TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Range Extender

Print

Product: TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Range Extender
Provided By: TP-Link
Price: ~$130USD at time of publication

 

Introduction:

Wireless networking is both a blessing and a curse. It works great at short ranges - and the speed over the years has certainly improved. The downside is that with higher frequencies that carry more data faster, the range has suffered. Companies try and beef up the antenna and use high-gain units to push signal farther, but high frequency radio waves don't penetrate obstacles as good as low frequency radio waves. The solution is to have range-extenders and that can often create a whole new set of problems.

Traditional range extenders have used a different SSID and require switching to the new "network" when you get out of range of the main wireless signal. This results in dropped connections, clunky password management and often interference and hot-switching between networks if you're in a spot that has similar signal from both networks. Recent solutions have included "mesh" networks, but they are pretty expensive. The solution we are looking at today is quite affordable, claims to be very fast and works without disrupting your current network hardware. Take a look below as we uncover the TP-Link RE650.

 

First Look:

The TP-Link RE650 is a bit of a physical upgrade to the previous models as it supports MU-MIMO and dual band connections. As such, it packs in a bunch of antenna (four) and overall, some pretty sleek looks.

Box Front Box Back

 

Inside the box, the RE650 is nestled in a form-fitting cutout and comes with everything you need - which isn't much. There are no cables, power-cord or anything other than a few brief instructions. It's super simple to install and setup thanks to WPS.

Open Box Included Papers

 

Closer Look:

As we take a quick look around the device, you'll see that everything about the unit is pretty straight-forward. The one side contains a easy-to-press Power button as well as LED On/Off button. Also located on this side is a recessed Reset button that will require a pin, paperclip or even a SIM eject tool to reset the device should you need to. The other side contains a single 1GB Ethernet jack so you can run a direct line to this device if you have a piece of equipment that doesn't have a wireless connection. Later in the review, we'll test the speed of this port as well.

Side View 1 Side View 2

 

The front and back of the device are super basic with the back only containing the 3-prong plug. The front has a single large button and a series of LEDs that indicate power, connection status to both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks as well as an indicator for overall connectivity and WPS setup.

RE650 Back RE650 Front

 

On the next page, we'll take a look at the product overview, specifications and features before we cover setup and testing.


Features:

  • Superior Extended Range – Four fixed external antennas extend Wi-Fi coverage by up to 14,000 sq. ft.
  • 4-Stream for AC2600 Dual Band Wi-Fi – Simultaneous 800Mbps on 2.4GHz + 1733Mbps on 5GHz
  • 4×4 MU-MIMO – Simultaneously transfers data to multiple devices for 4x faster performance
  • Beamforming Technology – Send targeted Wi-Fi signal to individual devices for stronger connections
  • Gigabit Ethernet Port – Provide faster wired connections to smart TVs, computers and gaming consoles
  • Intelligent Signal Light – Helps to determine the best location for optimal Wi-Fi coverage by indicating the signal strength in the current placement
  • AP Mode – create a new Wi-Fi access point to enhance your wired network with Wi-Fi capability
  • TP-LINK Tether App – Easily access and manage your network using any iOS or Android mobile device
  • Ultimate Compatibility – Extend the range of any Wi-Fi router or wireless access point

 

Profile Profile 2

 

Far Reaching Wi-Fi and Powerful Performance
Powerful Quad-Antenna design with Beamforming delivers highly targeted Wi-Fi connections to improve throughput and signal quality for stronger Wi-Fi across your home, while extending your routers coverage by 14,000 square feet*. The Intelligent Processing Engine balances the demands of your devices to keep their connections fast and uninterrupted, sending Wi-Fi traffic to dedicated processors while the powerful dual-core CPU handles the rest.

4-Stream AC2600 Dual Band Wi-Fi
Using 4-Stream and TurboQAM technology to boost its Wi-Fibandwidth, the RE650 reaches industry leading maximum speeds of up to 800 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 1733 Mbps on 5GHz. This provides the performance necessary to support your most demanding online applications, including 4K streaming and gaming.

More Connections and Faster for Everyone
MU-MIMO technology allows the RE650 to serve up to four devices at once, reducing wait time and greatly increasing Wi-Fi throughput for every device. With MU-MIMO, the RE650 runs up to 4x faster than traditional AC range extender.

