Before diving into the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM, it’d be a good idea to know just how far we’ve come after the WRT54G. Ever since the original Linksys WRT54G, demand for open source routers has been high, and there are good reasons why. Today, the WRT54G’s stats don’t stack up too well. In as much as four 10/100 RJ-45 ports could theoretically be sufficient, you wouldn’t want to miss out on streaming in 4K. 802.11g Wi-Fi isn’t something that would excite you too much in 2019. However, we do have one thing to thank it for. It opened a world of possibilities that paved way for modern gifts like the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM.
Retailing at $200-$300 on Amazon, the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM brings a refreshing perspective to not only open source routers, but routers in general. While newer competitors in the router space are going for sleeker and more aesthetic designs, the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM retains the same authoritative look that the WRT 54G once had. You can get a maximum speed of 3.2Gbps on the two dedicated Wi-Fi bands it has – the 2.4Ghz and the 5GHz band. Its open-source readiness remains somewhat unmatched because it is primarily sold as an open-source router. So, what really sets it apart from the wide array of open source routers today?
Features of The WRT 3200 ACM
The WRT 3200 ACM comes with a dual-core processor with a clock speed of 1.8GHz coupled with 512MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory. Gigabit ethernet ports are a necessity these days, and the WRT 3200 ACM has four of them. The fifth is the regular WAN port which is also a Gigabit port. As it’s a MU-MIMO router, connected devices will enjoy the same fast internet speeds. While we’d want to talk about its Tri-Stream 160, it is far easier to just say that you would get maximum speeds of 3200Mbps. It also has a USB 3.0 port and an eSATA/USB 2.0 port from which you can connect your eSATA device or USB hard drive. The transfer speeds you get when using any of the USB ports is usually dependent on the speed of the processor. As such, the WRT 3200 can offer great data transfer rates to and from your hard drive.
Performance of The WRT 3200 ACM
True, there are routers with much higher specifications than the WRT 3200 ACM, but one thing you’ll love about this router is that it bridges the gap for network professionals and average users. The 512MB of RAM is sufficient for handling multiple applications on the router and generally making multi-tasking easier. MU-MIMO would be difficult to pull off if the RAM was lower than this. You’ll hardly feel the impact of the CPU during regular use, but it does a lot to provide you a good overall experience. You can get actual Wi-Fi speeds of between 133MB/s to 160MB/s depending on how far you are from the router. Of course, this could always go lower if you have a lot of objects in between your Wi-Fi device and the router. On the other hand, the coverage on the 2.4GHz band can at times be spotty as some users have noticed. This means that if you intend to use devices that can only support the 2.4GHz band, you’d have to stay closer to the router.
What Open Source Firmware Does the WRT 3200 ACM Support?
The WRT 3200 ACM works well with DD-WRT firmware and OpenWRT firmware as well. However, as there is conflicting information on whether the WRT 3200 ACM works with Tomato firmware or not, it would be safe to get it only if you intend to use it with OpenWRT or DD-WRT. As the router uses a Marvell chip which has not been fully tested with Tomato, you might not get a stable experience if you do get a version of Tomato firmware that can work on the WRT 3200 ACM.
Pro’s and Con’s of The WRT 3200 ACM
- It is primarily open-source ready and you can thus install custom firmware on it
- It has decent specifications for a router of its price
- Its fast processor enhances Wi-Fi speeds and the general performance of the router
- Its 2.4GHz band is not as smooth as the 5GHz band
Who is The WRT 3200 ACM Router For?
Ideally, open source routers are best for the tech savvy. While regular internet users can benefit from the router too, they might never be able to tap the true power of the WRT 3200 ACM with the original firmware. In addition, the WRT 3200 ACM is also more ideal for an office setting. This is because the open spaces ensure that the devices that solely operate on the 2.4GHz bands get to work without any issues. The customizations the router offers make it great for office settings as well. You get to dictate how your VPN should work and choose which devices on your network should get more priority over others. There are also other things that you might want such as:
- Stripping ad tracking at the router level
- Creating a web server that runs on the router
- Accessing the TOR network for completely anonymous browsing
You should buy the WRT 3200 ACM if you are looking for a fast and efficient router for your modern devices such as newer smart TV models and newer smartphones. This is to take full advantage of the 5GHz band in which the router performs exceptionally. The one thing that you might end up liking about the WRT 3200 ACM is that it does not try too hard to be the best open source router and neither does it strive to be mediocre. Instead, it focuses on the things that will actually matter to you regardless of your tech savviness. The fact that it is equally an open source router also means that you get more freedom with this router than most of the others in the market.