TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Review

by - 7 years ago

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Introduction


TP-Link_ArcherC9-Photo-front-angle-with-antennas

There is no shortage of routers on the market and today I’m taking TP-Link’s Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router, a beautiful and simple looking router capable of handling the newest AC connection standard.

The Archer C9 looks like it could have it all, powerful dual-band wireless for up to 1900Gbps total transfer speeds, Gigabit Ethernet ports for both LAN and WAN, USB 3.0 for file sharing and an easy to use setup and configuration interface.

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Archer C9’s strength doesn’t just come from the support for the 802.11ac standard, the next generation of Wi-Fi, and the combination of the 2.4GHz 600Mbps and 5GHz 1300Mbps connections for a total available bandwidth of 1.9Gbps, but also in the added features and functions such as USB file and printer sharing as well as beamforming technology for the best possible connection between your devices.

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The Archer C9 has three detachable dual band antennas for maximum and omni-directional wireless coverage as well as reliability. The signal strength is further boosted by the built-in beamforming technology for an even better and efficient wireless connection between the router and the connected devices. The router will focus the strength of its signal where it is needed.

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To achieve all the power needed to handle all that traffic speed, TP-Link built the Archer C9 with a dual-core 1GHz processor that is able to handle a lot of simultaneously wired and wireless tasks at the same time.

On the rear of the unit, you’ll find a USB 2.0 port for older legacy storage devices and printers and it also comes with a USB 3.0 port on the side for modern and high-speed storage. The built-in FTP server and file-sharing allows you to easily access the stored files and media from any device connected on your network.

The built-in FTP server, media server, and Samba file-sharing allows you to easily access the stored files and media from any device that is connected to your network.

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There is a separate LED for almost every part of the router from power over the two wireless signals to LAN, WAN and an individual for each of the USB ports. The only thing that you can’t see quickly on the LEDs is which of the four LAN ports that’s active.

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There isn’t a way to mount this router on your wall, it instead comes with a stand that will make the router stand at a small backward angle. The rubber feet may not be large, but they are enough to keep the router where you place it.

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The addition of a power button is a nice touch. You rarely need it on a router, but it is a lovely feature to have when you do. There is plenty of room on the device, so why not.

All four LAN ports and the WAN port are Gigabit ports for the usual great LAN speed and without limitation on faster than 100MB/s internet connections that are making their entry in more and more location and markets. The WPS button also works as reset button at the same time.

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I really like the design that TP-Link applied to the Archer C9. The gentle curves give the router a simplistic yet almost sophisticated look. But it doesn’t just look great, it’s also a well-crafted unit made with great parts.

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On the side of the unit you’ll find the USB 3.0 port where you easily can connect your fast portable storage and share it over your network. It’s also where the button is located to turn the WiFi on and off. No need to have it running when not needed, especially when it’s so easy to access and switch.

The Archer C9 also supports guest network connections for people who only need access now and then and to whom you might not want to give your normal and more static password. Parents can also rest assured that their kids won’t visit sites that they shouldn’t and on hours where they should be asleep thanks to the parental control.

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Other features include IPv6, Dynamic IP/Static IP/PPPoE/PPTP/L2TP/BigPond WAN connections, 64/128-bit WEP, and WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2 encryption. It has built in firewall, bandwidth control, supports direct setup for dynamic DNS services and VPN passthrough.

iOS users will also have access to easy management through the Tether APP while anyone can enjoy quick and hassle free installation via the web interface via any computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Within the box you find everything you need to get started with your high-speed wireless network: the router itself with its three antennas, a AC/DC power adapter, a RJ45 LAN cable to connect it to your internet connection, manuals, resource disk, and a quick installation guide to get your started and running as quick as possible.

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User Interface


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The quick installation guide will provide you with everything you need to know to find your router and logging in with the default password. As always, the first thing you should change is just that, the password. Never ever leave it on the default setting.

Next to the Quick Setup that that guides you through the setup process in user friendly steps, the Archer C9 has a basic, or call it simple, configuration page as well as an advanced page for the users who want to control every aspect of their device.

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Quick Setup

The Quick Setup will help you setup your router for the first type with just a few basic steps and information. There is however a good chance that you don’t even need to do this as it already got the connection from your ISP once you connected the router.

TP-Link_ArcherC9-SS-30-quick-setup

Basic Configuration

Why bother with complicated setup pages when you don’t need to. Chances are the basics will cover you and it is a lot easier to deal with as there simply is less information to read and process. It starts out the visual network map showing you what is connected where, and if some connections such as the internet should have trouble.

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You got access to the basic WAN settings such as connection type and network settings.

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The wireless menu will let you enable each band separately, give them a name, and set a password.

