Author - Network Admin

TP-Link Archer A20

These days, technology changes at a rapid pace. If you turn away for a second, everything changes and you are left scratching your head about smart fridges, smart thermostats, or wondering when they came out with solar-powered phone chargers, and those have been out a while. Another blink-and-you-will-miss-it device is the Archer A20 from TP-Link.

What Is The Archer A20?

The Archer A20 is a tri-band router from TP-Link. A tri-band router broadcasts on three separate bands and efficiently handles multiple devices connected to a wireless network. Unless you’re still using dialup, the days of having to tell someone to get off the Internet so you can use the phone are definitely gone and in the past.

Ultra-Fast Processing

With Archer A20’s ultra-fast processing, 512 MB of RAM and three additional WiFi processors, it delivers lag-free connections to gaming, mobile devices, and streaming options at once. It has a 1.8 GHz 64-bit Quad-core CPU to handle any and all processing needs.

Compare that to a computer from 1999 with 32 MG of RAM and 333 Mhz AMD CPU. You could go to a web page and then brew a cup of coffee and come back and it would have just finished loading the page. It certainly wouldn’t have been able to handle the processing needs of today’s gaming and streaming devices.

WiFi Speed

Speaking of WiFi, the Archer A20 has 4000 Mbps Wifi Speed. Each 5G band has 1625 Mbps. There is also a 2.4G band with 750 Mbps.

No More Buffering

Because of the MU-MIMO and Tri-Band, you can connect to more devices at the same time. Even though the router can connect to more devices at once, you won’t have to wait for your games or streaming devices to buffer before you can continue watching the show or playing the game. MU-MIMO capability requires client devices that support MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO is short for multi-user (MU) multiple input and multiple output (MIMO).

Wider Range

Archer A20 is built with RangeBoost technology, which boosts the range of the WiFi signal for farther coverage and BeamForming focuses signals to connected devices. Have you ever wanted to be connected in the backyard? How about up in the bedroom or down in the basement? Now you can.

More Secure Network

Archer A20 comes with HomeCare, which lets you manage network access and protects your network from malicious attacks. TP-Link HomeCare is included for three years from the date of activation at no additional cost. Once the three years have passed, HomeCare will require an opt-in subscription in order to be able to keep HomeCare. Opting out of HomeCare will disable certain features.

Features of HomeCare include parental control functions such as setting time limits for children to restrict the amount of time spent online, filter levels to block inappropriate content, insights into what others are watching and user profiles for each user. HomeCare also comes with a built-in antivirus that protects all connected devices in your home from online threats and you can prioritize devices and applications for faster performance.

Easy To Setup

Archer A20 is easy to set up. With the intuitive Tether app, your device can be set up within minutes. Tether also lets you manage network settings from any Android or iOS devices. Such settings would include parental controls and a guest network. Now you can keep your main network secure by creating a separate network for guests and visitors and defend against security threats with advanced encryption. You also have a VPN server set up a secure connection between private networks to the Internet.

User controls also let you manage when and how connected devices can access the Internet, which means that you can disable internet access when you want unplugged family time together. Now instead of the kids being on their phone during family time, they are engaged and interaction with others in the house.

Gigabits For Speed

Archer A20 has 1 WAN and 4 LAN Gigabit ports to maximize your wired speeds while the Link Aggregation feature doubles that to 2 Gbps. Just when you think you can’t go any faster, you are proven wrong in the most delightful way. It would be like connecting to a computer from the late 1990s and expecting the page loading speeds of the computers from those times.

Hey, Alexa?

Archer A20 works with both Alexa and IFTTT. You can share the guest WiFi password with Amazon Alexa and set up trigger actions when devices are connecting, disconnecting, or being added to the network. IFTTT is short for ‘If This, Then That’. It is a free web-based service to create applets, which are very small applications that are used to perform simple functions.


