Make informed decisions with expert advice. Learn More
Pros: -The absolute coolest feature of this USB Adapter is it’s “SoftAP” Mode. Basically this provides you with a portable wireless hot spot or Access Point that allows you to connect multiple other wireless devices, like smartphones, tablets, gaming handhelds using this adapter attached to a networked PC. It’s like having a portable access point or router. More on this later.
-Great looking packaging and no blister packing! Substantial box, clean and light look with debossed gold TP-Link logo. Small cut-out showing the USB Adapter. Very classy looking! Oddly, the USB adapter itself was not facing outwards to show off the TP-Link logo.
-The TP-Link USB Adapter itself is tiny! It’s about the size of a very small USB thumb drive and is about the size from the tip of my thumb to the first knuckle. Easily concealed and very portable, this is great for people on the go.
-The USB Key itself has a small blue LED for transmission status that is muted in color by the case housing itself. Looks great, as it is not overly bright or distracting and the housing itself is a nice glossy black.
-Package contents included the TP-Link USB Adapter, a quick start guide, a Windows 8 guide, and a resource mini-CD. Windows autodetects the adapter as a Realtek RTL8192CU Wireless LAN without the TP-Link driver and will provide basic connectivity features without the need to install any additional software.
-Good price relative to performance and feature set.
Here’s a comparison relative to some other Network Adapters I have tested recently:
TrendNet AC 2.4G - 300 Mbps link, 8-9MB/s actual
Actiontec N 2.4G - 130Mbps link, 2-3 MB/s actual
TrendNet AC 5G - 866Mbps link, 26.3 MB/s actual
TrendNet AC 2.4G - 144Mbps link, 10.8 MB/s actual
Actiontec N 2.4G - 130Mbps link, 9.6 MB/s actual
TrendNet AC 2.4G - 72Mbps link, 5.6 MB/s actual
Actiontec N 2.4G - 72Mbps link, 4MB/s actual
*Intel 4965AGN (laptop built-in WiFi)
TrendNet AC 2.4G - 300Mbps link, 13MB/s actual
Actiontec AC 2.4G - 130Mbps link, 9MB/s actual
300 Mbps 8-9MB/s actual
130 Mbps 2-3MB/s actual
For SoftAP performance, please see “Other Thoughts Section”
Cons: -The cap is tiny and can be easily lost. It also only goes on one way. Personally for USB drives of this size, I prefer no cap or a retractable/flippable design to conceal the USB connector. Caps are just too easy to lose.
-This drive is no speed demon compared to other 802.11n adapters on the market, but it's also much smaller. While the adapter performed comparably to other USB drives when connected at 300 Mbps link to a dual-band N router, it’s performance tanked when connected to a single-band router. I did not dock any eggs for this however, because I think the true strength of this adapter is it’s tiny size and SoftAP capabilities.
-While you can get basic functionality for the adapter, in order to access all features you will need to install the driver and TP-Link tools found on the mini CD or TP-Link’s website. You'll probably want to download TP-Link's drivers to your laptop or a thumb driver rather than carry around the CD or download them each time you need them.
-There are no instructions on how to enable SoftAP in the documentation and the box itself doesn’t mention it anywhere either. I only knew about it from the product description on the Newegg page. TP-LINK should really consider advertising this awesome feature on the box somewhere!
Overall Review: As I mentioned earlier, the coolest feature of this little adapter is it’s ability to act as a SoftAP or wireless hot spot. This opens up all kinds of possible usage patterns for frequent travelers, students, people on the go. With this adapter, you can plug it into a networked public PC and quickly give your wireless devices instant wireless access. If you only have 1 wired connection and you have multiple wireless devices, you can connect a laptop to that wired connection and connect all your other devices. Very cool feature indeed.
In order to configure the SoftAP mode, you have to install the TP-Link drivers and tools found on the mini-CD. Once installed, open the TP-Link Wireless Configuration Utility and open the “Advanced” Tab. Hit the radio button to turn SoftAP mode “On”. Now go to the SoftAP tab and you will see everything is preset and populated, very convenient! All you need to do is remember the SSID password that is listed (it's pretty easy) or change it to something you like to connect your wireless devices to it.
I did manage to test the speed of the SoftAP mode. Interestingly enough, the link speed of the SoftAP connection is only 1Mbps and spikes to 100% usage when transferring, but using my Galaxy S4 and SpeedTest I found the actual transfer speeds were much better. I was very impressed with the speed and distance of the SoftAP connection, as I was still getting signal down 2 flights of stairs around 40 feet away. Keep in mind, this is a thumb-sized adapter and not a full-sized router or AP!
