The TP-Link Archer C2300 router is easy to use for everyone, has lots of features and performs great on 5GHz -- all for a very affordable price.
The dual-band TP-Link Archer C2300 router has lots of features, an easy-to-use menu and bonus security. And best of all, it only costs $150. At that price, you'll get good speed on 5GHz and welcome features like TP-Link Homecare, which offers parental controls, network prioritization and antivirus.
Overall, the Archer C2300 is worth a try if you want lots of customization and don't have dozens of devices on your network. The only issue I had with the AC2300 device was that its coverage on 2.4GHz was a bit spotty. There's a chance you could experience dead zones or slow-downs in certain areas of a medium or large-sized home if you game or stream on multiple devices at once.
TP-Link isn't known for its crazy-looking routers like D-Link and its spider-like DIR-890L/R, so the Archer C2300 stays true to what you'd expect. Its simple design looks a lot like a slimmed down version of the TP-Link Archer C3150 V2. The device is small, lightweight, mostly black with a few LEDs and has a 3x3 detachable antenna array -- so you shouldn't have an issue leaving it in plain sight. It even has wall mount brackets if you need them. It also has lots of ventilation, so make sure you don't cover it up or it could overheat.
The Archer C2300 has your standard one gigabit WAN port and four gigabit LAN ports, but it also includes a bonus. You can combine two gigabit LAN ports to create a super-fast two gigabit wired connection using the link aggregation feature. Kind in mind though that the connected device needs to be able to use link aggregation too. Little extras like this are always nice in a less expensive router and the Archer C2300 has a lot to offer, including a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port.
Setup was super easy. You can use a browser or the TP-Link Tether app; both are fast and work about the same. You can also sign up for a TP-Link Cloud account during setup, but it's only required if you want to manage your router remotely. I recommend doing it -- it's free.
The only concern I had during setup was that the router never asked to update the firmware. You should do this by going to the advanced tab, then click system tools in the left column, then click firmware upgrade and then finally, check for upgrade. The latest firmware ensures your router will have the newest performance and security updates.
The web interface, in general, is a pleasant experience. It's well organized with three tabs for setup, basic and advanced. Each one has pretty much exactly what you'd expect. Novice users can stay on the basic tab and still monitor and control their network with ease. This includes a network map of connected devices, Wi-Fi passwords, a guest network and USB sharing for connected storage and printers.
Advanced mode is where you can really have some fun. The menu has settings for everything in basic as well as VPN , IPv6 , security, NAT forwarding, ping testing and more. It's pretty comprehensive for people who like to fully customize their router.
The Archer C2300 comes fully loaded with features for everyone. Along with its AC2300 rating, which means 600 megabits per second (Mbps) on 2.4GHz and 1,625Mbps on 5GHz, the router includes TP-Link HomeCare powered by Trend Micro. This gives you in-depth parental controls, quality of service (QoS) and basic antivirus. Each one is easy to use and gives you a free extra layer of protection and security.
Parental controls let you decide which household members and devices can access the internet or specific sites. The QoS settings let your prioritize your traffic based on the device or type, like games, streaming, surfing and so on. The antivirus is basic with on/off functions for malicious content filtering, intrusion prevention and infected device quarantine. Extra security is always welcome, especially when it's free and powered by a reputable provider like Trend Micro.
Another nice feature is RangeBoost. This gives the antennas the ability to receive weak signals from your devices. This should come in handy in larger homes or with older, slower devices located far from the router. This feature is in addition to beamforming, which focuses the signal sent by the router and airtime fairness, which helps make sure older devices don't slow down newer ones. The feature lists goes on and on and everything is easy to access from the web interface.
Overall, the Archer C2300 performed well for an AC2300 router, but on 2.4GHz I saw the signal vary a little more than I would have liked. The speeds topped out around 130Mbps, which is more than enough for most people, but if you have lots of devices or a large home, you may run into problems. I suspect having only three antennas may have contributed to the slowdowns.
At this price point, I was very happy with the 5GHz performance. Top speeds over 700Mbps will let you take near full advantage of a fiber connection. Even at 50 feet and two rooms away, I was seeing speeds around 240Mbps. That's great coverage for even a large home.
If you do happen to run into any issues on 5GHz, try changing the channel to auto. By default, TP-Link has it set to channel 157. They said that's because that channel offered the best Wi-Fi performance in most situations during their internal testing.
TP-Link does a great job making the user experience for their routers a pleasant one. The Archer C2300 is no different. Anyone can easily set up this router and quickly explore the menu as much, or as little, as they want.
As for performance, you'll get great coverage on 5GHz and lots of features to customize your network. I'm a little disappointed with the spotty coverage on 2.4GHz, but it has plenty of bandwidth for a medium-size home with a moderate number of devices. Worst-case scenario, you can always invest the money you are saving in a cheap repeater or extender to improve coverage.
|IEEE 802.11 Standard||a/b/g/n/ac||Class||AC2300|
|Speed (Mbps)||2,225 (600+1,625)||CPU Processor||Dual core 1.8GHz|
|Frequency||Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz)||RAM Memory||512MB|
|Ethernet Ports||1 Gigabit WAN; 4 Gigabit LAN||Flash Memory||128MB|
|USB Ports||1 USB 3.0; 1 USB 2.0||Guest Wi-Fi||Yes|
|Antennas||3x3 External (detachable)||Parental Controls||Yes|
|Spatial Streams||3 (2.4GHz); 3 (5GHz)||MU-MIMO||Yes|
|Modulation||256-QAM 5/6 (2.4GHz); 1024-QAM 5/6 (5GHz)||Beamforming||Yes|
|Security||HomeCare (parental controls, QoS, antivirus), 64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2 encryptions, QSS (Quick Security Setup), Wireless MAC Filter, WPS||Setup||App or Browser|
|Size (in)||8.5 by 6.5 by 1.4||Weight (lbs)||1.4|
|Wall Mount||Yes||Additional Features||Link aggregation, Airtime fairness, Smart connect|