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Pros: -Small footprint
-Dual-band goodness + 802.11ac tech
-4-Port Gigabit ports (a must to fully utilize the >100Mbps wireless speeds)
-USB 3.0 NAS x 2
-Miracast device, whose coolest feature is its custom port, er, I mean cradle on the top of the mothership, er, I mean router
Cons: -Reboot required after changing almost any feature – This is so 2005, ASRock
Minor Con: I’m not a fan of the vertical ports because they can make the router a bit tippy when cables are plugged into them, especially when the router is so lightweight.
Other Thoughts: My review is from the angle of a power user in a 2-level home with a robust Gigabit network (20+ active wired nodes, mostly in the basement) and many wireless devices upstairs, covered partially by a centrally-located D-Link DIR-868L and by a DAP-1650 Extender on the weak end of the house. I have upgraded through several D-Link routers, which have served me well for 7-8 years (and the oldest one is still running on my network as a switch) and have been using the 868L for several years now. The 868L is the one to beat as far as I am concerned. I am no stranger to ASRock, which is a “secondary” ASUS brand for those of you who didn’t already know this. I have been using ASRock motherboards for many years and there were times where I had better luck & performance from ASRock boards than from ASUS-branded boards, although I have fully come back into the ASUS fold after a perfect string of luck with their most-excellent M5A78L motherboards. Being a fan, in general, of ASUS products is what prompted this review’s title. I really thought this one was going to beat the speeds on the 868L, which are rated AC1750. Apparently, this rating is the equivalent to the almost non-existent MPG ratings shown under a car’s specs, which are completely subject to unrealistic conditions. I will get to that, but first want to cover my disappointment with the router’s browser interface. I’m not complaining so much about the actual look of the interface, but want to be clear that if you are mainly looking for a router to do basic routing functions and optimize your network traffic, this one is great for that. However, one of the reasons I am such a big D-Link fanboy is because of their extensive user-access control features. With time, perhaps ASRock will add some of these features with future firmware updates, but it seems doubtful. I think they know their audience and I don’t think it’s me. Beyond all of the local wireless access going on, I also serve out 2 websites from my main server and have multiple Virtual Server forwarding rules for external RDP access. So, I need quite a bit from the main router beyond the local access control.
Now to the meat of this review (i.e. the thing that mattered most to me): The wireless speeds. I used 2 Wireless AC adapters comparing this device (hereafter called the G10) with the speeds of the 868L and the DAP-1650. Both adapters happen to be Intel Wireless AC 7260 adapters (internal Mini-PCI Express in my laptop and the smaller NGFF in my Yoga 2 Pro), which 18 months after I bought them, are still the ones to beat. Here’s where the disappointment begins…With the G10, I was getting actual throughput of 150Mbps Up/150Mbps Down (hereafter referred as 150/150) at about 30 feet away in my prime spot, using LAN Speed Test/Server across the Gigabit network. Through the DAP-1650, I was consistently getting 150/300 and through the 868L, I was getting 200/400. So the AC2600 router couldn’t even beat the AC1200-rated extender and will lose an egg for this. I give it 4 eggs for having a decent feature set, the Miracast functionality and its general coolness.
