Is a RM1,000 router worth it?

Intro

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“Is the WiFi working?” That’s a question that gets asked a lot in the SoyaCincau headquarters. Most of the time, it’s met with a resounding groan and a big no. When you’re in a profession that needs a steady internet connection like we do, having your router go down more often than you take meal breaks is just plain frustrating.

So, we put our heads together and after some investigation, we deduced that our poor little sub-RM300 router simply couldn’t handle the load we put it under. So, that got us thinking: Is investing more money in an expensive router actually worth it? To find out, we reached out to TP-Link and asked if they could let us review one of their new routers. They responded by sending us the Archer AC3150 Wireless MU-MIMO Gigabit router.

Yup, that’s a thousand ringgit router. Here’s what we think of it.

Wait, it’s RM1,000?

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Nearly. TP-Link’s official online store in Lazada lists the router at RM969 with a 2-year warranty. But that’s still more than 3x what we paid for our original router.

OK, what do you get for your money?

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You actually get quite the spec sheet. First up it supports dual-band wireless networking at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It’s also got MU-MIMO capabilities so it can achieve wireless speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps on 2.4GHz and 2,150 Mbps on 5GHz. That’s a far cry from our sub-RM300 router which can only push 300Mbps on 2.4GHz and 450Mbps on 5GHz.

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Besides that, it’s also got two USB ports (one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0) that can convert your hard disk into a network attached storage (NAS) accessible to anyone connected to the WiFi, and four antennas. You can also set up two separate guest networks (one on 2.4GHz and one on 5GHz) for your guests if you don’t want to give them access to stuff like your NAS or other connected devices.

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Setup was also really straightforward and TP-Link’s web admin UI was pretty intuitive too (plus you can access it at tplinkwifi.net instead of your router’s IP address). What’s more, it’s also compatible with UniFi, Maxis Fibre and Time Fibre so it should work no problem. We did have a little hiccup with setting up our UniFi connection, but once we went into the router’s Advanced settings, enabled IPTV and selected Malaysia-Unifi, everything was peachy.

TP-Link also lets you control your router via the TP-Link Tether application that you can download on Android and iOS. From the app, you get access to a whole bunch of controls. For example, you can see what kind of devices are connected (and block specific ones from connecting), view your wireless settings, set up guest networks, share passwords and access parental controls among others. It’s got a nice interface, but we feel that performance could be improved as it can get quite frustrating when you want to make a quick settings adjustment but get stuck staring at a loading icon.

Hmm, what about the build?

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Well, it certainly feels better than our original router, that’s for sure. However, it is still very much a hunk of plastic, half of which is glossy, while the other half is matte. Is it robust? Certainly. We tried our best to make it flex but it held up really well. Still, we wouldn’t recommend throwing it off a building, however.

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