Wireless network performance
Let's take a look at the apartment that was used in our testing and how it is set up. You can see that the router is placed in the living room. With most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that great in rooms like the kitchen and the medium balcony. During our testing we used a very fast internet connection capable of downloads of 1 Gbps and of uploads up to 200 Mbps.
We used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for all our measurements and several software tools. To get a better perspective of the performance offered by TP-LINK Archer C3200, we compared it with two competitors with a similar total bandwidth (ASUS RT-AC88U and ASUS RT-AC3200), as well as its brother TP-LINK Archer C2600, which is a similar router in many regards, except that it is a dual-band wireless router.
At first, we evaluated the performance of the 2.4 GHz wireless network. We started by measuring the signal strength offered in each room, using a tool named inSSIDer. TP-LINK Archer C3200 managed to beat TP-LINK Archer C2600 in almost every room.
Next, we used SpeedTest to measure how fast the internet connection offered by this router is when using 2.4 GHz wireless network. As you can see below, TP-LINK AC3200 was the fastest router in almost every room, when measuring the download speed.
The same was true when measuring the upload speed offered by TP-LINK AC3200.
Continuing our measurements on the 2.4 GHz wireless network, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure downloads and uploads when transferring a 350MB file between two computers connected to the network. In the download test, the general performance offered by TP-LINK AC3200 was top-notch, managing to outperform the other routers in almost every room.
Similar results were seen when measuring the upload speed too.
Our tests have shown that 2.4 GHz wireless networking is a strength of TP-LINK Archer C3200. It offers very fast network connections on this wireless frequency.
Next, we analyzed the performance offered by the 5GHz wireless network and we looked at the evolution of the signal strength, from room to room. Again, TP-LINK AC3200 managed to beat TP-LINK AC2600 but it was outperformed by ASUS RT-AC88U.
Then, we used SpeedTest to measure the speed of the internet connection on the 5GHz wireless network. While it wasn't the absolute speed leader, TP-LINK AC3200 did p ull off an impressive feat: it managed to offer very fast downloads in all the rooms, even in the room furthest from the router. Its coverage is great even in large apartments.
The same was true when measuring the upload speed with SpeedTest.
Lastly, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure downloads and uploads when transferring a 350MB file between two computers connected to the network. When we evaluated the download speed, TP-LINK AC3200 wasn't the absolute speed king but it did offer very good coverage with speeds which lowered less than those offered by its competitors when moving farther away from the router.
Again, the same trend was apparent when looking at the upload speed.
TP-LINK AC3200 is able to offer very good coverage on the 5 GHz wireless frequency. While it isn't the absolute speed king, it manages to offer impressive coverage and, in large apartments, it will be faster than other routers in those corners which are farthest from the wireless router. We were very impressed by the steadiness of its performance.
Wired network performance
In order to test the quality of the wired Ethernet connection, we used a desktop PC, equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, running at 1.9 GHz, 8 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB SSD drive from Samsung.
We started by measuring the download and upload speeds using SpeedTest. In terms of download speed, TP-LINK Archer C3200 was outperformed both by TP-LINK Archer C2600 and by ASUS RT-AC88U. However, the differences are small enough not to be noticeable. In terms of upload speed, it was the second best router in this comparison, after ASUS RT-AC3200.
Then, we transferred an 883 MB file between the same two computers connected to the network, both of which were using an Ethernet cable. Again, TP-LINK Archer C3200 was not the performance leader but it was very close to its competitors.
TP-LINK Archer C3200 is a solid router that is able to deliver true 1 Gbps Ethernet connections.
TP-LINK Archer C3200 offers the following extra features:
- TP-LINK Tether App – an Android and iOS app that allows you to manage the router from your smartphone. Unfortunately there is no version for Windows 10 Mobile.
- Smart Connect - you can think of it as a basic QoS (Quality of Service) feature that helps devices run faster by assigning them to the best available channel to balance network demand.
- USB applications - which allow you to connect USB storage devices like an external hard disk or a printer and share them with the network.
- Parental Controls - this module allows you to control the internet access of devices on your network as well as block access to certain websites based on keywords. It's a rather basic parental controls feature which has limited usefulness.
- Dynamic DNS - allows you to assign a fixed host and domain name to a dynamic IP address. It can work with the No-IP and DynDNS service providers.
- VPN server - using only the IPsec protocol. The router also allows VPN pass-through for clients that are connecting to external VPN services.
- System Tools - a collection of logs, statistics and diagnostic tools that allow you to troubleshoot problems.
- Guest network - you can enable up to three guest networks, one for each band that is broadcast by the router. You can set each guest network to allow guests to see each other or to access the local network. However, we advise against it. Guests should not be allowed to access your network, for increased security and privacy.
While TP-LINK AC3200 offers some useful extra features, the number of tools offered and their usefulness is slightly fewer than what you get from competing AC3200 wireless routers from other manufacturers.
Pros and cons
TP-LINK Archer C3200 has many pros:
- It offers very fast 2.4 GHz wireless connections
- Its coverage on the 5 GHz wireless frequency is great, managing to offer very good speeds on large areas
- It can be mounted on walls
- It is rather compact and it looks good
This wireless router also has a few weaknesses:
- The advanced features it offers are not as impressive as its competitors
- Ethernet connections are slightly slower than those offered by its competitors
TP-LINK Archer C3200 or TP-LINK AC3200 is an impressive tri-band wireless router with top-notch hardware and specifications. It managed to be the fastest wireless router we have tested on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency and it offered very solid coverage on the 5GHz wireless frequency too. It wasn't the absolute speed king in our testing but, in those rooms which were furthest from the router, it offered unbeatable coverage and performance. It's only important downside lies in the smaller number of extra features that it offers when compared with similar AC3200 routers from competing manufacturers.
If you are interested in great performance as well as very good coverage, especially on the 5 GHz wireless frequency, you must take TP-LINK Archer C3200 into consideration for your next purchase. You won't be sorry you did.