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This review is from: TP-LINK Archer C9 Wireless AC1900 Dual Band Gigabit Router
Pros: Top of the line AC router from TPLink, a well known brand in China, with increasing popularity in the US, that gets the job done. This is a refresh of the popular C7, C8 Archer routers. Like the C8, this sports a nice looking white case that stands upright and has three external antennas.
Wirelesss is solid. This router has AC 1900, which is a step up from the C8 AC 1750. The speed increase is in 2.4Ghz from 450 to 600mpbs. The 5Ghz radio is rated for the same speed as the C8, but rumoured to have an upgraded/newer chip. I don't have one, so cannot compare with the C8, but newer usually is better :)
Both frequencies have a range similar to other high end home routers. The 5ghz radio easily feeds 100mbps+ at close ranges, while the 2.4ghz band does better than my previous router both in terms of range and throughput. To me, this means the router would make a welcome addition to a living room with lots of gadgets, tablets and laptops that can take advantage of the great speeds.
Has all the typical tools you need (1) Guest networks in both bands, (2) very fast firewall capable of at least 120mbps (I cannot test any faster), (3) various firewall settings and port management you might need, (4) and the ability to plug in hard drives for media storage.
For basic management, the Tplink tether app rocks. Tested in iOS, it shows what's going on in the network, whos attached, and can make some basic settings changes. If you are a control freak, you can easily change your guest network password everytime a new person comes to your house. Nice. As far as I can tell, the tether app works locally in your netowrk, and doesn't rely on any TPLink cloud service, which nicely minimizes security concerns. For more complex router management, you can log directly into the local admin web page
The router idles (with both radios on, no HDD) around 8-9 watts. Not bad for a high end router. TPLink has a nice green design in all of its products I've played with.
Firmware was solid, v1. Didn't notice any issues.
Cons: USB features can use some work, and doesn't achieve the throughput that you might like (compare the wrt1900ac), but it is serviceable. Exfat file format is not recognized. This seems to be a common limitation of many linux based firmwares, although some vendors have managed to do better. Perhaps a future firmware upgrade will address this. That said, streaming HD video worked flawlessly.
The usb services include FTP, samba sharing, and (although its not obvious from the UI) DLNA media serving. I was a bit annoyed that the Netbios host name and smb share names don't seem to be cusotomizable. DLNA uses MiniDLNA (v 1.1.0) linux based software, and cannot be turned off as far as I can tell.
When a hdd is plugged in, the MiniDLNA program scans the drive to create the required metadata (in a hidden directory). If you have lots of files, it will take a while. Once scanned, your files are then easily seen (and streamed) with any DLNA client, such as windows media player.
As with most other consumer routers, there are no presets for using the router as an access point only or as a wireless extender. Although if you know what you are doing, you could use this as an access point by turning off DHCP and changing the network to match your primary router. This would allow you to place the Archer in a wirelessly ideal location and connect an ethernet cable to your primary router. Nice for those who would use it as secondary wifi in a big house or those who want to keep their ISP provided CPE router without having to set it in "bridge" mode.
There are no provisions for wall or ceiling mounting, so your are encouraged to put on a table/shelf. Oddly, the usb 3 port is on the side, but all other ports are low on the back.
Other Thoughts: Thinking about the targeted use cases, I'd say buy this router if you want solid modern wifi with excellent coverage and throughput. If you need to put this router in a visible spot, hopefully the nice design and white color will improve the WAF for you.
TPLink came out with this router after the big boys had AC1900 routers. For me, that's a plus, as it allows them to choose proven chips and take advantage of lessons learned. Hopefully, that means you wont cut yourself on the bleeding edges. Its a nice solid router with a very nice price. I like it.
Pros: Great looking router which is easy to set up and covers the bases.
Just the hardware features you need.
No gigabit Ethernet. OK, let’s be honest here. Most everyday folks these days don't have any Ethernet wired devices except their modem, so why pay more for gigabit Ethernet ports. This is just fine for a value router. It’s all about the wireless. You've got 4 10/100 lan ports to connect your printer or whatever random thing you have that still needs an Ethernet cable.
Simultaneous 2.4 and 5 ghz. That's really the killer feature in an entry level wifi router. While 5 ghz doesn't have the range of 2.4, you're less likely to get interference, and it’s usually faster. A lot of folks like to use 5ghz for their gaming consoles, tv's and other things that are in the livingroom. This leaves plenty wifi bandwidth on 2.4 for laptops, tablets and phones that can use the added range of 2.4 (because they tend to move about the house).
USB Storage or Printer. There's a USB 2 port that can be used to attach an external hard drive for shared network storage of files, pictures or other media. Sure, you're limited to USB 2.0 speed, but that's plenty to surf your photos, stream music and most video. You can set up SMB shares (network directories), DLNA media server, or even FTP access to your drive. This is a great feature in an entry level router, usually reserved for the fancier ones. Alternately, you can plug in a usb printer and share it on the network (its one or the other).
Hardware firewall. The lan/wan interface (your internet provider) can handle a full 100mbs speed. Some entry routers can't keep up. This one can. Your old WRT54G could only handle about 25mbps.