High-Speed Gigabit Wired Connection
The RE650’s Gigabit Ethernet port lets you connect a wired device such as a game console or smart TV to create a fast, reliable wired connection.

Find the Best Spot with Intelligent Signal Indicator
The Intelligent Signal Light helps you quickly find the best location to install the RE650.

Built-In Access Point Mode
RE650 is more than a wireless range extender. Simply plug an Ethernet cable into its Ethernet port, and easily turn your wired internet connection into a 4×4 MU-MIMO dual band wireless access point.

Drop-Free and Seamless Dual Band Connections
If one of the main router's dual bands drops suddenly, or in case the main router can only deliver single band, the RE650 still provides stable dual-band connections for clients, allowing you to enjoy stable and drop-free experience on all your devices.

Easy Monitoring and Control
TP-Link Tether is an intuitive app that allows users to conveniently monitor the state of your range extender, controlling its functions and altering its settings from any compatible mobile device.

 

Specifications:

Specs

On the last page, we'll cover setup and the performance of the RE650 from TP-Link.


Rnage Extender Setup:

Installing the RE650 is as simple as plugging it in. Setting it up is almost as easy. For basic setup, press the WPS button on your router and then on the RE650. Once it connects to the 2.4GHz band, press the WPS on your router again, and then once more on the RE650. This time it will connect to your 5GHz band and you're done. If that doesn't work for you, you can head over to either the Google Play Store or the App Store and download the Tether App. Once you have that installed, you can tweak the setting on your mobile device if required or desired. If you know the IP of the range extender, you can log into the web interface on your computer as well. 

In the video below, we fired up our browser to give you a better overview of setup options and features inside the web interface. Please watch it full-screen at 1080p for the best experience.

 

Performance Testing:

When it comes to performacne testing, we had to move and shuffle a few things around to really push and stretch this incredible unit. It claims to be able to extend your network by 14,000 square feet and as such, it can be position pretty far away from your router. In the end we tested a few scenarios to get a good idea of how the performance of this unit really stands up.

First, we did a baseline benchmark with my ThinkPad T540p in the same room as my Netgear Nighthawk R8500 router. Second, I moved upstairs in my house to the opposite end and connected directly to the Netgear router to see how the performance held up at this extreme range. Next, I plugged in the RE650 upstairs in my home and plugged my laptop directly into the RE650 through the Gigabit connection to see how fast it was when it was just firing wireless between itself and the router. Finally, I used my laptop on the same level as the RE650 and connected to it. In this scenario I was connected wireless to the RE650 which was connected wirelessly to the router on a lower level of my home. The results are below.

Speed

We ran multiple streams at once to see how the performance was affected. We also ran single streams to get an idea of how it runs with only a single connection and a single network thread. As you can see above, the best performance comes when we are close to the router without a range extender. That is normal and is no surprise at all. What I found quite surprising is that the performacne when plugged into the extender as an access point was almost as good. I was very impressed with the performance of this extender in this mode.

When at a fair distance, the Netgear can't push the signal to my laptop very well and this is where the extender shines as well - namely at 5GHz. I get up to 48.1Mbps when at a far distance and connected to the Nighthawk R8500, but I manage to squeeze an impressive 146.1Mbps when connected to the extender on the 5GHz band. That's three times faster with the extender. If you run it as a bridge (while still running as an extender as well) I managed to get 362.5Mbps out of it. That's a very impressive result as a close, direct connection to the router only yielded 366.6Mbps.

 

Conclusion:

At the end of the day the RE650 is a very solid product. As far as wireless capability and performance, it's almost as fast as a close connection to a very capable router - and that's impressive. When it comes to wireless hopping, there is some loss in performance as the dual-band configuration limits the node performance. Other companies eliminate this bottleneck with a tri-band setup, but that is very expensive at this point. 

Still, the performance is great. Ease of setup is wonderful and the benefit for you home or business is pretty much invaluable. As the RE650 clones your SSID and passwords, you can move around between the router and the extreme range of the RE650 without dropping connection, choosing a different SSID or even losing packets. It's a fantastic device that offers a one-node mesh network with your existing hardware.

I really can't find anything wrong with TP-Link's RE650 and easily give it our Gold Award.

 

If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please feel free to post in the forum.