When the antennas are extended, the Archer A20 is reminiscent of an upside-down table. Or a bug on its back that can’t flip over. The design is somewhat distracting, but the size is just right. There are vent holes along the top and bottom for heat dissipation, so make sure not to cover it or bock the device. If needed, the Archer A20 can be mounted anywhere or hidden if it is felt that it takes up too much space on a shelf. Have you ever walked through the living room at night, guided by the lights of your home router and wished there was something you could do about it? Now there is a night mode, which turns off the status lights so you don’t have to worry about the lights.

Don’t fall victim to the blink-and-you-will-miss-it pace at which today’s technology is evolving. Just as landline telephones are the phone technology of yesteryear, regular WiFi speeds are quickly being replaced by something far more faster and secure. If you want the ability to create another network for guests and visitors so they don’t know your regular password, then you can. Easy to set up, the ability to the kids off for family time, and not having to deal with buffering? What’s not to love?

Wireless Mac Filter Setup Guide

The wireless MAC filter is a layer of security that allows only specific MAC addresses to connect to your router via WiFi. This tool allows you to specify a list of MAC addresses that are authorized. When a device tries to connect to your Wifi network, if its MAC address does not match one on the authorized list, it will not be able to establish a connection. Alternatively, you can ban a certain list of MAC addresses and every other MAC address that is not on the list will be able to connect.

What is a Mac Address?

MAC stands for Media Access Control. A unique MAC address is assigned to each network-capable interface when it is manufactured. For example, your desktop PC may have several MAC addresses; one for each LAN port and one for a wireless card. Here is an example of a MAC address:


They are sometimes also formatted like this:


The digits can range from 0-9 and A-F.

How to Setup Wireless MAC Address Filtering

The screenshot below is where I would setup the filter on my Linksys WRT100 RangePlus wireless router. Your page may look different, but the concept will still be the same and your router should work similarly.

Linksys WRT100 RangePlus wireless MAC filter

Linksys WRT100 RangePlus wireless MAC filter

You have the option of ALLOWING the specific MAC addresses in the list, where no other MAC addresses will be able to connect. You also have the option to BLOCK the specific MAC addresses on the list, where any MAC address NOT on the list will be able to connect.

The Wireless Client List button will show you the clients that are currently connected and will allow you to select each one and add it to the MAC address list. Here is what that looks like:

Wireless MAC Filter

Wireless MAC Client List (some info shaded to protect my privacy)

Verifying MAC Addresses on Devices

The above method works well, but sometimes it may not be so easy to distinguish your devices from intruders (if there are any). So you may feel more safe by manually entering in the MAC addresses of your devices, or at least verifying them yourself. Here is how to verify the MAC address on common devices:

MAC Address Spoofing

Every network device has a unique MAC address assigned to it by its manufacturer. However, it is important to note that there is something called MAC address spoofing that can cause a security risk. There is software out there that will allow people to spoof (or even change) MAC addresses on their devices. If someone were to obtain a MAC address on your list of authorized MAC addresses, they would technically be able to spoof the MAC address of their device so the router thinks it is a legitimate, authorized device. This information is not to say that using a MAC address filter is not a good security practice. It is actually very useful and effective in keeping the majority of people out.

This goes to show that multiple layers of security is the best way to go. There are ways around almost any security measure you can implement. No single security measure will keep everyone out. The trick is to implement multiple layers of security in order to make it more difficult for intruders to get what they want. No network can ever be 100% safe and secure. What we really need to do is make it as hard as possible for someone to get into the network.

Wireless B vs G vs N vs AC | What Is The Difference?

So you’re in the market to buy a wireless router. You’re doing your research to find the best router for you, but you’ve come to a crossroads. You have to make a decision: Do you want to buy a Wireless G, Wireless N or Wireless AC router? But more importantly, what is the difference? What is outdated? Is there an option for me if I just want to do basic things like read email and news? What if I play a lot of games and watch a lot of movies? You’ve come to the right place for the answers, my friend. Lets get you on the right track. By the time we’re done here, you will be able to make a confident decision. You’ll even be able to make recommendations to your friends and family when it’s their turn to buy a wireless router.

