had a combination firewall/AP was my original WRT54G, since then I have used a dedicated firewall and AP.

    • adisor19
    • 3 years ago

    If DD-WRT is stable on it, it might just become the new router of choice. Too bad it’s a 3×3 design and not a 4×4. That would have been the cherry on the cake.

    Adi

      • ClickClick5
      • 3 years ago

      I have the wrt1900ac v2 and I’m running ddwrt (28788 build). Quite stable. I did crash once after 188 days. I enabled weekly reboots saturday at 6am, and have never had a problem since.

    • cybot_x1024
    • 3 years ago

    At $250 I’d rather build my own. For $250 I’m positive a homemade build would have more than a dualcore and 512gb of ram.

      • Scrotos
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]For $250 I'm positive a homemade build would have more than a dualcore and 512gb of ram.[/quote<] I'd like to see that! That's a ton of RAM!

      • adisor19
      • 3 years ago

      Uhuh, and show me a wifi card that supports 160Mhz channels and if you actually find out, how much does it cost.

      There is no way you can reproduce the wifi connectivity that this router provides + the routing and switching due to the simple fact that it integrates a lot of the processing needed in its SoC which you will need to reproduce with multiple devices costing a lot more dough.

      Adi

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 3 years ago

      Last I looked homemade didn’t even support 802.11n, let alone 802.11ac.

    • reever
    • 3 years ago

    This would go great with my ADSL connection

    • leor
    • 3 years ago

    Is there any indication when the routers going up to 5gbps for wired connections will start hitting the market? Would be great to get the whole shebang.

      • Krogoth
      • 3 years ago

      We will probably start seeing SMB-tier equipment with the spec (802.3bz) hitting the market sometime in 2017.

    • Airmantharp
    • 3 years ago

    2.4GHz is still *very* useful in terms of wall penetration and the like. Crappy 2.4GHz WiFi is better than no 5GHz WiFi, after all!

      • xeridea
      • 3 years ago

      I have my 5GHz disabled, since it is essentially worthless in my house. 2.4GHz is fast everywhere.

      • adisor19
      • 3 years ago

      Depends on location. 2.4GHz is so crowded in my area that it’s simply useless.

      Adi

        • Airmantharp
        • 3 years ago

        I’ve run into this issue too. 5GHz was a savior, until I got a few walls away :D.

      • Captain Ned
      • 3 years ago

      Ah, the joys of rural living. No competition at all on 5 GHz and a single AP on 2.4 GHz which never exceeds -85 dbM.

      • UberGerbil
      • 3 years ago

      As adisor19 says, wall penetration is a double-edged sword in an urban environment filled with other people’s WAPs, microwaves, and wireless phones. Back when the 802.11 alphabet was just a/b/g, I would often stick to “a” for my WAP and devices because it was uncluttered by others. These days… well, I just counted 26 access points visible on the 2.4MHz band, and nothing but my own on the 5GHz band. I know there are other 5GHz WAPs out there, but they just can’t reach me

    • cmrcmk
    • 3 years ago

    I think they forgot that part of the appeal of the WRT54G(L) was its modest price. $250 puts you pretty much into [url=http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/09/the-router-rumble-ars-diy-build-faces-better-tests-tougher-competition/<]homemade router[/url<] territory.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 3 years ago

      That and the reliable software that didn’t flake out and require restarting every couple of months.

        • Magic Hate Ball
        • 3 years ago

        I thought that’s what DD-WRT was for anyway.

      • TwoEars
      • 3 years ago

      Yupp – I think I paid $50 for mine brand new. Who pays $250 for a wifi-router?

        • Airmantharp
        • 3 years ago

        You want the speed *and* the coverage *and* the support for a multitude of simultaneous connections, you pay up :/.

          • TwoEars
          • 3 years ago

          😛

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        Large houses with lots of users? Repeaters are ok but degrade signal speed with each hop, running ethernet through a house isn’t for everyone, and powerline similarly sometimes can’t provide full bandwidth, especially going floor to floor. So in those cases, a big ol’ expensive router can be the simplest solution.

        The WRT54G also had 16MB RAM which was ok for G, but with more and more wifi devices starts to become too little.

          • southrncomfortjm
          • 3 years ago

          My solution was using a MOCA 2.0 adapter to have a router on the main floor and another in the basement. MOCA adapters beat all of those other solutions easily and use your home’s existing coaxial connections. Full speed internet anywhere you have a coax connection.

            • travbrad
            • 3 years ago

            I haven’t really looked into them too much, but I guess they just use your existing coax cabling in your house? I have all that cabling going to every room and no cable TV anymore. I’ve just been using wireless to those rooms which is good enough for Netflix but the pings aren’t really that consistent for VOIP/gaming.

            I’ve thought about doing powerline adapters but everyone says they fail/burn out nonstop.

            • UberGerbil
            • 3 years ago

            That’s great if you have coax in your house, and it goes to the rooms you need. I have coax but it only goes to a couple of rooms, and neither of them are the office where my networking gear is. So I’d be pulling cable either way, and I’d rather just do Cat6A

          • Usacomp2k3
          • 3 years ago

          Or get a proper AP like the Ubiquiti that is $90 for 802.11ac.

      • NovusBogus
      • 3 years ago

      Yeah, I don’t see this product going anywhere. For a $50 router, WRT54GL is unbeatable. For $250, Linksys is way out of its league.

        • DarkMikaru
        • 3 years ago

        You mean “was” unbeatable. 😉

    • deputy dawg
    • 3 years ago

    That thing looks like 2 WRT54GLs that were run over by a semi and then crudely re-assembled together by a 5 year old…

      • Vhalidictes
      • 3 years ago

      I think they were going for “modern and edgy” and only got as far as “tired and smashed”.

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