TP-Link Archer C5400 router
Will the vendor's compact designed router offering outwit other AC5400 routers in the same power tier?
As more networking devices are being developed that can finally take advantage of MU-MIMO beamforming technology, routers like the latest TP-Link Archer C5400 are here to show that speed, performance and most importantly, design can form a nice combination when pooled in the right way.
I recently upgraded my Linksys e4200 router to the Archer C5400 for my home networking. The installation was easy plug and play, and was up and running in no time. With my previous router, I used to have two range extenders to boost the signal in my apartment.
To my surprise, what I didn't know is that a router that's barely bigger than an iPad can offer unrestricted, high performance wireless speed.
The first thing I noticed when I pulled the Archer C5400 out of the box, is how extremely compact it is compared to other AC5400 routers in the same power tier.
Equipped with eight antennas that fold outward from the base of the unit, the C5400 looks pretty similar to competitor offerings on style alone, opting for the function-over-form aesthetic that many other AC5400 units take to appeal to their core base of potential customers.
Utilising both advanced NitroQAM and 4-Stream technologies, the Archer C5400 Tri-Band MU-MIMO wireless AC5400 Gigabit router from TP-Link is capable of achieving combined data transfer rates of up to 5334 Mbps. Combine the enhanced data transfer rates with the ability to connect to any of three wireless frequencies, one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz frequencies, I am now able to assigned and connect devices to the least congested band for optimal network performance.
What I like about the latest router is the fact that TP-Link has incorporated its own Smart Connect technology to automatically connect authorised devices on the network to the band best suited for their network activity ensuring bandwidth is allocated properly giving all clients a high quality network experience and performance.
Although it is common knowledge that most routers are capable of communicating with one or two devices simultaneously, this in mant instances tends to result in network congestion as devices wait in line to send and receive their data.
The Archer C5400 on the other hand utilises MU-MIMO technology to provide four separate data highways giving up to four devices the ability to communicate with the router and the network all at the same time.
Inside the Archer C5400 is a 1.4 GHz dual-core CPU along with three co-processors designed to support and manage the high speed data highways flowing through the router. In addition to enhanced wireless connectivity, the Archer C5400 comes equipped with four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a single USB 3.0 port and a single USB 2.0 port.
Faster speed for more devices
With Tri-band WiFi speeds of up to 5334 Mbps, letting one to dedicate an entire band to gaming without slowing down the network is not only real but very helpful when addressing device congestion.
Similarly, Smart Connect helps devices run even faster by assigning them to the best available channel to balance network demand. When you connect a device to your router, Smart Connect will automatically identify the best available channel and assign the device to it. It is true that piling too many devices on one band might reduce its performance, as a result, Smart Connect technology allows the router to automatically choose the most efficient device so that every device is able to reach its full potential.
In addition, the router will create a single, unified SSID (network name) that you can log into using a single password. All you have to do is log into one network one time, then the router does the rest, automatically giving each device access to every band and assigning it to the best one.
However, this doesn't mean that you lose control over the way devices are assigned and reassigned on the network. The user-friendly web portal allows you to see which devices are on each band at any point in time and manually move to whichever band you prefer.
The Archer C5400 has enhanced performance, thanks to NitroQAM (1024-QAM) and 4-Stream technology. These advanced technologies allow the router's 2.4 GHz band and both of its 5 GHz bands to provide speeds of up to 1000 Mbps and 2167 Mbps, respectively. With NitroQAM and 4-Stream, you can game at the highest settings without lagging.
One thing I find very useful about the Archer C5400 is the software that TP-Link has bundled with the device. The software is intuitive and easy to use on both the desktop and iOS apps.
Over the past years, several of the best wireless router manufacturers have remodelled their software applications from the ground up, including Netgear, D-Link and TP-Link. In addition, clean lines and friendly colour schemes accent a staggering amount of customisation, including everything from setting up the network to managing the number of clients on your network at any given time.
Other helpful features included the option to route all traffic going through the router to the VPN service of your choice, as well as the ability to set up a print server and install a 4G-connected USB modem in case you are using the router on the go.
Despite its minuscule stature, the TP-Link Archer C5400 has the best performance I have seen from a router across the board, dropping the ball only slightly when it came to transmitting data over a distance of 9.4 meters.
The TP-Link Archer C5400 is everything I want out of a high-performance mid-price wireless router. It's compact, well-designed frame hides the beast underneath, the best example of a "dynamite coming in a small package".