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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the TL-WDR3500 loaded with 3.13.22 Build 120807 Rel.36604n firmware and using our standard test method is summarized in Table 3. Throughput is similar to that of other current-generation routers with 10/100 ports. The 155 Mbps of simultaneous throughput shows that the 100 Mbps ports are holding back unidirectional throughput a bit.

The 5,098 Simultaneous Connections are close enough to the TL-WR1043ND (5,109) and another recently-tested inexpensive router, the Rosewill RNX-N360RT (5,095), that there is no reason to buy one vs. another for this spec. alone.

Test Description TL-WDR3500
WAN - LAN 94
LAN - WAN 94
Total Simultaneous 155
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 5098
Firmware Version 3.13.22 Build 120807 Rel.36604n
Table 3: Routing throughput

The IxChariot plot for the routing tests shows rock-solid throughput in the unidirectional tests.

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 routing throughput

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 routing throughput

Storage Performance

I ran Windows filecopy tests using the standard NAS testbed with our new USB standard drive (Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station (SATDOCKU3SEF) containing a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive) formatted in FAT32 and NTFS. The results are summarized in Table 4 along with another relatively inexpensive dual-band router, EnGenius' ESR750H.

  TL-WDR3500 EnGenius ESR750H
FAT32 Write 6.3 12
FAT32 Read 9.6 10.5
NTFS Write 2.4 3.6
NTFS Read 7.8 7.9
Table 4: Filecopy performance summary - MB/s

Filecopy speed is clearly not one of the 3500's strong points. File copy was so slow, I initially thought the copy had hung up. But once I left the Robocopy script alone, all tests ran completely, albeit slowly. I should also note that it took multiple tries (plugging, unplugging, power cycling the drive) to get the 3500 to recognize my test drive.

Wireless Performance

Like other TP-LINK wireless routers, the TL-WDR3500 is not Wi-Fi Certified. Both radios default to Auto channel selection and Auto Bandwidth mode, but unique SSIDs upon first boot. As shown earlier, both radios support a 40 MHz only mode, which isn't kosher on the 2.4 GHz band as far as the Wi-Fi Alliance is concerned .

WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) is enabled by default and initiated a push-button WPS session when I first associated a Win 7 client. The WPS session ended with a WPA2/AES secured connection, which was used for all further wireless testing.

I ran 40 MHz Coexistence and Fat channel intolerant tests to see if the 3500 properly refrained from switching into 40 MHz bandwidth mode, but both failed. No matter what I did, the router stayed in 40 MHz bandwidth mode when it should have fallen back to 20 MHz.

All testing was performed with 3.13.22 Build 120807 Rel.36604n firmware using our standard test process, which uses Channel 1 for 2.4 GHz tests and Channel 36 for 5 GHz. The test client was our standard Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 with Win7 13.5.0.6 driver.

Each entry in the Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 Wireless Benchmark summary

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 Wireless Benchmark summary

To put these results in perspective, however, we need to take a comparative view. I used the Router Finder find other simultaneous dual-band dual-stream routers and found two others tested using the same current process, the Cisco EA2700 and D-Link DIR-827.

2.4 GHz

The 2.4 GHz performance table below shows the DIR-827 the strongest of the three running downlink in both 20 and 40 MHz bandwidth modes. Uplink champ honors for this group are split between the 3500 and the Cisco-Linksys EA2700. The TP-LINK does better in the stronger signal test Locations A and C, while the Linksys is the superior performer with the weaker signals in Locations D and F.

2.4 GHz throughput comparison

2.4 GHz throughput comparison

The highest unidirectional throughput for the 3500 was 91 Mbps in Location A, uplink in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. Running simultaneous up and downlink tests yielded 115 Mbps in 40 MHz bandwidth mode.

Throughput stability isn't that great as shown by the frequent large downward spikes in the 20 MHz IxChariot plot below.

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

TP-LINK TL-WDR3500 IxChariot plot - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz, downlink

You can see throughput dropouts in most of the other plots linked below.

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