Testing a router can be a bit tricky, as unlike most components, its performance can vary depending on environment. That being said, we rate our routers based on maximum throughput in various wireless modes, wireless range in 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands, and a media playback test.
To test our router’s throughput, we’ll connect two computers to it, one via Gigabit LAN and the other via Wi-Fi using an ASUS RT-AC68U in ‘Client Mode‘, allowing to act as a wireless adapter. We then run a utility called LANBench on both machines in order to gauge networking performance.
Tests are done within a range of less than 5ft.
As we can see in the chart above, in all wireless modes is fairly good and definitely in-line with other routers in this class. We’re quite impressed so far.
Wireless Range is tested by placing the ‘Client’ at various lengths and measuring the signal’s dBm (Decibel-milliwatts). dBm ranges from 0 to -100, with 0 being the highest or best signal on the spectrum.
The 2.4GHz range on the Archer C9 has proven to be quite good. While the 5GHz range is decidedly shorter, you get a lot more bandwidth with it. So, it is a trade-off, one that just about every dual-band wireless router will make. That being said, in the area we live in there’s about a dozen 2.4GHz networks and only 1 other 5GHz network. So if you live in a congested area, 5GHz is definitely the way to go and this router does deliver solid 5GHz range.
One of the other ways we test our network performance, which is a little different from other sites, is by setting up a common scenario that the average household might use the router. In this case, we set-up 4 different devices including a Acer Chromebook, a Samsung Galaxy S 4, a Google Nexus 5, and a iPhone 5S. We streamed 4 different 1080p videos from our desktop, which was connected via Gigabit ethernet, to all of the other devices, which were all connected using wireless AC, via DLNA.
The results were quite spectacular, and the router was able to handle all the video streams without a single hiccup, all of the videos loaded quickly, had perfectly sync’d audio and zero playback issues.
REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
The truth is, wireless routers do not get the vast majority of us excited. You wont find anyone waiting in crowded line or camping out to get the latest wireless router. That being said, a good wireless router can definitely improve your experience with the devices that do get you excited. Trust me when we say that streaming a movie on your iPad, only to have your router drop signal right before the hero saves the girl, can definitely ruin the ‘magic’.
Which is why we’re very pleased with our experience with the TP-LINK Archer C9. It delivers everything a user could want or need in a wireless router, including great performance and solid range without breaking the bank. At the price of $149.99, you’d be hard pressed to find a more feature-rich, and better performing router than this one. Sure, it isn’t without its flaws. Not being able to mount it to a wall is definitely a small, but noteworthy drawback. And its glossy-white finish might not be appeal to all, but I’d say that’s not the most important factor when purchasing a router. But, what it does well, it does really well and for a really great price.