TP-Link Archer VR600 – AC1600 Wireless Gigabit VDSL/ADSL Modem Router Reviewed

TP-Link Archer VR600 is NBN Ready
TP-Link Archer VR600 is NBN Ready

The Archer VR600 is TP-Link’s newest wireless gigabit modem router which is also NBN ready. Supporting ADSL 2+ or VDSL (FTTN) directly and fixed wireless, satellite or FTTx connections via the EWAN port, the Archer VR600 is capable of supporting the mix of technologies utilised by NBN and non-NBN service providers. In addition, the USB ports provide additional connectivity options with the use of 3G/4G USB dongles.

TP-Link Archer VR600 specifications:
Interface 3 x 10/100/1000Mbps RJ 45 WAN Ports
1 x 10/100/1000Mbps RJ 45 LAN/WAN Ports
1 x RJ11 Port
2 x USB 2.0 Ports
ButtonWPS Button, LED Button, Wireless On/Off Buttons(2.4GHz & 5GHz), Power On/Off Button
External Power Supply12V/2A
IEEE StandardsIEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u, 802.3ab
VDSL2 StandardsITU-T G.993.2, Up to 17a profile (POTS), ITU-T G.993.5 (G.vector), ITU-T G.998.4 (G.INP)
ADSL StandardsFull-rate ANSI T1.413 Issue 2, ITU-T G.992.1(G.DMT), ITU-T G.992.2(G.Lite), ITU-T G.994.1 (G.hs), ITU-T G.995.1
ADSL2 StandardsITU-T G.992.3 (G.DMT.bis), ITU-T G.992.4 (G.lite.bis)
ADSL2+ StandardsITU-T G.992.5
Antenna Type3 x External detachable dual band antennas
Wireless StandardsIEEE 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
Frequency2.4GHz and 5GHz (Supports DFS)
Signal Rate1300Mbps at 5GHz, 300Mbps at 2.4GHz
Transmit Power2.4GHz <20dBm(EIRP)
5GHz <23dBm(EIRP)
Wireless FunctionsEnable/Disable Wireless Radio, WDS Bridge, WMM, Wireless Statistics
Wireless Security64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA-PSK2 encryptions, Wireless MAC Filtering
Quality of ServiceATM QoS, Bandwidth Control
SecurityNAT Firewall, Access Control, IP and MAC Address Binding
Operating ModesVDSL/ADSL Modem Router, Wireless Router, 3G/4G Router
ManagementWeb Based Configuration (HTTP), Remote management, command Line Interface, SSL for TR-069, SNMP v1/2c, Web Based Firmware Upgrade, Diagnostic Tools
DHCPServer, Client, DHCP Client List, Address Reservation, DHCP Relay
Port ForwardingVirtual Server, Port Triggering, DMZ, ALG, UPnP
Dynamic DNSDynDns, NO-IP
VPN Pass-ThroughPPTP, L2TP, IPSec Passthrough
ProtocolsSupports IPv4 and IPv6
ATM/PPP ProtocolsATM Forum UNI3.1/4.0, PPP over ATM (RFC 2364), PPP over Ethernet (RFC2516), IPoA (RFC1577/2225), MER\IPoE (RFC 1483 Routed), Bridge (RFC1483 Bridge), PVC – Up to 8 PVCs
Advanced FunctionsParental Control, Network Address Translation(NAT), Port Mapping(Grouping), Static Routing, RIP v1/v2(optional), DNS Relay, DDNS, IGMP V1/V2/V3
USB SharingSupport Samba(Storage)/FTP Server/Media Server/Printer Server, 3G/4G Modem
Guest Network2.4GHz Guest Network, 5GHz Guest Network
IPSec VPNSupports up to 10 IPSec VPN tunnels
Beamforming5GHz Band
APPTether App
Package ContentsAC1600 Wireless Gigabit VDSL/ADSL Modem Router
Archer VR600
External Splitter
RJ11 DSL Cable
RJ45 Ethernet Cable
Power Adapter
Quick Installation Guide
Dimensions ( W x D x H )216 mm x 164 mm x 36.8 mm

Design

It’s good to see that TP-Link have maintained the minimalistic look and feel to the device. The gloss black finish gives the Archer VR600 a subtle and elegant appearance in any room and consistent with the design of the Archer C3150 and C2600 wireless routers.

TP-Link Archer VR600 (AC1600 Wireless Gigabit VDSL/ADSL Modem Router)
TP-Link Archer VR600 (AC1600 Wireless Gigabit VDSL/ADSL Modem Router)

Similarly, the Archer VR600 looks to be well ventilated on top and underneath which will be great for our hot summers.

Air vents on the top of the TP-Link Archer VR600
Air vents on the top of the TP-Link Archer VR600
Air vents underneath the TP-Link Archer VR600
Air vents underneath the TP-Link Archer VR600

The WiFi on/off, WPS, reset and power buttons are located on the side of the device.

Buttons on the side of the Archer VR600
Buttons on the side of the Archer VR600

All the inputs are located at the rear. The USB ports are only 2.0 but do support media\printer sharing and 3G/4G wireless dongles. The 4 LAN ports support gigabit speeds and the 4th also doubles as the EWAN port if you require connecting to an external modem (i.e. NBN FTTP). The RJ11 socket is for those on ADSL/VDSL connections.

