The Archer C7 is slightly different from the usual networking products we see from TP Link, a company that until now, has been known for selling no-frills, but well-performing hardware. See Group test: what's the best wireless router?
The first change is to the router’s name. We’re not sure why tech companies love to brand their products with seemingly random arrays of letters and numbers, like TPW8961ND. Archer C7 is a better, more memorable choice. Then there’s the router’s appearance. Gone is the cheap-looking, boring white plastic rectangular shell from TP-Link routers of the past, a style that already looked dated back in 2002, and in its place is a black glossy finish with three gigantic antennae. Admittedly, nearly every router looks more like this now, and it’s still not the most attractive technology product we’ve ever seen, but it’s a step forward for TP-Link. Glossy plastic has a tendency to show fingerprints though and these covered the Archer C7 less than five minutes into testing. See all Wi-Fi and networking reviews.
Despite the additions, TP-Link is still very aggressive on cost. Although no 802.11ac router is available for less than £100 yet, £110 is reasonable. And TP-Link hasn’t skimped on the features. The most important new addition in the Archer C7 is support for 802.11ac. Three external antennae provide coverage for 2.4 GHz 802.11n and 5 GHz wireless bands.
At the back are the usual layout of four gigabit ethernet ports and one WAN port to connect to your modem, plus two USB 2.0 ports.
The software interface is perhaps bland compared with the more graphical pages of some other routers, with just a simple green header and two columns of menus, but there are no important features left out. It’s chock full of settings, and we can’t really criticise it too much, given its price. That said, the plethora of entries in the menu could overwhelm some less experienced users, perhaps the very price-conscious folk that TP-Link is targeting. But, as we’ve found with other TP-Link routers we’ve reviewed, the wireless performance of the Archer C7 is as good, or better, than some of its pricier rivals. Using 11ac, it managed 505 Mb/s at short range and 486 Mb/s from 10 metres distant.
Its 802.11n performance on 2.4 GHz wasn’t quite as good, but still reasonable with 110 Mb/s at short range, and 89 Mb/s at distance.