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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Routing throughput running the latest 1.0.00 build 13 firmware and our router test process measured 586 Mbps WAN to LAN, 582 Mbps LAN to WAN and 668 Mbps total with up and down tests running simultaneously. This is 50 - 100 Mbps lower than the E4200, but plenty for most Internet connections. The IxChariot composite plot below shows upload speed lower than download in the simultaneous routing test.

Maximum simultaneous connections were more different. The E3200 topped out at 12,277 connections, while the E4200 maxed out at our 34,925 test limit.

E3200 wired routing performance summary

E3200 wired routing performance summary

Wireless Performance

The E3200 is Wi-Fi Certified and properly defaulted to 20 MHz bandwidth mode on the 2.4 GHz radio on power-up. The 5 GHz radio defaulted to Auto 20/40 mode. I successfully ran a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) session with my Win 7 client by entering the WPS code found on the E3200's bottom label. The WPS session completed quickly and resulted in a WPA2/AES secured connection with the same WPA2 pre-shared key on both bands. All tests were run with this secured connection using our wireless test process.

NOTE: The E3200 defaults to both radios having the same SSID (cisco_e3200). So if you have a dual-band client and want to control the band you're on, you'll need to change one (or both) of the SSIDs.

I ran 2.4 and 5 GHz Wireless Performance tables for the E3200 and other recent concurrent dual-band routers, i.e. the E4200, ASUS RT-N56U and NETGEAR WNDR4000. In the 2.4 GHz band, the E4200 appears to be the winner with higher overall throughput with strong, medium and low signal levels.

Of particular note is the drastic throughput reduction for the E3200 when using Auto 20/40 mode and lower signal levels. I've consistently said that running in 40 MHz mode can actually decrease performance under lower signal conditions. And the E3200 proves that point in spades! Running downlink yields average throughput around 5 Mbps in test locations D, E and F, while uplink is about half that.

For the E3200, highest 2.4 GHz throughput of 77 Mbps was measured using our wireless test process in Location A running uplink with the client set to Auto 20/40 mode. Running a simultaneous up and downlink test yielded 95 Mbps in the same location and condition. So running multiple clients will definitely get you higher total throughput.

Linksys E3200 Wireless Performance summary - 2.4 GHz

Linksys E3200 Wireless Performance summary - 2.4 GHz

The E3200 uses separate Microsemi power amplifiers for both bands. But they didn't seem to help 5 GHz band performance either. Except for a few strong signal points, I think you'd have a hard time seeing a speed or range difference among any of the compared products. At least the 5 GHz band didn't exhibit the severe throughput reduction using 40 MHz mode that the 2.4 GHz band showed.

Highest E3200 5 GHz throughput of 61 Mbps was measured using our wireless test process in Location A running uplink with the client set to 40 MHz mode. The simultaneous up and downlink test yielded 83 Mbps in the same location and condition.

Linksys E3200 Wireless Performance summary - 5 GHz

Linksys E3200 Wireless Performance summary - 5 GHz

Throughput stability wasn't as good as I've seen in other Broadcom-based products, (downlink, 20 Mbps bandwidth mode). But at least I didn't see any multi-second zero-level dropouts.

E3200 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

E3200 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

Here are links to the other wireless performance plots for your reference:

Closing Thoughts

I don't know why, but Cisco is practially begging you to buy the E4200 instead of the E3200 by currently selling refurbished E4200's from its online store for $120 with free ground shipping and 30 day no-hassle, full-price return policy. Or if you're ok with the E3200's feature set, you can get a refurb'd E3200 for only $80.

You can further explore and compare the E3200's performance using the Router Chart and Router Finder.

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