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TP-Link Archer VR900 review

Alan Lu
12 Mar 2016
TP-Link Archer VR900
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
125
inc VAT

A good buy for fibre customers with 802.11ac kit, but watch out if you have older 802.11n-only gear

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Specifications

Modem: VDSL2, Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac, Stated speed: 1300Mbit/s, USB ports: 1x USB3, 1x USB2, Wall mountable: No

The Archer VR900 is the ADSL modem-equipped version of TP-Link’s Archer C9, one of the best cable-only 802.11ac routers I’ve seen. It’s not just suitable for ADSL connections though – it’s also VDSL compatible, so will work with Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) and cable connections too, although not with Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) lines. That should still include most BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Plusnet subscribers, though, as well as other smaller VDSL ISPs.

It looks almost identical to the C9, with a glossy white plastic case, finished with metal trim, in an upright position. You can switch off the LED status lights if you find them distracting. There are four Gigabit Ethernet sockets on the rear, as well as a pair of USB ports for sharing a printer, storage or mobile broadband dongle with all your networked computers.

The straightforward web admin interface made setup a breeze. The tabbed UI is easy to get to grips with and you can switch from the default basic mode to the advanced view with a single click. The first-run wizard prompts you to change the default web UI admin password, but disappointingly doesn’t also prompt you to choose a wireless network password.

TP-Link Archer VR900 front and back

You can set up guest networks with either single- or dual-band SSIDs, and specify how much bandwidth to make available to them, but this requires setting up bandwidth controls for the entire network. The interface could be more friendly here – typing minimum and maximum Kbit/s values isn’t exactly elegant. Oddly, there’s no way to set the router to just 5GHz on 802.11n, so you have to opt for dual-band if you want to get the best speeds from 5GHz 802.11n devices.

Basic parental controls based on whitelists, blacklists and time-based schedules are all tied to the MAC addresses of your kids’ devices, so you don’t have to worry about locking yourself out at the same time. Dynamic DNS is less impressive, with only Dyndns and NO-IP officially supported.

Performance and range was something of a mixed bag. 2.4GHz 802.11n speeds using our laptop’s integrated adaptor were surprisingly poor, managing only 20.1MB/s at 10m and 14.9MB/s at 25m. It improved on 5GHz, managing 124.3MB/s at 10m and 60MB/s at 25m, but all these scores are less than the Archer C9 achieved.

There was a drastic improvement when switching to TP-Link’s own T4UH 802.11ac adaptor. Here, I saw 326MB/s at 10m and 279.6MB/s at 25m, which are among the fastest 802.11ac speeds I’ve seen.

The Archer VR900 is an attractive router that’s very easy to set up, regardless of your connection type, but it only achieves the best possible speeds and range with TP-Link’s own wireless adaptor. It’s a good buy if you want to upgrade to 802.11ac and have a VDSL ISP, but if you have a different connection the Archer C9 is probably still the better buy.

HARDWARE
ModemVDSL2
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz
Stated speed1300Mbit/s
SecurityWPA2-PSK
Upgradable antennaYes
WAN ports1
LAN ports4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
USB ports1x USB3, 1x USB2
Wall mountableNo
Dimensions245 x 181 x 90 mm
SOFTWARE
Guest networks2
Media serverDLNA
USB servicesPrint sharing, NAS, mobile connection
DDNS servicesDyndns, NO-IP
BUYING INFORMATION
Price including VAT£125
WarrantyThree years RTB
Supplierwww.dabs.com
Detailswww.tp-link.com
Part codeVR900