The Linksys WRT3200ACM features an enterprise-grade 1.8GHz Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 CPU with 256MB of NAND flash and 512MB of RAM. The WLAN interface uses a Marvell Avastar 88W8964 4 x 4 MIMO dual-band chipset powered by a dual-core Cortex A9 CPU. The WLAN chipset also supports Beamforming to enhance signal reception on the client side.
The WRT3200ACM is also certified for Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS), which allows unlicensed devices to operate on a subset of 5GHz spectrum that is traditionally used for radar systems (industrial, TV weather stations, boats, federal civilian, military bases, etc.). In other words, if the router detects a nearby radar system on a particular 5GHz channel, it can automatically switch to an alternate channel without causing interference to any nearby radars. This feature was introduced back with 802.11a, the first 5GHz standard, but has become a crucial requirement with 802.11ac due to the use of wider 80MHz and 160MHz bandwidth channels.
As NetworkComputing explains, “Radar sends out a blast of radio waves that bounce off objects and return to the sensors. When RF signals from Wi-Fi hit the same sensors, the radar can’t distinguish them from the waves it sent out. Instead, the radar thinks the Wi-Fi’s radio waves are its own waves bouncing back and interprets them as solid objects.”
Official DFS documents define “very close proximity” as any Wi-Fi routers that are within 35km (21 miles) of Doppler Radar (TDWR) locations.
We tried detaching the hood to see the internal hardware layout but discovered three large aluminum heatsinks for the CPU, WLAN chipset and antenna circuitry.
On the back are four Gigabit LAN ports, a single WAN port for Internet connectivity, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, and an eSATA port. In terms of wireless connectivity, the upgrade from the WRT1900ACS to the WRT3200ACM includes next-generation 802.11ac Wave 2. As we mentioned previously, this brings support for MU-MIMO and 160MHz channel width on all three spatial streams over the 5GHz band.
Additionally, the router supports custom firmware installations from OpenWRT and DD-WRT.