The Bottom Line
Introduction and the Router
A little over a year ago, we took our first look at the much-anticipated WRT1900AC wireless router from Linksys. While the first iteration of the WRT platform was built for top tier performance, the latest solution is being geared towards the average home user.
The Linksys WRT1200AC is the latest wireless solution to come from the storied Linksys brand. Featuring the same design characteristics as the previous WRT solution, the 1200AC solution is built on a similar platform featuring the same 1.3GHz dual-core SoC, along with USB 3.0 and eSATA support.
In essence, the WRT1200AC is the little brother of the WRT1900, as many of the features remain including four gigabit Ethernet ports and of course I/O connectivity including both USB 3.0 and eSATA. Differentiating itself from the previous model, the Linksys WRT1200AC is built with N400 technology for the 2.4GHz band and AC867 for the 5GHz band. Two high performance antennas support the wireless network, while beamforming increases performance.
Linksys WRT1200AC Wi-Fi Router
Packaging for the Linksys WRT1200AC is quite similar to what we found with the 1900AC model. The front of the packaging houses an image of the router, with marketing information below.
The back of the packaging carries a comparison between the WRT1200, 1900 and EA6350. As you can see, the WRT1200 is the second in line for performance routers from Linksys.
Opening the box, we found the same care taken with the presentation. The WRT1200 is elegantly boxed with the router on top and accessories below.
Scope of delivery includes the router, Ethernet cable, wireless antennas, and reading materials.
The front of the WRT1200 is very similar to the 1900 solution we reviewed last year. The front carries LEDs for each Ethernet port and wireless band, along with storage connectivity.
The back of the router starts off the the WPS button at the far left, followed by the gigabit LAN and WAN. Moving down further, we find the USB 3.0 and eSATA ports, along with reset and power buttons.
The bottom of the router is vented via the many holes placed throughout. Above, the sticker carries the wireless password and SSID.
The WRT1200AC uses the same Smart Wi-Fi management solution as the 1900AC solution. As such, you can create and account to manage your router on the go, or optionally stay offline and manage router the traditional way.
The landing menu gives you a glimpse of everything going on with the router. At the top, we have Internet connectivity, while moving down, we have wireless SSIDs for 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Network map is one of the best features of current router platforms, as you can see the Linksys software allows you to see all devices or sort them by band or wired interface.
Media Prioritization allows you to configure devices for application priority.
External storage is another feature that is now built into most routers. Linksys allows you to enable quite a few services including DLNA server, FTP and SMB folder shares.
The connectivity menu allows you to configure Internet, local and VLAN settings. You can also upgrade firmware through this menu.
Moving on, we take a look at the wireless menu where you can setup your SSIDs and passwords. You can also configure channels and width for each band.
Here we have the security menu for the WRT1200, where you can configure VPN and Firewall settings along with internet filters.
Test System Setup and Transfer Performance
Wireless throughput is tested using the ASUS PCE-AC68 PCI Express Network Adapter. Range is tested with a Late 2013 MacBook Pro.
We perform all tests in a real-world environment. You may get better range and throughput results in a spacious facility with few internal walls or outdoors. Our tests provide a benchmark for estimating the range and throughput of wireless networking devices in an indoor setting, with some obstacles.
Transfer performance for the WRT1200AC was rather good, with LAN it was able to reach 102 MB/s, while 2.4GHz band produced 21.6 MB/s and 47.8 MB/s on the 5GHz band.
Benchmarks - Wired and Wireless Throughput
LAN-to-LAN throughput for the WRT1200AC was able to reach 947 Mbps, on par with most solution we have tested in the past.
WAN to LAN throughput reached 945 Mbps, which lands the WRT1200 in the upper tier of routers.
Benchmarks - Wireless Throughput
Moving over to wireless throughput, we start with the 2.4GHz band. Results for the 20MHz and 40MHz band came in with the exact performance, 96 Mbps.
5GHz performance was much better with the WRT1200. The 20MHz band came in at 92 Mbps, while the 40MHz band nearly doubled throughput up to 165 Mbps and lastly, the 80MHz band topped out at 388 Mbps.
Benchmarks - External Storage & Final Thoughts
External Storage Performance
In our external storage performance test, we map the USB 3.0 storage port on each router as a network drive, then run ATTO Disk benchmark and record the best results over three runs.
Results for the Linksys WRT1200AC were quite impressive within read operations. As you can see, read performance reached 107 MB/s. Write performance, however, was the lowest of the three tested at 21 MB/s.
While the WRT1200AC isn't the highest performing routing solution on the market, it does perform quite well when compared to other AC1200 solutions. While we haven't seen many AC1200 routers come through the lab here at TweakTown, with the Amped Wireless RTA15 being the only comparable router, the Linksys did outperform it on every level.
Build quality of the Linksys WRT1200AC is quite good as was the previous solution we tested. The plastics are high quality and fit together quite well, and the LED panel on the front has a decent amount of brightness for you to see what's going on without becoming a night-light.
In our testing, the Linksys WRT1200 performance was quite good when compared to similar solutions. In LAN to LAN testing, we found the router capable of 947 Mbps, while WAN performance touched 945 Mbps. Wireless throughput was quite good with 5GHz, where we found the router scaling from 92 Mbps with 20MHz band all the way up to 388 Mbps with the 80MHz band.
2.4GHz performance was decent for what it was, but as you could see in our charts, there was no way to force a 40MHz band as the coexistence mechanism is locked so its likely you will never get to see the 40MHz in operation unless you live in a remote location.
Like the WRT1900AC, the latest AC1200 solution is built for the open source market. OpenWRT is the focus with this entire lineup of routers, but as anyone who has owned the WRT1900 knows, it's been nearly a year without a stable build that reliable. With the release of the WRT1200, we can only hope things start to pick up in the third-party firmware arena. I'm not saying that the stock firmware is terrible, but as these routers are marketed for open source, it would be great to have the chance to utilize the feature.
|Quality including Design and Build||89%|
|Bundle and Packaging||86%|
|Value for Money||87%|
The Bottom Line: Linksys' WRT1200 is a great solution for the casual internet user, performance is top notch for AC1200 solutions, and the additional storage features are great for moving files within your network.
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