TP-Link Archer C7 preview: Affordable 802.11ac router

TP-Link has been on a roll this year, releasing one new router after the other. The Archer C7 is their 802.11ac model. We tested it to find out how this AC1750 router fares against more expensive routers from competitors.

The TP-Link Archer C7 costs an average of £120, which is significantly more affordable than most other ac routers. We've tested a number of TP-Link routers in recent months, and the WDR-3600, WDR-4300 and WDR-4900 generally offered good performance at an affordable price. The Archer C7 completes the line of dual-band routers. TP-Link currently has three 802.11n routers and one 802.11ac, but intends to transition to almost exclusively 802.11ac. Many other manufacturers are in the process of doing this, and it doesn't hurt that 802.11ac chips are reportedly more affordable than 802.11n chips, which makes the transition kind of a no-brainer.

In terms of design, TP-Link has a clear idea of what it's going for. The new Archer C7 looks exactly the same as the other TP-Link routers we tested. Connectors consist of the usual four gigabit LAN ports and one WAN port, along with two USB ports, a WPS button and a switch for disabling the Wi-Fi.

We usually only see Broadcom chips in 802.11ac routers. Other manufacturers are slowly but surely catching up, however. This TP-Link Archer C7 features chips from Qualcomm Atheros, however. Atheros was acquired by Qualcomm some time ago, but this is the first time we've seen chips with a product number starting with QCA instead of AR.

The CPU is the QCA9558, which also provides Wi-Fi on the 2.4GHz band. This SoC is supported by 256MB of RAM in the form of two DDR2 Winbond modules. The switch is an AR8327. The 5GHz wireless performance, also 802.11ac, is provided by the QCA9880. You can read the rest of TP-Link Archer C7 preview on Hardware.info.