We’ll start out with a bit of technical information about each. In the end, we’ll relate this information to making a real-world decision based on your needs.

Name Speed Indoor Range Frequency Released
Wireless AC 1 Gbps 115 Feet 5 GHz 2013
Wireless N 300 Mbps 230 Feet 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2009
Wireless G 54 Mbps 125 Feet 2.4 GHz 2003
Wireless B 11 Mbps 115 Feet 2.4 GHz 1999

wireless g vs n wireless ac vs n

The WLAN Standard: 802.11

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is an organized group of engineers. They created the standard for WiFi technology which all wireless routers will follow. They called this standard 802.11. All wireless routers at the time were built around this standard. There was no letter designation, such as “G”, “N” or “AC”. This 802.11 standard was released in 1997.

The main problem with this standard was that it was far too slow (about 2mbps… MegaBits Per Second). So they improved upon this standard. Today, wireless routers are not manufactured to this standard. This is where the different letter designations come in.

802.11 Enhancements

Before we move on, it’s important to note that B, G, and N are not the only extensions. It would make sense to start with Wireless A, right? That actually does exist. However, these other protocols either did not catch on as fast as others or serve a purpose other than for home networks. For example, Wireless A was released around the same time as Wireless B. However, Wireless B devices were cheaper so they were more popular with consumers. Wireless A devices were mainly used by businesses. So that’s why you won’t hear much about those while you shop for wireless routers for your home network today. If you’re still curious about these “other” standards, you can find good information about them by doing a quick search. Wikipedia has some good information about them, but it’s pretty technical so look out for that! Lets move on.

802.11B / What Is Wireless B?

wireless b

Routers with only Wireless B are no longer manufactured. However, some newer routers still support wireless B. So, it’s still important that you have some basic information about it. Wireless B supports a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 11mbps. The signal is good for up to about 150 feet. A downside to a Wireless B device is that it operates at the unregulated 2.4GHz frequency range. This is the same as many common household appliances. Things like cordless phones and microwaves can cause interference if your router is near these appliances. If you don’t place your router or computer near one of these appliances, you should be fine.

802.11G / What Is Wireless G?

wireless g

Wireless G supports a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 54mbps. Like Wireless B, it operates at the unregulated 2.4GHz frequency range. So it has the same interference issues that Wireless B has. Wireless G is backward compatiblewith Wireless B devices. Odds are that you don’t have a device that only supports Wireless B, but if you do then this is a benefit. As you can see, the main benefit of a Wireless G router over a Wireless B router is speed.

802.11N / What Is Wireless N?

wireless n

Wireless N supports a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 300mbps with 2 antennas. It can reach up to 450mbps with 3 antennas. Though typical speeds are more accurately around 130mbps or less without certain configurations and conditions being met. There will be a detailed post on this in the future. If you are curious, please subscribe to this blog and you will be notified when that post comes. It operates at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. These Wireless N devices can operate on multiple signals (called Multiple In – Multiple Out… or MIMO) and have 2 or 3 antennas. It also has increased signal range/power over Wireless G.

802.11AC / What Is Wireless AC?

wireless ac

The next big standard to hit the world is 802.11ac, or Wireless AC. Released in 2013, Wireless AC is sometimes referred to as Gigabit WiFi (1Gbps… 1 GigaBit Per Second). It will also have stronger signal strength than Wireless N, giving it greater coverage area. If you are looking for the latest edge in speed, or if you have a Wireless N router that doesn’t quite cover your whole home, you may want to consider a Wireless AC router.

Wireless G vs N, Wireless AC vs N: Which One Should I Buy?

The real choice here is going to be Wireless G vs N vs AC, because routers that only support Wireless B are no longer manufactured. Besides, Wireless G routers are backward compatible with Wireless B devices.

