Although TP-Link has been around for a while, the company isn't as well-known in the UK as some other networking brands. This could explain its aggressive pricing strategy, as the TL-WR1043ND wireless router costs just £42. Often, routers that cost so little offer no more than a basic feature set, but in this 300Mbps router, TP-Link has included nearly everything its more expensive rivals do.
The TP-Link TL-WR1043ND has 802.11n wireless, capable of 300Mbps, which supports something called Signal Sustain Technology (SST) which TP-Link says provides a stronger signal, as all three antennae are used for both receiving and transmitting data. It also has four gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB port for sharing printers or external USB storage over the network. It doesn't have dual band wireless though, which is a nice way to avoid interference from the congested 2.4GHz wireless band, but arguably this is an unnecessary addition.
The included setup CD guides you through the process of connecting your TP-Link TL-WR1043ND cable modem and setting up a wireless network. After rebooting the modem it connected to the internet almost immediately, and every PC on our network was back online almost immediately.
The on-board administration software is well designed and simple to use. Often the settings that users will typically want to adjust on a router are buried within multiple menus with non-descript names such as ‘Advanced' or ‘Setup'. With the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, all the relevant options are listed on the left and are easy to reach. Loading administration pages on some routers can be painfully slow, but the TL-WR1043ND was quick to load each section and rebooting took seconds rather than minutes.
The main options most people might need are listed here, such as binding MAC addresses to static IPs, built-in support for Dynamic DNS services, QOS, parental control, port forwarding and a list of settings, to configure the security of your wireless network, including multiple types of security, including WPA2.
We tested the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND router's wireless capability by transferring a 10GB file at a range of 2m, and then again at 10m. Its performance was excellent at short range, managing an impressive 10.6MB/sec. At long range this dropped to 6.9MB/sec, which isn't bad considering there were two solid walls between the router and our laptop. For fun, we then tried it in another building 25m away, where the wireless signal of many other routers is unreliable. Here, it still managed a solid 1MB/sec transfer speed.