The TL-R600VPN was intuitive and easy to configure. Within 15 minutes of taking it out of the box, I configured the WAN interface, Dynamic DNS and Remote Access and an IPSec and PPTP tunnel up without using a configuration wizard or the manual.
The configuration menus on the TL-R600VPN are straightforward. There are 13 configuration menus, each with up to four submenus, with the exception of the System Tools menu that has 10 submenus for device management and troubleshooting. There are no additional tabs or separate configuration screens in the submenus. Table 1 summarizes the TL-R600VPN's configuration options.
|DHCP||Settings||Client List||Address Reservation|
|Forwarding||Virtual Servers||Port Triggering||DMZ||UPnP|
|IPSec VPN||IKE||IPSec||SA List|
|IP+MAC Binding||Settings||ARP Table|
|System Tools||Time||Ping/Trace||Firmware||Reset||Backup/ Restore|
Table 1: Menu tree
I liked that each submenu displays a help menu on the right side of the window. Basically, the TL-R600VPN brings up the appropriate page from the manual with each configuration screen as illustrated below. TP-LINK also provides an 80 page manual with a little more detail for configuration help.
As you can see, the TL-R600VPN has a pretty standard set of router/gateway features along with VPN capability. Features I often see in VPN routers that are not supported by the TL-R600VPN are IPv6, VLANs and routing protocols such as RIP. However, for a smaller network with no need for these features, why pay for what you won't use?
Although many folks have little or no need for IPv6 now, I'd like to see network products and service providers support IPv6. Sooner or later, it will become a necessity. However, that day isn't quite here yet. While working on this review, I contacted the two ISPs that provide Internet in my area (Windstream and Time Warner) to see if they provide IPv6 addresses. Both claim their networks are IPv6 ready, but neither could provide IPv6 addresses for residential service.
The TL-R600VPN supports IPSec site-to-site VPN tunnels and PPTP remote VPN tunnels. Up to 20 concurrent IPSec tunnels and 16 concurrent PPTP tunnels are supported. Note, PPTP is the only remote VPN solution on the TL-R600VPN. Remote client IPSec VPN solutions are not supported. In my mind, that isn't a bad thing. PPTP is a simpler remote VPN solution than IPSec and PPTP software is included in Windows and MacOS operating systems, as well as on iOS and Android devices.
Setting up both are ridiculously easy. Enabling PPTP was a matter of clicking enable on the PPTP server and creating a user name and password. Once completed, I configured my Windows laptop and iPhone for PPTP and entered the WAN address of the TL-R600VPN plus my user name and password. Both were able to connect to the TL-R600VPN. The screenshot shows my active PPTP connection.
There are a few more steps in setting up an IPSec tunnel, but they're pretty straightforward. I set up an IPSec tunnel to a Zyxel ZyWALL 110 using 3DES encryption and SHA-1 authentication. The options for configuring phase 1 (IKE) and phase 2 (IPSec) of the tunnel are simple drop-down menus, as shown below.
My tunnel came right up once my configurations were applied on both the TL-R600VPN and the ZyWALL 110, as shown in the screenshot below. Interestingly, the TL-R600VPN shows two connections for a single IPSec tunnel, with one connection representing Tx and the other representing Rx.
IPSec VPN Status
To measure VPN throughput, I used two PCs running 64-bit Windows with their software firewall disabled. Using TotuSoft's LAN Speed Test client and server application, with a file size of 100 MB, I measured throughput over an IPSec tunnel to the Zywall 110 and over a PPTP tunnel to Windows client. Below are my throughput measurements.
|VPN Tunnel Type||Throughput (Mbps)|
|IPsec Site to Site||20.9||19.4|
Table 2: VPN Throughput
The ZyWALL 110 is rated at 300 Mbps IPSec throughput, while the TL-R600VPN is rated at 20 Mbps, so the ZyWALL is not a limiting factor. As you can see from my chart, the TL-R600VPN matched its 20 Mbps VPN rating with a IPSec Transmit speed of 19.4 Mbps and Receive speed of 20.9 Mbps.
TP-LINK doesn't provide a PPTP throughput rating for the TL-R600VPN. As you can see, I measured PPTP Transmit speed of 16.4 Mbps and Receive speed of 17.4 Mbps. Bottom line is unless your Internet connection is faster than 16 Mbps in both directions, the TL-R600VPN's IPSec and PPTP VPN throughput should be more than sufficient.