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Pros: This is an update to my previous review, "OK router but I prefer the TL-WDR4300"
I decided to re-test the Archer C7 v2 with different hardware (a Cisco AE2500 dual-band N USB adapter), and have seen the light.
Absolutely killer performance. Period, end of story.
I tested 3 routers - the Archer C7, the TP-LINK N750, and a Buffalo WZR-1750DHPD. The Archer C7 came out tops on 15 of 22 tests/specifications in my comparisons. Rating accordingly and giving 2 points for 1st place, 1 point for 2nd place, and 0 points for last place, the Archer C7 achieved 35 out of 44 points and was 1st place in:
2.4GHz - Average Signal % (90%)
2.4GHz - RSSI (-44)
2.4GHz - Max Speed (450Mbps)
2.4GHz LAN Speed Test Lite 1000MB file upload (74.70Mbps)
2.4GHz LAN Speed Test Lite 1000MB file download (81.44Mbps)
5GHz - Average Signal % (99%)
5GHz - RSSI (-33)
5GHz - Max Speed (450Mbps)
5GHz LAN Speed Test Lite 1000MB file upload (133.32Mbps)
5GHz LAN Speed Test Lite 1000MB file download (138.91Mbps)
5GHz - Average Signal % (87%)
5GHz - RSSI (-50)
5GHz - Max Speed (450Mbps)
5GHz LAN Speed Test Lite 1000MB file download (126.62Mbps)
Gigabit using Cat5e
751.47Mbps upload (last place, oddly enough - the N750 beat it with 768.55Mbps upload)
499.05Mbps download (2nd place - again, beaten by the N750 with 511.07Mbps download)
Even when it "lost" in my testing, it didn't lose by much.
The firmware on this device is solid. Tons of features, easy to understand menus, lots of bells and whistles.
Build quality is very good. It's plasticky, but it's not cheap feeling - it feels like 'quality'.
Cons: From a networking standpoint, the only thing it doesn't do that I wish was there was VLAN'ing. Most consumer-level routers and switches (unmanaged of course) don't offer VLAN capabilities though, so I'm not going to deduct an Egg for this.
Other Thoughts: The Archer C7 is now "my router". I've put up the N750 and couldn't be happier. The C7 is like an N750 with a Hemi; just a phenomenal router. I cannot recommend this product enough. And it's priced incredibly low as well!READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Build quality is A+, top notch. This is a beautiful piece of networking equipment; arguably the most beautiful consumer-level networking gear I’ve ever had my hands on. From the feel of the unit to the overall size and look, it’s a 10 out of 10.
The feature set is probably the best you’re going to get. The sheer amount of bells and whistles and customization that this unit (having DD-WRT) gives you is phenomenal. From all the selectable DDNS providers, to being able to create VLAN’s (which is largely not available in most other consumer-level routers), is remarkable.
Cons: The performance of this router is atrocious. Wired, wireless, 2.4GHz or 5GHz, it does not matter – the performance is subpar and downright disappointing. Wired performance is the best out of all though – using LAN Speed Test Lite, I was able to achieve speeds of 766.87Mbps upload and 490.80Mbps download using Cat5e cable. That’s pretty good; the upload rate is actually 2nd best out of my 3 tested devices total, but the download rate is worst. Still though, 490Mbps Gigabit speeds are pretty good. Comparatively, my best results were with a TP-LINK N750 router, achieving 768.55Mbps upload and 511.07Mbps download.
Wireless, however, is a whole other picture. Despite the average signal rates of this router getting a 2nd place finish for me, the performance is horrible – I would assume, due to the lack of any external antennas.
From roughly 10’ away, on a HP ProBook 450 G1 laptop with a Cisco AE2500 dual-band N USB adapter, my average signal according to NirSoft’s freeware WirelessNetView utility, was 87% on 2.4GHz and 91% on 5GHz, good for 2nd place for me. However, the actual performance (again using LAN Speed Test Lite), was 69.22Mbps upload and 67.17Mbps download (on 2.4GHz), and 78.24Mbps upload and 85.87Mbps download (on 5GHz). These results are worst in my testing; the best results came from a TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 router, with 74.69Mbps upload and 81.44Mbps download (on 2.4GHz) and…drumroll please….133.32Mbps upload and 138.90Mbps download (on 5GHz), a difference of nearly double (compared to the Buffalo WZR-1750DHPD).
Oddly enough, the WZR-1750DHPD fared best on 2.4GHz from 25’ away, with an 87% average signal, 67.01Mbps upload and 80.70Mbps download. However, on 5GHz from 25’ away, performance was worst, with an average signal of 77% (2nd best), but 75.82Mbps upload and 68.65Mbps download. Comparatively, again the TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 router beat it on all counts of 5GHz, with an average signal of 87%, 127.70Mbps upload and 126.62Mbps download – which is again nearly double that of the WZR-1750DHPD.
The unit also does not have indicators for each LAN port for wired traffic, which I found very strange. The lights that are there do not blink to indicate activity either; they are either (solid) on or off.
Other Thoughts: In terms of broadband performance, this router is sufficient. On my Charter cable 30/4 connection, all 3 routers pulled an average of 31Mbps down and 4.3Mbps up. No matter what you purchase, the likelihood is that your broadband connection will never fully saturate the bandwidth available to you wirelessly with any router (unless you’re using 802.11A or 802.11B, possibly even 802.11G). In that regard, I prefer to test router performance, both wired and wireless, using LAN speed testing software, since that will better indicate the actual performance offered by the router.
