After our recent adventures with mesh networking in the shape of the NETGEAR Orbi and Linksys Velop, it's time to bring things back down to earth a bit with a more mainstream router. This isn't to say that the Linksys WRT3200ACM is run-of-the-mill. But the sub-£200 price and features make it more like the kind of device you would consider as a sensible improvement over or replacement of the wireless router that came with your broadband.
This is a tri-stream router, so can operate with 160MHz wavebands rather than 80MHz. This means it can offer 2600Mbits/sec 802.11ac alongside 600Mbits/sec 802.11n WiFi. But it's only dual band, giving it the ability to provide 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals at the same time, but only one of each. There's a decent array of wired connectivity, too, with the standard four Gigabit Ethernet ports alongside one Gigabit Ethernet for the broadband, a single USB 3.0, and a combo USB 2.0 and eSATA port. So this router can double as your NAS with added storage.
The WRT3200ACM continues Linksys's long tradition of making its routers completely user-customisable, with support for OpenWrt and DD-WRT open source developments. So the ardent tinkerer can turn this device into a custom system via alternative GNU/Linux firmware, which adds facilities such as a more potent firewall. Since the styling remains remeniscent of the legendary WRT54G, it's great to see that this facility remains available.
Overall, the WRT3200ACM looks very much like a device in the tradition of the WRT54G of over a decade ago. It doesn't boast any radical new features, but instead hopes to provide a core functionality that is solid and comprehensive, with a reasonable price to match. So let's see whether it delivers on this workhorse promise.
Wireless protocols: MU-MIMO with 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz, 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz
Performance: AC3200 (2600 + 600 Mbits/sec)
Antenna Configuration: 4×4 External Antennas for 2.4/5GHz
Ports: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet WAN, 1 x USB 2.0 and eSATA combo, 1 x USB 3.0
Modem Support: VDSL/ADSL 2+ or cable
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