So you think you already "maxed out" the connection from your provider? You may be surprised, as I was. It must be made clear at this point though, if you have a starter package from your ISP (5-10mbps) you are already most likely "maxed out" and won't see benefits from upgrading. But you could STILL benefit. More on that in a little while,
Prior to this product, I was pulling, on average 42Mbps down, and 12Mbps up. I just thought "well, that's the limitation of the ISP. Nobody probably gets the advertised speed".
How wrong I was!
The WRT AC3200 arrived safely to my humble abode very well packaged (as can be expected from best buy). Upon opening the external box, waiting inside was the product box for the WRT AC3200. Inside the attention grabbing and well designed outer retail display box - the hardware was well protected. The unit and the 4 antennas (antenni?) both are seated in a recessed foam layer, to protect from any drops/rough handling that may occur in transit. Below the foam is a box that contains the ac adapter, and the CD with documentation. Unless godzilla steps on it - I don't see any way that the product could arrive damaged. So, no worries there.
It is obvious that when designing the WRT AC3200, Linksys decided to pay homage to their router-line of yesterday. At least with the color scheme. However, linksys upgraded the design to bring it to the 21st century. The sharp lines and angles would make the WRT AC3200 feel at home in a stealth fighter - at area 51 !! There are your standard indicator lights on the front, which are less intrusive/annoying than most competing brands. My personal setup has the router in the bedroom. The wife and I are VERY light sleepers, and the indicator lights do not bother us. Therefore, they most likely won't bother you. But if they do, guess what? You can completely disable them if you want to! No more do you have to utilise the "duct-tape method!!!"
The setup is very simple and straight-forward. I could totally see your "average joe" setting it up with no problems. But, in case you do run into a roadblock, the WRT AC3200 comes with very easy to follow documentation. And even then, there is a telephone support line offered just in case one is totally lost. The support provided is what one can always expect from Linksys.
My personal setup:
Prior to the WRT AC3200 coming into my life, I had a router/modem combo from an ISP that (without mentioning any names) rhymes with palm-last. At one time the 802.11 N speeds where totally acceptable. But like any other techie, I wanted MORE POWER!
To connect the WRT AC3200, I simply used the included (nicely sized) ethernet cable to go from the ISP provided router/modem gateway to the WRT AC3200. After a few seconds, the indicator light showing an internet connection became steady - indicating that the WRT AC3200 is now "ready to go" - to begin configuration. Easy-Peezy.
Before going any further in the (very easy) setup process, you will need to acquire the pre-configured wifi network name and password (which you will be able to later customize). This information is located in two places. Under the device on a sticker, as well as on a sticker in the included "easy setup guide" card. Once you have this info, you are ready to begin the setup process.
You are going to want to connect to one of the two (2.4ghz or 5ghz) pre-configured networks. Or you can connect your laptop to the device via ethernet using one of the included LAN ports. Once this is done, you simply open a web browser; and you will be redirected to the very user-friendly linksys setup wizard. You will be given the opportunity to change the names and passwords of both of the networks, set a security/encryption type, and set a password for the router itself (highly recommended to keep your nosey neighbor out of your router settings). Once done with the easy setup wizard, and you have no need for an advanced setup ----- you are done!
For those than want to tinker a bit more, all of your usual features are included (mac filtering, DMZ, port forwarding/triggering, dyndns etc).
And for those (like myself) who are known around the office as "The guy to go to when you break your computer", something very special about the WRT AC3200 is that it supports open-source firmware (OpenwWRT and DD-WRT) right out of the box! Normally, one would have to wait months for a new device to support these open firmwares. Not with the linksys WRT AC3200!
On the local wifi network - my devices now communicate with each-other at the maximum bandwidth that my devices support (867Mbps). Some newer devices support even faster local/LAN speeds. And the linksys WRT AC3200 will support those too! This blazing fast local speed comes in handy if you like to transfer very large files between local devices. This is especially great if you utilize the included USB 3.0 port or esata port with a SSD. Pretty much turning the AC 3200 into a NAS in its own right.
