Reasonable price and great performance router.
I bought this router December 2016 and still been using it very happily. When I bought it there were no reviews except only this site, so I couldn't decide to buy it easily. Actually, that review was a great influence on my decision.
I have used several routers made by different makers during 3 decades years. One of them, Iptime which is made in Korea was my favorite router but it was not enough to play games with a wireless connection. My gaming PC is about a straight-line distance of 13m from my router and there are several plaster-board walls.
At that time, my internet product was 25 Mbps NBN, I thought its speed is enough to play a game. Thus, I decided to change my router to a better one and researched and compared many routers in $300 budget.
As a result, I got 4 routers as a summary such as Iptime A6004NS, Netgear R7000, TP-Link C3150 and ASUS RT-AC68U. I evaluated product price, CPU, DRAM, Flash Memory, Lan speed, wireless speed (2.4Ghz, 5Ghz) and Firmware and marked points for each item. C3150 has fastest 5Ghz speed and over average hardware.
This website of Smallnetbuilder will be very helpful to decide to choose a better router. Until now 10 months have never trouble with this but I realized 25Mbps NBN is not enough to enjoy games even though this router connect my PC with 867Mbps full speed. Now my internet plan is 100Mbps NBN. Another tip is that mine is version 1, now you can buy version 2 which is improved for multi devices.
After I wrote this review, I found this router's price is much higher than what I purchased. I bought C3150 for $259, it included a redemption of RE350.
Amongst the best of 2016 router technology.
After a couple of happy years with an Asus RT-AC68U, curiosity got the better of me. I didn't have any wifi clients on my home network that could use the latest MU-MIMO technology, but I had read that you could get SOME improvement by changing up to a 4T4R (4 transmitting and receiving antennae) from a 3T3R. According to Smallnetbuilder, the Archer C3150 currently has the best 5 Ghz performance, so when I found a special price, I took the bait.
Unboxing the C3150 produced no surprises. I've owned TP-Link stuff in the past, and in general it's solidly built. This is a nice looking product, although its gloss black front topside will show dust and fingermarks readily. It's quite heavy, owing to some good internal metal heat-sinking. The website pictures show its sleek look, but it's no mini router - you'll need a good 30 cm of shelf width (including a little room for ventilation).
The power supply was unexpected. Rather than a 'wall wart' power adapter, it has a fully separate brick that attaches via a standard (IEC C13) office appliance cable. It's made by Huntkey and it runs fairly cool, which is re-assuring. The router itself runs mildly warm - again a good sign.
All of the above compares well with the Archer VR600, which I bought for a friend recently and reviewed separately. The VR600 looks like a scaled down version of this router, but it cuts some serious corners on heat management and the case is flimsy compared to this larger model. Thankfully the C3150 has a premium build to match its premium look.
Setup was simple. I'm a veteran in router setup, and this is the easiest I've seen. The downside is that a lot of the settings that you might 'tweak' on an Asus router simply aren't there on the TP-Link. The obligatory smartphone app that accompanies most modern routers - called 'Tether' in TP-Link's case, for some reason - is also simple, but again the simplicity comes from the lack of adjustable features. It's as though the choice between Asus and TP-Link is a comparison between advanced clutter and limited simplicity. Pick your poison!
Once the tinkering is done, however, a router that does its job will just sit there and work. What matters more is how it performs. On that score, I was very impressed with the C3150.
I haven't yet done detailed comparison tests with my Asus RT-AC68U, but what I can say is that the C3150 does have stronger wifi performance with 5 Ghz clients, especially at the limits of its range. It's not massively stronger. To give one rough example, a Sony Android TV at the end of my house reported its wifi connection go from 'fair' to 'good'. At the other end of the house, a computer with AC1750 wifi managed to connect reliably at 176 mbps, where before it tended to vary around 117 mbps. That's through 3 brick walls and about 18 metres away.
2.4 Ghz wifi performance was less impressive. TP-Link touts this router's theoretical capability to connect at 1 Gbps on proprietary Broadcom 2.4 Ghz clients. In the real world,. 2.4 Ghz wifi is a legacy standard that comes in handy for older laptops or devices built before 5 Ghz became commonplace. If anything, the C3150 performed a little worse than the Asus RT-AC68U (also a Broadcom chipset product) on the 2,4 Ghz band, but that wouldn't be a deal breaker for most people.
Routing generally seems stable and quick. I'll update this review if that changes.
I haven't yet tested MU-MIMO, as I don't yet have any wifi clients that can benefit from it. I also haven't enabled 'Smart Connect', which tries to shoe-horn your wifi clients into the 'best' connection based on the router's own assessment. User reports on this technology are not complimentary; some wifi clients simply don't want to be herded by a router, resulting in disconnections. Perhaps that's why TP-Link has both of these technologies disabled by default. Good call.
Speaking of technology, the inevitable competitors to the Archer C3150 will be the Asus RT-AC88U and the Dlink DIR-885L. The wifi hardware in each of these models is the same, although Smallnetbuilder rates the C3150 slightly better. You should however consider the difference over time. Asus, unlike any other manufacturer, will revise its firmware to fix the most minuscule of errors - often with volunteer help from the tech community. It will also update wifi drivers from Broadcom, in some cases years after the product has been released. Other brands, including TP-Link, will implement major updates while a product is currently being sold, but after that you're on your own. Is it worth the extra price tag for the Asus equivalent? That's a question only you can answer.
For what it's worth, I can't see any major bugs with the current C3150 firmware (build 160717). It did take 2 attempts to upgrade it to the current version, which was disconcerting. For some reason it has trouble accessing NTP servers to get the current date and time. I was also unimpressed with the newer wifi features being bundled into an obscure 'system parameters' tab, rather than in the wifi settings where they belong. These are minor gripes, though. If they would annoy you to the point where you'd expect TP-Link to actually fix them, you're better off not buying this product. If, however, you just want something to sit in a big house and send wifi all over it, this is a worthy choice.
I give the C3150 4 stars, in recognition of an excellent piece of hardware that performs very well. But for the rough edges in the firmware, I'd have given it the full 5. In hindsight, I'm not sure the wifi improvement was worth the trade-up from an AC1900 router, but that doesn't stop this product being superior in its own right. If you're buying from scratch rather than updating, I'd definitely choose this in preference to AC1900 routers.
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