We were recently impressed by TP-Link’s TL-WR1043ND, which is a reasonably-priced triple-antenna cable router. It was good value for money, came with nearly all the extras of more expensive router models and performed superbly. The W8961ND is slightly cheaper still, but loses one of the antennas, along with the other extras.
As with other sub-£40 routers, the W891ND lacks gigabit Ethernet, a USB port for sharing storage, and support for 5GHz wireless networks. It still has a button at the front for one-touch setup of a secure network, although TP-Link has called this QSS rather than using the standard WPS acronym.
The on-board web interface on the W8691NS is quite basic, and isn’t as well designed as the one on TP-Link’s TL-WR1043ND. Nevertheless, all the useful options are there, such as a NAT and SPI-based firewall, QOS settings, and WPA 2 wireless security. The supplied software guides you through the set-up process easily though, and we had no trouble connecting to our DSL line.
As with the more expensive TP-Link model, the W8961ND doesn’t disappoint when it comes to performance. In our short range test it managed a whopping 9.3MBps, a rate that matches the performance of routers costing three times as much. It didn’t do quite so well in the long-range test, but a transfer speed of 2.9MBps edged it slightly ahead of Tenda’s W300D.
One reason for this better-than-expected performance is that both antennas are used for transmitting and receiving data (MIMO), an aspect of 802.11n networking that not all budget routers support.
The W8691ND is certainly not pretty but it does the job. More expensive routers have lots of extra bells and whistles and better on-board software, but those extras aren’t , and may not use the router’s on-board software more than once. As an inexpensive way to upgrade a slow wireless network, this router hits the mark.