Archive for Linksys

Review: Linksys WRT32X AC3200 Dual Band WiFi Gaming Router

Posted in Products with tags on September 1, 2017 by itnerd

I honestly think that Linksys and their marketing department got the marketing of this router wrong. When Linksys handed their brand new WRT32X gaming router to review, I thought that I would run a few tests with it that are gaming related as it is marketed as a gaming router and call it a day. The thing is, the more that I used this router, the more I found that this is a great router for the most part. Period. It just happens to do gaming really well.

Let me start with the looks. Linksys scores points with me for making this router not look like something out of a Transformers movie as some other companies who make gaming routers tend to make their routers look like.

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It looks like an all black WRT1900AC or WRT1900ACS. That means that it will fit into your decor without standing out like a sore thumb. In terms of features, here’s what you get:

  • AC3200 MU-MIMO
  • 802.11a/g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
  • AC3200 (N600 + AC2600)
  • 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual-band)
  • DFS certified for operation in the clear DFS channel airspace
  • 5-port Pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1x Gigabit WAN port, 4x Gigabit LAN ports
  • One USB 3.0 port, One Combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port, Power
  • 4x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • 1.8 GHz dual-core Processor
  • 512MB DDR3 RAM / 256MB Flash Memory
  • Wireless Encryption: WPA2 Personal
  • VPN Support: PPTP IPSec pass‐through
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, and HFS+
  • Browser-based Setup and custom graphical user interface
  • Open Source ready for OpenWrt

This is heavy duty hardware. But all of the above isn’t the part of the story that you should focus on. What you should focus on is the software. For starters, the web based GUI is one of the best that I’ve ever seen. The setup of this router was insanely trivial. And once it is set up, here’s what you get:

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It’s a very clean look and it you can easily figure out where you have to go to tweak or set up your router. It also give you a clear view of what’s going on in real time, be it speed related or device related. Kudos to Linksys for coming up with this user interface. Now you can install your own firmware via OpenWrt, but I seriously wouldn’t bother as this user interface rocks.

Another reason why I wouldn’t swap the firmware is the fact that this router has the incorporate the Killer Prioritization Engine. What this does is provides serious online gamers who have Killer enabled PCs the performance to pwn their opponents in epic fashion by optimizing traffic for low latency and less lag and ensures that the Killer-enabled PC’s gaming, audio, and video is fast and smooth. So. That’s great marketing. But is it true?

Yes it is.

I acquired a MSI GT73VR 6RF Titan Pro gaming laptop which supports the Killer Prioritization Engine and after updating Windows 10 to Redstone 2, I downloaded a copy of Steam so that I could install Team Fortress 2 and play it with everything maxed out. That way I could see if their performance claims held up on my Gigabit Internet connection over WiFi. There was no lag, no stuttering, no choppy two way audio while communicating with other players. Nothing negative at all. And this isn’t just when nothing else was going on with the network. I could be using my Roku to stream a TV show or a movie and get this level of performance. It was actually quite impressive.

But it didn’t stop there. I used my own MacBook Pro running the same game on the same server to see what the difference was. To my surprise, performance was much better than what I was used to. It wasn’t up to the level of the MSI laptop, but I had zero reason to complain. Not only that, anything that I threw at this router be it YouTube videos, streaming movies on my Roku, or whatever, it was smooth to a level that I have not seen before. Especially on the 5GHz band via WiFi. This too was impressive. And to be frank, I wasn’t expecting that result. This is precisely why I feel that this router is being marketed wrong. It is the best router that I have reviewed in years by a huge margin.

The only area which the WRT32X perhaps falls a bit short is in WiFi range on the 5GHz band. My condo has a couple of concrete walls to go through, and that combined with the fact that it only has four antennas when some of its competition have six or eight antennas had it struggling a bit to reach the far reaches of my condo with full signal strength. But having said that, I still had no issues streaming videos or pwning opponents in online games from those locations. So while this is a weakness, it’s far from being a fatal one.

The new Linksys WRT32X Gaming Router will be in stores on September 21, 2017 and go for an estimated $369.99 CAD. If you’re a gamer who wants maximum pwnage and you have hardware that supports the Killer Prioritization Engine, you need to get this router. If however you want a top performing router and you’re not a hardcore gamer who wants maximum pwnage, you should still get this router. Quite simply, this is the best router that Linksys has ever produced. Though, if I were them I’d change how it’s marketed as it is such a good router that they are perhaps limiting their target audience by only marketing to gamers.

