Is a router really going to make your champion in League of Legends kick more butt? Probably not, but the Linksys WRT32X does give you an edge over gamers whose routers often lag behind due to their network traffic. With its Killer Prioritization Engine (KPE), the WRT32X can help you make sure anyone streaming Netflix in the other room doesn't increase your ping.
For $300 (about £225 in the UK or AU$390), this Linksys AC3200-class dual-band router is in line with other gaming routers and works great with gaming PCs. Folks with only regular devices can save $100 and buy the or the both of which are tri-band. Or get the Linksys WRT3200ACM router because, well, it's the same hardware as the WRT32X, just without the gaming-centric Killer software.
You've seen this Linksys style before
Gamers should be familiar with the way the WRT32X looks, as it mimics previous routers in the WRT series, like theor the , except this one is all black. The four detachable antennas are short and the router itself is small enough at 9.7 by 7.6 by 2.0-inches and 1.76 pounds to snugly fit on any shelf. It has the standard four gigabit LAN ports and one gigabit WAN port, but offers a USB 3.0 port and a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port for network storage or a printer.
The WRT32X has blue LED lights galore on the front, including power, internet, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, eSATA, USB 2, USB 3, LAN 1-4 and WPS. They are generally benign and don't distract you if the router is in plain view. If they do, you can actually shut them off in the router GUI, which is nice. Overall, it's a pretty cool-looking router and should fit nicely into your sea of home electronics.
Router menu falls short in usability
Linksys kept the menu and setup simple. Maybe too simple.
Just plug in your router, enter its IP address in a browser, accept the terms, update the firmware, create your SSIDs (Wi-Fi names) and passwords, create your router password, enter your email and register the router. Game on.
While this router has the same hardware specs as the, the menu on the WRT32X lacks customization options like parental controls. The software is also not part of Linksys' Smart Wi-Fi line, so you can't access it away from your home or from an app. The menu, in general, is a bit of an eyesore with fonts of all shapes and sizes and a few settings that may be overlooked because they are hidden unless you click a link.
You would think that since Linksys only had to create new software for this router, they would have spent more time designing a user-friendly interface. Very disappointing.
A gamer's delight when it comes to features
The feature that sets the Linksys WRT32X apart from other routers is Rivet Network's Killer Prioritization Engine. This allows "Killer Mode," which detects PCs with Killer networking cards and prioritizes gaming network traffic automatically. Your gaming PC will also show you a new tab in your Killer Control Center software, where you can update your router settings, including setting bandwidth limits, launching the router UI and turning the KPE on and off.
It's important to note that if none of your devices have Killer hardware, the WRT32X will work as just a regular router and the extra money you paid will be a waste.
Going beyond gaming, the Linksys WRT32X does still have attractive features for everyday users with its powerful 1.8GHz processor, 512MB RAM and 256MB flash memory. It also has beamforming, which focuses your Wi-Fi signal on individual devices and, which dedicates a single stream to multiple devices on your 5GHz band simultaneously for more reliable speeds.
The WRT32X is one of few routers to support Tri-Stream 160, which allows three spatial streams on 160MHz-wide channels on the 5GHz band. It is dynamic frequency selection (DFS) certified by the FCC, which means it can use more channels to find a better signal, but only if your device is DFS-certified too. Most phones, tablets and smart devices cannot take advantage of this right now.