TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 £120
5th Dec 2013 | 09:40
A 802.11ac router with excellent download speeds
In a world of hopeless model numbers, the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 is at least a breath of fresh air. It's a delight to have the friendly sounding Archer C7 appear on your list of network devices, while inside its ultra-gloss black chassis is some serious networking hardware. The TP-Link AC1750 is an affordable 802.11ac network and cable broadband router.
If you're savvy with networking numbers you'll know the 1750 indicates this is a full-speed state-of-the-art 802.11ac 1300mbps router, backed up with 3x3 450mbps 802.11n capabilities. It's also worth highlighting the 802.11n supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
TP-Link has taken a very traditional route for the design of the Archer C7 AC1750. It still boasts external antennas, something most other manufacturers have moved away from. These are 5dBi antennas and serve the 5GHz band, three more are internal and sort out the 2.4GHz range. At the back are four Gigabit LAN ports, plus a Gigabit WAN port. The goodies don't end there, with two USB 2.0 ports and buttons for WPS, power and wireless.
It's an impressive array of goods. The USB ports of course offer printer and NAS capabilities, including a built-in DLNA server. The Archer C7 is also IPv6 ready too, and offers a guest network to keep your files private. It offers a standard but very snappy and comprehensive web interface. Beginners can use the supplied setup CD, but otherwise you can just log directly into the interface and take it away.
The TP-Link offers odd performance with the new 802.11ac technology. Downstream speeds in the same room and one room away were good, averaging as high as 50MB/s. Writes, however, remained sluggish at 15MB/s - slower than the 802.11n performance despite connecting at the full 1300mbps rate. The 802.11n performance ranged from good to excellent, especially at extreme range.
As an affordable AC wireless router, the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 has a lot to like. For the price you'll be getting everything you'd want from a higher-end model, without the price tag. It's a good looking and compact system that's easy to set up and fast to configure, with a no nonsense interface. We've actually been missing the old external antennas; we're not sure letting people fiddle with the positioning is necessarily a good thing, but they look cool.
Gigabit LAN and WAN ports all round is a big plus. The easy to use and comprehensive interface is another big plus for us. It's also important that is get a good 50MB/s at 802.11ac in the read tests, this is middleof-the-pack in terms of speed and is what you'd hope for. Oddly more impressively is the long-range 25m 802.11n speeds, which averaged as high as 18MB downstream and 11MB/s upstream. The fastest we've seen and one of the best mid-range speeds on record.
The oddity for the TP-Link Archer C7 AC1750 was the substandard 802.11ac upstream speeds. Despite a solid 1300mbps same-room connection, the transfer refused to go faster than 14MB/s or so. Even with the latest firmware update it stubbornly refused. It also put in one of the weakest 802.11ac efforts at distance manging a sub-par 16MB/s downstream and 7.6MB/s upstream.
The average 802.11ac upstream performance we feel is more of a blip for the TP-Link Archer C7, as it's still more than usable and is providing good to excellent downstream speeds, which are really more important. The real win is that you get a top-class dual-band 802.11n router thrown in, which is probably of more immediate help.
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