At the time of our testing, there were no wireless 802.11ac client devices or adapters with support for 160MHz channels. Earlier last month, Intel silently introduced its 5th-generation Wireless-AC 9260 adapter, which will be the first to support MU-MIMO with 160MHz channels and delivering up to 1.73Gbps in downlink bandwidth. Unfortunately, they still aren’t available in retail, so for our testing purposes we went with two notebooks featuring Intel’s 4th and 2nd generation 802.11ac – one supports MU-MIMO, the other does not.
The first notebook we used for testing is an HP Spectre x360 (late 2016) equipped with an Intel dual-band Wireless-AC 8265 chipset, Intel ProSet Wireless software 188.8.131.52, jperf 2.0.2, and Windows 10 Pro.
The second notebook is a Lenovo ThinkPad T440s (mid-2014) equipped with an Intel dual-band Wireless-AC 7260 chipset, Intel ProSet Wireless software 184.108.40.206, jperf 2.0.2, and Windows 10 Pro.
On both notebooks, we disabled the MIMO Power Save Mode option (Spatial Multiplexing Power Save mode) on the network cards in order to make sure none of the radios would be put into a low-power mode. We also enabled the Throughput Booster option and made sure Transmit Power was on its highest (Level 5) setting.
The third device used for testing is an Apple iPhone 6 was equipped with iOS 10.3.2 and the iPerf – Bandwidth and Performance Test 1.12 app.
For our testing software, we used a popular network performance measurement utility called jperf (a GUI version of iPerf), which allowed us to measure wireless throughput over multiple simultaneous data streams running through the WRT3200ACM from client devices to a host device. To accomplish this, we ran a Windows 10 Pro desktop in “Server Mode” over Gigabit LAN and connected it with two 802.11ac Wave 2 capable notebooks, and an 802.11ac Wave 1 capable iPhone 6. Unfortunately, Apple is the most significant remaining vendor that has yet to launch an MU-MIMO enabled smartphone, and we expect this will happen with the iPhone 8 later this fall.
The server desktop we used for jperf testing is based on an Intel X99 chipset equipped with an Intel I210 Gigabit Ethernet Controller, Intel Network Connections Software 22.3, jperf 2.0.2, and Windows 10 Pro.
In regards to the Linksys WRT3200ACM’s firmware, we received the device with firmware 220.127.116.11944 installed. Upon installation, we checked the firmware update page and discovered 18.104.22.168030 dated April 5th, which includes a new WLAN driver and multiple bug fixes.