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The USB page contains both storage and printer options, allows you to decide what sharing options you want to have running and whether it requires login or not.

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The guest network is a great way to give people a one-time access to your network or internet without having to share your normal password with them.

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Advanced Configuration

The network pages contain your basic WAN and LAN features such as IP address, DNS and host name, but also a feature to clone your PCs Mac address in case you should need or want that.

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The wireless settings contain everything you’ll want, from mode to channel selection and region.

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You can set individual security settings depending on your needs from the older WEP to modern WPA2 encryption.

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You can limit the transmission power and adjust the wireless signal to suit just your needs and if you want to. Everything works fine with the default settings.

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The guest network is a great feature when you want to grant partial access for some people at some times, but not others and without sharing your normal network key with them. You can enable it separately for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band.

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The USB sharing is really simple. Define a specific user account for it or use the normal. It also provides you with quick links to paste directly into other apps.

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The print server allows you to take a USB printer, connect it to your router and have it shared among all the connected devices. This is particular useful for bigger households, why should everyone have their own printer when one central located is enough.

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NAT control, Virtual servers, Port triggering, DMZ and UPnP is all supported, so it doesn’t’ matter what kinds of device you want to connect to this router, it should work and allow you to create the appropriate settings.

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Security is an important factor on your router. It is the first and last line of defense between you and the world. TP-Link added several layers of security here from the firewall to Virtual Private Network support.

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The advanced security features should be used with care as you might lock yourself out by accident during configuration.

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The Parental Control feature is great for protecting your offspring from unwanted internet content.

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You can also schedule times when the network should be available and when not, making sure that people are sleeping when they should and not spend the night surfing the web.

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You can set up static routes and view the current system routing table too.

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Bandwidth control is a feature few will use, but a vital one for those who need it. It’s great to see that it wasn’t skipped as I’ve seen in some routers I’ve had.

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IP and MAC bindings are both supported and so are dynamic DNS services such as No-IP and DynDNS. Let your router do the work for you.

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IPv6 is of course supported as it should be by any device these days. While not used many places, it is the current generation of network transportation.

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You can create a backup of your work once you’re done with your setup, allowing you to easily restore it at a later time where you might have reset or messed it up somehow. It’s always great to have a working backup at hand.

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Diagnostic tools such as Ping and Traceroute help you when you’re troubleshooting internet troubles and easily helps you to narrow down where the trouble is, at your end or the other.

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Test Method & Specifications


Test system:

We would like to thank our sponsors for supplying us with the equipment needed to perform these tests.

Drives used:

  • Angelbird SSD2go Pocket USB 3.0 SSD

Software used:

  • PassMark PerformanceTest Suite
  • LAN Speed Test

Testing a router’s performance is a pretty straight forward process from my point of view. I will first test the wired network performance with several tests followed by the wireless performance on each available band.

When testing the wireless performance I will adjust the distance between the router and the receiving WiFi connection from short over medium to long distance.

For both the wired and wireless tests, I’ll be using both static and variable package sizes. The final test will be of the built-in USB ports and file-sharing, if existing. These test together should give us a fair image of what the router is capable of.

Specifications

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Wired LAN Performance


Fixed Block Size

To test the maximum throughput speed that a connection can handle, a fixed block size of 16384 Bytes is sent from the client to the server over a period of five minutes. The higher block size will allow the transfer rate to stay as high as possible – in the same way that large files transfer from one drive to another quicker than lots of small files of the same total size.

Variable Packet Size

In a real world situation, the blocks of data that pass through a network adaptor are not of the same size each time, so to give a more realistic impression of how an adaptor performs, the adaptor is once again tested for a period of five minutes. This time however, the block size will vary from 32 Bytes up to 16384 Bytes in increasing steps of 148.7 Bytes each time.

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TP-Link_ArcherC9--Chart-Wired

There isn’t much to say to the wired performance. It’s great and where it should be.

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WLAN 2.4GHz 802.11n Performance


The 2.4GHz band is the older of the two wireless bands that are in use today. On this band we find 802.11b/g/n wireless standards with up to 600Mbps bandwidth on offer when using wireless-n compliant devices. Due to the lower operating frequency, 2.4GHz signals offer a wider level of coverage, but the lower throughput speeds are a disadvantage to this ageing band.

Fixed Block Size

To test the maximum throughput speed that a wireless connection can handle, a fixed block size of 16384 Bytes is sent from the client to the server over a period of five minutes. The higher block size will allow the transfer rate to stay as high as possible – in the same way that large files transfer from one drive to another quicker than lots of small files of the same total size.

