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Wireless Reviews

Features

The WRT1200AC's feature set is essentially unchanged from the WRT1900AC's. So click over to that review if you want feature details. Linksys says OpenVPN is coming in a future firmware release, but hasn't nailed down a timeframe.

WRT1200AC Dashboard

WRT1200AC Dashboard

Linksys' Smart Wi-Fi OS is showing its age and, frankly, needs to be replaced. The whole app-based router movement never got off the ground, mainly because it couldn't attract enough developers. The list of Smart Wi-Fi apps is now down to the four shown below, if you don't include the Smart Wi-Fi app itself, which can be used to manage Smart Wi-Fi family routers from Android or iOS devices.

Smart Wi-Fi Apps

Smart Wi-Fi Apps

Linksys is still using the option of loading OpenWRT as a substitute for having a competive factory feature set. A major obstacle, however, has been the lack of open source driver from Marvell for its Avastar Wi-Fi devices. But there appears to have been enough progress in that effort for Linksys to tout that progress has been made in its CES 2015 announcements and more recently in its WRT1200AC announcement.

There is no OpenWRT WRT1200AC page yet, but the WRT1900AC page is worth checking out if you're interested in getting OpenWRT onto your router. Just be careful to not load WRT1900AC images on the WRT1200AC, since doing so will brick it (I know because I tried it). The proper images for the WRT1200AC are from Kaloz.

Updated 4/28/15
Linksys pointed me to this recovery procedure, which I successfully used with a USB to serial adapter to upload the factory image onto the router and unbrick it.

For factory firmware, nothing has changed in the Smart Wi-Fi feature since the WRT1900AC review, so I won't repeat that information here. Because it is easy to miss, I will point out that Wireless Bridge and Wireless Repeating modes that work with any router (no WDS required) are again tucked them away in the Connectivity > Internet Settings screen.

Storage Performance

The WRT1900AC has the highest USB 3.0 storage throughput of all AC1900 class routers tested. But the WRT1200AC has improved performance to just shy of 100 MB/s in three of our four router storage benchmarks. The composite chart filtered for AC1200 class routers shows just how much the WRT1200AC beats the other routers with USB 3.0 ports. If you remove the filters, the WRT1200AC still sits at the top of all four USB 3.0 router storage performance charts!

USB 3.0 Storage throughput

USB 3.0 Storage throughput

There are more AC1200 routers with USB 2.0 ports, but the WRT1200AC also tops the charts in three out of four benchmarks (FAT32 read is the exception).

Table 2 compares USB 3.0 performance for the WRT1200AC and WRT1900AC

  Linksys WRT1200AC Linksys WRT1900AC
Processor Marvell Armada 38X Marvell MV78230
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 78.2 61.1
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 95.0 76.5
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 99.5 66.7
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 93.2 75.1
Table 2: File copy throughput - USB 3.0 (MBytes/sec)

Table 3 compares eSATA port results for the two WRTs. You can again see a significant throughput improvement in the WRT1200AC.

  Linksys WRT1200AC Linksys WRT1900AC
Processor Marvell Armada 38X Marvell MV78230
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 88.7 56.0
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 99.6 78.0
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 107.3 65.3
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 101.4 75.8
Table 3: File copy throughput - eSATA (MBytes/sec)

Routing Performance

Routing throughput was measured using our standard router test process with the router using 1.0.3.166464 firmware. Table 4 summarizes the results and compares to the WRT1900AC.

The WRT1200AC appears to do a bit better running downlink than the WRT1900AC and vice-versa for uplink. The 1200AC also does better when both up and downlink traffic is active at the same time. Maximum simultaneous connections results in both cases reflect the test running into in-use Windows ports, not limits in the routers themselves.

Test Description Linksys WRT1200AC Linksys WRT1900AC
WAN - LAN 751 Mbps 631 Mbps
LAN - WAN 812 Mbps 926 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 1,335 Mbps 975 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 33,933 30,557
Firmware Version 1.0.3.166464 V1.1.7.160177
Table 4: Routing throughput

The IxChariot unidirectional composite plot for the WRT1200AC has the usual large swings in downlink throughput from the 941 Mbps maximum measured in each direction.

Linksys WRT1200AC routing throughput unidirectional summary

Linksys WRT1200AC routing throughput unidirectional summary

The WRT1200AC simultaneous up/downlink benchmark plot shows lots of jockeying for higher throughput in each direction.

Linksys WRT1200AC routing throughput bidirectional summary

Linksys WRT1200AC routing throughput bidirectional summary

Both plots are typical of what we see in most of today's top-end routers.

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