This is a review of a free product received from TP-LINK as part of the review program
I’ve always been one to not purchase a routers unless I was certain that it had open-source firmware capability, and thus, I’ve always been a generation or two behind the cutting-edge in router technology. I’ve been an IT professional for 18 years, and I always thought to myself that I “needed” a router that I could tinker with endlessly. Little did I know how much of a headache I was making for myself.
The TP-Link C5400 has made me re-think my home network, and what is important to look for in a router.
This router is a monster. It’s large, it’s in charge, and it has the performance to match its size. It’s external design is very pleasing to the eye, it doesn’t look nearly as much like a spaceship as other routers in its class. Coupled with 8(!) external antennas, the Archer C5400 absolutely destroys the old ASUS RT-N66U that it replaced in both range and throughput on both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands. I realize that we’re not comparing apples to apples here, one is N (max 300Mbps throughput) and the Archer C5400 is AC5400 (max combined 5400Mbps) but the difference is clear: I’ve been stubborn about needing open-source firmware for way too long.
Setup was very simple out of the box. The Quick Setup asks you very simple questions to get you up and going. Most users will be able to complete the quick setup, close the admin page, and never have to think about it again. Not me though, I like to tinker.
One very important thing to me is VPN support. I like to run my own VPN server on my home network that allows me to remote back from anywhere in the world, access my local files, help my wife troubleshoot issues while I’m not at home, and also encrypt my internet traffic while on Public WiFi at places like Starbucks. The Archer C5400 supports OpenVPN (my choice), and PPTP (not nearly as secure as OpenVPN). It was also the most simple setup I’ve come across for OpenVPN. There is a simple Generate Certificate button (which takes a while) and an Export Configuration button. Boom, all done. If you use a Dynamic DNS service, be sure to set that up prior to configuring the OpenVPN server, and exporting the configuration file - your DynDNS hostname will be pre-configured in your profile.
Another very important thing to me is QoS. With two kids (3 and 6 years old), we must have 25 devices accessing the Internet at my house. They may be young, but they’ve discovered Netflix, and it eats up bandwidth. QoS settings are available under the Advanced tab, and you can assign priorities to different devices (Low, Middle, High). If you configure this properly, everyone should be able to access the services they need without hogging all of the pipe. Super handy for large households with tons of devices.
A few other great features are:
-Tri-band support: Segment your most important devices onto separate wireless bands for optimum performance
-MU-MIMO (Available after a future firmware update, but will be a game changer once implemented)
-Beamforming technology: Automatically adjust the WiFi radios to “aim” toward the devices that are connected.
-Easy setup Parental Controls
-File and Printer Sharing via the USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports
-Guest network: Let your friends access the Internet without having access to your complete network, protect your devices!
A few things that I’ve noticed that could use some improvement:
-Traffic Statistics: These are disabled out of the box, and can not be enabled unless you disable something called “NAT Boost”. Even after trying them out, they just don’t provide enough info to keep track of your data usage. Some households have data caps attached to their broadband plans, and need some way to keep track of their usage. This really needs improvement.
-UPnP - I’m having an issue with my Amcrest camera not being able to map ports via UPnP, where it had no issue with my previous router. I’m still troubleshooting this to see if it’s a camera issue or router issue. UPnP seems to work OK with other devices/services.
There are a few things that my old open-source router was handling on my network that I can’t do with this router (certain cron jobs, etc…), but that’s OK. I was looking for a reason to buy a Raspberry Pi anyway. I should be able to fill that gap very easily.
After about 10 days of thorough testing and comparing, I am absolutely thrilled with the performance and options that the Archer C5400 has to offer. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this router for its ease of use, broad feature set, and fantastic performance.