The most important firmware features in an entry level router:
Easy setup. A built in wizard will get you up and running fast, with minimal expertise required. Nicely done.
Built in guest networking. An increasingly appealing feature that even entry level users will like -- keep your guests visitors isolated from all your network gadgets, while not having to hand out your super secret wifi password.
Aesthetically, this router rocks. I think it’s great looking -- can put it in your livingroom. The cables come out of the lower back in a good spot, no geeky external antennae, and the blue lights on the front are subtle and not constantly blinking.
Power consumption: This thing sips power. Doesn't get particularly warm. If you are a greenie, you should agree this is a plus. Nice.
Cons: Designing an entry level router has got to be an exercise of managing all the cost trade-offs to achieve balance. So I would say most of the cons I would cite below are debatable quibbles.
Lack of Gigabit Ethernet. I assume the reason it was left out is for cost. Its a bit hard to believe today that gigabit chips are any more expensive than fast Ethernet chips, but there you are. I think from a marketing point of view, some buyers would like to have gigabit even if they don't really need it.
Wifi speed is *only* 300 + 450. Another cost vs practical utility tradeoff for sure. Higher spec wifi costs more, as each speed increment requires additional antennae and amplifier chips, so I'm giving a pass here. In reality, the faster speeds don't really make a big difference, most of your gadgets probably can't use them anyway and wont for the next few years.
Range. Although they brag about the range in their literature, my test show that range is good - right up there with most modern devices, but not exceptional. A nice workman-like engineering job. YMMV, but I wouldn't buy this thing thinking it was going to do miracles wrt range.
Software. Still in v.1 firmware, so improvements are likely coming. Not much of a con, because settings seem to work pretty well. In fact, the firmware feature set is pretty darned robust, including a great set of advanced firewall features. But still, a device that has experienced a few firmware update cycles gives one a feeling that bugs have been worked out especially for the fancy features.
Location of USB Port. Its on the side, not the back. A niggle, but c'mon guys, for a good looking router, having a USB cord sticking out the side spoils the design. Again, YMMV.
Alternative use cases. There is no easy way to set this thing up as an access point. Some folks may not need (or want) to replace their ISP supplied router, but would like to upgrade their wifi capabilities (as well as take advantage of the USB port). It might be nice to add an access point mode to this router's setup. Although there is enough configurability to do this manually, it takes some expertise. (assigning an alternate IP manually, turning off DHCP, etc.). Maybe it can be added in future firmware upgrade.
Other Thoughts: If you drool over cars with 300 horsepower and are willing to pay for the latest and greatest, this router may tickle your geeky desires.
But if your primary considerations are (1) cost, (2) good looks, and (3) a solid, thoughtful set of features, I'd say this is should be on your short list. If you are reading this review, then that probably means you. Buy this and you'll be covered pretty well.
TP-Link has been putting out a lot of good kit lately. I'm a big fan of their switches in particular. They are making a reputation for themselves by providing well thought out and executed products and great prices.
Pros: Although I've only had this for a couple days, I can report setup was a breeze.
It does take a bit to understand things are defined, but if you read through the manual, the information is there, if terse.
Once you get the hang of it, VLANs using /q are a easy to define. Haven't dug into qos, link aggregation or mirroring, but the setup seems simple enough. They are just not part of my use case.
At this price point there is no competition. Except perhaps m*krotik.
Cons: There is no web management interface or CLI, which isn't really a con, but CCNA types may quibble. The management software comes in a windows installer, but appears Java based, so java experts should be able to figure out how to run it on other platforms. The windows install worked flawlessly for me. Latest firmware was already on the device, so I haven't tested the upgrade process.
The device does need an IP address to communicate and has a dhcp client to facilitate, or you can set the IP manually - for example if you want to run setup in a lab environment, then deploy.
One niggle, if you do use the dhcp client, it seems to grab the first dhcp server that it sees, regardless of which VLAN its on, So if you want to manage the switch while its in place, you should probably set the IP manually for your preferred management network, or perhaps connect the primary network first after rebooting. It might be nice if you could specify the vlan for the dhcp client. If you are like me, you prefer to set IP reservations on the server rather than have manual IP clients on your network.
Oh, and one other thing that caused a moment of confusion. Tplink uses the term "trunk" to mean link aggregation. So be warned :)
Other Thoughts: Using this to "un-trunk" a Ubiquiti Unifi AP. The unifi management interface cannot be tagged, so the "trunk" port PVID setting conveniently steers the management traffic to my desired vlan. Once you get the gist of how the tplink software does this, its pretty intuitive.
Although I could have achieved the vlan management in my primary firewall router (ASA), using this gadget is convenient, and keeps the ASA configuration from becoming too complex, especially since my guest network is set up on a second router, with a separate ISP.
It would probably be useful if TPLink provided some configuration examples for common use cases for folks just getting started with managed switches. The product line is too new for the tplink forums to be of much help, but you can try asking questions there.
If you already know your stuff, its just a matter of reading the manual to understand how tplink configuration works -- especially if you are a cisco guy.
Some manufacturers place restrictions on how details of their products may be communicated.