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TP-Link TL-WDR3600 router review

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TP-Link is known for providing a lot of bang for your buck. The WDR3600 is a dual-band 802.11n router which is (theoretically) capable of 300Mbps on 2.4GHz and the same on 5GHz. For this reason it's known as an N600 router.

It's well priced: the similar WDR4300 (a so-called N750 router for its ability to achieve 450Mbps on 5GHz) is identical except that it costs £20 more and has three, rather than two detachable antennae. Both models have four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a WPS button and a handy switch for turning Wi-Fi on and off. 

You can connect a printer and hard disk to the USB ports to share these devices among your PCs and handheld devices. The WDR3600 can act as an FTP server and a media server. 

Like the Netgear R6300, the TP-Link is secure out of the box - you need only enter the pre-defined password to connect your devices wirelessly.

The interface is generally well-organised, and includes help information in the right-hand panel. Features are pretty limited, however. There is basically no QoS, and it's not possible to create a guest network. QoS is supposed to shape your network traffic so that lag-sensitive applications such as games, media streaming, and VoIP receive higher priority than lag-insensitive apps such as BitTorrent downloads.

A peculiar menu option is 'Dual Band Selection', which lets you configure whether you want to use both bands at the same time. You can do this on many routers, but to dedicate a whole page for this is a bit much.

Performance, surprisingly, was noticeably better than the more expensive WDR4300, hence our decision to review the WDR3600 instead of the pricier model. However, it's not quite on the same level as 802.11ac routers. Still, it should be a step up from your current router and, if you have Wi-Fi devices capable of operating on 5GHz, such as an iPhone 5, you should notice the faster connection.

Unlike certain other inexpensive dual-band routers, the WDR3600 can operate on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz at the same time, so you can have older 2.4GHz Wi-Fi devices connected to the internet at the same time as newer 5GHz products.


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