When it comes to gaming, your network speed is just as important as skill. Even if you have the world’s best hand-eye coordination, it won’t do you a lick of good if your network can’t keep up with your controls. Even the leaps and bounds that networking speeds have made in the past ten years hasn’t been able to keep up with the advances in graphical and gaming technology. The Internet gets faster and the games get more memory-hungry.
Gaming rage is real thing. If you’ve ever played a networked multi-player game, there’s a very high chance that you’ve experienced it. Symptoms include bulging neck veins, holes in walls, demon-like howls, scared families, broken homes, bloodshot eyes and shattered screens. While we don’t have any stats to back it up, we’d be willing to bet that game lag is one of the main reasons that PC and TV displays wind up shattered. There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as showing up to the hospital with shards of TV glass in your knuckles. “How did this happen, sir?” “Uh… Overwatch?”
Some people fail to realize that slow network speeds aren’t necessarily your internet provider’s fault. Sometimes it’s your fault. Scratch that. Most of the time it’s your fault. You might be asking yourself, “How can I be at fault for something I have no control over?” Let’s put it this way: did you really think an off-brand low-cost budget router would allow you to keep up with the hardcore gamers? Use some common sense, man (or woman)!
With the Linksys WRT32XB Wi-Fi gaming router, the networking hardware giant has engineered a router engineered and optimized for gaming, specifically for Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console. Linksys offers the WRT32XB as an Xbox-focused upgrade for last year’s WRT32X, which featured similar features and specs, but is now optimized for Xbox users. Using a combination of auto-detection, prioritization and some killer hardware, the WRT32XB significantly reduces peak ping, vastly improves bandwidth and improves security.
Linksys has partnered with Rivet Networks to include their Killer Prioritization Engine. Linksys’s newest router will automatically detect and prioritize incoming and outgoing Xbox One data. The result is vastly reduced lag while playing Overwatch, Forza, Halo, Destiny, GTA or any other of your favorite Xbox One games. The WRT32XB reduces peak ping by as much as 65%. Most modern multi-player games require precise timing. A few milliseconds could spell the difference between life and death. Linksys’s Xbox One focused router provides you with a major advantage over other players. We’re willing to take any advantage we can get.
With firmware and a user interface engineered specifically for the Xbox One, the router keeps your network speed fast even if all of your friends are using a large chunk of bandwidth, or if you are hosting a LAN party. The user interface dashboard allows you to monitor all of your connected devices, manage advanced networking options and settings and conduct on-demand speed tests to ensure that your network is keeping up with the competition. The user interface also allows you to manage VPN and network storage, check on the status of the Killer Prioritization Engine, and manage any port-forwarding.
The advancement of MU-MIMO technology has been one of the most significant networking changes in the past decade. Ten years ago, routers were provided a certain amount of bandwidth, and divided that allotted bandwidth accordingly. The result was that when there were multiple devices being used on the same network, the network speed suffered, sometimes severely. The modern day next-gen multi-user AC3200 MU-MIMO technology inside of the WRT32XB allows multiple devices to access the network without jeopardizing network speed. Each device receives its own unique data stream, so users aren’t competing for bandwidth. That translates into less interference and faster network speeds. The WRT32XB’s AC3200 MU-MIMO distributes data intelligently and consistently, making sure everyone gets a fair crack.
If we told you that the Linksys WRT32XB is DFS certified, it might not mean much to you, but it’s actually a very significant improvement over the previous AC1900 class. Being DFS (dynamic frequency selection) certified by the FCC allows access to frequencies up to 160 MHz. This means that the new router is enabled with Tri-Stream160, tripling the channels that are available at 80 MHz. The wider frequency range allows the router to work on much clearer frequencies than other routers. The result is less signal competition and interference, and much faster speeds.
Design and Dimensions
The WRT32XB design features that modern gaming aesthetic: black, geometrical, angular and matted black. The device’s blue LED lights add an added dose of slick techy goodness. The dorm and lights almost make the WRT32XB look like a sports car. The device measures 9.68 inches x 7.63 inches x 2.04 inches and weighs 28 ounces, so it has a rather slight and stealthy form factor despite its massive speed improvements over standard routers.
