Move Over, Netflix, Linksys' New Wi-Fi Router Prioritizes Video Games

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Unless you’ve upgraded to a whole home wi-fi solution like Linksys’ recently announced Velop, you’re probably finding your wireless network struggling to keep up these days. If you’re a gamer, the last thing you want is lag and dropped frames during online multiplayer matches because someone in another room is watching The Crown on Netflix. So Linksys has created a wireless router that puts gamers first.


There are already quite a few wireless routers on the market that the gaming community has embraced, including Linksys’ own WRT1900AC; a revival of the much loved, and easily upgraded, Linksys WRT54G. What’s most important to gamers is easy access to QoS (Quality of Service) settings that allows them to prioritize network traffic for video games. Those occasional buffering pauses you experience while streaming a video are a minor inconvenience, but they can mean game over during a multiplayer first person shooter match.

What Linksys has done with the new WRT32X is to automate the prioritization of gaming network traffic. The router is also open source, supporting OpenWrt and DD-WRT for players who want to further tweak their network’s performance. But for gamers who aren’t savvy enough to dive into complex router settings, Linksys now lets the router handle those performance tweaks.

Powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core processor, the stealth-styled Linksys WRT32X is an AC3200 wireless router with optimized MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) performance that uses custom firmware tuned for “gaming traffic.” Linksys hasn’t shared what exactly’s in that secret sauce, but it has revealed that the WRT32X is designed to automatically detect computers using the Killer-line of network adapters, indicating it’s probably a gaming-focused PC from a company like Alienware, MSI, or Razer that requires priority access to the home’s internet. It does the same thing for an Xbox as well, if console gaming is more your thing.

That being said, the WRT32X can actually benefit non-gamers in your household too. In an effort to appease those who would rather spend the night watching Netflix or streaming a movie from iTunes, the WRT32X will actually throttle download speeds and reduce the priority of a gaming PC or console on a network when they’re downloading large updates or game patches. For $300 when it’s available this Spring, the Linksys WRT32X might finally bring some peace to your home.


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Ah yes of course, a “gamer” piece of equipment with lofty promises which uses technology that’s existed forever, but very rarely does the job correctly at a consumer-level price.

So this thing leverages QoS *clap* *clap* bravo bravo. And so it presumably dumbs down the implementation/interface so that it presumably just works.

So this thing promises that it’ll intelligently prioritize gaming packets over Netflix streams and such. So by that I expect that it would have catalogued all the commonly used gaming ports across all multiplayer titles - easy enough.

I’ve seen this stuff before. And rarely do they work as advertised, because all too often they fail the basic utilization tests, eg:

a) Timmy launches Netflix, watches for a few minutes to get things going

b) Sarah launches Youtube and is a few minutes into her favorite documentary

c) Jim watches Pornhub and he’s well engrossed

d) Tyrone fires up his torrent client at full speed, download and upload maxed

e) Now Tyler fires up Call of Duty. He’s got his headset going, his comms going aaaaaand....

Oh it’s laggy as hell. These things can try to prioritize “gaming” traffic all they like, but when things like torrent clients are firing on all cylinders, taking all the bandwidth they can possibly grab with no respect for anything else - I’ve yet to see a consumer-grade device be able to knock those bandwidth suckers down a peg and intelligently say “ok I’ve determined that your maximum upload/download numbers are thus, and I’m gonna ration off each of you accordingly, and give game dude first dibs”

Netflix/YouTube and the like have gotten much better in the past years when it comes to streaming content. They don’t try to buffer everything as they go - they’re far more considerate on bandwidth compared to a few years ago. And they aren’t hungry on upload bandwidth - which is exactly the thing that multiplayer games must have, a consistent, uninterrupted flow of traffic to the gaming service/peers.

But tack something on which is upload hungry, and kiss your low-latency gaming goodbye. It isn’t going to be intelligently prioritized, mark my words.