Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Greg0
A Throwback Router (In The Best Way): The Linksys WRT1200AC
Networking equipment has come a long way. If you’re over the age of 20, you’ve probably noticed- wireless technology has advanced similarly to computing in general. Only a few years ago, your laptop would probably not have been able to stream Netflix in high-resolution from a couple of rooms away; now it’s easy for multiple folks to do so at the same time. Speeds and distances have improved, through the alphabet soup of protocol letters: 802.11a, b, up through g, then n, and now ac. But reliability and configurability has suffered a bit.
One of our favorite routers of all time was the definitive Linksys WRT54, which is actually still available despite being more than a decade old. The company has had many changes since then, releasing a wide range of lines and looks, but have now released an update to the classic- the Linksys WRT1200AC. It clearly shares some DNA, with nice modern tweaks on the original design and color scheme, but most importantly of all it is open-source ready. One of the best parts of the older brother was the ability to run specialized firmware, which is generally far more tweakable and configurable than the standard or default firmware.
So, we did exactly that- upon setup, the first thing we did was install OpenWRT. After all, the hardware can be pretty widely similar these days: dual external antennas, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz dual-band transmission, beamforming technology, four Gigabit ethernet ports. The 1.3GHz dual-core ARM processor processor that Linksys included is definitely snappier than most competitors- and the eSATA port as well as the USB 3.0 port are a bit more unusual. In fact, we were most surprised by the NAS capabilities of the WRT1200AC – connect an external hard drive to it and you’ve got a very speedy storage solution, at a lower cost than most other systems. And even in normal speed tests, you might see sustained transfers up to 500 Mbps in short distances… most impressive!
Onto the software- changing firmware always feels a little risky, but we didn’t run into any hiccups. Guest networks allow easy sign-in for your visitors, and even if you stick with the stock firmware, you’ll find the network mapping, media prioritization, and web controls handy. If you want to limit your kids from accessing certain sites, or prevent them from getting online after midnight, you can. For those looking for a bit more power and range, Linksys offers the WRT1900AC at a bit of a higher price, and gamers should probably take a look. Luckily, it’s come down a lot in price since the initial release, meaning that it’s now a solid value- and the Linksys WRT1200AC has been stable, friendly, and thankfully the best kind of nostalgia. Flashback with us, and grab a Linksys WRT1200AC for around $125 online and in stores.