The new Linksys router features simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi bands, meaning that both the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band are both active at the same time. The router signal strength is perfect for large homes, though sometimes the 2.4GHz band is stronger depending on how many walls are between you and the router. The router is compatible with the industry-standard IEEE 802.11 media access controls, and features the a, g, n, and ac protocols for improved WLAN throughput for both wireless bands. In English, that means less lag.
Internally, the WRT32XB features a speedy 1.8 GHz dual core CPU processor which will keep the hardware keep up with your gaming needs. Four external dual-band antennas with four powerful amplifiers provide your home with reliable, wall-to-wall connectivity. Linksys says that the signal strength is fit for a “rather large household”, which we assume is enough coverage for the vast majority of you. If you live in a medieval castle, you might want to consider checking out some other options.
One of the biggest problems with modern gaming networking technology is its penchant for overheating if left unchecked. The massive amount of hardware power required for keeping up with fast speeds can produce a tremendous amount of heat. The router’s high-efficiency heatsink helps ensure that your router doesn’t fry itself into oblivion.
One of our favorite features of the WRT32XB is Linksys’s auto firmware updating. We know, we know; it’s kind of silly that we choose one of the least exciting features to be so enamored with, but auto updating truly makes a big difference. The truth is that most people set-up their router and then never touch it again. When smartphone updates are pushed out, people install them immediately, but for whatever reason, people don’t think about updating their router firmware. Out of sight, out of mind, we suppose. Linksys consistently improves their devices through firmware rollouts. Not updating your router firmware can result in significantly decreased production. It can also leave you open to security risks. Linksys rolls out their updates overnight and automatically pushes them out to your device.
The WRT32XB also features a pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet switch, which includes four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port. This makes it super easy to connect multiple gaming computers to your powerhouse router. The switch is also makes LAN parties much easier, since you can connect all of your consoles into one centralized location. Next to the ethernet ports you’ll find a USB 3.0 port, perfect for connecting hard drives or memory sticks, and an eSATA port for sharing networked storage devices at super-fast speeds.
As we mentioned earlier, the Killer Prioritization Engine is the killer feature, especially when your Xbox One is concerned. The Killer engine reduces peak ping time by 65% — from 103 milliseconds to 45 milliseconds, when using an Xbox One that is using 10 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up on a network juggling multiple devices at once. So theoretically, it’s capable of reducing peak ping by even more time. If you’ve ever completely raged out because of split-second lag, then you’ll understand just how important those extra 50 milliseconds are. It can literally make the difference between character life and death.
Linksys’s web-based user interface has been overhauled to focus on gaming traffic control and prioritization. The on-board firmware interplays with the web interface by monitoring application-level stream detection. The stream detection can pinpoint the data that is being used for gaming devices (whether it be PC, console or mobile) and can prioritize that data to ensure a seamless, lag-free gaming experience.
Gamers don’t play around when it comes to their internet connection. No other group of people demands so much out of their home networks, and for good reason. Modern multi-player gaming is completely dependent on internet speed. A player with less skill, but a faster internet connection has an instant advantage. Skill is something you can improve through practice, but Internet speed is something out of your control. The best you can do is equip your home network with the best gaming gear.
The Linksys WRT32XB is a solid gaming router which features awesome prioritization features through the Killer Prioritization Engine, speedy hardware, an overhauled user interface, a solid yet stealthy design and enough ports to satisfy almost all of your networking needs. If you’re an avid Xbox One gamer who is plagued by lag and latency, the WRT32BX is a no brainer. Even if you are not an Xbox One user, this Linksys router is a great choice and is perfectly capable of handling your non-Xbox related gaming needs.
Do you want lag rage to be a thing of the past? Who doesn’t, right? If you’ve had your fill of projectile-inflicted shattered displays, broken controllers, knuckle bruises and dented walls, the Linksys WRT32XB is the dual-band gaming router for you. Also, psychiatry is always an option.