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Linksys Announces Powerful New WRT32X Gaming Router

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 22, 2017 by itnerd

Linksys and Rivet Networks, makers of the award winning line of high-performance Killer Networking products for desktop and notebook PCs, today announced at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, the upcoming availability of the new Linksys WRT gaming edition router – the WRT32X.  This first of its kind collaboration, Linksys and Rivet Networks teamed to incorporate the Killer Prioritization Engine (KPE) to provide serious online gamers the only router optimized for high-speed gaming for users with Killer-enabled gaming PCs. The KPE optimizes traffic for low latency and less lag and ensures that the Killer-enabled PC’s gaming, audio, and video is fast and smooth, while simultaneously managing other online traffic in the home to ensure other devices and activities are not compromised. The new firmware and graphical user interface (GUI) was also custom-built from the ground up with a focus on monitoring and controlling gaming network traffic.  The Linksys WRT32X is available for pre-order starting today and plans to ship starting in September 2017.

The WRT32X utilizes the Killer Prioritization Engine (KPE) to determine which devices are connected to the router that are enabled with and using Killer Networking hardware. This hardware can be found in gaming and performance PCs and motherboards from companies like Dell (Both Alienware and XPS models), Gigabyte, MSI, or Razer, as well as Acer, Lenovo, and more.

The KPE works in tandem with Killer-enabled computers to prioritize important gaming and video networking traffic above other devices in the home.  When a user starts a game, the Killer hardware on the PC communicates with the router and tells the router to treat the gaming packets special and with high priority.  If the network is bogged down from other users, the WRT32X is able to keep the gameplay fast and smooth because it prioritizes the Killer game traffic above other traffic in the home.  Conversely, the PC also communicates to the router when a less important activity is taking place (like a download) so that the router won’t let the download impact the Internet experience of other users in the home.

Since network priorities are fully customizable on Killer-Enabled PCs, the KPE on the WRT32X is able to honor those priorities.  So if the user configures the Killer Control Center to make streaming videos their top priority, the WRT32X will treat those packets like gold and ensure nothing in the home slows down those streaming video networking packets.

Gamers will also welcome the new custom-built firmware and GUI specifically for this WRT32X.  The firmware won’t be found on any other router.  The GUI is used to promote important network settings for gaming, provide network usage statics, and it’s wrapped in a design that appeals to gamers while matching the edgy design of the WRT hardware. The new GUI also has a unified responsive design across the desktop, table and mobile device.

Users on a Killer-enabled PC will also now see a “router” tab on Killer’s Control Center App on the PC when the WRT32X is attached.  This provides easier access to router KPE controls for settings while gaming without launching the router GUI.

Key features include:

  • Wi-Fi router built purely for gaming identifies, prioritizes gaming network above all else to give users an edge
  • Synchronization with Killer-enabled PCs gives gaming traffic a priority on wired and Wi-Fi connections
  • Prioritization engine powered by Killer Networking delivers up to 77% reduction* in peak ping for faster response time
  • Blazing fast 1.8GHz Dual-Core processor for simultaneous high-speed data processing
  • Custom-built gaming user interface and firmware specially tuned for online gaming traffic
  • Exclusive optimization for Killer Networking gaming clients found in computers from Alienware, Gigabyte, MSI, Razer and more

Product Technical Specifications:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC3200 MU-MIMO
  • Network Standards: 802.11a/g, 802.11n, 802.11ac
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC3200 (N600 + AC2600) ‡
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual-band)
  • DFS certified for operation in the clear DFS channel airspace
  • 5-port Pro-grade Gigabit Ethernet ports: 1x Gigabit WAN port, 4x Gigabit LAN ports
  • Other: One(1) USB 3.0 port, One(1) Combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port, Power
  • Antennas: 4x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Processor: 1.8 GHz dual-core
  • Memory: 512MB DDR3 RAM / 256MB Flash
  • Wireless Encryption: WPA2 Personal
  • VPN Support: PPTP IPSec pass‐through
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, and HFS+
  • Browser-based Setup and custom graphical user interface
  • Open Source ready for OpenWrt

The new Linksys WRT32X Wi-Fi Gaming Router will be available at select retailers across Canada beginning September 21, 2017 for an estimated MSRP of $369.99 CAD. If you can’t wait that long, here’s a video of this new gaming router:

A special note for my readers. I will be posting a review of this router in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned! 