Rear ports found on the TP-Link Archer VR600
Rear ports found on the TP-Link Archer VR600

Software

Setting up the TP-Link Archer VR600 is an easy process. You can either set up the device via a modern web browser or through the Tether app. If you are using a web browser, you simply navigate to the routers IP address (usually 192.168.1.1) and follow the prompts.

VR600 Web login
VR600 Web login

The first time you access the login page you will be asked to create a new admin password. TP-Link are continuously refining this page and the latest iteration also checks the password strength and no longer requires a username.

Password complexity checker - low
Password complexity checker – low
Password complexity checker - high
Password complexity checker – high

Alternatively, if you have an Android or Apple device, you can download the free TP-Link Tether app from the app store. The Tether app provides end to end management of the VR600 from the initial setup through to configuring parental control and more.

Configuring WiFi

The Archer VR600 web management console provides a basic and advance view of the configurable settings. This makes short work of getting the wireless network up and running.

Wireless setup in basic mode
Wireless setup in basic mode
Wireless setup in advanced mode
Wireless setup in advanced mode

Similarly, configuring the Guest Network is just as easy and can be completed with only a handful of clicks. The available options are self-explanatory but it should be noted that MAC address filtering does not apply to the Guest Network.

Wireless setup for guest access
Wireless setup for guest access

Parental Control

Parental control features are essential in a modern and connected world. Like other aspects of the TP-Link software, configuring the parental controls was a quick and simple process. The controls allow users to define white lists, black lists and keywords for content restriction. Also, the ability to view existing devices and mouse driven scheduling makes configuring this component a breeze.

Viewing the list of existing devices to add to parental controls
Viewing the list of existing devices to add to parental controls
Adding a schedule of allowed time in the parental control setting
Adding a schedule of allowed time in the parental control setting

3G/4G Setting

A feature you don’t typically see at this price point is the ability to add 3G/4G connectivity via USB. Using a supported 3G/4G USB modem, you can configure the Archer VR600 to use the mobile network as a backup or primary internet connection.

Configuring 3G/4G access
Configuring 3G/4G access

Performance

ADSL2+

Due to not being in an area serviced by the NBN, we looked at how the Archer VR600 performed with ADSL2+ in comparison to it’s older sibling, the Archer D9. Our sync test comprised of both modem routers being placed next to each other so that the same phone lead and filter combination could be used. The approximate length of copper cable back to the exchange is 3Kms.

The older Archer D9 reported a maximum attainable speed of 4.2Mbps (down) / 0.89Mbps (Up) and actual speed as 3.2Mbps (down) / 0.89Mbps (Up).

ADSL2+ line sync statistics for the Archer D9
ADSL2+ line sync statistics for the Archer D9

In comparison, the Archer VR600 reported a maximum attainable speed of 4.7Mbps (down) / 0.89Mbps (Up) and actual speed as 4.2Mbps (down) / 0.89Mbps (Up).

ADSL2+ line sync statistics for the Archer VR600
ADSL2+ line sync statistics for the Archer VR600

Interesting to note that the newer Archer VR600 doesn’t seem to support Annex M on this firmware. Annex M enables higher upload speeds with service providers that support it (e.g. iiNet or Internode).

Wireless

Our standard wireless tests were run to assess the wireless performance of the Archer VR600 against the Archer D9. The wireless signal was checked from 5 different locations:

  • Same room
  • Same floor next room separated by a void
  • Same floor opposite end of house
  • One floor above
  • Outside

We found the signal strength on 5Ghz to be fairly close between the 2 models. However, the Archer D9 outperformed the VR600 on 2.4Ghz. Fortunately, most new devices support the higher bandwidth on 5Ghz so unless you are running only old hardware, this probably won’t be an issue.

In addition to signal strength we also took a look at how file copy performed. A Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was used to copy a large file over wireless-AC. The distance from the router was approximately 15m separated by 2 interior gyprock walls. Firstly, while connected to the Archer D9.

Copying a 7GB Linux ISO to a Surface Pro 3 over Archer D9 5Ghz wireless
Copying a 7GB Linux ISO to a Surface Pro 3 over Archer D9 5Ghz wireless

The Archer VR600 was a little slower but still comparable.

Copying a 7GB Linux ISO to a Surface Pro 3 over Archer VR600 5Ghz wireless
Copying a 7GB Linux ISO to a Surface Pro 3 over Archer VR600 5Ghz wireless

Final Thoughts

The TP-Link Archer VR600 was a solid little device and its performance exceeded our expectations. Like previous TP-Link modem routers, the VR600 was just as easy to install and configure. Likewise, the included functionality such as parental controls and 3G/4G support was a welcomed inclusion.

On the ADSL side of things, our test unit didn’t support Annex M for ADSL2+ so if you are with a service provider such as iiNet or Internode and needing the extra upload bandwidth, this may not be the device for you. However, if your focus is more on download and sync speeds, the Archer VR600 showed improvements over previous models.

TP-Link have packed in a lot of features into the Archer VR600. The added bonus of being compatible with NBN’s mix of technologies should appeal to a lot of users. Overall, we found that the Archer VR600 provided us with a solid performance and have no problems recommending this unit to others for consideration.

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Post Author: Noeneel Sharma

Australian born tech expert, Noeneel, is the founder of the GeekLingo. He has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) world. As an Information Technologist, he has a Bachelor in Information Technology, MBA and a Master of Business Process Management. He has professional working experience working in reputable industries including telecommunication, legal, accounting, banking, and most recently electricity. He spends most of his time with his gadgets as he enjoys photography, researching and cryptocurrencies. Connect with Noeneel on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

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