Introduction & Pricing, Availability and Specifications
Most solutions hitting the market as of late are coming equipped with a technology called MU-MIMO. This technology is being deployed in many solutions to improve wireless bandwidth by enabling simultaneous host to client transmission. This simply means that the host or router will serve multiple clients at the same time where previously devices would "take turns" transmitting data.
One of the newest solutions coming from the lab at TP-LINK is their AC2600 solution. This router is a four-stream enabling 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band via 256QAM and 1.7Gbps on the 5GHz band, additionally, as mentioned, this solution does feature MU-MIMO technology. Diving deeper the TP-LINK Archer C2600 shares an identical platform with the Linksys EA8500, this starts with the Qualcomm IPQ8064 operating at 1.4GHz next to 512MB of memory. The 2.4 and 5GHz radios are powered by the QCA9980 MU-MIMO radio using Skyworks power amps, and the entire platform utilizes 32MB of flash.
Hardware features of the C2600 include four gigabit LAN ports paired with a single gigabit WAN, adding to this is two USB 3.0 ports along with four detachable antennas. On the wireless side of things, this wireless router supports dual-band connectivity via 802.11b/g/n on 2.4GHz and 802.11ac/n/a on the 5GHz with each supporting 64/128-bit WEP and WPA security. MSRP of the TP-LINK Archer C2600 sits at $249.99 with a two-year warranty.
TP-LINK Archer C2600 Wireless Router
The product packaging is standard for TP-LINK; we have a two tone box with an image to the right of the router. Marketing information is along the bottom left with the model number.
On the back of the box, we have marketing information towards the bottom with a diagram of this unit's functionality at the top.
The scope of delivery includes the power adapter, reading materials and an Ethernet cable.
Looking at the front of the router, we have a single button that can disable all the LEDs on the router.
Switching to the side we have both of the USB 3.0 ports, the Wi-Fi on/off button along with the reset and WPS buttons.
Looking at the back of the router, we have the four gigabit LAN ports to the left with the WAN port centered.
Test System Setup and Management GUI
Tyler's Router Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Z97-A - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: Patriot Viper 3 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1600 - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Intel 730 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 750D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 750W - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
Setup of the C2600 is rather simple and starts with the sign in above. By default, the username and password are admin: admin or admin: password.
Basic setup landing shows you a quick view of what's going on in your network. On the left side, there is a menu to navigate options.
As you can see the C2600 can auto detect your internet connection.
Above, we have the wireless menu, and of course, you can edit basic information in this menu including the SSID and password.
USB settings allow you to setup a share using any USB storage device. Options include a media server and even a print server.
QoS is handled within the interface by placing PCs or devices into groups.
The firmware version for the C2600 was version 1 when tested the build number is also shown above.
Benchmarks – Throughput
Starting off with LAN to LAN throughput the Archer C2600 produced 952 Mbps, right with the best AC2600 solutions.
WAN to LAN for the TP-LINK Archer C2600 reached a peak of 860 Mbps.
Switching to wireless throughput, we found the Archer produced 129 Mbps on the 20MHz band and 192 Mbps on the 40 MHz band. Each of these results were quite good and near the top for AC2600 routers.
Moving over to 5GHz testing, I was able to reach 132 Mbps on the 20MHz band with 248 Mbps on the 40MHz band. Peak performance for the Archer topped 448 Mbps on the 80MHz band.
Benchmarks – Multi-User Test & Final Thoughts
Multi User Throughput
In our Multi-User test, we use three identical smartphones with the latest QCA MU-MIMO chipset. This test requires the router to handle three simultaneous throughput streams with the results below for each band.
Looking at our testing on the 2.4GHz band, you can see the TP-LINK device reached 90 Mbps and switching to the 5GHz band we found the Archer topping all previous solutions at 373 Mbps.
With this being the fourth router I have seen from TP-LINK, one thing I have made note of is the consistency of each product I test. Build quality has always been, from the first product to the latest, top notch and in the case of the OnHub reviewed a few months back, stellar.
The Archer C2600 stays true to this idea with solid build materials and excellent design. On the front of this unit, you will find a single button to disable all LEDs on this router while the side of the unit houses additional buttons to disable Wi-Fi and reset the system. These are features that are quickly catching on with vendors, and it's certainly nice to see this solution adopt them.
The performance of the Archer C3200 was quite good and in comparing to previously tested AC2600 solutions, it ranks near the top in both LAN to LAN and 2.4GHz throughput while 5GHz throughput it ranks near the top as the third quickest on the 80MHz band. Performance numbers for this solution break down with 952 Mbps over LAN with WAN topping out at 860 Mbps. The wireless bands reached peak numbers of 192 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band while the 5GHz band topped 448 Mbps. And in looking at the MU-MIMO numbers, we found the Archer to be the quickest solution to date on both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
As you may have noticed over the past few reviews, TP-LINK uses the same platform on each of their routers. While this platform doesn't have a fancy name, it is one of the cleanest interfaces I have used. As you have seen in the screenshots, the menu is very straightforward with basic and advanced menus for the standard consumer. They will be able to navigate the basic section with ease and change settings for their wireless network. Prosumers and enthusiasts will be able to go into more detail and change bands and signal strength among other things with the advanced menu.
Overall, the Archer C2600 is a solid solution built upon the new Qualcomm Atheros MU-MIMO EFX platform.
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||88%|
The Bottom Line: A great interface, solid performance with technology that's looking forward make the Archer C2600 a great solution for users wanting to upgrade their wireless network.
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