An affordable but advanced cable broadband router
TP-Link's TL-WR2543ND router is one of a handful that supports a faster (450Mbits/sec) version of the 802.11n wireless networking standard. Most other 11n models support either 150Mbits/sec or 300Mbits/sec connection speeds.
There's no built-in ADSL modem, so this router is most suitable for cable broadband users. There is a USB2 port for connecting compatible printers or USB storage devices so multiple computers can use them.
To get the most out of this router, it must be used with Wifi devices capable of 450Mbits/sec speeds. Most 11n devices do not support this speed, although suitable USB adapters are available for PCs and laptops. However, the router also supports all slower Wifi standards, so it works fine with any existing Wifi device.
The TL-WR2543ND can use either the 2.4GHz frequency band or the less interference-prone 5GHz band, but it cannot use both at once unlike some other routers. Setup is easy, with an excellent wizard on the supplied CD that automatically detects and configures the router's internet connection. Once done, the web interface can be used to tweak advanced settings, such as streaming media files or remote access to files on connected USB disks, as needed. These are quite basic though, and only six media folders or ten general data folders can be shared.
The configuration menu is neatly arranged and generally easy to understand, although it is quite technical in places. Fortunately, there is plenty of help available in the right pane of each menu screen (an online simulation is available).
Using a laptop with a suitable 450Mbits/sec adapter, we found performance to be nothing special at close range (around 40-50Mbits/sec), but at 25m files could still be transferred at over 20Mbits/sec on both the frequency bands, double the speed of our reference router (a Fritz Box 7390). Using a 300Mbits/sec adapter, its close-range performance improved, but at long range it was nowhere near as good, especially when using the 5GHz frequency band.
Considering the low price, it works well. If maximum performance is required, the extra cost of compatible PC adapters should be taken into account.
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A good low-cost router with excellent range, although PC upgrades might be needed in order to get the best performance out of it.
Low price; excellent range and speed when used with suitable adapters; easy to configure
Basic media streaming and file sharing; limited printer compatibility; cannot use 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands simultaneously
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