To give an example, it literally took two seconds to transfer a 4gb media file from my laptop to my media server! One of the reasons that the WRT AC3200 is able to do this, is because it implements something called "tri-stream 160". Basically, doubling the bandwidth on the 5ghz range. To better describe this feature, think of your old router as having 5ghz data channels with the width of a drinking straw. Such a small "width" greatly inhibits data bandwidth and speed. With the WRT AC3200, and with "Tri-Stream 160" those data channels are now the width of a fire-hose: TIMES 3! Very impressive, I know. You are only restricted by what your devices support (some may not have wireless AC capabilities, etc).
But how about internet speeds? As mentioned above, I was averaging 42mbps down with my standard run of the mill ISP setup in which I pay for 100Mbps down/20Mbps Up with the "company that rhymes with palm-last".
Now? That is increased to a steady and stable 130Mbps down and 25Mbps up!
You must be thinking "I bet he has to sit in the same room as the router to get those blazing speeds?!?!? Nope. Actually, I am currently on my patio, on the other side of the house! With my old equipment, the 5ghz network wouldn't even extend onto the patio. Now I have a full and strong signal anywhere in my house, and parts of my yard (Don't ask ha ha)!!!
My old router would get a bit "wonky" and unstable after being on a week or so. Apparently, it would overheat and spazz-out, randomly dropping connections. This would mean that I would either have to reboot it, or in extreme cases, unplug it and let it cool down for awhile. There are NO such problems with the WRT AC3200! In fact, I have stress-tested it with everything I can throw at it, and it keeps on trucking! The included 1.8ghz dual-core processor handles any task effortlessly. To me, that is the most impressive thing about the device. At any one-time, with my usage, there are 12-15 devices connected simultaneously.
Which brings us to the next point.
How many of us have been in a situation where we are, for example, trying to download a large file for work - but "little johnny" is also downloading a large media file? Our once rather snappy connection is now crippled because little johnny is using all of the bandwidth. Traditional routers generally assign one datastream for all devices to compete for. In bandwidth intensive environments, or even with the scenario above, that can be VERY bad. Linksys has thought of that exact scenerio when developing the WRT AC3200. The device sports a technology called "MU-MIMO" (Multi-User MIMO) which basically gives each connected device its very own dedicated data-stream. Why is that important? Now little johnny, little suzy, and even your dog spot (if he's so technologically inclined) can all be downloading large media files - and you can happily download your work file with no degredation in speed or performance!! Like I said above, I have tried everything I could think of to try and "outsmart" the MU-MIMO feature - to have it degrade the performance even 1% - and I was unable to do so! If you have devices that you want to permenantly give top priority to like a voip system, media server, or other device - you can do so in the control panel. But, I personally don't see a reason to do so, since the device automagically does this right out of the gate for you.
The WRT AC3200 has many connectivity options. Included are 4 (four) gigabit ethernet LAN ports. Those ports will allow you to "hardwire" selected devices directly to the WRT AC3200, giving you an up to 10x faster ethernet connection than with your previous router. However, with the WRT AC3200 basically giving you the same connection speed via WIFI as you would get via ethernet, I really only see the LAN ports getting limited use. Some scenarios where I could see using a hardwired LAN port would be if you are running a web-server, or if your device (desktop PC for instance) didn't have a wireless card. Other than that, I really see no benefit of forgoing the wireless connection.
Also included are 2 USB ports. One USB 2.0 port, and one USB 3.0 which also doubles as an esata. I simply have a thumb-drive connected to the 3.0 port to act as a cloud backup for my device(s). You can setup an FTP server or web-dav directly from within the linksys control panel if you so desire.
All in all, the WRT AC3200 is your best bet in its price range. The WRT AC3200 is hands down the ABSOLUTE BEST wireless router I have literally EVER owned.