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Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

anthonypaynter
Dabbler
Posts: 11
Registered: 29-07-2013

Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

I've just joined Plusnet (moved from Be after the Sky acquisition) and I'm now enjoying the benefits of an unlimited fibre connection.
I'm finding the Wi-Fi signal from the Technicolor router to be a little on the weak side. Unfortunately it's positioned in the corner of my house, which doesn't help. I'm looking into alternative options, and I'm really not sure what to get. Ideally I'd like a single device to replace the modem and router - is that possible? I'd like simultaneous 2.4 & 5 Ghz bands, and a number of Gigabit ethernet ports.
I had a look in Maplin at the weekend, and picked up a TP-Link router. As soon as I did, one of the sales staff came over and started trying to talk me out of it. "Don't buy TP-link, mate - they're not very good...". I asked why they stocked them if they weren't good and he fobbed me off, telling me that Netgear was the way to go. I've had Netgear products in the past - DG834GT, etc - and found them rather unreliable. I've also used TP-Link powerline adaptors, and had no problems with them.
If the TP-Link products really aren't much good, what are my other options? I've heard good things about the ASUS RT-N56U. Am I right in thinking that's "just" the router - and would need to connect to the existing modem?
Thanks in advance.
32 REPLIES
st1967
Grafter
Posts: 26
Registered: 02-11-2012

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

I would look here
http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/ShopSearch.asp?CategoryID=711
It lists all the routers compatible with Fibre.  Some of the newer Drayteks can even replace the BT modem as a single device, but not sure what the plusnet support is like if you do this.  I've ordered a few bits from them in the past and the service is very good.
Personally I have a Draytek Vigor 2830n - http://www.draytek.co.uk/products/vigor2830.html, which is more for a small business than a home user, but I work from home and got it through work.  I never bothered taking the Plusnet router when I went to fibre because I got the 2830n knowing it would work for both ADSL and Fibre.
I know what you say about Netgear though, I used to swear by the DG834GT router and had 2 of them, but when I was on ADSL I was getting 4mb via the netgear, I swapped to the Draytek on the same line and it went to a rock steady 5mb.  I really was not expecting that.   But sometimes the old add-age "you get what you pay for" really is true.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,894
Thanks: 3
Registered: 20-10-2012

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

I'm using a TP-Link router with fibre and it's rock solid and easy to understand (compared to the Technicolor). I also have a TP-Link IP Camera and TP-Link Home plugs.
Interestingly, SamKnows provided me with a different TP-Link router to gather stats on Performance!
But, when a salesman tries to influence a buying choice by 'dissing' he's lost the sale with me. If something else is better then he should be promoting the 'betterness' not 'dissing' the opposition!
Geoff,
York.
anthonypaynter
Dabbler
Posts: 11
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

I quite agree about the salesman. I wouldn't buy from someone like that either - in fact I only went in to Maplin to check what routers they had in stock, and to see how much more expensive they were than online.
How's the wireless performance on your TP-Link, and which model do you have?
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,894
Thanks: 3
Registered: 20-10-2012

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

It's a (discontinued) TL-WR2543ND Dual Band Wifi 'n' and Gigabit Router.
I think it cost me less the £40 at the time from Amazon.
Wireless is not a problem with our 2 iPhones and 2 iPads, & wifi printer. It will do 450Mbps on 5G but seems OK at 150Mbps on dual band 'n'!
It's never dropped the line since installation last November/December and delivers a regular 73Mbps down and 16Mbps up!
The SamKnows router is an N600 which, I believe, is gifted to me after the data gathering is ended!
Geoff,
York.
dynoman
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Thanks: 3
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

Hello there,  I swapped the supplied Technicolor  router for a TP link N600 router (TL-WDR3600) and the difference it has made is amazing! And for the money i don't think you can go far wrong. There are quite often up to five PC's on line at the same time (large family  Wink ) as well as all the usual accompanying smart phones and games consoles and the TP-Link deals with them all admirably, where as the supplied Technicolor would wheeze and give up at the first sight of having to supply a video stream to one person at the same time as coping with someone else's gaming and music streaming!  So i can honestly say i am very happy with the TL-WDR3600 for the money i paid - 59.99 at Argos and i think you can get it even cheaper with a bit of shopping around.
Don't forget to pick up a dual band wireless adaptor whilst you're at it so you can enjoy the 5Ghz goodiness that this router can provide plus giving you the option to enjoy dual networks at home as it transmits 2.4 & 5Ghz simultaneously.
as for the Salesman ....pah...  Roll eyes  !
here's a couple of reviews of it and it comes out pretty well.
http://uk.hardware.info/reviews/3423/2/tp-link-tl-wdr3600-and-wdr4300-review-two-shades-of-black-alm...;
http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/network-wifi/3415146/tp-link-tl-wdr3600-review/?tab=verdictTab#to...
Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

anthonypaynter
Dabbler
Posts: 11
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

