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Wireless Reviews

Storage Performance

The summary graphic below from the Router Charts shows all AC1200 class routers we've tested with our standard procedure with NTFS drive format and USB 2.0 connection. Though the wireless testing methodology is new for the Archer C5 V2, the storage test methodology hasn't changed. We limited the comparisons to USB 2.0, as the Archer C5 (V1 and V2) lack USB 3.0 ports.

The C5 V2 has performance that's similar to the C5 V1. For NTFS Write, it was almost identical. For NTFS Read, the C5 V2 was about 11% faster than the C5 V1. For both read and write operations, both TP-LINK models were significantly slower than the chart-topping Linksys WRT1200AC.

Storage Performance Comparison - USB 2.0 / NTFS

Storage Performance Comparison - USB 2.0 / NTFS

Wireless Performance

The TP-LINK Archer C5 V2 is Wi-Fi certified. For throughput testing, all tests were run using our recently updated Version 9 Wireless test process with version 3.17.1 Build 20160201 Rel. 61368 firmware loaded. For comparison, I've included the only other two AC1200 class devices that have been tested so far - the Luma Surround WRTQ329ACN and the eero Home Wi-Fi System A010001. Those two products have a "special" wireless designation color code. The only difference between the standard Version 9 test and the "special" test category is in the channels used.

Our standard practice is to center the router under test's antennas on the turntable, both front-to-back and side-to-side in the chamber. The chamber antennas are also centered on the turntable (front-to-back of chamber). This method is intended to keep maximum distance between the router under test and chamber antennas. The photo below shows the TP-LINK Archer C5 V2 in the test chamber.

b_550_0_16777215_00_images_stories_wireless_tplink_archerc5v2_tplink_archer_c5v2_chamber.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C2 V2 in test chamber

The average 2.4 GHz throughput over all points measured shows the TP-LINK has a significant advantage over both other products in both directions.  For the 2.4 GHz downlink profile, both the eero and the Luma were tied, but for the uplink profile, the Luma dropped to less than half of the eero.

2.4 GHz average throughput comparison

2.4 GHz average throughput comparison

5 GHz averages show the TP-LINK had a significant advantage for downlink, but the eero edged it out for uplink.

5 GHz average throughput comparison

5 GHz average throughput comparison

Our throughput vs. attenuation plots were generated using the same three ac1200 class products used in the comparisons presented above.

For 2.4 GHz downlink throughput vs. attenuation tests, the TP-LINK Archer C5 V2 clearly outperformed both other devices by a significant margin. It had a higher maximum initial throughput, maintained higher throughput throughout the range and held its connection for 20-23dB more attenuation than the other two devices. The early disconnects of the eero and the Luma indicate both units will have reduced range compared to the C5 V2..

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For 2.4 GHz uplink, the Archer C5 V2 had only 91 Mbps of initial throughput compared to initial throughput of 115 Mbps of initial downlink throughput. It held its uplink connection out through 51 dB of attenuation - 3 dB less than the corresponding downlink connection. As with downlink, the Archer C5 V2 significantly outperformed the other two products which, interestingly, both dropped their uplink connection also with 3 dB less attenuation than their corresponding downlink connection.

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

2.4 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

For 5 GHz downlink throughput tests, the Archer C5 V2 again started out with higher throughput than the other two routers and remained higher throughout its range. However, both the TP-LINK and the eero dropped connection after only 30 dB of attenuation. The eero and Luma tracked similarly throughout their range, but the Luma held its connection for an additional 6dB of attenuation.

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Downlink Throughput vs. Attenuation

In the 5 GHz uplink tests, both the Archer C5 and the eero dropped their connections at a relatively early 30 dB of attenuation - 6 dB less than the Luma. However, the TP-LINK started out with about 100 Mbps less initial throughput than the eero. The initial throughput of the Luma is 83 Mbps lower than the TP-LINK and 184 Mbps lower than the eero.

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

5 GHz Uplink Throughput vs. Attenuation

Maximum Wireless Throughput

Since throughput vs. attenuation plots are now done with a 2x2 STA, we use the Ixia Veriwave that can emulate up to 4x4 ac devices. The results posted are an average of 10 one minute test runs. This benchmark is fully described in the Revision 9 test process description.

Unfortunately, we did not test eero or Luma's maximum throughput using the Veriwave. Instead, the old V8 method of using the 0 dB measurements for maximum throughput was used. This means the eero and Luma readings also represent performance with 20 MHz bandwidth, since that's what is used for the throughput vs. attenuation tests.

So instead of comparing the C5 V2 to other AC1200 products, let's see how this benchmark compares to higher classed products. As the only 2x2 product, the Archer C5 V2 turns in the lowest performance, as you'd expect. But it's interesting to see the performance ranges of the 3x3 and 4x4 class products. The 3x3 products occupy the middle area from a low of 322 Mbps for the D-Link DIR-879 to a high of 354 Mbps for the ASUS RT-AC68U. The 4x4 class products occupy the top tier starting with the TP-LINK AD7200 at 425 Mbps to the ASUS RT-AC88U at 452 Mbps.

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 2.4 GHz downlink

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 2.4 GHz downlink

The groupings are not as clear for maximum 5 GHz downlink. The C5 V2 again is at the bottom of the chart with 534 Mbps. But this time some of the most expensive 4x4 tri-radio routers--Linksys' EA9500, D-Link's DIR-895L/R and ASUS' RT-AC5300-- turn in top throughput below 3x3 routers like D-Link's DIR-879.

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 5 GHz downlink

Maximum Wireless Throughput comparison - 5 GHz downlink

Closing Thoughts

If you're thinking of buying a TP-Link Archer C5 because of its SNB #1 Ranked award, keep in mind that award is for the original C5, not the completely redesigned V2. Since you can't fairly compare products tested using different test methods, the award does not apply to the V2.

That said, what we can fairly say from our tests is that the C5 V2's wired routing performance is limited to around a Gigabit of total TCP/IP routing throughput, about half that of the AC1200 class Luma. It also clearly outperformed both eero and Luma in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz downlink, but was very similar to eero for 5 GHz uplink. Storage throughput was so-so, managing to perform at only about a third of what the best performing products get out of a USB 2.0 connection.

But Luma and eero aren't fair comparisons, since they have very limited routing features, don't support storage sharing and are meant to be used in pairs or more commonly kits of three.

If you'd like to stick with our Router Ranker suggestions, the original Archer C5 is off the table because it's no longer available. So I'd probably go with the Linksys EA6350, which ranked #2 with the previous Revision 8 test method. You can pick up a factory refurb from Linksys for $50 or get a new one from Amazon for around $80. If you prefer the C5 V2, you might save a little on a new one from Amazon, since they seem to be running about $5 cheaper than the Linksys.

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