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Pros: - Easy setup
- Improves wireless range and strength
- Did not experience network slowdown
Cons: - Minimal documentation
Other Thoughts: I had no problems setting this up within a few minutes. You can plug this device into a standard 2 plug wall outlet. If your other outlet has a power brick or something larger than a standard plug, they could end up fighting for space. The light blinked for about 60 seconds, then went solid green meaning it was ready. I opened up IE and it took me right to the configuration page. I was able to select my dual-band network, enter my wireless password, and then I was done.
In one area of my house, I use a 5GHz media bridge to connect several wired devices to the network. Prior to installing this device, it was getting around 70% strength. After installing the device, it is now locked at 100%! I am able to stream in 1080P wirelessly throughout my LAN without any stutters or hiccups.
Interestingly, my bridge sees two of the same SSID: one at 70% strength, and the other at 100%. I connected to the stronger one. My PC only sees one of the SSIDs, and it is a solid five bars. My android phone also sees only the one SSID, and it is also five bars. So it looks like, depending on the device, you may see two versions of your SSID. If you do, just connect to the stronger of the two signals.
Once everything was set up, I decided to go into the configuration again. If things go south with the extender’s connectivity, this is first place to visit to troubleshoot. I tried to use the URL for original configuration and it didn’t work. 192.168.1.1 took me to my router’s setup. I ended up logging into my router to see what IP this device was using. Sure enough, on setup it appears the extender configures itself to a new IP using DHCP. I found the extender’s new IP in my router’s DHCP table and was able to log into the configuration by entering the new local IP in my browser. The default username and PW is admin / admin (recommend changing it).
In the GUI, you’ll see your 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless settings (these should match your SSID and PW set in your router). There is a site survey page which shows you networks within range and their strengths. There is also a QoS page with settings for WMM and No Ack. There are also pages to change the access password (highly recommended). You can backup and restore configurations, enable logs, upgrade firmware (none are available yet), and view information such as a WLAN summary and DHCP table.
I do not have speakers set up near the extender, so I did not test the audio. This isn’t a device I would look to for getting audio to another part of my house, but maybe some people would. Regardless, it looks like the other reviewer so far has that functionality covered, and if it’s a bonus for some people, great!
All in all, I think this is a great little device. It extends your networks as advertised. Basic setup following the instructions works, but afterwards I recommend getting under the hood and changing the password and making yourself more familiar with the other settings.
Pros: - Easy physical installation. Just plug it into a PCI-Express slot, screw on the three antennae and you’re done
- Has an additional low-profile bracket
- Driver recognized by Windows 8.1
- No disconnects or lag.
- Runs cool
Cons: - Not as fast as my WUMC710 (5GHz 802.11 ac wireless media bridge) at the same distance.
- Weaker 5GHz signal reception at around 30 feet compared to other devices I own.
- Utility on the CD was not Windows 8.1 compatible. TP-Link web site was down when I tried to look for an updated utility. Was able to load utility by copying from CD to desktop and running setup in compatibility mode for Vista SP2. Worked fine afterwards.
Other Thoughts: The TP-Link Archer T9E is an interesting and seemingly reliable network adapter, but its reception and speed left me wanting a little more. This could just be my environment. My WUMC710 is able to pick up my router (Archer C7 v2 w/DD-WRT) at about 80% signal strength about 30 feet away. I was hoping for similar or better signal strength with the Archer T9E, but was instead getting only a 32% signal. I’m not sure if it is because the WUMC710 sits on top of my desk, whereas the antennae for the T9E are behind my PC on the floor, but I was a little disappointed. The 2.4GHz reception was much stronger (78%). I am probably approaching the limit of my 5GHz range. Also, I experienced no disconnects or lag over a 48 hour period. So it is dependable.
The weak reception likely resulted in my disappointment in speed. With my WUMC710, I am able to copy a 4.3GB folder across my LAN in about 4 minutes at an average (more or less) of 18MB/sec (That’s B, not b). On the T9E’s 5GHz signal, I was only able to get about half that (9MB/sec, 8 minutes). On 2.4Ghz, despite the stronger signal, because it is a slower frequency I was only able to get 5.5MB/sec, which resulted in about a 15 minute copy time.
Some other quirks I experienced – the location of my PCI Express slot causes this adapter to block one of my video card's intake fans. Also related to this, because the network card is so close to the video card, the antennae and video cables fight for space behind the PC. This isn’t the fault of the adapter, but it is something you should watch for if airflow and antennae positioning are a concern.
Also, as mentioned in cons, the utility that ships with the driver CD is not Windows 8.1 compatible. I tried to download an update but TP-Link’s web site was down. However, I was able to get it to work by copying the utility folder from the CD to my desktop and then setting the setup program to compatibility mode for Vista SP2. Although I was able to figure it out, I suspect that many users won’t bother to try this. That said, the driver itself did install, and I was able to manage the wireless connections through Windows before figuring out how to install the TP-link utility. I like the utility better than Windows because it allows you to see the signal strength easily.
Overall, the T9E is a nice card and I recommend it. I have other TP-Link products (router, switch, USB wifi adapter) and they are all very reliable. I only wish the T9E had slightly better reception (and therefore speed) for my environment.
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