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TP-Link Archer C7 (AC1750) Review

The Archer C7 isn't the fastest router around, but it's great if you are on a tight budget
TP-Link Archer C7 (AC1750)
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Price:   $80 List | $56.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, Easy to use
Cons:  Lackluster throughput, minimal features
Manufacturer:   TP-Link
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Feb 8, 2018
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48
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 13
  • Features - 25% 4
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • 2 4 ghz throughput - 20% 4
  • 5 ghz throughput - 20% 4
  • Range - 15% 4

Our Verdict

The TP-Link Archer C7 undeniably failed to impress in our range or throughput testing and is noticeably sparse in terms of features. However, this router is fantastically easy to use and retails for much less than most of the competition, earning it a Best Buy award. In reality, this model can more than handle most moderately sized households, provided they aren't too jam-packed with devices and won't break the bank.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $80 List
$56.99 at Amazon
$130 List
$79.99 at Amazon
$50 List
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$100 List
$79.00 at Amazon
$75 List
$49.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, Easy to useVery easy to use, more affordable, solid set of featuresSuper easy to use, fantastic valueEasy to set up, expandableEasy to use, solid throughput
Cons Lackluster throughput, minimal featuresUnimpressive throughput and rangeDoesn't have extremely impressive range, so-so set of featuresSo-so range between points, can't turn off frequencies for troubleshootingAbysmal performance in our range test, light on features
Bottom Line The Archer C7 isn't the fastest router around, but it's great if you are on a tight budgetGreat for budget-conscious shoppers that are willing to spend a little bit more to upgrade performanceIf you are on a budget and seeking a simple router, this is our recommendationIf you are trying to set up a mesh network on a budget, then we think this is one of your best optionsThis would be a decent router if it didn't do so poorly in our range tests
Rating Categories TP-Link Archer C7 (... Nighthawk AC1750 (R... TP-Link Archer A6 (... eero Mesh Wifi Router NETGEAR AC1200 (R6230)
Features (25%)
4.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
2 4 Ghz Throughput (20%)
4.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
4.0
5 Ghz Throughput (20%)
4.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
6.0
Range (15%)
4.0
5.0
4.0
4.0
1
Specs TP-Link Archer C7 (... Nighthawk AC1750 (R... TP-Link Archer A6 (... eero Mesh Wifi Router NETGEAR AC1200 (R6230)
MU-MIMO No Yes Yes Yes No
Wireless Specification 802.11ac 802.11ac 2.4 GHz: 802.11n
5 GHz: 802.11ac
IEEE802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz: 802.11n
5 GHz: 802.11ac
LAN Ports Available 4 4 4 5 (total) 4
Security WPA/WPA2 Personal, WPA/ WPA2 Enterprise, WEP, TKIP and AES Encryptions WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES], WPA/WPA2 Enterprise 64/128-bit WEP, WPA / WPA2, WPA-PSK/ WPA2-PSK Encryption WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
Wall mountable Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Beamforming No Yes Yes Yes No
Frequency 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2.4GHz and 5GHz
USB Ports 2: 2.0 1: 3.0 None None 1: 2.0
Dimensions 9.6" x 6.4" x 1.3" 7.26" x 11.22" x 1.97" 9.1" x 5.7" x 1.4" 3.86" x 3.86" x 2.36" 9.27" x 5.94" x 2.14"
Antenna 3 external 3 external 4 external and 1 internal 4 internal 2 external
Processor 720 MHz single-core 1 GHz dual-core 775 MHz single-core 700 MHz quad-core 880 MHz dual-core
Memory 8 MB Flash
128 MB RAM
128 MB Flash
256 MB RAM
N/A 512MB RAM
4GB flash storage
128 MB NAND Flash
128 MB DDR3 RAM
2.4 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 36 Mbits/s 48 Mbits/s 38 Mbits/s 39 Mbits/s 42 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 42 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 30 Mbits/s 53 Mbits/s 38 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 41 Mbits/s 43 Mbits/s 28 Mbits/s 47 Mbits/s 33 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 35 Mbits/s 37 Mbits/s 25 Mbits/s 43 Mbits/s 32 Mbits/s
2.4 GHz. Long Distance Throughput 9 Mbits/s 25 Mbits/s 9 Mbits/s 6 Mbits/s 2 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 211 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 227 Mbits/s 203 Mbits/s 201 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Short Distance Throughput - Obstructed 184 Mbits/s 201 Mbits/s 199 Mbits/s 174 Mbits/s 232 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Line of Sight 192 Mbits/s 211 Mbits/s 178 Mbits/s 176 Mbits/s 214 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Medium Distance Throughput - Obstructed 166 Mbits/s 194 Mbits/s 169 Mbits/s 188 Mbits/s 195 Mbits/s
5 GHz. Long Distance Throughput 18 Mbits/s 11 Mbits/s 26 Mbits/s 21 Mbits/s 27 Mbits/s
Video Playback Range Test 135 ft. 155 ft. 135 ft. 135 ft. 65 ft.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Archer tied with the NETGEAR AC1200, though it had slightly different performance characteristics. The Archer is much easier to operate and had mediocre throughput in both the 2.4 GHz. and 5 GHz. band. On the other hand, the AC1200 did quite poorly in our 2.4 GHz. testing, it performed above average in the 5 GHz. band. The Archer retails for about $10 less than the AC1200 as well, cementing its position as a Best Buy award winner.