TP-Link_ArcherC9-Bench-2ghz_fixed_graph

TP-Link_ArcherC9--Chart-2GHz_fixed

Variable Packet Size

In a real world situation, the blocks of data that pass through a wireless adaptor are not of the same size each time, so to give a more realistic impression of how an adaptor performs, the adaptor is once again tested at each range for a period of five minutes. This time however, the block size will vary from 32 Bytes up to 16384 Bytes in increasing steps of 148.7 Bytes each time.

TP-Link_ArcherC9-Bench-2ghz_variable_graph

TP-Link_ArcherC9--Chart-2GHz_variable

The 2.4GHz band showed the best performance on the long-range where the beam forming technology allowed the signal to get the best coverage. A little surprising result, but it just goes to show what this router can do.

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WLAN 5GHz 802.11ac Performance


5GHz is a more recent addition to the consumer WiFi specification and on this frequency we find both 802.11n and AC standards on offer. We note that 802.11n is the only standard to run at both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies and this is the most common standard for ISP routers to feature. Unlike the 2.4GHz band, 5GHz radio waves and solid brick walls do not go that well hand in hand, so whilst it does support a much faster throughput speed, its range can be severely crippled in a dense operating environment.

Fixed Block Size

To test the maximum throughput speed that a wireless connection can handle, a fixed block size of 16384 Bytes is sent from the client to the server over a period of five minutes. The higher block size will allow the transfer rate to stay as high as possible – in the same way that large files transfer from one drive to another quicker than lots of small files of the same total size.

TP-Link_ArcherC9-Bench-5ghz_fixed_graph

TP-Link_ArcherC9--Chart-5GHz_fixed

Variable Packet Size

In a real world situation, the blocks of data that pass through a wireless adaptor are not of the same size each time, so to give a more realistic impression of how an adaptor performs, the adaptor is once again tested at each range for a period of five minutes. This time however, the block size will vary from 32 Bytes up to 16384 Bytes in increasing steps of 148.7 Bytes each time.

TP-Link_ArcherC9-Bench-5ghz_variable_graph

TP-Link_ArcherC9--Chart-5GHz_variable

I don’t fully get why the fixed packet test performed so much worse on the short and middle distances, but I suspect interference from neighboring networks. The router however really displayed what it’s capable off on the longest range of about 25 meters. This router will penetrate your apartment into the furthest corner.

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USB 3.0 Connected Performance


The TP-Link Archer C9 comes with a built-in USB 3.0 port, so I’ll be testing that one too. The management of the USB ports is real easy as we’ve seen on the previous pages, but how does it perform.

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I’m using LAN Speed Test for this benchmark. It’s a simple tool that allows me to test network connected storage by setting the amount of packets and their size for the test. I get minimum, maximum and average throughput speeds in return.

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

TP-Link’s Archer C9 AC1900 dual band Router is without a doubt a premium device, but it will not cost you as much as you think. You can pick one up for $149.99 at NewEgg, £119.99 at Overclockers UK, or find a deal starting from €133.18 through Geizhals.

Conclusion

The Archer C9 is a simple and elegant router one doesn’t mind having in a place where it’s visible. And that is a good thing as it doesn’t have any holes for wall mounting. The slight angle and glossy white surface suits this AC1900 router well.

You get four wired Gigabit Ethernet connection for your local connection and one for your internet connection. The dual band router covers both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz band for a total bandwidth of up to 1900 Mbps.

The router is packed full of features and there should be one for pretty much any configuration you want to make. UPnP and easy setup guides help that you don’t have to do much to get going.

Share your USB printer or storage drive to your entire network with the built-in USB ports, guest access, parental control, and scheduling. The TP-Link Archer C9 does it all and only consumed an average of 9.8W during this test process.

We saw the best performance on the longest distance between the router and our receiving test system, a somewhat weird occurrence, and one that most likely can be contributed to neighboring networks. I live in a big apartment complex where most apartments have two wireless signals and it’s bound to create interference. This is where the beam forming technology really helps and pushes your signal through to where it has to go. It works and it works well.

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Gigabit LAN and WAN
  • Dual band AC1900
  • USB 2.0 and 3.0 for files, media, and printers
  • Three antennas with beam-forming technology for great coverage

Cons

  • Got a little hot during usage

“TP-Link’s Archer C9 is packed full of features, great performance and wrapped in an elegant design. AC1900 speeds, USB sharing, performance, and full control.”

Bang-For-Buck

TP-Link Archer C9 AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Review

Thank you TP-Link for providing us with this sample

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. User Interface
  3. Test Method & Specifications
  4. Wired LAN Performance
  5. WLAN 2.4GHz 802.11n Performance
  6. WLAN 5GHz 802.11ac Performance
  7. USB 3.0 Connected Performance
  8. Final Thoughts
  9. View All

Author Bio

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