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Wireless Reviews

Introduction

Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Router
At a glance
ProductTP-LINK TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Router   [Website]
SummaryBargain-priced Gigabit-port 2.4 GHz N router based on Atheros chipset with FTP/UPnP USB drive sharing.
Pros• Relatively inexpensive for a Gigabit four port router
• In and outbound bandwidth limiting
• Upgradeable antennas
• WDS support
Cons• No SMB drive sharing
• Unimpressive wireless uplink performance
• No Guest WLAN

Typical Price: $45  Compare Prices  Check Amazon

If you’re thinking of purchasing a wireless router, the brand names most likely to come to mind would include Cisco/Linksys, D-Link and NETGEAR.  But there’s a relative newcomer that is targeting budget-conscious consumers with feature-rich products at budget-friendly prices: TP-Link.

For this review, I’ll be looking at TP-LINK’sTL-TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Router.  While the TP-LINK brand may not be a familiar household name, it does have limited distribution in U.S. retail outlets and a much broader online distribution.  Click here to see where you can find TP-LINK branded products.   Tim covered the design and performance of the TL-TL-WR1043ND in his article. Be sure to read it too for the whole story – it contains a lot of valuable content that I won’t be duplicating.

The image above shows the front panel of the TL-WR1043ND.  If you like lots of indicator lights, this could be the device for you.  There are indicators for:  Power; system; Wireless Network; WAN; four LAN indicators and a so-called QSS indicator.  TP-LINK has apparently coined their own term, Quick Secure Setup, for what the rest of us know as Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).  While I’m a big fan of front-panel status indicators, I was disappointed that the WAN and LAN indicators didn’t indicate the link connect speed.  Nor is there any place in the browser-based management interface to indicate link speed on any of the ports. Many competitive routers use multi-color LEDs to indicate either a 10/100 or Gigabit connection.

Figure 1 shows the rear panel detail.  While I was pleased to see that the ports were color-coded, unfortunately, neither the quick start guide, the easy setup wizard, nor the instruction manual took advantage of mentioning the port colors in the setup instructions.  I recently reviewed the NETGEAR WNDR3800, and like the TL-WR1043ND, it also has color-coded ports.  But NETGEAR took setup one step further by including a yellow “WAN” cable to correspond to the yellow WAN port, and even labeled both ends of the cable to help the consumer properly connect the device.  Though it’s a small detail, in a market that’s increasingly becoming commoditized, attention to detail makes a difference.

WR1043ND rear panel

Figure 1:  TL-WR1043ND rear panel

Feature Summary

Before delving into the setup and user interface, here’s a summary of the TL-WR1043ND's features that I compiled from its data sheet and admin interface.

Routing

  • Static and Dynamic IP, PPPoE , PPTP, L2TP and BigPond Cable WAN connections
  • MTU Adjust
  • DHCP Server, lease time setting, default domain and primary/secondary DNS
  • DHCP Client list
  • DHCP reservation
  • Virtual Server entry for single or multiple ports with TCP, UDP or all protocols forwarded. Enable/disable for each entry.  10 preconfigured common service ports
  • Port triggering – can set individual or range of incoming ports.  10 preconfigured common applications
  • DMZ Host
  • UPnP enable/disable with list of current UPnP applications, settings, protocols, internal port and status
  • IPv4 Static Routes
  • DDNS support for Dyndns (www.dyndns.org), Comexe (www.comexe.cn) and No-IP (www.no-ip.com)

Security

  • SPI firewall enable/disable
  • VPN Passthrough enable/disable for PPTP, L2TP and IPSec
  • Application Layer Gateway enable/disable for FTP, TFPT, H323 and RTSP
  • DoS (denial of service) enable/disable
  • Enable UDP Flood filtering (with settable threshold)
  • Enable TCP-SYN Flood attack filtering (with settable threshold)
  • Ignore Ping Packet from WAN port
  • Ignore Ping Packet from LAN port
  • Limit/allow LAN-based PCs access to router UI
  • Remote Management with user configurable port
  • Internet access control  - Rule based access control for host (domain name or IP address) and target lists(domain name or IP address) using user-defined schedules
  • Enable/disable bandwidth control with user settable egress/ingress (upload/download) speeds.
  • Bandwidth rules list based on IP address (or IP range), port range and protocol

Wireless features

  • WEP, WPA / WPA2 Personal and Enterprise (RADIUS) support
  • Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) support, pushbutton and PIN (called QSS – Quick Secure Setup by TP-Link)
  • Auto and manual channel set
  • Transmission rate set
  • SSID broadcast enable/disable
  • Enable/disable wireless
  • Enable WDS Bridging
  • Beacon period, RTS threshold, DTIM interval, Fragmentation Threshold adjusts
  • Wireless client isolation (from each other)
  • Wireless MAC address filtering (allow or deny based on MAC address)
  • WMM disable
  • Short GI disable
  • Wireless modes: b-only, g-only, n-only, mixed b/g, mixed b/g/n (default)
  • High / medium / low transmit power adjust
  • Beacon period, RTS threshold, DTIM interval, Fragmentation Threshold adjusts
  • Wireless client isolation (from each other)
  • WMM disable
  • Short GI disable

Despite the list above, there are some missing features that might make a big difference to you:

  • IPv6 support
  • Ability to populate DHCP reservation from existing client list
  • HTTPS (secure) remote management
  • Automatic internet bandwidth measurement
  • Scheduled wireless enable/disable
  • AP/router mode switch
  • Guest network

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