With Speedtest.Net on my SGS4 I obtained the following:
Same room: 42Mbps down | 44Mbps up | 27ms ping
1 flight down: 40Mbps down | 25Mbps up | 33ms ping
2 flights down: 22Mbps down | 19Mbps up | 36ms ping
Very cool product, it’s a solid all around performer for the price, but I think the SoftAP mode puts it over the top.
Pros: -Hello. I am technically inclined, but I like to take the approach of a person reading reviews that doesn’t understand all the “geek speak” and make it understandable for the person who doesn’t have the time or patience to study up on stuff. If that’s you, then this one is for you.
-Considering most (if not all) laptops and portable computer devices have wireless (Wi-Fi) built in already, this device is geared more toward desktop users whom do not have a Wi-Fi connection built into their motherboards.
-The device is tiny and takes up a VERY small footprint. In other-words, no gaudy device sticking out of your computers USB port making it cumbersome to navigate around.
-It DOES come with a WPS button built in right on the little USB device itself (not shown in the pictures – it’s on the reverse side; which actually turns out to be the “topside” of the device when plugged in [to most systems]). So that means you ONLY have to click the WPS (discovery Button) on your router (if you have one) and then simply click the WPS button on the TP-LINK TL-WN823N Wireless N300 USB device to make a 100% secure connection with NO knowledge setup whatsoever. Click the router, click the USB WPS button. Simple as that.
-It does come with a cover cap, but it is pretty much useless considering what I have already stated; it is for those w/o a wireless connection on their device, and if that IS the case, it will probably stay plugged in forever.
-It is black in color, so the minute piece that does stick out is very inconspicuous.
Cons: -It is only “geared” for 2.5Ghz connections via wirelessly. The more modern 5.0Ghz routers that deliver fatser connections/data transfer rates, this device will only deliver “mediocre” speeds. Now I say mediocre because we’re talking about a download speed of (via wirelessly) @ say 120-170 Mph (kb/s – kilobytes per second). With more modern transfer rates, we are looking at 1000 (thousand) Mph (MB/s – MegaBytes per Second).
-Either way, this nifty ‘lil device is SURE to promote ALL the speed needed for common YouTube video watching on 1080p quality (that’s the highest quality @ the moment) for video watching, thus meaning, Netflix and ANY other streaming video/media will have no problem with the TP-LINK TL-WN823N. Which means normal internet surfing, email, and the such is NOT even a question if it can do these tasks. The Wireless N300 USB device will even let the most core gamer play online with no problems whatsoever. I played Tom Clancy’s Ghost (free online) with absolutely zero lag. Online gaming take very little transfer requirements to play online. Any lag of any kind will usually be because the und user (the gamer) has a slower or lower end computer that simply cannot process the data fast enough. They need at least a dual core CPU with a mid-range to high range power level to process data as well as a video card (GPU – Graphics Processing Unit) to keep up with the data coming in through their internet. And I promise you, this device well enough supplies the 2.4 Ghz delivery WITHOUT any drops to supply the user and computer with the power it needs to play a simple online game such as Battlefield 4. So not really a “con” here, considering this info is stated VERY clearly that it is in fact “Up to 300Mbps” – that’s Mega Bits per Second… NOT Mega BYTES per Second. The small ‘b’ tells the whole story here in this case.
Overall Review: -This unit was tested on a full blown custom gaming desktop (see below geeks) and also a *** laptop that is used for YouTubing and simple email.
-Just because this is a review, please don’t take my words lightly and think I just favor a product because it is sent to me. I have a job to do; and that’s to be fair and honest about the product for future prospective buyers. I am just like you, a Newegg customer, and to me Newegg reviews are golden. So I am not about to tarnish Newegg reviews OR my good name by telling you something is good when it is not. I hope this review has satisfied your purchasing inquiry needs. Thank you for reading. And thank you Newegg for allowing me another great opportunity to review.
