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Arris SurfBoard SBR-AC3200P Wi-Fi Router review: A decent router that ​gets better for an extra $100

Arris' RipCurrent Wi-Fi routers can do power line, too. Here's the CNET's full review on the company's top router, the SBR-AC3200P.

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
6 min read

The $300 SurfBoard AC3200 Wi-Fi Router G.hn (model SBR-AC3200P, whew!) is a part of a completely new RipCurrent product line from Arris, a company that prior to this made mostly cable modems. The RipCurrent product line includes the SBR-AC3200P, two cheaper models (the SBR-AC1900P and the SBR-AC1200P, which cost $200 and $120, respectively), a $60 gigabit power line extender (model SBX-1000P) and a $100 Wi-Fi hotspot extender (model SBX-AC1200P.) This review was conducted with the SBR-AC3200P and the two extenders.


Arris SurfBoard SBR-AC3200P Wi-Fi Router

The Good

The Arris SurfBoard SBR-AC3200P works as both a Wi-Fi router and as a fast power line adapter. The router is compact and includes a mobile app for easy setup.

The Bad

The router is expensive and has short Wi-Fi range, natively. The power line Wi-Fi extender, which helps to increase the range, costs an extra $100.

The Bottom Line

The SBR-AC3200P, when coupled with the SBX-AC1200 power line Wi-Fi extender, is a sure way to cover your residential home with Wi-Fi, if you can stomach their combined high cost.

RipCurrent is a fancy name for the G.hn power line standard that allows you to extend the range of your wired home network without running any extra network cables. Basically when you plug a RipCurrent router into a power outlet, it will turn that outlet into the first end of a power line connection (as long as the router stays plugged in). Then plug a RipCurrent power line extender, or a RipCurrent Wi-Fi hotspot extender, into another wall socket (even if it's at the far end of your house, a good distance away from your router) and the network will be instantly extended to that corner of the house. Depending on the type of adapter you use (with or without Wi-Fi capability), this will allow you to connect a single wired client or multiple Wi-Fi clients to the network from that distant adapter.

Subsequently, as you plug in more RipCurrent adapters/Wi-Fi extenders (up to a total of 15, according to Arris) around the house you can further extend your wired network, without having to run any network cables through or under your house at all.

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In my personal experience, the G.hn is one of the best power line specifications. Using the Arris RipCurrent router and two adapters, I was able to extend my wired network from my home to my garage. The two buildings were connected using the original electrical wires installed some 45 years ago. (Due to the age of the electrical lines, some other power line adapters don't work for me.)

That said, getting this router and the RipCurrent SBX-AC1200P Wi-Fi extender is a sure and quick way cover your entire residential home with reliable Wi-Fi, fast enough to deliver even a top-tier broadband connection. The only question is if you'll be willing to pay at least $400 ($300 for the router and a $100 each the extenders) for this privilege.


The SBR-AC3200P router (back), the SBX-1000P extender (left) and the SBX-1200P Wi-Fi Extender, from Arris.

Josh Miller/CNET

SBR-AC3200P: A compact tri-band Wi-Fi router

The SBR-AC3200P doesn't look like a traditional Wi-Fi router. It's shaped like a sideways number 8 and looks like something you'd decorate your house with.The router is compact yet still includes (as most routers do) four Gigabit LAN ports (for wired clients) and one Gigabit WAN (Internet) port to connect to a broadband modem.

As an AC3200 router, the device includes three Wi-Fi bands, one 2.4GHz band with a top on-paper speed of 600Mbps and two 5GHz bands each of which tops out at 1,300Mbps. (Read more about Wi-Fi standards here.) The extra 5GHz band means that the router can handle more 5GHz Wi-Fi clients at the same time without dragging the overall router speed down.

Setup was similar to that of a typical router with a Web interface. Alternatively, you can use the free Arris SurfBoard app (available for iOS and Android) to complete the setup process. The app scans a QR code located on the underside of the router and after following a few simple steps, it's ready to use.

The router has a responsive Web interface and in my testing most of the changes can (thankfully) be applied without a restart, which is a bonus for those who are constantly making changes to their settings. Unfortunately, most of the router's features are rather primitive. For example, the Parental Control requires you to manually enter the MAC address of the client that you want to restrict; not an easy task for advanced users. What's more it USB ports didn't offer very fast performance, either, when hosting a portable drive. In my testing, when hosting a drive with its USB 3.0 port, via a Gigabit connection, the router registered the sustained copy of speed of just 28MB/s for writing and just 32MB/s for reading. Many routers can do much better than that.

The SBR-AC3200P delivered a stable signal that didn't drop out as long as I stayed within its range and throughput performance (which measures the router's ability to transfer files over the network), while not the fastest we've ever seen, was still pretty good. The router topped out at 653Mbps on the 5GHz band at close range (10 feet). From 75 feet away, with one wall in between the router and the test computer, it posted just 248Mbps. On the 2.4GHz band, the router averaged 122Mbps and 70Mbps at close and long range, respectively, which is about the average among 802.11AC routers.