I had no issues joining a laptop, 3 smartphones, a tablet, and a Ps3 to the WiFi of the WZR-1750DHPD. It seemed to handle concurrent traffic without any issues.
I also had no troubles whatsoever adjusting port forwards to allow for incoming traffic via FTP/SFTP as well as VNC and a Minecraft server; similarly, the UPnP functions performed well and handled my DirecTV Genie port requests as well as my Tor Relay requests without issue.
In closing, despite gorgeous build quality and the features offered with DD-WRT, I cannot recommend this router, especially not over the TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 router which, in my testing, offers nearly double the wireless performance for nearly half the price.
Pros: Received a v2 unit as advertised. Firmware was current out of the box with the initial release, version 3.13.34 Build 131217 Rel.60903n.
Firmware is robust and feature packed. Port forwarding is fairly easy to do, as is using UPnP and changing security settings for the wireless networks, including changing the SSID and creating a WEP or WPA/WPA2 key.
Box includes the router, power cord, 3 external 5GHz removable/pivoting antennas, 1 short (3'?) Cat5e cable, manual, software mini CD.
Gigabit speeds are good. Between my server with a Supermicro X8DA3 board utilizing an Intel PRO 1000 PM Gigabit ethernet adapter, and a secondary workstation with a Gigabyte P45-UD3P utilizing a Realtek 8111C Gigabit ethernet adapter, with Cat5e cables I achieved speeds of 773.9 Mbps upload and 534.3 Mbps download via the LAN Speed Test (Lite) v1.3.1 app.
2.4GHz WiFi signal strength and coverage is also excellent. Choosing 2 spots in the house (at distances of roughly 15' and 25' from the router), my results were as follows:
98% average signal
-43 dB, 5/5 bars
99% average signal
-55 dB, 5/5 bars
The 2 included USB ports function well for printer and flash drive/HDD sharing over the network.
Router handles concurrent traffic very well. Even with wired and wireless traffic flowing simultaneously between 2 wired computers, a wireless laptop, 3 smartphones and 1 tablet, there were no issues or lock ups. Bandwidth did not seem to be hindered in any way (other than the actual connection I have at home, which is a 30/4Mbps Charter cable connection). I was able to speed test and pull >100% off every device (as is typically the case with Charter - you pay for 30Mbps, yet I usually pull closer to 50-60 down on average).
Cons: Actual wireless performance and throughput is not even close to rated speeds in my experience.
Again using LAN Speed Test (Lite), on the 2.4GHz spectrum my transfer rates were 48.3Mbps upload and 40.1Mbps download; the rated maximum throughput here on 2.4GHz is 450Mbps, meaning I didn't even achieve 9% of that throughput in my testing. I was even further disappointed by this considering that the AC1750 has 3 separate antennas for each radio spectrum - 3 internal for the 2.4GHz and 3 external for the 5GHz. I expected the performance to be better spectrum vs. spectrum since each band has it's own antennas and the spectrums are not sharing antennas.
I was not able to test the (rated 1,300Mbps) throughput on the 5GHz band, but can verify that the signal strength and coverage of 5GHz is worse than the 2.4GHz by far - again surprising, since the 5GHz antennas are external and quite long. Again, using my 15' and 25' measuring gaps - at 15' the signal was at -61 dB with 4/5 bars, and at 25' the signal was at -66 dB with 3.5/5 bars. This is with the exact same security encryption as the excellent 2.4GHz coverage results above. Given the <1/10th throughput on the 2.4GHz band from my testing, I believe I can safely assume that the 5GHz throughput is no better than 1/10th - meaning "at best", 130Mbps, if the signal is optimal (and in my testing, the 5GHz coverage is definitely weaker, so I wouldn't bet on it).
The power brick is 'morbidly obese'. The router pulls 2.5A based on the label on the bottom, and the power brick is easily the biggest power brick I've seen on a router, ever. I would assume the extra power is required due to the 6 total antennas with this unit.
The shape is odd. The top is somewhat convex, and the only flat part is the bottom. Unless you can prop it up against something (somewhat sideways), the only way to 'sit' the router is on it's bottom.
Other Thoughts: I'm very happy with my TP-LINK TL-WDR4300 N750 router, which is practically identical in looks and features, at least on the outside, to the Archer C7 AC1750. The main differences you notice on the surface, are the blue lights (N750) vs green lights (AC1750), and the larger power brick on the AC1750. Internally, it's a whole different story - the N750 has no internal antennas, and only the 3 external that are shared with the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Again, because of this, I expected the AC1750 to perform at least somewhat better due to having twice as many antennas, and not only that, but having each band on it's own set of 3 antennas. Real world performance, however, shows this not to be the case, in the least.
Both routers have a similar firmware feature set. Plenty of features, lots of bells and whistles, and customization across the board. Many of the same other features - 2 USB 2.0 ports, Guest WiFi network, DDNS built-in.
The key difference here is the N750 is about $30 cheaper on average and performs just as good with wired gigabit throughput, 2.4GHz throughput and coverage, and 5GHz coverage, as the AC1750. Because of that - I cannot soundly recommend the AC1750. It's not a bad router per se, but it's cheaper, smaller brother (the N750) performs just as admirably for quite a bit less.