That's probably why I picked it up in the first place Smiley
That looks like it should be worth a punt for £55. Certainly a lot of spec for the money, just as I found with my TP-Link powerline gear.
There's also a WDR4300 N750 for £67 and a WDR4900 N900 for £80 on Amazon. I'm guessing these won't provide massively different speeds in the real world, considering the extra outlay. Or am I mistaken?
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,364
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

and if there are any issues with the TP-Link firmware, I believe its compatible with DD-WRT (http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/support/router-database)  and OpenWrt (http://wiki.openwrt.org/toh/tp-link/tl-wdr3600)
SuperZoom
Grafter
Posts: 353
Registered: 17-05-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

You'll find both of those routers to be very capable. They have different processor architectures. The one isn't necessarily better than the other. Because of the different codebases, I don't think there's a guest wireless network facility on the TL-WDR4900, even in the latest firmware (whereas there is on the 4300).
It would be a good idea to download and flash the latest firmware from the TP-Link website before you start setting things up, unless, of course, you intend to use one of the open source alternatives anyway (in which case the lack of a guest network in the stock firmware won't be a concern).
One thing you may want to be aware of is that the VPN capability is passthrough rather than endpoint termination on the router. The Asus RT-N65U (as opposed to 56U) has a VPN server on the router. The value of that depends very much on your circumstances.
Also (if you were thinking of using one of them) the open source firmwares don't support the hardware NAT feature. That won't be an issue, though, with an 80Mbps fibre connection - hardware NAT only really comes into its own at around 300Mbps and above.
jimbof
Grafter
Posts: 348
Thanks: 2
Registered: 02-05-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

TP-LINK is excellent value kit, and particularly so if you are going to use with a 3rd party firmware.  I've found their OEM firmware passable, but in all honestly I've usually wiped it pretty quick.
The likes of Netgear are now able to trade off their brand and perceived quality and so are not as competitive any more.
dynoman
Dabbler
Posts: 20
Thanks: 3
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

Hi again.
Would just like to mention that the TL-WDR4300  actually came out worse in some tests when compared back to back with the TL-WDR3600 in the review i listed (this one - http://uk.hardware.info/reviews/3423/2/tp-link-tl-wdr3600-and-wdr4300-review-two-shades-of-black-alm... ) and they felt the extra money for it simply was not justified. Plus also if you install the latest firmware update for the  TL-WDR3600 it also now has the capability of offering a guest network.
SuperZoom
Grafter
Posts: 353
Registered: 17-05-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

The WAN-LAN throughput figures in that review will definitely not be over PPPoE with NAT and firewall etc. enabled.
But the TL-WDR3600 will still far exceed the real-world routing performance you'll need to take full advantage of your current fibre connection and any foreseeable upgrades for quite a few years to come. It should route well over 220Mbps even without hardware NAT.
You could easily make it a bit more capable in various ways (at the price of a little extra setup time) by installing the DD-WRT firmware (which is perhaps simpler to get to grips with than OpenWRT) as and when you felt like it.
Note that DD-WRT doesn't support the TL-WDR4900 because it has a PowerPC processor chip rather than an Atheros one, but OpenWRT remains an option for that one if you were to find the stock firmware too limited for your needs.
If the TL-WDR3600 is on offer, I'd go for it if I were you! Best value solution, even though it doesn't combine a VDSL modem. And you'll probably find the stock firmware is fine if you want to avoid any hassle.
On the other hand, if you wanted to truly be on the bleeding edge of open source internet improvement and  take the Maplin sales bod's advice, you could spend twice as much on the Netgear WNDR3700 instead and flash it with CeroWRT... Personally, I'd wager that tackling buffer bloat was less the basis of his recommendation than the extra cash involved, though  Smiley
anthonypaynter
Dabbler
Posts: 11
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

Very informative!
Looks like I'll be getting the TL-WDR3600.
anthonypaynter
Dabbler
Posts: 11
Registered: 29-07-2013

Re: Alternative Modem/Routers for Fibre - TP-Link?

I bought the TL-WDR3600 today, but I haven't managed to get it to connect.
I ran the quick setup program that came with the router and it asked to clone the MAC address of the "main computer". I went ahead and did this, plugged my laptop into the LAN port of the TP-Link and swapped the modem cable from the Technicolor to the TP-Link's WAN port. I went through the setup procedure and added my username / password, but I couldn't get it to connect to the internet. I did manage to connect to the WiFi from the new router, via my phone, but not the Internet. I'm not sure what I've done wrong here - probably a schoolboy error! Any suggestions?
Thanks again, and apologies for idiocy.