Linksys is certainly one of the more popular brands when it comes to open-source routers, and the company has detailed two new models. This week Linksys introduced the next generation of the Linksys WRT router, called Linksys AC3200 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, or the WRT3200ACM.
The new Linksys AC3200 WRT Gigabit MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Router will come stocked with a lot of attractive features, including Tri-Stream 160 technology that the company claims makes the device the fastest Dual Band router available. The MU-MIMO technology allows for simultaneous Wi-Fi connections to multiple devices at the same time, but more importanlty to most buyers, the device is open-source ready.
The open-source options are featured with OpenWrt or DD-WRT, allowing more flexibility and customization for your networking and routing needs. These can be configured to your likings, allowing you access to privacy, VoIP options, and even small office applications. The newly updated Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app allows users to manage and monitor their home or office Wi-Fi via the cloud from their mobile device, anytime, anywhere.
“We just made the WRT even more powerful, and equipped it with even more features as well as kept true to our word with Open Source support”, said Vince La Duca, Linksys product manager. “Linksys WRT is all about making the best router in its class by using all enterprise-grade components and materials while delivering the fastest wireless experience. Our WRT3200ACM now includes MU-MIMO providing the latest AC wave 2 spec, adds DFS certification to use clear Wi-Fi channels for less interference, as well as support for Tri-Stream 160 technology. We have also increased the processor clock speed to 1.8 GHz, added up to 512MB DDR3 flash memory and kept the eSATA and USB ports WRT enthusiasts continue to appreciate.”
The new WRT3200ACM option is an extension of Linksys’ already prolific lineup of MU-MIMO devices. MU-MIMO (or Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output) is the next generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, helping users improve the overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices. This is even more useful when you get into heavy-traffic situations on your network. If you find that your network is straining to handle all of the gaming, streaming, and 4K consumption that you have been throwing at it lately, MU-MIMO is a great option to look for in a router.
While most home routers max out at 80 MHz channel width, the new WRT3200ACM is Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) certified to allow operation at 160 MHz channel width in the 5 GHz band. For example, an AC1900 router uses three streams at 80 MHz channel width. Each stream tops out at 433 Mbps each; resulting in a total of 1.3 Gbps. The WRT3200ACM uses three streams at 160 MHz channel width to drive data at 867 Mbps per stream, providing up to 2.6 Gbps – which is up to 2X faster.
So let’s get into the open-source, one of the most sought after features when looking for a MU-MIMO router. The WRT3200ACM will ship open-source ready, offering you almost unlimited flexibility and customization options for your network needs. The device can be configured to optimize your home-network for heavy-traffic video consumption on multiple devices, handle heavy gaming session, optimal security, or advanced users/IT administrators can configure devices to be used for commercial use.
The device’s factory firmware can be replaced, so you configure each router to your exact use. If you wanted a router specifically for gaming, then firmware options can be arranged to limit applications that aren’t used (like parental controls or the cloud services) and focus on just handling as much traffic as possible for low latency.
On the other hand, you can design your router as a VPN for your personal use, access TOR Networks for anonymous browsing on the web and block ad-trackers and other personal information from escaping your network. At the office firmware options can include a custom web server, or use the router to log internal network traffic. We mentioned VoIP calling earlier, a commercial use could include a captive portal to offer a Hot Spot to customers.
Linksys, Marvell and the OpenWrt project have been collaborating to provide full open source support for the WRT3200ACM in OpenWrt’s stable and development branches. OpenWrt is a modular system, where users can select and install additional features on top of pre-compiled firmware images from the open source community.
This modularity allows networking-savvy users to fully customize the feature set of their router to better suit their particular needs. Some of the recent highlights in OpenWrt include full support for IPv6 networks, better support for multi-core systems in the network stack and enhanced support for 3G/4G modems. It’s wise to be tech-savvy in these situations, and a few of the functions that we mentioned or for experienced users only.
Information on pre-built images based on OpenWrt’s “Chaos Calmer” 15.05 branch are available immediately for the WRT3200ACM on the OpenWrt wiki page. You can always find more information on DD-WRT support on the official site.
The WRT3200ACM will include enterprise-grade 80211.ac Wi-Fi radios, which are backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n services. Users can find speeds up to 2600 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, and speeds up to 600 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band. The device features Dual-Band 3×3 with Tri-Stream 160 Technology, and runs on a 1.8GHz dual-core ARM-based CPU with 256 MB Flash and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. Other features include a SOHO-grade 5-port Ethernet switch, 4 Gigabit LAN ports, 1 Gigabit WAN port, an eSATA/USB 2.0 port and a singular USB 3.0 port. It also features UPnP server and all four antennas are detachable.
On the software side you will find support for 5 open VPN tunnels, it supports PPTP and has IPsec pass-through. Of course the WRT3200ACM can be configured as a router, access point, range extender or wireless bridge and it also has the ability to hide SSID broadcasts. The prebuilt setup wizard will configure two SSIDs, one per radio band, and the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi can be accessed from a browser or the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app for iOS and Android. It also has built-in DLNA-compatible media server and FTP server to share files across your devices, and it has a simple drag-and-drop UI for media prioritization – allowing you to prioritize bandwidth for devices, applications or games.
Other features include easy to set up parental controls and dynamic DNS services are supported (No-IP, DynDNS and TZO).
Pricing and Availability
The new Linksys WRT3200ACM MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is available for presale starting today at the Linksys.com store and will also appear on the official Amazon storefront as well. Customers will also find the device at BestBuy, Newegg, Sam’s Club, Staples, Office Depot, Fry’s, P.C. Richard & Son and Microcenter at an MSRP of $279.99.