The router's range was short compared with other AC3200 I've tested topping at about 80 feet for the 5GHz band and about 100 feet for the 2.4GHz band.

This is where it's built-in power line support comes into play. You can easily extend the range of router's network via the SBX-1000P adapter (for a wired client) or the SBX-AC1200P adapter (for both a wired and wireless clients).

CNET Labs 802.11ac Wi-Fi performance on 5GHz band

Linksys WRT1900AC 520.67 340.7Asus RT-AC68U 521.4 336Linksys E8350 511.1 304.6Asus RT-AC3200 513.7 289Asus RT-AC87U 504.4 278.6Linksys EA8500 437.8 272.4Arris SBR-AC3200P 652.5 247.7Linksys EA9200 577.8 242.7Netgear R7500 381.7 242.4Netgear R8000 482.2 241.6
  • Close range
  • Long range
Note: Measured in megabit per second. Longer bars mean better performance.

SBX-1000P: A bulky power line adapter that works

As mentioned above, the SBX-1000P adapter is a quick way to extend the wired network hosted by the SBR-AC3200P. Just plug into a wall socket then connect a client, such as a desktop computer, to it using a short network cable and the device will be connected to the network and ready to go.

This connection was quite fast, with a sustained speed of 280Mbps, which is more than three times the speed of a regular Fast Ethernet connection.

However, the bulky design and lack of a pass-through feature means the adapter will likely block any adjacent wall sockets and in the case that there's a single wall socket being used by another device, you won't be able to use the adapter in that socket.

Keep in mind that, as with all power line adapters, the 1000P (as well as the router) need to be plugged directly into the wall socket for the power line connection to work. They won't work when plugged into a power strip or surge protector.

CNET Labs 802.11n Wi-Fi performance on 2.4GHz band

Asus RT-AC68U 225 211.4Netgear R7500 188.8 119.3Arris SBR-AC3200P 122.3 70.2Linksys E8350 139.4 68.3Asus RT-AC3200 235.7 66.4Netgear R8000 134.4 57.6Linksys EA8500 138.7 57.1Asus RT-AC87U 170.7 56Linksys WRT1900AC 168.3 50.34Linksys EA9200 226.2 40.9
  • Close range
  • Long range
Note: Measure in megabit per second. Longer bars mean better performance.

SBX-AC1200P: Extending your Wi-Fi instantly

The SBX-AC1200P is similar to the SBX-1000P mentioned above but also has a dual-band AC1200 wireless access point. This means it can host both a single wired and multiple wireless client.

The SBX-AC1200P works out of the box, and automatically replicates the Wi-Fi networks of the SBR-AC3200P. More specially, its 2.4GHz and 5GHz band networks take the name and password of the SBR-AC3200P's 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. From your perspective, the SBX-AC1200P seamlessly extends the SBR-AC3200P's Wi-Fi network as soon as it's plugged into a wall socket. That said, if you want to extend your network to a remote corner of your house that doesn't get a good Wi-Fi signal, you'll have to plug the SBX-AC1200P into a wall socket at that corner.

In all, the SBX-AC1200P worked well in my testing. It has a Wi-Fi range of about 60 feet on the 5GHz band and about 75 feet on the 2.4GHz band. The unit is really bulky, however, even more bulky than the SBX-1000P, so it can be tricky to find a wall socket for it.

CNET Labs power line perforamnce

D-Link DHP-701AV 396.64Netgear PL1200-100PAS 386.32Comtrend G.hn Powerline Adapter 330.72Arris SBR-AC3200P (with an SBX-1000P adapter) 306.72ZyXel PLA5206K 304Trendnet TPL-408E 266.48Linksys PLEK500 249.6ZyXEL PLA4205 213.2Netgear XAV5501 160.8
Note: Measured in megabits per second. Longer bars mean better performance.


If you live in a small or medium home, there's no good reason to consider the SBR-AC3200P, simply because routers like the Asus RT-AC3200 or the Netgear R8000 are cheaper, have faster performance and more useful features.

In large homes, however, when paired with its network extenders, the SBR-AC3200P is able to reach spaces that typical routers can't and by buying more extender units you can further extend its coverage if need be. As long as the wall sockets you plug the extenders into belong to the same local electrical wiring grid, you shouldn't have any problems getting it all to work.

Alternatively, for a cheaper setup, with similar Wi-Fi coverage (albeit with slower Wi-Fi speed) you can skip the SBR-AC3200P and opt for another Arris RipCurrent router, such as the SBR-AC1900P or the SBR-AC1200P, which costs $200 and $120, respectively. They won't be as fast, but at least you'll save a few bucks while still extending your network.


Arris SurfBoard SBR-AC3200P Wi-Fi Router

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 8Performance 7