Over the past few years we have seen TP-LINK move from a company who were not that well known in the industry (at least in the UK/USA) to a company looking to seriously compete with better known brands such as Netgear. Our recent experience with the brand has been good, their powerline kit for example was an excellent performer so lets see if they can take that form into a router, this is our TP-LINK Archer C2600 Review.
TP-LINK Archer C2600 Review – Packaging and Bundle
TP-LINK package their new C2600 in a fairly standard box for their brand. Green and white are their colour of choice and we get a nice view of the router as well as a list of all the key features. Inside the box we get a set of antenna, network cable, documentation and a Huntkey mains adapter.
TP-LINK Archer C2600 Review – The Router
TP-LINK go for a mainly black design. The back half of the top is matt with perforations to allow airflow, the front a glossy finish. The silver strip is actually a button which allows us to disable the status LEDs which can be found in the thin section between the perforations. As far as size goes this is a 10.4×7.8×1.5 inch unit. Moving on to specifications we have dual band (2.4/5Ghz) operation with the former supporting 800mbps and the latter 1733mbps. All the usual security standards/encryption are supported (64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2) as is iPv6 and bandwidth management. Multi User/Device MIMO is also a feature of the C2600, allowing several people to be served data at the same time and all this is powered by a Qualcomm dual core 1.4Ghz CPU
Flipping the router over we find mounting holes for use on the wall, feet to raise the router off the surface we set it on when flat and more airflow holes. The back panel features four antenna connectors, power switch, power input, network/modem connector and four GB LAN ports.
The left side of the C2600 is blank however the right side has some interest. We start with two USB 3.0 ports which both allow file/print sharing and then there is a reset button, WiFi on/off button and WPS button for quick connection of new devices.
TP-LINK Archer C2600 Review – Setup and Software
Setup of the C2600 couldn’t be easier, plug in to your cable modem and the router should be good to go. We do recommend accessing the TP-LINK admin panel though where we set a new username/password and get walked through a few steps to make sure everything is set the way we want (e.g. Network name, password etc).
Once the basic configuration is complete we have two options. The first is the interface designed for the average user. Various screens which give us key options like a summary of the connected devices, guest networks or parental controls. Advanced mode opens up more detail and extra options for those who need them and has some nice features such as DoS protection and the ability to update the firmware.
TP-LINK also make an app available to users (called Tether) which can be downloaded for free from the various app stores. This app allows you to manage your router/network from a phone or tablet rather than desktop/laptop.
TP-LINK Archer C2600 Review – Conclusion
Starting with the design of the Archer C2600 we have a router which we initially thought looked a little dated. Having lived with it for a while now it probably falls into the discrete category. We’re not fans of glossy finishes on routers, they just gather dust and so matt hides it a little better but we do like the low profile of the router and the fact the LED’s can be disabled for those who like that function. Key connectors and buttons are located in the ideal area on the right which is easy to access. Maybe one of the USB 3.0 ports could have been located on the back as printer sharing would not require plugging/unplugging but that is a minor quibble.
As we noted earlier the setup of the C2600 is exceptionally easy. We plugged ours in and immediately it connected through the cable modem. Great. Accessing the quick setup was easy (and is recommended) allowing us to set our own administrator password, WiFi password and the like. The basic options available in the main control panel screens will be enough for most users and our advanced features offer that bit of extra configuration that some will need. We also very much like the appearance of the TP-LINK admin panel. It is clean, clear and intuitive. Our only minor issue is that firmware updates are not automated. We need to go to the TP-LINK site, search for the latest and then download and install. A one click solution from inside the admin interface would be appreciated.
As far as day to day use and performance goes, the Archer C2600 was very impressive. In our location serving multiple smartphones, desktops, network storage and smart devices (over 10 devices in total) it offered flawless performance across the board. More often than note the limit to performance was the Wi-Fi on each device, rather than the router. Or alternatively the internet connection, despite us having the fastest cable connection available. We were able to stream 4k without issue and the router remained stable at all times throughout our testing. As an added bonus the range of the C2600 was similar to our Linksys AC model and slightly better than our Netgear AC model.
Summary: Decent looks, nice interface, easy set-up and top notch performance.