-GAMING DESKTOP SPECS (Hope this displays properly):
-Case: IN WIN Dragon Rider Full Tower
-Mobo: ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0
-CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 3.4GHz (OC 3.7GHz)
-CPU Cooler: Stock 4 pipe AMD 965 Black PIB cooler
-PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA750 750W (80 PLUS)
-GPU: EVGA GeForce GTS 450 Superclocked Edition 1GB Core:882MHz / Shader:1764MHz / Memory:1900MHz
-RAM: G-Skill (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1333/686Mhz/C-9/1.5V *(OV 1432/1027Mhz/C-9/1.6V)
-HDD OS: OCZ RevoDrive X2 - 220GB x4 PCIe MLC SSD
-HDD Storage: 1x Western Digital Black 750GB (Acronis 2013 backup storage for OS)
-HDD Storage: 2x Western Digital Blue 1 TB 7200
-HDD Storage: 1x Seagate Baracuda 3TB 7200 (BLEW out after 1.17 yrs)
-Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc 24x DVD DL Lightscribe
-Cooling: ALL AIR. Case: 1x 220mm, 4x 120mm / CPU: Stock 4 heatpipe
-Fan Controller: NZXT Sentry-2 Touch Screen (5 fans + temps)
-Keyboard: Mad Catz/Saitek Cyborg V.7
-Mouse: Tek Republic TM Black 7 Button + 1 Wheel
-OS: Win 7 Ultimate x64
-Monitor: ASUS VE278H Black 27" 2ms (GTG) HDMI
-Gamepad: Afterglow Gamepad for XBOX 360 (wired)
Pros: Received package in good condition packaging is adequate to protect it from normal shipping practices Package was easy to open and get the unit out the driver disc and manuals were underneath a cardboard partition which had a finger hold to get it out easily so packaging well thought out unlike so many of our packages.
Smaller than I thought it would be especially when the cap is off but not as small as an edimax. What sticks out of USP port is about a ¾”x1” black block so it is not so big it interferes with other devices you may be using around it. The installation was plug and play in windows 7 pro 64bit with service pack 1.
Speed 15’ from router 21.85 Mbps down and 5.45 Mbps up speeds with wired was getting 27.69 Mbps down and 5.56 Mbps up ping of 15ms either way on a 100 mile distant server. With server being about 800 miles distant I only dropped about 1Mbps speed on download and almost identical upload speed ping was 48ms. I let computer run while I used it for about the next 7 hours then left it going overnight and well into the afternoon and it never dropped a signal so it is apparently very stable.
After that installed software and set it up very simple process put in key and all was there See Cons I disabled the security and just used their driver and all was back to normal. So now for the laptop test….
Setup laptop with just the driver and connected to the internet no problem then took the computer for a walk outside after about 150 feet still had connection to internet and able to open web pages with just a little lag not enough to complain about. I did not get the speed test since it was very difficult to see on sunny day and I do not have a sheltered area to block out the sunlight.
Cons: included software did not function very well for me the internet speeds slowed down drastically web pages would not always open chat screen messages would send only after a 5 second or more hesitation
Overall Review: System Desktop
ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
GSKILL Ripjaws 8GB 2x4GB
Cooler Master Storm Enforcer
Antec 550W PSU
Lite-on Blu-ray Burner
Sony Optiarc DVD Burner
Koutech USB 3 card reader
EVGA 01G-P3-1370-RX GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5
ASUS 23" monitor (Stacked Bottom)
ASUS 23" monitor (Stacked Top)
Crucial M4 128GB SDD OS
Windows 7 Professional 64bit
Pros: Got it for $10. For what I paid it works great. The range is decent, the speed is decent. No connection problems where I use it, which admittedly isn't that far from the router. It's small, perfect for use with laptops.
It has a WPS button. That's pretty awesome for such a small, inexpensive adapter.
Cons: Not the greatest max bandwidth, but for what I paid I'm not complaining.
2.4 GHz only. Again, not really a con for it's price range.
Overall Review: If you only use your network for browsing the internet, streaming movies or downloads, then this adapter will work just fine. If you're into file sharing and high speed is important to you, then you might want to consider an adapter with a higher max bandwidth.
Honestly, if you can get this adapter for $10, then it deserves a 5 Egg rating. But for over $20, it gets 4.
Small without being uselessly tiny and sacrificing functionality
WPS functionality for quick setup
Performed quite well for a small adapter - I had no issues with signal degradation, nor did I experience packet loss/connectivity problems compared to a larger USB wireless adapter wandering around my home network.
Cons: AP functionality is a bit limited, but that's not really a con at this price point.
Overall Review: Great little adapter if you just need a small USB wireless adapter for a mobile device on your home network, or if you just need a very portable wireless adapter for your laptop on the go.
Pros: This is a 2.4GHZ 300Mbps MINI-sized usb wireless adapter for Windows.
Realtek chip based.
Tiny compared to most other wireless USB adapters.
Doesn't get very hot in use.
Inobtrusive blue activity LED.
They actually fit a WPS button on this small thing.
Connect range is slightly better than my iphone 4S
If you just use N and your router supports 300N it will do 300Mbps just fine if you need it. See Other Thoughts.
