Reviewing the TP-Link Archer C1200: The new king of affordable routers?
The market of affordable wireless routers has seen many devices launched recently. While they are not the fastest nor the most complex, they tend to offer all the basics people need, at unbeatable prices. One of the newest routers in this niche is TP-Link Archer C1200. This WiFi router comes at a low price that anyone can afford and offers modern hardware and support for the latest mainstream wireless technologies. Is it a suitable choice for networking your home? Read this review and find out:
What is the TP-Link Archer C1200 good at?
TP-Link Archer C1200 is an entry-level wireless router that is a very suitable choice for small and medium-sized apartments, and users who don't want many advanced features.
It offers modern wireless networking, at good speed and quality, and a very affordable price.
Where To Buy
Pros and cons
There are several great things about the TP-Link Archer C1200:
- Very affordable price
- It packs all the basics people need, including a smartphone app
- Modern hardware that offers good quality WiFi
- The speed you get on the 5GHz wireless network is one of the best for a router in its price range
- It can be mounted on walls
There are also a few downsides:
- The smartphone app can be used only when you are connected to the WiFi that is broadcast by the router
- This router is a fingerprint and dust magnet
TP-Link Archer C1200 is the successor to the TP-Link Archer C7, and it beats its predecessor in every regard. It is a modern entry level router, with up-to-date hardware and WiFi technology. Its price is very affordable, and it offers all the basics people need for networking their apartments. As long as you don't have a large home or apartment and many devices, TP-Link Archer C1200 is one of the best affordable routers that you can buy.
Unboxing the TP-Link Archer C1200
TP-Link Archer C1200 comes in a large cardboard box with calming white and green colors. On the top, you can see a picture of this AC1200 wireless router, as well as its most important characteristics.
On the back of the box, TP-LINK displays detailed information about the major features of the TP-Link Archer C1200 and a comparison with other routers in the company's portfolio. We can see that this router is the successor to the old TP-Link Archer C7. It also shares its looks with this older model, as you can see for yourself when you unbox it.
Inside the box, you will find the following items: the router, the power adapter, a network cable, the quick installation guides, technical support information, the warranty and a leaflet about TP-LINK's Neffos line-up of smartphones. If you are curious about their smartphones, read this review: TP-Link Neffos X1.
The unboxing experience offered by TP-Link Archer C1200 is quick and painless. Inside the packaging of this wireless router, you will find all the usual accessories and no extras.
Hardware specifications and design
TP-Link Archer C1200 comes with a Broadcom BCM47189 processor, running at 900 MHz, 128 MB of RAM and 16 MB of storage for the firmware. It offers support for 2x2 MU-MIMO, which is ideal for an affordable router. It is a dual-band wireless router with a total maximum bandwidth of 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, leading to a total maximum bandwidth of 1167 Mbps. It offers support for the following networking standards: IEEE 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac.
On the back of the router, you will find the following elements: the Power jack, the Power button, a Reset jack, a USB 2.0 port, the Internet port, four Ethernet ports that work at 1 Gbps, and the WPS button. There are also three external antennas which cannot be unplugged from the body of the router.
On the bottom of the router, you can find some slots for mounting it on walls, which are very useful.
Regarding size, TP-Link Archer C1200 is not very large: it is 9.6 inches or 243 mm in width, 6.4 inches or 160.6 mm in depth, and 1.3 inches or 32.5 mm in height. Also, it weighs 1045 grams or 2.3 pounds.
If you would like to learn the official specifications of this WiFi router, go to this page: TP-Link Archer C1200 Specifications.
Setting up and using the TP-Link Archer C1200
Setting up the TP-Link Archer C1200 is not a difficult task. If you follow the quick start guide, you will be finished in a couple of minutes. The quick setup wizard starts by recommending that you change the default username and password. We highly recommend that you don't use admin/admin and also change the name of the admin user, not only the password.
The quick setup wizard first asks for the time zone you are in. It then helps detect the type of your internet connection and asks for the necessary connection details. For the next step, it asks you to set basic WiFi settings like the network name and the password and then shows a summary of your initial settings and tests your connection to the internet.
When you are done, you get to see the administration user interface. It uses calming colors like blue, white and green and it is organized logically, so that you can find what you need, with ease. The firmware first displays its basic settings, and this is where most users will fiddle. However, if you want real personalization, you must go to the Advanced tab.
Here you will find all the settings that are available for TP-Link Archer C1200. Also, the interface is a lot more crowded with details. Knowledgeable users won't have issues in finding their way and settings things the way they want to.
However, beginners and less experienced users will have to access the help documentation. Luckily, it is easily available, with a click on the question mark that is found in the top-right corner of every page with settings. Click on it, and you see a detailed description of all the settings that are found on the page.
The user interface is available in a couple of languages, which you can see below. It is not as great as on the routers of other brands, but it is better than having everything available only in English.
For administering your router, you also have access to the TP-Link Tether app for Android and iOS. We tested only the Android version. With this app, you can change basic settings like the ones you see below. Also, you can do this only when your smartphone is connected to the WiFi that is broadcast by TP-Link Archer C1200.
Also, with it, you can quickly check the status of your router's operations: how many devices are connected, view the WiFi passwords and so on.
We wished that the TP-Link Tether app was usable also when you are not at home. However, this feature seems to be reserved only for more premium routers from TP-Link's portfolio.
Once we were done configuring everything, we connected all our devices to the network: desktop computers, tablets, laptops, smart plugs, smart bulbs, wireless printers, consoles, and smartphones. We had no issues in connecting them, and we enjoyed stable connections in most rooms. However, in two places of our test apartment, where other affordable routers also tend to struggle, we experienced some random disconnections or periods of time with slow WiFi, mostly on the 2.4 GHz band.
Another minor issue that we identified is that TP-Link Archer C1200 is a magnet for dust and fingerprints. If you want to keep it looking good, you may need to clean it more often than other routers.
If you would like to see the real-world performance that TP-Link Archer C1200 offers, and comparisons with other AC1200 routers, go to the next page of this review.