TP-Link Archer C3150 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router
|TP-Link Archer C3150 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router|
|Features and Specifications|
|Web Interface and Setup|
|Wireless Testing and Final Thoughts|
Product: TP-Link Archer C3150 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit Router
Today we' have a new router from TP-Link on our bench and to be honest, this is my first time I've had a chance to spend some quality time with a TP-Link product. While TP-Link may not conjure up visions of excellent performance and quality, they probably should. Most consumers are introduced to TP-Link as a low-cost alternative to something better. Those days are long gone and TP-Link has really stepped up their game in the past few years. This product we are looking at today comes at well under $200 USD - ($169.99 currently) and offers a lot of performance, features and options that other routers simply do not. In addition to these offerings, it's affordable and is currenlty the fastest router we've used - ever. If that hasn't got you interested in just what this router can offer, please keep reading as we'll take a quick look and then dive into this router.
The Archer C3150 is a MU-MIMO router that supports multiple-input/multiple-output for multiple users. This MU-MIMO standard has not been finalized, but the Archer C3150 seems fully equipped and ready to handle a lot of wireless data at once - in addition to wired data. In theory, this router can handle a total of 3150Mbps over the wireless bands - all at once, but a single user probably won't experience that level of performance. Let's take a closer look.
The Archer C3150 from TP-Link has a nice sleek overall style and comes equipped with fout antennae for your extended coverage and use. This is a dual-band unit - using a single 2.4GHz band in addition to the 5GHz band. Internally, the C3150 houses a 1.4GHz dual-core processor that should be able to handle QoS, lots of wireless and wired connections as well as File and Print Sharing through the two USB ports. We hope to really push this router to the limits down the road and will see if it can be the backbone to a large gaming event. In the meantime, it will be used at BCCHQ South and we've still pushed it pretty hard.
In the bundle above, you can see all four antennae, a power brick, cord, Ethernet cord, support brochure, quick install guide and more. It is pretty standard, but more than adequate for a router. There isn't much more that you would expect to find in any router box - let alone one that claims serious performance with a less-than-serious pricetag.
With the router unboxed and antennae hooked up, there isn't much more to explain as we continue. The front is not exciting, but there is one feature that is pretty nifty. If you press and hold a button hidded under the grey trim by the main power LED, you can shut all the LEDs off. If you don't like blinking lights, this is a nice touch. In fact, the finish and appearance of the entire unit is pleasing. The back shows the four Ethernet ports for LAN connections (yellow) as well as the single WAN port (blue). Also on the back of the router is a power button to toggle the power on and off.
The side of the router holds a few more interesting bits - including a USB 2.0 port and a USB 3.0 port. It's interesting that the USB 3.0 port and the 2.4GHz radio share the same co-processor and according to the software, if you maximize performance of the USB 3.0 port, the 2.4GHz wireless performance will suffer. The opposite is also true. If you crank up the performance of the 2.4GHz band, the USB 3.0 port will lose some performance potential.
Also on this side is a WiFi button to toggle WiFi on and off as well as the WPS button and a recessed reset button. I like the addition of WiFi and power buttons as it is much easier to turn things off physically with a switch, rather than unplugging or disabling WiFi through software. It's a more classy solution that makes this much more convenient for consumers.
On the next page we'll cover the features and specifications of the TP-Link Archer C3150 before we carry on through setup and performance testing.