Linksys WRT1200AC Router & RE6700 Extender Review
When it was first adopted, Wireless AC initially represented a new, better way for inter-device communications and it still offers the best bandwidth among mass-market wireless standards. It has been around for a while now though with a few key feature updates like the “Wave 2” offerings of XStream and MU-MIMO which are meant to boost theoretical bandwidth.
While the newer products that boast AC3200 and AC2400 specs garner the lion's share of attention these days, the fact of the matter is most consumers do not need, nor can even take full advantage of such powerful multi-stream devices. There are also concerns over the competing standards of XStream and MU-MIMO since no one knows which one will form the foundation of tomorrow’s routers. With all of that being said, many buyers are choosing to purchase more affordable yet extremely capable routers rather than taking a risk on something cutting edge.
This is what the Linksys WRT1200AC offers consumers: enough performance to satisfy existing networking needs and a reasonable price. Make no mistake about it though; the WRT1200AC is a hugely powerful router for its class since Linksys has basically designed it as a pared back version of their much pricier WRT1900AC. In other words this model offers consumers the same hackability as its bigger brother and the same robust design. All that has been changed is the controllers and number of antennas.
Basically instead of offering a 3x3 spatial streams on its 802.11AC and 802.11N networks like the WRT1900AC, this device uses a slightly more basic 2x2 layout. This means it can 'only' offer speeds of up 866Mbits/sec on the 5GHz band and 450Mbits/sec on its 802.11N network. The latter is made possible due to the WRT1200AC’s support of 256-QAM on its 802.11N network since a 3x3 design isn’t required to gain the wide-ranging abilities of 256-QAM.
For most consumers these specifications are certainly more than enough for their existing network's infrastructure and will constitute a nice upgrade. However what Linksys is counting on to seal the deal is the fact that this router retails for a moderate $180. This may not exactly allow the WRT1200AC to fall into impulse buy category but it is quite a bit easier to justify compared to $220 (WRT1900) or $235 (ASUS 87U) let alone $285 (ASUS AC3400).
To further help clients get the most out of their existing devices (and remove those pesky WiFi dead zones) Linksys has also released the RE6700. This handy little device is a wireless network range extender and signal booster wrapped up into one convenient package. We’ve actually reviewed a similar product: the Netgear EX6200. However unlike that extender, this device is meant to be plugged directly into any free wall outlet, as it is not much bigger than the typical household duplex outlet.
As with the WRT1200AC, this is a 2x2 capable network extender and can extend the range of both your 2.4GHz 802.11N network and 5GHz 802.11AC network. With an asking price of only $95 that does make the RE6700 rather tempting to buyers wishing to breathe life into an older wireless network without actually replacing their router.
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