Review: Linksys MAX-STREAM AC4000 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Tri-Band Router

Posted in Products with tags on June 29, 2017 by itnerd

In the age of the Internet of things, the average home has at least 10 devices connected to the Internet. And all of those devices want access to the Internet at top speed. Thus your router is going to be the bottleneck, or the best friend to those devices. And if you want a router that is more of the latter, you need to look at the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC4000 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Tri-Band Router. Here’s what you get in the box:

  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet connection for your Internet access
  • 4 Gigabit Ethernet connections for your wired devices
  • Two USB 3 ports for printers and storage
  • 802.11ac with MU-MIMO
  • A 1.8 GHz quad core CPU and three peripherial processors
  • Airtime Fairness which allows faster devices to have more airtime than slower devices
  • Amazon Alexa support
  • Seamless Roaming when paired with a range extender like the Linksys RE7000

Physically this router takes up a lot of real estate. Thus you might have issues finding a place to put it. It’s also very heavy as it weighs in at a hefty 3 pounds and has a lot of ventilation which is needed as it does get hot. That’s a sign that the router well built.

I’m going to highlight a few things that make this router faster than most. The first is MU-MIMO which allows a Wi-Fi router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. This decreases the time each device has to wait for a signal and dramatically speeds up your network. That means that gamers and Netflix users will remain happy while they do their thing. The second is the fact that it has a 1.8 GHz quad core CPU and three peripheral processors which combine to push the theoretical 4 Gbps that this router is capable of. Not that any single user will see that speed as that figure is an aggregate of the two 5 GHz bands, each capable of 1625 Mbps and single 2.4 GHz band which is capable of 750 Mbps. Third is the fact that the router supports beam forming. Meaning that the antennas (six of them) surrounding the router are all directional, but between them they cover a full 360 degree range and the router can utilize the antenna or antennas to deliver the best signal to a device. Thus wherever the device accessing the router happens to be, it is guaranteed to get a good connection.

So…. How well does this work in the real world? Very well in fact. Using my Rogers Ignite Gigabit connection, I was able to get an average of 680 Mbps downstream and 44 Mbps upstream over 802.11ac WiFi when I was close to the router which is very quick and very close to my current speed champion which is the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC5400 Router. However I noted that the speed of this router is better than MAX-STREAM AC5400 router in every area of my condo. Particularly in areas where I had problems getting a good quality signal. Thus if you have a large home, this router will ensure that all parts of it get speedy WiFi.

Setup was trivially easy using Linksys Smart WiFi as I had it setup and fully up to date from a firmware perspective in minutes. Linksys Smart WiFi also allows you to fully configure aspects such as parental controls, media priority, and block HTTPS sites which is a unique feature. You can do all of this over a webpage, or over apps for the iOS and Android platforms. Keep in mind that the router will be connected to the Linksys servers at all times for you to fully leverage Linksys Smart WiFi. By the way, future functionality is going to appear in this router such as VPN support, DUAL WAN support to take two Internet connections and combine them, link aggregation to give you faster file transfers on your home network, and dynamic frequency selection which will provide up to four times the wireless channels available on the 5GHz frequency band among other things that Linksys has on their roadmap.

Downsides? Two that I can think of. The first is that if you want to plug in a lot of wired devices, you need to get a Gigabit switch or look to the MAX-STREAM AC5400 router which has 8 Ethernet ports. It is also not cheap at $379.99 CDN. But those who want the best wireless performance possible will willingly hand over their cash to get their hands on the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC4000 as it is a router that is very balanced in terms of performance when it comes to overall speed and range. Consider this router if you stream 4K video or you frequently want to pwn your friends in your favorite online game.