Pros: -CORSAIR QUALITY = The “little things” that make the experience richer & more enjoyable:
-Tapered edges to give it that not-so-boxy look
-PSU arrives in velvety case and cables have their own nylon bag
-Fan only needs to run under load and not much at that
-The modular cables just work – all of them, all of the time
-Fantastic experience with Corsair’s products, in general, as well as their support (in the rare times when it is needed)
-Silent to near-silent operation
-All of the amperage on one 12v rail
Cons: Absolutely none
Other Thoughts: I have a PC in my home that hosts two websites and also serves as our media server. I recently upgraded it and chose this power supply to power it. I am a longtime fan of Corsair power supplies and still have a few running that are 7-8 years old, notably a TX750W in the server PC (that will now be the redundancy/backup server) and a TX850W in my main rig, which also acts as a file server. Both of these have been running continuously for all of those years, so Corsair power supplies are #1 in my book. I have tried many brands in that time and, although I believe that eVGA’s power supplies are good competition for Corsair, my first choice is still Corsair. Here’s why… They totally understand hardware geeks like myself. Some people would say that some of the items listed in my Pros list are overkill or wasteful. But, there is a certain thrill about unwrapping a quality power supply – The heft of it, the smell of the components, all of it. When I first removed this RM650X from its velvety bag, I marveled at the sleek design. I doubt that the tapered edges provide any functional benefit and, sadly, you don’t even see them once it is installed. But, they are there as part of the builder experience, so thanks for that Corsair! In addition to trying other brands over the years, I have occasionally tried modular power supplies with mixed success. I suppose some of it was just the fact the concept was new and their manufacturing wasn’t as polished, but I came to dislike modular PSUs. Silverstone were making modular in the early phases of the concept and were highly rated, at the time. On two occasions, I had Silverstone SATA cables that were just plain faulty. I ended up using the ATX 12v power cable and adapting them for SATA power and, because of this, I didn’t buy a modular PSU for many years. When Corsair started making modular affordable enough, I decided to give it another go and have had 100% success with Corsair modular power supplies, hence the title of this review. This is one of those reviews where I didn’t even have to give any thought to how many eggs their rating would have. Knowing that this power supply will outlast 2 average power supplies makes it it an excellent value.
Final thought: Having been a hobbyist/enthusiast/part-time paid system builder for 15 years, I came to realize many years ago that the key to a good, stable system is a quality power supply. Even if you are building a budget system, DON’T SKIMP ON THE POWER SUPPLY.
Pros: -Straightforward setup using typical browser-based access to the configuration
-Device found my local wireless network without issue and you can specify by MAC address which AP you want it to connect to
-Retains profiles for different locations/wireless networks and allows you to select
-I like the low profile, especially compared to a similar NETIS device I have that sticks out perpendicular to the wall
Cons: -Throughput speeds are rarely better than the speeds seen when connected to device being extended
-Minor Con: Although I understand why TP-Link uses ‘extender’ in the naming of this device, it is really just a wireless repeater. In my experience, an extender is a device that is connected to the wired network and then acts as an access point for the wireless network, extending it that way.
-Minor Con: They made this device low profile, but didn’t include a plug that folds in for travel.
Other Thoughts: I have had good history with TP Link’s devices (routers & adapters) and this device has surprised me a bit, but not in a good way. As mentioned in the Pros, I had no difficulty configuring this device to the local network. As I typically do with all of my network connections, I test the actual throughput speeds using the excellent third-party utility LAN Speed Test (LST) v3.5 with LST Server running on a home server across a robust Gigabit-802.11ac network. As a point of reference, I average 800Mbps Write/Upload & 800Mbps Read/Download (hereafter, 800/800) on my network testing from PCs that have Gigabit wired adapters and (90/145) testing over Wireless AC speeds on the 5GHz band. With an N300 adapter on this network, I can easily get 50/90, so that is our actual top end. I connected to the TL-WA854RE (latest 140827 firmware) configured it to my local network and then tested using a Windows 8 Tablet and also a Windows 10 Ultrabook, both with an N300-rated adapter. Sadly, I could not get better averages than 12/10. I tried different plug-in points around the room (utilizing the Smart Signal functionality), some at typical wall height, some at desk height and, finally, one that is a foot below the ceiling and is about 4 feet away from the wireless device that the extender is extending the signal for. The result was the same – sluggish response and throughput speeds. That concluded home testing. I also brought it along on a weekend vacation and did the same type of testing using my CradlePoint router connected via wired connection to an Ultrabook with LST Server running. Having tested other devices, I knew that this aging, yet functional, router could easy throughput 40+ down & up. Using the same devices and processes as at home, I was seeing the same throughput of 12/10. I then tested a N150 NETIS repeater device for comparison and it was showing a comparable throughput of 9/9. I really wanted to like this device and it does make a great nightlight. However, If you need to extend your wireless network but also have access to the wired network somewhere along the way, I recommend the TRENDnet TPL-410APK (which uses the AC power wiring as an “alternative” network). For comparison, in the same setting where I was getting 12/10 with this device, the TPL-410APK was getting 35/35. I believe it is worth the extra money.
Overall, this device gets 5 eggs on form and then loses 2 eggs on function. I will sometimes rate a device higher than normal if I can find a niche or specific purpose for it, but I simply could not find a niche for this device. If I do, look for a follow-up review...