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Wireless Reviews

Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router
At a glance
ProductTP-LINK Talon AD7200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router   [Website]
SummaryAC2600 class router with Gigabit Ethernet ports and USB 3.0 storage and printer sharing with 802.11ad 60 GHz band radio
Pros• 11ad works and is easy to use
Cons• 11ad doesn't reach advertised maximum link rate
• Router architecture limits 11ad throughput
• 11ad limited to in-room use (line-of-sight)

Typical Price: $322  Shop Amazon

Introduction

At some point, Wi-Fi marketeers are going to find a way to slap 10,000 on the front of their boxes to suck in Wi-Fi naifs. In the meantime, TP-LINK is the current winner of the big number Wi-Fi sweepstakes with 7200 for its latest offering.

Its official name is Talon AD7200 Multi-Band Wi-Fi Router, diverging from the "Archer" moniker applied to the company's other AC class products. But don't let that fool you, because behind those eight antennas is essentially an AC2600 class Archer C2600, with a single-stream 60 GHz 802.11ad radio thrown in to inflate the front-of-box number. (Maximum link rate math works out to 800 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + 1733 Mbps (5 GHz) + 4600 Mbps (60 GHz) = 7133, rounded up to 7200.)

The "AD" part of Talon's name refers to 802.11ad aka "WiGig", which you can think of as the shotgun marriage of 60 GHz technology and 802.11 Wi-Fi. 60 GHz has been a long time coming to a router near you, taking a meandering path through UltraWideBand, Wireless USB and other now defunct consortiums. 802.11ad promises the ease of use of Wi-Fi for finding and joining networks and securing connection with them, with higher bandwidth—or at least link rates—than currently available with even 4x4 802.11ac Wi-Fi. We'll see later how this works out in real life.

You would be forgiven is you mistook the AD7200 for TP-LINK's tri-radio 4x4 AC5400 class Archer C5400, which we haven't yet tested, or the tri-radio 3x3 AC3200 class Archer C3200, which we have. Both have the same basic design as the Talon, with two fewer antennas on the Archer C3200.

The Talon AD7200's LEDs and buttons are annotated in the callout diagram below and include a light for each radio, but only one link light for all four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. Invidual Ethernet ports have no lights on them either. You get buttons for kick off a WPS session and turn Wi-Fi and all the panel LEDs on and off.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 LED callouts

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 LED callouts

The rear panel has the single WAN and four switched Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, plus two USB 3.0 ports that support storage and printer sharing. There is no USB 2.0 port.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 rear callouts

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 rear panel callouts

The bottom and top of the router have plenty of vent slots. There are no vents on the sides. The AD7200 is designed to sit flat on a desk, but can be wall mounted via two bottom-panel screw slots that will orient the rear panel toward the ceiling.

Inside

TP-LINK didn't put a short-term hold on its FCC ID docs, so I was able to grab some internal photos. After the Archer C3150 review, TP-LINK said they didn't like the fuzzy FCC photos, so sent a bunch of clearer ones that I swapped in. They did it again, so most of the photos that follow are theirs.

Removing the bottom cover gets you the view in the first photo. No heatsinks were removed. Each Wi-Fi radio gets its own four antennas, with 2.4 and 5 GHz alternating around the perimeter. I think that makes the AD7200 the only AC2600 class router with separate 2.4 and 5 GHz antennas. The 802.11ad 60 GHz radio is at the center, connected to its single antenna via the white cable.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board bottom

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board bottom

Using a similar design as the Archer C3150, the heatsinks are on the top of the board.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board top w/ heatsink

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board top w/ heatsink

Removing the heatsinks shows no large copper areas to increase heat transfer like the Archer C3150 has. Thermal pads couple the heatsinks directly to the board for the 5 GHz (top) and 2.4 GHz (bottom left) radio circuitry on the board bottom. The Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8064 processor and 512 MB of RAM sit in a RF can that had its top removed for this photo.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board top

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 board top

Here's the bottom of the board again with RF can lids removed. The board is rotated 90 degrees from the photo above; 5 GHz radio is to the bottom and 2.4 GHz to the left.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 bottom view

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 bottom view

Here's what both sides of the 60 GHz antenna look like.

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 60 GHz antenna - both sides

TP-LINK Talon AD7200 60 GHz antenna - both sides

The AD7200's key components are in Table 1 along with the Archer C2600's. The two are pretty much the same design, except for more flash and the 802.11ad radio in the AD7200.

  TP-LINK Talon AD7200 TP-LINK Archer C2600
CPU Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8064 Internet Processor @ 1.4 GHz Qualcomm dual-core IPQ8064 Internet Processor @ 1.4 GHz
Switch Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337 Qualcomm Atheros QCA8337
RAM 512 MB 512 MB
Flash 256 MB 32 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - QCA9980 4-stream 802.11ac MU-MIMO radio
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz power amp (x4)
- QCA9980 4-stream 802.11ac MU-MIMO radio
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz power amp (x4)
5 GHz radio - QCA9980 4-stream 802.11ac MU-MIMO radio
- Skyworks SKY85405 5 GHz power amp (x4)
- QCA9980 4-stream 802.11ac MU-MIMO radio
- Skyworks SKY85405 5 GHz power amp (x4)
60 GHz radio QCA9500 in QCA9008-SBD1 module N/A
Table 1: Component summary

Here's a photo of the Archer C2600 board top for comparison.

TP-LINK Archer C2600 board top

TP-LINK Archer C2600 board top

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