Aside from physical appearance, are both pretty much the same device, with the difference being the firmware?
I am assuming that it's the firmware for the WRT32XB is what makes it prioritize traffic for gaming systems, vs being done on a physical level.
If the answer above is "no," is the WRT32XB properly supported by OpenWRT?
When I tried looking it up, I've found a post asking the same thing with a response of "should" work but not a definite, and in the wiki, the WRT32X references WRT32X-B but again it feels uncertain, and there's not specific page/entry for the WRT32XB (or WRT32X-B).
What are any important differences between the two routers (internal and external)?
By 'important,' I'm referring to functionality. I know the 3200 has a blue/black appearance and the 32 is all black (and yes, I know both are "3200" based routers), so that's not important. Uses of LED's and ports are examples of 'important' external differences, as an example.
As near as I can tell, both are the same device, just with a different shell and one having default firmware that is tweaked for gaming prioritization. But if both are the same and thus fully support OpenWRT, then I could get the 32 and save some money, as it appears to be cheaper (3200 @ $217 vs 32 @ $195 atm).
I bought a couple of WRT32x refurbed when they were at $89 on Amazon a couple years ago. Terrible wifi performance, lots of disconnects from power-saving devices like phones, which made me miss many SIP/VOIP calls, and use more mobile data... and generally have to turn the wifi off and on again all the time. They're junk as wifi routers, but they work well as wired. However, an RPi as a wired router performs better and costs ~ $80 for everything including a TP-Link switch. So I would not spend more than $60 for a WRT32x probably.
I'm a Linksys person myself, so I prefer to stick with that.
Could it being refurbed have been part of the reason for the performance issues? Sometimes a refurbed product meets specs but still isn't as good as originally new.
Not only that, but if there are differences (internally, not firmware related), then the wrt32x and wrt32xb might perform differently.
I currently have a WRT1200AC router but one of the LAN ports isn't working properly, so get a new primary router and move the 1200 to somewhere else in the household. Wouldn't be a major issue except that there is now a need for that fourth port to be used (just got a used HDHomeRun Prime) and have temporarily moved it to a different router. So need to get a new router to have things set up as desired.
My end goal is to have a router (Linksys preferred) that is top of the line in regards to performance and abilities (physical design) that I can install OpenWRT on. Now, while I'm a Linksys person, I will clarify that I am not exactly opposed to recommendations of other well known brands if there the specific router is particularly exceptional in comparison to a Linksys router, and is $200 or under. However, the primary reason of this discussion is to learn about the two different ac3200 based routers.
(ie, thank you for your response, but I'm still wanting to get answers to my specific questions before exploring other options.)
Exactly. The WRT32X was a good deal for a brief time when they were selling new for under US $100. It's very capable in a wired role. For $200 you can get a mini-X86 with more performance and less energy consumption.
No one has bothered to pull a 32XB apart and post pictures here to confirm, or post a boot log.
So, 32X vs 32XB are likely to be identical in hardware, and only a firmware change on the OEM side to use KPE.
Being able to use OpenWRT is a must, even if it's not directly supported not intended to be used. Not OpenWRT capable, then not an option for me.
It depends on how you do it. Stick with a brand you've had good experience with is good. Sticking with it even when quality has sunk into the ground isn't. If Linksys puts out a router that is a flop in quality, then I'm not going to get it, and if that becomes the trend, then I'll look at other brands. Some people prefer TP-Link or Netgear because they've had good experiences with those products, and I fully understand it. I get what you're saying though, as blindly sticking with a brand isn't too smart.
Assuming this is the case, are the 3200 and 32 the same except for firmware, or are there internal physical differences?
So any device with Marvell's 88W8964 wlan chipset will experience the issues you mentioned?
mwlwifi is the driver, anything using that driver will have problems, dropouts, constant turning it off and on again etc. Perhaps some of the related chipsets work better or something, I had less complaints about a 1900acs than the 32x but neither one was what I'd call "good".
Basically the day I installed TP-Link eap225 access points was the day people stopped complaining that the wifi was always crappy.
The same hardware wise to the best of my knowledge. There was a RAM module change at some point from memory which caused some issues (now resolved).
I'd say that the 32X always uses the new chip whereas only new 3200's (post November 2019 from my recollection) use it.
Linksys might be awesome in all and many ways, but if they use the "wrong" hardware in their designs, whey're still going to be considered sub par (in the OpenWRT community) because of the lack of Linux support.
I'd rather pick my device(s) based on architecture, than brand, since certain HW get better Linux support than others.
Went down the same road, but using Archer C2600s as APs, and they've been rock solid.
I am using WRT32XB with OpenWRT and yes it does have issue with disconnecting especially the 5G band. I bought it new condition and it costed me $125. The hardware is pretty good except the WiFi issue. I used to flash DD-WRT and it wasn’t stable at all, high cpu load and reboot itself. XB OEM firmware is horrible, less option than 3200acm but I bought it to use with either DD-WRT or OpenWRT anyway and I stick with OpenWRT. Like other people said, my suggestion is to go with hardware that Linux kernel supports, less frustration.