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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Features

The C8's wireless feature set is largely carried over from the C7's. Both radios support WDS bridging and transmit power can be throttled down to Middle or Low from the default High setting. Here's the complete list of features.

  • WEP, WPA / WPA2 Personal and Enterprise (RADIUS) support
  • Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) support, pushbutton and PIN
  • Auto and manual channel set
  • SSID broadcast enable/disable
  • Enable/disable wireless (each radio)
  • WDS Bridging
  • Beacon period, RTS threshold, DTIM interval, Fragmentation Threshold adjusts
  • Wireless MAC address filtering (allow or deny based on MAC address)
  • WMM disable
  • Short GI disable
  • High / medium / low transmit power adjust
  • Wireless client isolation (from each other)
  • Scheduled wireless enable/disable
  • Guest network

Guest Networks are supported on both bands, each with its own SSID, wireless security and scheduled availability (on/off). The ability to set up and downlink bandwidth controls for the guest network is still supported, but it's still one setting for both bands. Better than nothin' though.

TP-LINK Archer C8 Guest Network controls

TP-LINK Archer C8 Guest Network controls

WDS Bridge implementation is a bit odd. It's the same as the C7's, but I had not noticed it until now. Standard WDS implementation requires two APs being bridged to be on the same channel and to have each other's MAC address entered in the WDS settings. WDS doesn't pay attention to SSID so the requirement to enter it in the C8's is puzzling. So is the fact that you don't need to enable WDS bridging on the other end of the bridge and enter the other AP's MAC address.

TP-LINK Archer C8 WDS bridge

TP-LINK Archer C8 WDS bridge

The good news is that the Survey button will scan for networks to bridge to and automatically enter the selected network's settings into the boxes. And it's nice that the bridge can be secured with up to WPA2/AES encryption. But don't confuse this with other WDS implementations since it doesn't also support repeating.

Update 10/17/14

TP-LINK told us that when you use the WDS Bridging mode, the selected radio also acts as a wireless repeater. This isn't documented in the user manual and there is no way to disable repeating.

Key wireless settings are summarized in Table 2.

Setting 2.4 GHz 5 GHz
Channel Auto [default]
1 - 11
Auto [default]
36, 40, 44, 48
149, 153, 157, 161, 165
Channel Width Auto [default]
20 MHz
40 MHz
Auto [default]
20 MHz
40 MHz
80 MHz
Mode 11bgn mixed [default]
11n only
11bg mixed
11a/n/ac mixed [default]
11ac only
Security None
WEP (abg modes only)
WPA/WPA2 Personal
WPA/WPA2 Enterprise
Table 2: Wireless settings summary

Other admin screenshots are in the gallery along with related commentary.

Image Gallery

Storage

The C8 takes a step back in storage features from the C7. User accounts are gone, replaced by the default admin account and one other account that can be used to require login to the share. The File Sharing settings shown below show no secure FTP access; same as the C7. There are no media server settings here or in a separate menu, so that feature is gone. The USB print server survives, however.

TP-LINK Archer C8 USB file sharing

TP-LINK Archer C8 USB file sharing
Update 10/17/14

I initially thought the media server feature was gone. But TP-LINK pointed out that it's still there, but no longer has its own menu. The setting is just a simple enable, that appears only when you change the Sharing Mode to Share Selected Folders. When you then add a share, a checkbox appears as shown below.

TP-LINK Archer C8 USB media server control

TP-LINK Archer C8 USB media server control

The C7's ability to set the scan interval is gone. The simple test I ran indicates that selected folders are auto-scanned when files are added or removed. There is a simple MiniDLNA Status page at http://192.168.0.1:8200 showing counts for audio, image and video files.

Table 3 summarizes the storage performance for selected AC1750 class routers with USB 2.0 ports. The C8 goes toe-to-toe with the NETGEAR R6300 v2 for FAT32, but falls far behind with an NTFS formatted drive. The C8's storage throughput is better than the C7 V2, but sometimes not by much.

  TP-LINK Archer C8 TP-LINK Archer C7 v2 NETGEAR R6300 v2 ASUS RT-AC66U Linksys EA6500
FAT32 Write 16.3 14.4 15.8 9.0 4.8
FAT32 Read 24.9 16.0 26.2 9.9 10.7
NTFS Write 12.7 9.2 23.2 13.5 7.7
NTFS Read 18.7 12.0 26.1 9.4 9.5
Table 3: USB 2.0 Storage performance (MBytes/s)

Table 4 compares the C8 with AC1750 routers with USB 3.0 ports. The C8 beats the NETGEAR this time with FAT32 format with 21 MB/s write and 35 MB/s read. But NTFS is once again the C8's weakness, especially for writes. The C7 V2 isn't shown here because it doesn't support USB 3.0.

  TP-LINK Archer C8 NETGEAR R6300 v2 Buffalo WZR-1750DHP D-Link DIR-868L TRENDnet TEW-812DRUv2
FAT32 Write 21.4 15.6 21.0 16.0 8.1
FAT32 Read 34.5 26.1 38.0 27.0 17.2
NTFS Write 12.8 23.3 - 11.5 4.8
NTFS Read 19.0 26.1 - 13.8 12.1
Table 4: USB 3.0 Storage performance (MBytes/s)

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