TP-Link Archer VR2600 review
Superb performance and unilateral connection support make this an excellent business router
TP-LINK'S ARCHER VR2600 is kitted out with the latest 4x4 MIMO technology, to give it a maximum throughput of 1,733Mbit/s on the 5GHz band. It's also designed to be a router for all, with both a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port and an RJ11 port for the combined VDSL/ADSL modem, so you can use it with fiber connections, too. In short, there's no internet connection that this router can't connect to.
Setup and configuration
Setup is pretty straightforward thanks to the brilliant setup wizard. This has default configs for all of the major ISPs, so you should be up and running quickly without having to hunt around for the settings you normally need.
TP-Link's interface is much like those from other router manufacturers and it's pretty easy to find your way around it. It's split into two sections, with Basic letting you change simple settings and Advanced letting you get into the more hardcore settings.
Although there's a headline speed of 1,733Mbit/s, this would require a device with a 4x4 MIMO chip and there aren't any at the moment. So, this is a router that will get faster with age, as you buy newer devices. In future, it will also support MU-MIMO (multi-user MIMO), which will let multiple devices that support the technology broadcast at the same time. With current MIMO, only one device at a time can connect.
Even though this router couldn't be run at its maximum theoretical speed, it still managed to blitz through our performance tests. It managed a staggering 419.43Mbit/s at close range (maxing out our test laptop), and 256.32Mbit/s at 10m. Switching to the 2.4GHz network, TP-Link claims a throughput of 800Mbit/s. We managed 66.32Mbit/s at 10m, which is still pretty fast, although we have seen faster from more expensive routers.
Still, this is about as quick as you can expect from a modern router and if you want something that's future-proof and will improve when you buy newer devices, the Archer VR2600 is it.
TP-Link has fitted the router with most of the features that you'd expect. You get two guest networks: one of the 2.4GHz band and one on the 5GHz band. Both are secured and give you a way of letting guests access the internet without being able to see the rest of your network, or any storage devices that you have plugged into the router.
Two USB3 ports are there if you want to share a USB drive or a printer, but as with most routers a NAS does a better job and so many printers have Wi-Fi now that you shouldn't need a print server.
One neat use of the USB ports is for a 3G or 4G modem. This can provide you with your only internet connection or as a fail-over option should your main internet connection go down. If you rely on your internet for work, this could be a life-saver.
Parental controls let you block websites containing certain words, but you have to fill out the details manually, which is a little inconvenient. It would be nice if TP-Link could provide a block list automatically, or integrate with another service, such as OpenDNS. You also get all of the usual port forwarding, dynamic DNS and firewall controls, so you won't have a problem getting this router to work with any online service.
For some of the latest technology, the TP-Link Archer VR2600 is well priced. While it couldn't be called cheap, it has both VDSL and Gigabit Ethernet WAN ports and it's exceptionally fast. As newer devices that support MU-MIMO and have 4x4 chips become available, its performance will only get better soon. For businesses that want the best speeds, this is the router to buy.
This review originally appeared in Computer Shopper issue 345
With support for all types of internet connection and very fast 5GHz network, this router is one for those that want the best
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