The TP-Link Archer is a fantastic value and a great choice if you...
The TP-Link Archer is a fantastic value and a great choice if you are shopping on a tight budget.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Performance Comparison


To find out which router truly routed the rest of the pack, we bought all of the best products available on the market and compared their performance side-by-side. We split our testing process into five weighted rating metrics, with the results of the Archer and how they compare to the competition explained in the sections below.

The TP-Link Archer is a little light on features.
The TP-Link Archer is a little light on features.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Features


Comprising the most weight out of any of the metrics in this test, our Features metric accounts for 25% of the total score. The score is based on a detailed comparison of all the features and functions each router had, with particular attention paid to a handful of critical ones. The Archer didn't do particularly well, being a little sparse in terms of features and earning a 4 out of 10 for its efforts.


Right off the bat, the Archer's score took a hit by the lack of both MU-MIMO and Beamforming. These features are commonplace on higher-end routers and act to speed up your network. However, you can probably get away without these features if you have a small to medium size house and you don't have too many devices. If that isn't the case, then it is probably worth paying a little bit more to upgrade performance.

Next, we looked at if you had the ability to turn off or adjust the brightness of the indicator LEDs on the Archer.

The LED indicator lights are always on with the Archer, with no way...
The LED indicator lights are always on with the Archer, with no way to dim them.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Unfortunately, the TP-Link Archer does not give you the option, forcing you to store it in an out of the way location if the blinking lights bother you. This router also lacks the ability the ability to be remotely reset, forcing you to do it manually.

This router is able to be affixed to a wall and has 4 LAN ports available for use — par for the course with most of the routers that we reviewed. It also has two USB 2.0 ports and the ability to enable a guest WiFi network, as well as supporting IPv6.

The Archer is one of the easiest routers to use that we have tested.
The Archer is one of the easiest routers to use that we have tested.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Use


For our next metric, we looked at the difficulties associated with setting up and operating each router. This set of tests accounts for 20% of the total score, with the score based on how hard it was to set up and configure the network, as well as interact with the router and set parental controls. The Archer did very well, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its performance and comparing quite favorably with the rest of the products in the review.


This router had one of the easiest setup processes of the entire group, with an extremely simple wizard popping up automatically to guide you through the initial network configuration. The wizard is very easy to use, but you do have to complete it before you can begin browsing the internet.

The setup guide for the TP-Link routers has one of the most...
The setup guide for the TP-Link routers has one of the most user-friendly designs that we have seen.