Win 8/Win 7/Vista/XP Drivers.
Inexpensive but doesn't look cheap.
2 year warranty.
Cons: No 5 GHz band.
Limited range due to size trade-off.
Windows drivers only.
SoftAP mode only available in Windows 7 and requires Windows ICS service to be running properly.
Overall Review: I tested this with a Netgear R6300 AC1750, Cisco EA6500 DualBand AC, and a TP-Lin WDR3600 router and then compared it with several full size wireless USB adapters and several other wireless devices. The larger wireless adapters had better range. This product is a compromise between range and physical size. The most similar device in terms of range that I found was an iphone 4S. If your phone can connect, this adapter likely will. Two rooms and two walls from your router is probably going to be just fine.
If you plan on needing a 300bps connection it would be good to review how that is achieved. The 2.4 GHz band has three common standards: 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n. Using B protocol gets you 11Mbs, G gets you about 54 Mbps, and N gets you about 150 Mbps on a channel. An advance in N allows for channel bonding in which two adjacent 20MHz channels are used simultaneously getting you 2 x 150 = 300Mbps on a "bonded" 40MHz channel. This requires that your router be set to only operate on N mode with channel bonding turned on. Nowdays, a lot of people have simultaneous dual-band (2.4 GHz plus 5 GHz) routers. Most routers come set by default to operate in "mixed mode" for compatability on 2.4 GHz so all devices (b/g/n) can connect. The 5GHz band is then used for those connections requiring high bandwidth. In order to get 300 speed on 2.4 GHz the default setting on the router has to be changed to "only N" and channel bonding mode needs to be turned on. Your older g and b devices will then not be able to connect.
If you find shorter range than me it is likely due to interference on the highly crowded 2.4 GHz band. Some routers have GUI tools that can tell you which channels are not in use nearby. (though that won't show cordless phones, etc.) I used the WiFi Analyzer app on a jail-broken iOS device to make sure I was testing on channels with no interference.
I did not test with Linux because this was not an advertised compatability but drivers for the chipset exist.
On my Windows 7 64 bit, the drivers automatically installed if connected to internet via wired. Installing the drivers/utility software from mini CD also gives you access to SoftAP which allows this adapter to share a wired internet connection wirelessly (like a router).
Pros: Tiny, fast, lightweight. This adapter is pretty good for what it is and for the price. If you are running a machine that was manufactured within the last 4 - 5 years, chances are it has a wireless card installed already and that wireless card supports 802.11n. If you do not, this is a viable option for you to add/upgrade wireless capabilities on your computer. This usb network adapter is much better than older products which were large, clunky and often times required having to carry around an extra usb cable. This device is smaller than most thumb drives and can easily be added to a laptop bag or even just in your pocket. Speeds were fairly consistent with what I would expect as far as a usb network device is concerned. The theoretical maximum speed for the USB 2.0 specification is 480 Megabits per second. While this is faster than the 802.11n standard, you will be hard-pressed to find a machine that is capable of transferring data at this speed. My typical experience with data rates over this (and other) 802.11N devices is roughly 150 - 200Mbps which is still really quick. This figure varies greatly however depending on the quality of signal, proximity to the access point, quality of your usb controller, etc.
This device will perform well when you want it and where you want it with some exceptions noted in the con section. One other nice feature of this adapter is that you can mount it on an extension cable to a parabolic dish to use as a wok-tenna or wi-fry receiver (funny names for home made radio dishes that utilize the adapter as the receiver for wireless signals). search instructables.com for more info on those types of DIY projects.
Cons: Range. The range on this unit is much more limited than an internal wi-fi card with longer antennas. As noted above, this can be rectified if one is so inclined to take a DIY approach, but at that point you might want to reconsider your use of a usb wi-fi adapter in the first place iunless you have no choice. On my internal wireless cards on my Macbook, Asus UL80VT laptop and my internal Asus 802.11n wireless card in my desktop PC I am able to detect and connect to quite a few more networks than I was able to within the same radius using the USB adapter. This is to be expected due to the lack of external antennas but if you're looking for something for at home or a small office, should work just fine.
Only 2.4GHz band. While the average consumer does not care about 2.4GHz vs 5GHz wireless spectrums, I find that utilizing the less crowded 5GHz spectrum to be very beneficial to my home environment where our neighborhood is flooded with other 2.4GHz signals from both inside and outside of my home. Having a dual-band option would have been nice.
None of these negatives would prevent me from purchasing this device, especially given the price point of < $30.00 at the time of this review. They do detract slightly from the overall rating.
