Hands-on review: Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router
When Linksys asked me to check out their new WRT32X router it would join a long line of routers that I've recently tested. I knew would do its job. But, when it comes to a device whose sole job is to get your stuff up and down from the Internet, fast, and then quickly distribute it to all your devices, there's only so much you can usually write about.
Lucky for me, this router has a few tricks up its sleeves.
The reality, performance-wise, when it comes to your Internet speed is that you are constrained, for the most part, by your local Internet service. What you want from your router is a fast Wi-Fi speed and a highly configurable, but easy to use dashboard.
The Linksys WRT32X meets those specifications and then some.
Boasting automatic dual-band N600 + AC2600, 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, Wi-Fi and a pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet switch, the Linksys WRT32X is designed to get your data to and from your devices as quick as possible. If you own any Killer-enabled devices the router can supposably improve your pings even more. I get around 10ms to my local Battlefield server, and don't have any Killer devices, so I can't say for sure what improvement, if any, you will actually get.
The router's Wi-Fi speeds were impressive, giving me results almost matching my wired connection. The Wi-Fi signal was so good that my phone remained connected to the home network even when I was in my car some forty metres up the road!
The prioritisation settings enable non-killer devices to be assigned a hierarchy giving your most important devices priority. This is done via simply dragging and dropping tiles into rows of high, normal and low priority devices. Killer enabled devices can be automatically prioritised.
Where Linksys really scored points with me was with their router configuration settings. Don't get me wrong, most router manufacturers dashboards work OK, especially if you are used to each company's settings and layout. I've never tested a Linksys device before, so I had no prior knowledge of their dashboard layout. The setup wizard enabled me to slip the device into my home network in moments. Once the initial setup was complete I still found the menus system incredibility easily to navigate.
Routine enthusiasts' settings like port forwarding and setting up a DMZ are easy to find and not hidden within nested menus. You can also switch between your ISP's default DNS and that of Google and Open DNS with the press of a button. Too easy.
The built-in speed test is a nice touch, enabling you to get speed data directly from your Internet entry-point rather than via a device or a biased website.
Keeping your router updated is all done for you via optional nightly auto-updates, keeping admin to a minimum. Whilst I enjoyed messing around with the WRT32X's rather sexy dashboard, once you are done, you are not likely to need to mess with it again.
As a bonus, the WRT32X provides users with network storage options via a USB 3.0 port and a combined USB 2.0/eSATA port. This is great for file sharing, FTP and for use as a media server.
Looks-wise, it is what it is. Linksys have employed a certain amount of function over form, which is a bit of a shame, especially as some of their competitors are marketing some really stylist-looking enthusiasts routers at the moment. It does, however, have a complete bank of indicator lights so that you can check your network/Internet status at a glance.
The WRT32X is a great piece of kit. It's fast both wired and via Wi-Fi. The router is easily configured via the simple-to-use we-based dashboard. It's also pretty much plug and play in that you only need to mess about with it if you want to mess about with it. It'll work straight out of the box by following the quick-start set-up instructions. On the other hand, enthusiast wanting to get the most out of the router will find all the options that they need, as well.