Linksys makes Smart WiFi easy to use.
A long time ago, I set up my first WiFi network in my first apartment. It was a bit of a tedious process because the idea of home wireless networking was very new. My brother insisted that I have it though because it would make my life easier. He was of course very correct in that estimation and I’ve never had a residence that didn’t have WiFi. That being said, as our Internet protocols have advanced, so has the equipment for our home networks. I’ve had routers that connect to modems, modem/router combinations, and even just direct connections to switches with a good old ethernet cable. My point is that I’ve had experiences setting up networks. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to review the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM Router, I was a little hesitant because sometimes, it can just be a pain. But, as I was to find out quite quickly, the Linksys WRT 3200 is an impressive piece of hardware with an even more impressive signal output.
Before I get into the review at hand, I want to describe our current WiFi network and its settings. We have a Netgear Nighthawk C7000 WiFi Cable Modem Router combo headlining our network. While we can turn off the WiFi network from the Netgear, we have been using it. We also have a mesh network set-up for signal consistency throughout the house via the eero WiFi system. Now, we also have the Linksys set-up as yet another WiFi network signal. I mention all this because all of these systems are pulling the same signal from our Internet Provider (Time Warner) and it makes the speed test results below even more impressive.
As far as specs go, this is a very impressive router. It features tri-stream 160, which doubles bandwidth from 80 MHz to 160 MHz on all spatial streams. The Linksys has a 1.8 GHz dual-core CPU, which promotes simultaneous high-speed data processing. The router is open-source ready and can easily be configured using the browser-based dashboard. The Linksys router has the latest wireless-AC technology so that you can have streaming and gaming on multiple devices. There is simultaneous dual-band connectivity (2.4 and 5 GHz) to help avoid interference. There is a USB 3.0 port available to help share files across your network. Plus the ethernet ports are Gigibit capable for faster transfer and better connectivity.
Set-up was very, very easy. The Linksys comes with a quick start guide that gives you 4 simple steps to get your WiFi network up and running. You connect it to power with the supplied cable, then you connect the router to your modem (in our case, the Netgear Nighthawk). Once the indicator lights on the front of the Linksys show that it is powered and receiving an Internet signal, you connect to the wireless network through your computer (or mobile device) using the default network name (Linksys00505 in our case) and provided password. For me, this part of the set-up process took about 5 minutes. It was that easy. I used a MacBook Pro (mid-2014 model) to connect to the network and it was just as easy as selecting the network name from my WiFi drop-down menu and typing in the password.
The last step of the set-up is to launch the Linksys Smart WiFi instructions by visiting LinksysSmartWiFi.com in an Internet browser. This step includes the Linksys system updating. I would recommend that you give permission to the system to update automatically, but you can always change this later.
SET-UP (SMART WIFI)
Once you have the initial set-up complete, then you can move into the Smart WiFi aspect of the router. It’s actually quite ingenious the way the Linksys has it set-up. First of all, you can connect to the router’s settings via the web address listed above, or through the mobile app (available for iOS or Android). What’s really cool about this particular system is how easy it is to use. As I mentioned, I’ve set-up and maintained several different WiFi networks throughout my adult life and I’ve always needed assistance getting them set-up (either from a human or additional instructions online) because the admin panel is always written in gibberish (a.k.a. programmer’s speak). The interfaces are just not very friendly. Linksys got this system right with the Smart WiFi option. Anyone can get their network set-up quickly and easily when using this option.
When it came to speed testing the WiFi signal, I used two sources – speedtest.net and sourceforge.net. Both options give the user a clear view of the network speed and what you are truly getting. We were recently upgraded to a 250-meg service when our internet provider was acquired by a new company. But, we’ve never really seen that download speed and assumed it was because we were checking it the speed at times when the provider may have been throttling the network signal (higher traffic times). As it turns out, it was the hardware we were using at home. As you will see below, I have listed the results of the speed tests. I only used sourceforge.net to test out the accuracy of speedtest.net and then I used speedtest.net to test each of the networks against each other.
LINKSYS WRT 3200
speedtest.net: 231.18 Mbps (down) | 19.89 Mbps (up)
sourceforge.net: 228 Mbps (down) | 23 Mbps (up) (only used to test the results of speedtest.net)
NETGEAR NIGHTHAWK C7000
speedtest.net: 97.66 Mbps (down) | 15.43 Mbps (up)
EERO WIFI SYSTEM
speedtest.net: 86.23 Mbps (down) | 19.53 Mbps (up)
I ran the test several times – switching back and forth between the networks – and every time, the Linksys router won with the best download speed. We got the same results when we ran the speed test on the iPhone, too. I continue to be very impressed by the speed of the signal provided by the Linksys router.
The Linksys WRT 3200 ACM Router is a solid piece of networking hardware. It’s very easy to set-up and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with its performance. Linksys did include documentation on a CD, which is a little outdated, especially for those who don’t have a disc drive in their computer anymore.
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