For quite some time, Linksys were selling out their WRT54G almost every other week because people were picking it up in order to run OpenWRT on it, a custom Linux distribution that turned it into a router on steroids, capable of matching almost every enterprise feature you could possibly name off-hand. Since then the company has released multiple routers that catered to functionality with OpenWRT and they’ve been selling them as fast as they could be made. At CES 2015, Linksys finally gave into the demands of its fans and has created the WRT1200AC along with a matching NAS device for it to sit on.
This is a 2×2 dual-band router feeding to both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands supporting up to 802.11ac speeds of around 600Mb/s. If your 802.11ac adapter supports teaming, you can theoretically double that speed to provide a 1.2Gb/s link over WiFi. The WRT1200AC is open to some tinkering if you’re looking to run other WRT-based Linux distributions and Linksys will be publishing some documentation and software for the open-source community looking to make use of it.
At the rear are two detachable antennae, sporting a new design that Linksys claims provides more stable signal over longer distances. There’s a dual-core ARM CPU doing all the gruntwork along with connections for eSATA, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet on the WAN and the four LAN ports. At $179 in the US and Canada its certainly not going to be as cheap as the WRT54G which started off the love for Linksys, but it’s guaranteed to be a hit with the open-source community.
Feeding into the trend of having more network-connected storage, Linksys designed a matching NAS, the WRT Network Storage Device. It is also capable of running custom versions of OpenWRT, supports two 3.5-inch SATA 6Gb/s hard drives and will run them in RAID 0, 1 or as separate storage spaces.
At the rear are connections for USB 3.0, eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet. Given the versatility of WRT, there’s probably a host of interesting functions and features to play around with, including a DLNA server. Linksys isn’t a big player in the media streaming market, but this is a easy foot in the door for them. At $129 it carries a hefty entry fee, but it may prove to be a decent contender.
Should you run out of ports on the WRT1200AC, you can also stack on the SE4008 eight-port gigabit switch, which has a matching design. The WRT1200AC will be launching in April 2015, while the Network Storage Device will be landing around March 2015 for the US, Canada and some European countries.