Overall Review: If I could have said 4.5 stars, I would have.
Pros: - Extremely compact.
- Build quality is quite good, the plastic is nice and strong, and the USB connector is well made.
- Set up is extremely quick and simple. The instructions are concise and perfectly depict the set up process. By using the CD set up instructions, I was up and running within 3 minutes, and at no point were any instructions given which I feel would have stumped the average consumer.
- The included software isn’t anything groundbreaking, it’s mostly information and from Windows, just organized better. It does tell you a few things Windows doesn’t however. It also enables you to use the softAP feature of the adapter.
- The softAP (Software Access Point) feature is something I didn’t expect to see in this adapter, and in my experience, I’ve usually found tacked on features for items to be somewhat disappointing, this however was a very neat feature. To put it simply, if it gives somebody network access where they otherwise wouldn’t have it, then it’s already proven itself useful. In my tests I found the range of the created network to be around 25 feet, and the speeds were an improvement (only just) over my existing WiFi network.
Cons: - In all my tests, this adapter failed to match the throughput of a built in wireless card, or a hardwire connection. When I tested its reliability, this adapter was hands down the poorest performer, which I can only attribute to its small internal antenna. This lack of reliability was the result of being a great distance (100+ feet) away from my router.
- TP-Link claims that this is a 300Mb/s (37.5MB/s) adapter, however I never saw any numbers even approaching those transfer speeds. Even in a file transfer to my computer from another computer on my network, using this adapter, the transfer capped out at about 7MB/s.
- TP-Link software doesn’t check for driver or firmware updates, would have been a good feature to throw in.
Overall Review: - These benchmarks were taken on my desktop, roughly 15 feet away from my router; averaged from 5 tests each.
- Ethernet: 18.6ms 3.6MB/s Down 740KB/s Up
- Adapter with Windows drivers: 20ms 1.86MB/s Down 746KB/s Up
- Adapter with TP-Link drivers USB2.0: 19ms 1.99MB/s Down 744KB/s Up
- Adapter with TP-Link drivers USB3.0: 19.6ms 966KB/s Down 729KB/s Up
- Unsurprisingly, the Ethernet connection provided the best speeds and was nearly perfectly consistent between tests. As for varying the drivers, there was virtually no difference; the results were fairly consistent between tests but nowhere near the Ethernet connection. The only outlier in the benchmarks was plugging the adapter into a USB3.0 port, which provided very inconsistent results which were slower than anything else.
- These benchmarks were taken on a HP Pavilion DV4 1222NR running only on battery power, just over 100 feet away from my router. The most appropriate drivers were used for each adapter. USB adapters were always plugged into the same USB2.0 port; averaged from 5 tests each (unless otherwise noted).
- Wireless card: 20.6ms 959KB/s Down 723KB/s Up
- Adapter: 22ms 293KB/s Down 123KB/s Up; failed last 4 tests due to connectivity issues.
- Older adapter (TL-WN722N): 22.3ms 330KB/s Down 369KB/s Up; failed first test due to connectivity issues.
- Older adapter (TL-WN722N) with larger antenna (TL-ANT2408C): 21.4ms 463KB/s Down 343KB/s Up
- These benchmarks demonstrate the importance of bus speed and antenna size. The built in wireless card was able to trounce all the other wireless solutions quite decisively, with a fairly large antenna and a faster bus speed than the USB adapters. The USB adapters had fair performance, but connectivity issues which were gradually resolved as I moved up to larger antennas.
- This last set of benchmarks were taken on my phone (LG Optimus Elite) while sitting at my desktop. These benchmarks were taken to quantify the softAP feature of the adapter.
- Phone using existing WiFi: 28.6ms 901KB/s Down 403KB/s Up
- Phone using softAP WiFi: 32.6ms 1.15MB/s Down 308KB/s Up
- There’s not much in these numbers, but they were consistent, I would say that the softAP feature of this adapter is useful if you have a lower end wireless router and find yourself often out of your router’s WiFi range.
- In conclusion, this adapter is really best suited as a replacement for a laptop’s dead wireless card. For a desktop PC, where mobility is not important, you would use a hardwire connection, a less mobile wireless adapter, or even an internal wireless card. For a laptop, this adapter was beaten by a 4 year old wireless card, making it useless if you planned to upgrade your wireless performance. Even so, it worked through my subjective tests, and stood up to video streaming, online gaming, and VOIP. I still however, would only recommend this adapter to somebody valuing portability above all else, or somebody who would make freque