Review: TP-Link Archer Wireless C5400 Tri-Band router

Archer-C5400

You can never get enough bandwidth or speed out of your Wi-Fi and chances are that the stock unit that came from your service provider likely does the job, but barely, so we’re going to have a look at the TP-Link Archer Wireless C5400 Tri-Band Gigabit Router (AC5400) that doesn’t have one or two bands, but three.

Three bands can be handy. The 2.4GHz band can be used for legacy and slower devices and for activities like surfing the web, on-line shopping and listening to tunes. It also has two faster 5GHz bands so you can for example, dedicate one for a better on-line gaming experience and the other to quench your video streaming habits, so you can smoothly stream your YouTube videos or binge-watch your favourite Netflix series streaming 4K HD.

About a year ago, here at Canoe Tech Blog we looked at the C5400’s predecessor, the AC3200. The new model like the old is also a tri-band unit. It also features TP-Link’s proprietary Smart Connect that reroutes traffic and balances network demand by automatically finding the best available channel to assign to your device. The newer model is somewhat bigger in size and also packs a much bigger punch than its little brother. The 1GHz Dual-Core processor has been super-sized with a more powerful 1.4GHz processor and still maintains the additional three co-processors to manage and sustain stable connections. The newer AC5400 has two more antennas for a total of eight, yielding even better coverage around the house helped by its Beamforming technology that helps zero-in on your wireless devices.

ArcherC5400Inside

Enhanced Performance

Overall performance is also further enhanced. For one, TP-Link’s new MU-MIMO technology allows the router to simultaneously serve up to four devices at once, making it more efficient. There’s also a significant increase in Wi-Fi speed thanks to TP-Link’s NitroQAMTM (1024-QAM) and 4-Stream technology. While the older model could yield up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1300Mbps on the 5GHz bands the AC5400 pumps that up to 1000Mbps and 2167Mbps on each of the 5GHz bands respectively, yielding a throughput of up to 5334Mbps. These are of course, maximum values.

During my test period, the AC5400 performed without any issue. It also connected without loss of speed to my Telus ADSL Router (in bridge mode). I did not get anywhere near the maximum values, but it was significantly faster than both my stock Telus ADSL Router’s Wi-Fi and the previous AC3200 – although I did find occasional lag on the 2.4GHZ band at the far end of the house.

Set up was easy. You can do it wired via Ethernet or wirelessly and there are three ways to do it (Quick, Basic & Advanced). The interface is fairly intuitive although perhaps not as slick and fancy as other router brands, like D-Link. A far as options, there seems to be no end in the number of settings and how much you can customize this router. In fact you can also set priority in terms of device or activities using its QoS (Quality of Service). So if you want your computer to be first in line or give Netflix a priority to watch The Punisher or Stranger Things (Season 2) you can do that. It could be perhaps a little overwhelming for beginners but a delight for power users.

I also really like that you can set up Wi-Fi networks for your guests to use. In fact you can set up to three guest networks – one on each of the bands. You can also decide (individually) if you to have security on them or not (I suggest yes) and also decide whether your guests can access you network, or only allow them to connect to the Internet. And while not unique to this model, it has Parental Controls, a USB 3.0 port and a USB 2.0 port so you can hang a printer or even a shared drive where you can store pictures and shared files and even access from the outside via a VPN. It also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired connectivity.

Tether, Alexa & IFTTT Support

Tether

Tether App

The TP-Link C5400 also has a few other features that I have not yet had a chance to try. One is a Tether app (iOS, Android). Once you’re up and running, you can use the app to manage your network. This can be handy especially if you are away and perhaps easier than dealing with a mobile browser. Another bonus is support for Alexa; so with your voice you can do things like activate WPS to add a new device, ask Alexa to share a guest Wi-Fi password and even run a speed test. The C5400 also has IFTTT support (If This Then That), so you could for example, set up to automatically be sent a text message if your router drops off the network.

Overall the TP-Link Archer C5400 is an ideal router and great holiday gift idea for a busy household that has heavy Wi-Fi and network demands particularly those that require serious bandwidth like HD video streaming and gaming. For casual users who may only have a small handful of devices and maybe use standard Netflix, it may be overkill, especially since it comes in at about $100 more than the AC3200 – but still well priced with comparable routers.

One final thing to note is that if you are used to mounting your router on a ceiling or a wall, it’s important to note that the TP-Link Archer C5400 is bigger (9.1”x9.1”x1.7”) and heavier (about 3 lb.) than your average router. This is not surprising given the serious horsepower under its hood. So if so if you’re going to mount it on a wall or a ceiling make sure you use both screws and ensure its snuggly attached to the wall.

TP-Link Archer Wireless C5400 Tri-Band Gigabit Router (AC5400) retails in Canada for about $399, although at this time of year given Cyber Monday and the holiday season, you should be able to find it at a good discount. I have seen them as low as $300. You can find them at places like Amazon & Staples.

Rating: 4 / 5

Photos courtesy TP-Link.

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Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy, Columnist, Speaker, Podcaster & Author.

Technology – Entrepreneurship – Communications

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg

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