PROLiNK PRC3801: Big things in small packages
First look at the Prolink PRC3801
Let's face it, we've always wanted better connectivity from our wireless router at home. The kind that would push the signal right through the walls with no lag or interruptions along the way. That being said, is the PROLiNK PRC3801 AC1200 MU-MIMO dual-band Gigabit router the answer to our woes?
Let's try it out and see.
From its product launch message, it appears that this Wi-Fi broadband router is not really for your typical "I-just-want-wireless-internet-at-home" type of user. This is because it seems to cater best for those with more complex network requirements. It may look like a throwback to the earlier models with external antennas, as this model comes with four external antennas, but you definitely can't argue that models with external antennas have worked far better than models with internal ones. Far from just being ornamental, the antennas actually help provide wider and better Wi-Fi signal coverage, due to the fact that these antennas are 5 dBi high-gain antennas, made for superior coverage.
For something that works to provide a massive range, the PROLiNK PRC3801 comes in a decidedly small package, allowing you to tuck it in a small area where the most you need to see of it are the LED status indicators telling you everything is good. While there are models that allow you to turn off the LEDs, this one does not, although that's not necessarily a bad thing, since many have come to associate the steady lights with good connectivity.
Port-wise, it's pretty much familiar territory, as it features the usual 4x Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and single WAN port that many have gotten used to. For those looking for the assurance of physical buttons, it has a WPS button to the side of it, although it can also be setup using the PROLiNK PRC3801 web interface. This model's AC1200 rating stems from 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz radio and 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz radio.
Those who have Wi-Fi riding guests over frequently might find this feature handy: the PROLiNK PRC3801 offers multi-SSID support, meaning it supports up to four additional SSIDs on each of the radio bands. This is in comparison to the usual routers that will offer a Guest SSID, so that you can create a separate Wi-Fi network with different SSID for guests, which they can share amongst themselves. This is a great way to subtly say "hey, you're a special guest and you get to have a separate SSID from my other guest". You can even go wild and create 10 separate SSIDs on this router, should you have too much free time on your hands. Before you ask though, the PROLiNK PRC3801 does not, sadly, support VLAN.
So, is this the heaven-sent router we have all been waiting for? Judge for yourself:
The Good Bits:
- Large external antennas provide better signal coverage
- Multi-SSID support
- Small package with big features
- Provides consistent download and upload speeds
- Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) support
- Price is not exactly friendly
- AC1200 speeds is not exactly fast