Ready to speed up your home network and make sure that every device that goes online gets the fastest possible Internet speed? Or overwhelmed by change and secretly afraid of updating to a state-of-the-art gigabit wi-fi router because the configuration is so complicated? Either way, you’re going to love the brand new Linksys WRT 3200 ACM Gigabit ACM Router…
Most companies that make routers and wi-fi base stations seem to think that everyone who installs it is a closet geek, eager to figure out network masks, DNS server IP addresses and lots of other weird, obscure bits of data. And the risks are high: enter any of them incorrectly and you’ll be offline and scratching your head as to what’s wrong. Linksys, however, has been delivering consumer level routers for years that offer easy setup, and this latest device might have a barrel full of acronyms associated with it, but the Linksys WRT 3200 ACM MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router is pretty astonishing, both in how super easy it is to set up, and how all different techs work together to deliver a faster home network with zero effort.
As Linksys explains it: “The WRT3200ACM Router is powered by Tri-Stream 160 technology, which doubles the bandwidth on all spatial streams for the fastest dual-band router on the market.”
There’s a lot of smarts inside the device too, including an impressive 1.8Ghz CPU for super fast performance, along with 512MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory. Heck, that’s not a bad computer configuration.
Here’s a closeup of the front of this unit, a standard Linksys “blade” design in black and blue:
As you can see, there are four antenna to ensure you can fine tune the coverage “bubble” for your own home setup to ensure that you have the best possible coverage. In my house, this signal was super strong even in the furthest reaches of the basement and backyard.
The back shows the solid compliment of ports available:
Notice that in addition to four Ethernet plugs there’s also a USB 3.0 port and another eSATA plug. Why? Because you can easily hook up an external hard drive and use it as a Network Access Storage (NAS) server for network backups. Using a network backup device on your home network is not just super helpful, it’s smart insurance too, and I highly recommend you get one up and running ASAP.
But what about setup? The unit comes with a small card that lists its default name (once plugged in) and default password. Plug it in, power it up, and after a moment or two it’ll show up as a Wi-Fi option. Select it and you’ll be prompted for a password, as always:
Now, as the card instructs, open your browser and go to http://linksysSmartWifi.com/ and you’ve done all the hard work. Really. Here’s what you see:
Not too difficult. If you are a geek, notice the “Manual configuration” option on the lower left. But for the rest of us? Click on “Next” to proceed.
The next screen has something that’s quite important:
You most definitely want to keep that box checked. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly important that you make sure that you have good passwords on your router and other network access points to thwart hackers adding you to what’s called a botnet, and an important piece of this is to also ensure that your router software is always up-to-date.
Next you can change the name of your router (e.g., your network) and set up a password for your network:
I’m just using demo passwords for these screen captures, but you get the idea. Make your network name fun or interesting or memorable, then make sure you have a complex password that’s easy to share with friends but impossible to guess or crack. Always include upper and lower case letters, a digit or two and some punctuation. (my example above is missing a digit).
Once you’ve renamed your network, you’ll have to reconnect to it on your computer, but that’s easy enough. And you do remember the password you just specified, right? 🙂
The next step is perhaps the single most important step in this journey: creating a strong router password.
For reasons I don’t quite understand, Linksys doesn’t support adding punctuation characters in the router password, so you’re limited to digits and upper and lower case letters, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it complicated! It’s not something you’ll be using very often once you have everything set up, so even if you have to write it down, just make it really hard to guess since it is accessible from the Internet.
And…. you’re done!
You can see what I chose for my demo router password: MyR0UTERpw! (oh, and don’t use your password as your password hint, again, this is just a demonstration).
You can stop here if you want, but there’s one more step that really makes the Linksys routers shine: Gaining access to the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi network. Click along…
I highly recommend you set this up, and here’s why:
That’s a lot of control over your device on a super easy to use interface. Definitely recommended. And notice that you can turn on parental controls (lower right) and turn off guest network access (which I recommend).
That’s it. You’re online, you can even access your home network while you’re on the road through the Smart Wi-Fi network, and in this case, at least, the WRT 32000ACM offers a huge performance boost for your home network. In fact, the addition of the Tri-Stream 160 tech means that every one of your spatial streams is running at 160 Mhz, giving you twice the performance of old school Gigabit routers that constrain each to 80 Mhz. Don’t understand that sentence? That’s okay. Just remember Linksys WRT 3200ACM = crazy fast. 🙂
You can learn more about the WRT 3200ACM with its tri-stream and MU-MIMO technologies with a simple click.
Disclosure: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.