Linksys WRT1200AC Router & RE6700 Extender Review
The WRT1200AC is tailor made for anyone who isn’t interested in the vague future promises that seem to plague so many of today’s higher priced routers. With it, the XStream versus MU-MIMO debate is effectively cast aside in favor of a dependable, user-friendly solution that still features a good amount of performance.
While the term “future proofing” doesn’t necessarily enter into this router’s equation for enthusiasts, it still offers loads of value for the vast majority of today’s market. There are still millions out there who have yet to upgrade their wireless setups to the AC standard and for those folks, the WRT1200AC can satisfy all their needs right now. Obviously even its bigger brother -the WRT1900AC- can run circles around it in the performance department but only under a very narrowly set of defined circumstances.
Let’s face facts, 802.11AC is just now starting to get real market penetration and very few devices are capable of AC1300 performance as that requires three antennas and a trio of spatial streams. Instead 2×2 wireless devices are more common. If your network looks like that, “AC1900” and above routers simply offer no real world performance gains over what the WRT1200AC offers.
There are also the uncertainties surrounding XStream and MU-MIMO technologies and which will win their current battle. As such, there is a significant benefit in not trying to future proof a network and instead providing more than adequate performance right now. After all, with a price of only $180, which is admittedly high for a AC1200 router, consumers can take the savings this model offers over many higher priced alternatives and put it in the bank without sacrificing any real world performance. Then in a year or two when one technology or the other wins the battle for the high end, pick up a model that can take advantage of it and pat yourself on the back for playing it safe.
That is not to say this is a ‘slow’ or ‘cheap’ router, instead it is excellent router that is very simply inside the area of most consumers’ budgets. We applaud Linksys for recognizing and satisfying the needs of the average consumer with such a well-rounded device.
Obviously the RE6700 range extender is another fine example of Linksys’ philosophy of satisfying a mainstream user’s needs without taking their wallet to the cleaner’s. Actually getting these plug-and-play networking devices functioning in a user-friendly way has eluded many companies since there’s a broad set of requirements that need to be followed for success. First of all the extender has to work and it also has to be small enough to easily fit wherever it is truly needed. Lastly the device has to do both without costing as much as a new router would. The RE6700 neatly ticks all these boxes and while it will not be right for everyone, those interested in such devices will like what it has to offer.
On the performance side of the equation the RE6700 does a decent job at extending a typical network’s reach. Of course you will only want to use it at extreme ranges but that is where a repeater is supposed to be used. With a footprint no bigger than a timer, and built with a 3 prong pass-through plug, this little device is not only good at extending the range of a network but it is darn easy to work with as well.
Obviously if you want more performance than what the RE6700 can offer you should be looking towards the larger and more expensive Netgear EX6200, but we struggle to think of anyone outside a very narrow target audience needing that much extendable bandwidth for the time being.