We also had to update the firmware of the router upon unboxing, but this was a relatively painless process as well. The Archer has one of the best user interfaces that we have seen, with a modern design that was very intuitive and easy to use. You can control the router through either a web interface or a mobile app

The parental controls on this router are decent, allowing you to block off the internet from certain devices based on a schedule. It also allows you to blacklist sites by keywords.

The parental controls on the Archer weren't terribly sophisticated...
The parental controls on the Archer weren't terribly sophisticated, but they are effective for rudimentary content filtering.

This model also features QoS, or Quality of Service. This allows you to set priority by device, port, or applications.

2.4 GHz. Throughput


This next metric gets into how fast each router actually transmits data and accounts for 20% of the total score for each product. We used the results of an iPerf3 test to determine throughput, with the average of three trials for each of the five tests we did to determine the score. The TP-Link Archer delivered a somewhat mediocre performance, meriting a 4 out of 10 for its throughput over the 2.4 GHz. band.


We tested at short, medium, and long distances, doing both an obstructed and unobstructed test for the short and medium distances. The TP-Link started off with a slightly subpar showing in the short distance, unobstructed test, averaging a throughput speed of only 36 Mbits/s — significantly lower than the 57 Mbits/s of the top scoring model. These tests were done with about 10' separating the router and the test computer. The Archer did a little better in the obstructed version of the test, averaging 42 Mbits/s and finishing in the middle of the pack.


In the medium distance tests, about 35' of distance separating the laptop and the router, the Archer scored in the middle of the pack in both, with its average throughput rate of 41 Mbit/s in the line of sight test and 35 Mbit/s in the obstructed version of the test. This actually put it quite near the front of the pack in the unobstructed test.


For the final test of this metric, the long distance obstructed test, we had about 70' and a few walls separating the test computer from the router. The Archer didn't do particularly well.


The Archer only averaged 8.6 Mbit/s at this distance, though this wasn't the worst performance of the group. This router exceeded the performance of the D-Link, Linksys AC1900, and the NETGEAR AC1200.

5 GHz. Throughput


Similar to the previous metric, this one also accounts for 20% of the overall score. Our testing procedure and process was also the same, with the exception of using the 5 GHz. band instead of the 2.4 GHz. band. The Archer again was a slight disappointment, earning a 4 out of 10 for its efforts.


Again, we started with the short distance tests. The Archer actually did quite well in the line-of-sight version, averaging a speed of 211 Mbit/s. However, its performance dropped in the obstructed version of the test, delivering a below average speed of 184 Mbit/s.


Next, we moved on to the medium distance tests. The Archer again delivered a relatively subpar performance, averaging throughput speed of 192 Mbits/s in the line-of-sight tests and 166 Mbits/s in the obstructed version. Finally, we conducted the long distance test, with about 70' and multiple walls separating the router from the test computer. The 5 GHz. band isn't really meant for this kind of distance, so the performance of all the routers plummeted.


The Archer finished in the lower half of the pack, but it still outperformed the Linksys AC1900, the D-Link, and the Nighthawk AC1750.

The range on the Archer is slightly below average.
The range on the Archer is slightly below average.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Range


For our final metric, responsible for the remaining 15% of the overall score, we evaluated and judged the range of each router. To do this, we attempted to play a 5-minute YouTube video in 720p at varying distances from the router, recording at what point the video began to experience interruptions. The Archer delivered another uninspiring performance, meriting a 4 out of 10 for its lackluster range. The following chart shows how this compares to the rest of the products in the pack.


The Archer had an effective range of about 141' in our test, putting it towards the back of the pack, about 73' less than the top scorer.

Value


All in all, the TP-Link Archer is a fantastic value, offering solid performance at a relatively affordable price compared to the other products in the pack.

Conclusion


Earning the Best Buy Award, the Archer is our top recommendation when searching for a router on a tight budget. While this product doesn't have the best performance when it came to throughput or range, it's a solid router that is very easy to use and won't break the bank.

David Wise and Austin Palmer