 

Browser Based Interface Added To Velop Via Firmware Update

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 23, 2017 by itnerd

Linksys today announced it has added a browser-based user interface for Velop users.  Similar to the browser-based user interface available with Linksys WRT and Max-Stream routers, the user interface is now available for Velop users to access advanced features as well as manage their home network from a Mac or Windows computer in addition to an iOS or Android device. Velop was built for performance, design and ease of use in setting up and managing the home network with the Linksys App; but now with the browser-based setup, there are even more ways to control the home network for a better Wi-Fi experience. The new user interface is available globally to all Velop users now with the latest firmware update. 

The new browser-based user interface now includes the following features:

  • Access to advanced settings:
    • DHCP server access for automatically assigning IP addresses to devices that come onto the network. This provides easy connectivity for mobile devices that often leave the network and return later.
    • DNS configuration for linking host names, such as a web address to a specific IP address.
    • Troubleshooting: device table, router report, ping/trace route, logs.  These features provide additional insights into network performance.
    • Security: firewall, VPN passthrough, DMZ settings.  Users can access these settings to manage their network security.
  • Browser access for users with a Mac or Windows PC.

Users can continue to enjoy the features found exclusively on the Linksys App, including:

  • Velop Setup
  • SpeedTest​
  • Channel Finder​
  • Notifications ​

Velop networks with Automatic Firmware Update enabled will automatically receive the new firmware overnight. If Automatic Firmware Updates is disabed, the new firmware can be downloaded and installed manually.  Please check the Linksys support page for more details. Users can visit the Linksys support site to learn more about Automatic Firmware updates.

 

Linksys Announces New AC4000 Wireless Router

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 8, 2017 by itnerd

Linksys has announced, it is shipping its new 802.11ac Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router. The Linksys Max-Stream EA9300 is an AC4000 MU-MIMO Tri-Band router delivering wireless speeds up to 4Gbps for simultaneous downloading, streaming, gaming and surfing. Offering MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output), the next generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, helps improve overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices as if they have their own dedicated router.

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Linksys Max-Stream AC4000 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Router (EA9300)

The Linksys Max-Stream AC4000 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Router is outfitted with Next Gen AC Wi-Fi technologies such as Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) and Tri-Band that work in concert to deliver powerful Wi-Fi at the same time and same speed to multiple connected devices including TVs, gaming consoles, wireless printers, laptops plus others at combined speeds up to 4 Gbps. The Linksys Max-Stream AC4000 provides easy setup options to get a home office up and running quickly along with the exclusive Linksys app that provides added control of the EA9300 Wi-Fi Router from anywhere at any time using a mobile device. The Max-Stream EA9300 Wi-Fi Router also features a robust set of advanced offerings:

  • Tri-Band AC4000 (3x3x3) – Up to 4 Gbps Max combined – 2x 1625 Gbps (5GHz) + 750 Mbps (2.4GHz)
  • MU-MIMO 802.11AC Wave 2 technology for simultaneous 4K Streaming on multiple devices at the same time
  • Quad-Core 1.8GHz CPU with three offload processors provide the fastest processing speed
  • Airtime Fairness – Allows faster devices to have more airtime than slower devices
  • Auto Firmware Updates – Linksys automatically pushes the software update to the router overnight and seamlessly brings the latest features and security to a home network
  • Amazon Alexa support – Three new skills including turning guest access on and off, obtaining guest Wi-Fi credentials, as well as getting main network credentials read back to the user.
  • Linksys App lets users monitor and control their home Wi-Fi from anywhere on their mobile device
  • SmartConnect Band Steering – Band steering balances your 5GHz Wi-Fi connections and intelligently choose the best radio band for your devices for the best Wi-Fi performance on your network
  • Seamless Roaming± – Technology provides Room-to-Room Wi-Fi with one network name when paired with a Max-Stream Range Extender (RE7000)
  • Active Antennas – Six active high performance antennas with 9x High Power Amplifiers help to provide optimal coverage and maximum signal strength
  • Gigabit Ports – Five Gigabit Ethernet ports (4 LAN + 1 WAN)
  • USB 3.0 Port – Connect shared network storage devices and printers
  • Network Security – SPI Firewall and DoS Protection provide the best in class network security

Upcoming features (via automatic firmware update)

