Linksys WRT1200AC Router & RE6700 Extender Review
Closer Look at the WRT1200AC
As you can see the WRT1200AC’s design is a spitting image of its bigger brother, the WRT1900AC. The black / blue color scheme has been carried on for a few product generations now and likely won’t go away anytime soon. Obviously this has been done on purpose to reinforce the idea that the WRT series retains its underlying modder-friendly philosophy.
The WRT1200AC is not your typically designed ‘entry level’ router and instead has been over-engineered to be one of the more robust consumer grade AC1200 wireless devices available today. In order to do this Linksys has basically kept the exact same form-factor that made the WRT1900AC popular with enthusiasts and simply downgraded the internal components.
Since it does use a chassis that is nearly identical to the more expensive WRT1900AC this means that the ‘1200 is a rather short but squat looking model that may have a larger footprint compared to many AC1200 class routers, but this extra space has been put to good use. First and foremost, thanks to relatively large feet this WRT-series router has a significant gap underneath to promote excellent airflow. This in conjunction with an amazing amount of ventilation slits allows the internals to remain cool.
These ventilation slits are needed as this is a passively cooled model, and does not include the fan that helped make the WRT1900AC such a standout model. Considering the fact that the internals of this model are lower powered, the passive cooling should be more than adequate. Meanwhile, the lack of a 40mm fan eliminates a point of noise and potential component failure, making it more adaptable for a typical home environment.
In keeping with most wireless routers, the I/O panel is located at the WRT1200AC’s rear and is nearly identical to the WRT1900AC’s. From left to right the layout is as follows: the WPS setup button, the four wired 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports(blue), a single color coded (yellow) WAN port, the lone USB 3.0 port, the eSATA port, a small reset button, the power input port, and on the extreme right a power switch.
Also located on the rear of the WRT1200AC are the two antennas. These are much smaller than the ones which accompany the 1900AC version and are understandably less capable. Simply put, upgraded antennas would have just added to the cost and wouldn’t have necessarily provided any range or bandwidth improvements.
Because Linksys has dropped all pretenses of including anything that is not absolutely needed, both sides of the WRT1200AC are devoid of antennas or anything else for that matter. As a result, this model has a very clean and uncluttered look , something that the WRT1900AC certainly could never claim.
The front of the device boasts the same LED information cluster that its more expensive sibling has. With just a quick glance you can instantly troubleshot issues and know the status of your wired and wireless networks. This is something that not all routers can boast, as the recently reviewed ASUS routers can attest to.
Internally the WRT1200AC shares a lot in common with the WRT1900AC, but it has obviously been cut-down in the capabilities department. This is to be expected as this is a more value-orientated model.
The heatsinks for the internals are large and robust and while they will not be actively cooled they should certainly get the job done.
As to the specifics of the components, the WRT1200AC makes use of a 128GB NAND IC for onboard storage, and a single 256MB RAM module. For the rest this device is basically a Marvell based unit with nary a Broadcom or Quantenna controller to be seen. Instead the main controller is the Marvell ‘Armada’ 38X SoC processor. This SoC is a dual-core processor that runs at a very impressive 1.33 GHz, which is actually faster than what Broadcom’s solutions and the WRT1900’s processor clocks in at.
For both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz networks the WRT1200AC takes a page from the WRT1900 and uses Marvell’s 88W8864 controller backstopped by two (per network) Skyworks Power Amps.