Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My TP-Link AC2600 wireless dual band gigabit router Archer C2600 with TM UniFi and Maxis Home Fibre support

I have been using TP-Link TL-WDR3600 dual band wireless-N router for home Internet access for about 3 years, and have just changed it with a new TP-Link AC2600 dual band wireless-AC router.

The TL-WDR3600 router is still functioning well, and I changed it for better home network experience. The reason for the change includes:

  • The 5GHz WiFi band of TL-WDR3600 has a short coverage area. I can only connect to this 5GHz band when my mobile device is near to the router. Further away, the connection speed on 5GHz band dropped drastically, and I ended up only have the choice of using the 2.4GHz band.
  • The TL-WDR3600 is a wireless-N router and does not support wireless-AC connection. As more and more wireless devices at my home are supported with dual band and wireless-AC, I have to retire it and change to a newer router with wireless-AC support to enjoy the benefit of wireless-AC network and new features such as Beamforming and MU-MIMO. I have chosen the Archer C2600 as its successor.
  • The price I paid for the TL-WDR3600 3 years ago was RM17x. Depreciating this cost over a 3 years period, it cost me less than RM60 per year. I don't feel financially guilty to replace it with a better one after using it for over thousand days.
Other than the limitation on 5GHz band coverage and lacking of wireless-AC support, I would say the TL-WDR3600 is a great WiFi router with stable, consistence and quality performance.

Coming on stage is my new TP-Link Archer C2600 router, which I purchased online at the price of RM68x (RM64x +6% GST) with Hari Raya promotion. At the front cover of its packaging box, there is a red sticker about its 2 years warranty support, and a blue sticker stating its UniFi and Maxis Fibre support.


At the back of the box, there is a comparison table for Archer 2600, Archer C9 and Archer C5.


I have also made a comparison table for Archer C7, Archer C8 and Archer C9 in March 2016. (Yeah, I have been surveying and researching around for the router replacement for quite some times, before finalized to this Archer C2600.)

The size of this Archer C2600 is larger than I expected. It is 10.4" X 7.8" which is about the size of a 10-inch netbook.


It has a larger power adaptor than the WDR-3600 too, and is of the same type with the laptop power adaptor. The adaptor converts AC current from wall socket into 12V/4A DC supply to power up the router.

The Archer C2600 is a MU-MIMO router with 4 antennas, which mean it is able to individually serve up to 4 MU-MIMO supported devices at full bandwidth on the 2.4GHz band and another 4 MU-MIMO on the 5GHz band. If the connecting wireless device does not support MU-MIMO, or the amount of MU-MIMO connections at the router has reached the maximum, the connection will fall into SU-MIMO mode, which means its connection bandwidth will be shared with other SU-MIMO connected devices. (For MU-MIMO routers, the more antenna the merrier, so this type of wireless routers usually have more antennas than the older non-MU-MIMO routers)

The Archer C2600 also comes with a modern looking web user interface, which looks nicer than the traditional TP-Link web interface for router administration. Anyhow, there is not much different in features and functionalities between the newer and older interfaces.


Setting up for UniFi IPTV is much easier than before, just a 2-step action of select and save.


Special note on turning on the UniFi IPTV setting:
  • Do not access the router administration web interface by connecting your PC to LAN Port #1 of the router, you should connect your HyppTV STB to that port instead. If you connect your PC to that port, you will end up unable to access the administration web interface after you click on the Save button, because that port will be assigned to a separate VLAN.
  • There is an option for IGMP Version 2 and Version 3. If you choose IGMP V3, your Internet link will be down. Your Internet link can only work properly with IGMP V2.
  • Certain function of the router, such as QoS, will need to be disabled once you enable the IPTV setting. Probably because they are not compatible with each other.
This Archer C2600 also supports the TP-Link Tether mobile app for you to manage it with your smartphone.



My experience of using the Archer C2600:
  • The LED is less brighter than the WDR-3600, which is good after you turned off all your lights for sleeping at night. In fact, the LED of the Archer C2600 can be configured to turn off by itself during sleeping time too. There is also a button on it to manually turn the LED lights on/off.
  • The 5GHz band coverage improved a lot. Now my Samsung UHD 4K smart TV downstairs is able to connect with it using the 5GHz band. Previously it can only connect with my WDR-3600 using the 2.4GHz band.
  • The overall WiFi coverage (2.4GHz band and 5GHz band) is much larger than the WDR-3600 too. Previously I can only get a poor 2.4GHz connection with very low speed at my car poach area outside the building, which is a few walls and some distance away from the location of the router. Now my mobile devices still able to detect the 2.4GHz WiFi with moderate signal at the car poach, and able to connect to the router at speed of single digit Mbps only. The 5GHz WiFi is also detected but signal is much weaker than the 2.4GHz. 
  • The connection speed improved a lot too. My HTC One M8 smartphone used to get a 150Mbps connection at home, now can get a 433Mbps connection. My newer Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone is able to get a 866Mbps connection, with its dual channel support.
  • My external harddisk connected to the router's USB 3.0 port has faster read/write speed too. Time taken to copy large file is shorter.

Therefore, I can say that the performance of this Archer C2600 wireless router is as advertised. At the price of RM68x, it really worth the upgrade from WDR-3600.

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