  • Dual WAN – Dual WAN can aggregate the bandwidths of two WAN connections to achieve a higher Internet bandwidth greater than 1Gbps
  • Link Aggregation – Supports up to 2Gbps for file transfer
  • Advanced Band Steering – Auto select the most appropriate band between 2.4 and 5Ghz for client devices to achieve the best Wi-Fi performance
  • DFS Channels Support – DFS (Dynamic Frequency Selection) will provide up to four times more channels within the 5GHz band helping to improve the internet speed with less traffic congestion. This feature can help users  achieve true lag free 4K content streaming
  • OpenVPN Server– VPN feature allows users too remotely and securely access resources shared within their home local area network

The Linksys AC4000 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Router (EA9300) is available immediately at select retailers nationwide for an MSRP of $379.99 CAD.

Linksys SEEMS To Be Rolling Out Updated Router Firmware To Stop Routers From Getting Pwned

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 16, 2017 by itnerd

You might recall that I recently told you about vulnerabilities in numerous Linksys routers that were found by a security researcher which if exploited could end up in the router becoming part of a botnet among other things. Linksys was apparently working on updated firmware and it SEEMS that updated firmware is rolling out. I use the word seems for reasons that will become clear momentarily.

If I do a search of the Linksys download site for the latest firmware for the EA9500 which is one of the affected models, I see this:

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Please note the highlighted section. A new firmware dated May 8th has been posted. I also verified that the previous firmware on this page was from early March of this year. I went to the release notes and saw this:

Firmware version:   1.1.7.180968
Release date:       May 8, 2017

- Update for compliance of the latest CE requirements (European models)
- Resolved intermittent issue of MAC filtering on wireless network not working properly
- Resolved issue of IPv6 incompatibility when prefix is not 64-bit (e.g. British Telecom)
- Resolved issue of DHCP reservation feature not working properly if user changes local network configuration
- Enhanced system stability
- Various security fixes

So it has “various security fixes”, but it isn’t clear if they are the fixes for this issue that was so widely reported. And if you search the Linksys website, there isn’t any additional info. So you have to assume that this is the updated firmware that affected Linksys router owners should install without delay. It would be nice if Linksys could clarify this and reinforce the urgency of installing this new firmware so that they ensure as many owners of their routers as possible get this fix. Plus it would close the loop on this issue.

More info as it comes as I have reached out to Linksys and IOActive (the group that found these issues) for comment.

UPDATE: I got this from Linksys late today (May 18th):

UPDATE #2: The release notes have been modified:

Firmware version:   1.1.7.180968
Release date:       May 8, 2017

- Update for compliance of the latest CE requirements (European models)
- Resolved intermittent issue of MAC filtering on wireless network not working properly
- Resolved issue of IPv6 incompatibility when prefix is not 64-bit (e.g. British Telecom)
- Resolved issue of DHCP reservation feature not working properly if user changes local network configuration
- Enhanced system stability
- Addressed IOActive security issues
- Additional security fix

Flaw In Linksys Routers Can Be Used To Create Botnet

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Security researchers and Linksys are warning that multiples models of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers have vulnerabilities that might be exploited to create a botnet. Here’s a list of the affected routers:

WRT Series
WRT1200AC
WRT1900AC
WRT1900ACS
WRT3200ACM

EAxxxx Series
EA2700
EA2750
EA3500
EA4500 v3
EA6100
EA6200
EA6300
EA6350 v2
EA6350 v3
EA6400
EA6500
EA6700
EA6900
EA7300
EA7400
EA7500
EA8300
EA8500
EA9200
EA9400
EA9500

A security advisory was issued by Linksys today which includes a workaround for customers until final firmware updates are posted in the coming weeks….. Though I would classify some of what they are recommending as common sense, but here’s the workaround:

  1. Enable automatic updates: I don’t like to do that as updates sometimes cause issues. Thus I like to wait a day or two to see if anything is reported on the Internet before I update.
  2. Disable WiFi Guest Network: This is something that I recommend that you do as a matter of course as guest networks can be used as an attack vector.
  3. Change the default Administrator password: This falls under the category marked “duh” as there is no reason on God’s green earth why you should be using the default administrator password for any device ever.

If you want an idea of what the issue is that is prompting this reaction from Linksys, IOActive who are the researchers who found this issue have a great write up that you can read right here.

UPDATE: This has now been fixed. See this link for details.