When You Should Buy A Wireless AC Router

  • When you have a large house and your wireless G router doesn’t quite reach all the rooms you want it to.
  • If you live in a highly populated area (apartment, mobile/modular park, etc.). A wireless AC router will help because it is new technology, so not many people will be running their home networks on the 5 GHz band. This will give you a very big speed advantage because your router won’t be competing with as many other routers using the same signal. (AC routers run on the 5GHz band while most N routers run on the 2.5 GHz band).
  • When you have entertainment systems such as Xbox One or Playstation 4 playing against other people online AND you want your other computers to be able to stream video at the same time without taking much of a performance hit.
Best Wireless AC Routers
Synology RT1900ac
Linksys AC1900
Netgear Orbi Home WiFi System

When You Should Buy A Wireless N Router

  • When you have several computers in your house using high-bandwidth sites such as YouTube or Netflix very often at the same time.
  • If you download a lot of large files very often
  • When you have newer entertainment systems such as Xbox One or Playstation 4 and you are playing against other people online (these devices do support Wireless N out of the box)
  • Shop for Wireless N Routers on Amazon

When You Should Buy A Wireless G Router

  • When you only have one or a few computers in your house.
  • When the great majority of your internet use will be for checking email and reading news or blogs. You should be able to watch YouTube or Netflix videos on a single device at a time.
  • When you have older entertainment systems such as Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and you are playing against other people online (these devices do not support Wireless N out of the box, unless you have the Xbox E which does support Wireless N)
  • Shop for Wireless G Routers on Amazon

More Things to Consider

You will want to make sure the wireless interfaces on your devices support each technology. Not all devices support Wireless AC, for example. Check with the manufacturer of your device to see what technology is supported.

Windows 10 Command Prompt

The command prompt in Windows 10 is used to run a number of useful commands, and can often be faster than using graphical interfaces. There are a number of different ways to open up a command prompt in Windows 10. Here are 6 of our favorites:

This method uses the search box on the taskbar (usually at the bottom of the screen). First, click on the search box and type “cmd”. From there, the ‘Command Prompt’ option should pop up in the search results. You can either click on the Command Prompt or hit enter to open a command prompt.

2. Right Click on Start

Right clicking on the Start button is one of the quickest ways to open a command prompt window. First, right click on the Start button. This will bring up a context menu with several different options. Near the middle will be ‘Command Prompt.’ Clicking here will open a command prompt. Also in this menu is the option to open a command prompt with administrative privileges, which is required for some commands.

3. Windows Key + R

This method is probably the fastest way to open a command prompt, but it requires use of a keyboard shortcut. Hold down the Windows Key and press R, and you will see a small window titled ‘Run’ open at the bottom of the screen. Type ‘cmd’ into this window and press enter. This will open a command prompt.

4. Start Menu

Click the start button and scroll down to the ‘Windows System’ folder. Clicking the folder will show several Windows System programs. The first one in the list should be ‘Command Prompt.’ Click on the ‘Command Prompt’ to open a new Windows command prompt.

5. Task Manager

For users that often use the Task Manager, there’s a quick shortcut to a command prompt. Inside the Task Manager window, click File, and then hold Ctrl while clicking ‘Run New Task.’ This will open a command prompt directly. This method also has the benefit of opening a command prompt with administrative privileges.

6. Windows Explorer

If you’re already browsing files within Windows Explorer, this method may come in handy. Simply type ‘cmd’ inside any Windows Explorer window and press enter. This will open a command prompt with the current folder set to whichever folder you were browsing.

What is MTU Size and What Should I Set it to?

If you’re connected to a network, you already know about routers. Routers allow you to connect to your network wirelessly through Wi-Fi, or through a wired Ethernet connection. Many people, particularly those who aren’t experienced in setting up networks, simply plug up their router and immediately go online. While this may certainly work, this might not be ideal. You may notice decreased speeds online, lags, or you may even become completely disconnected. While this may be chalked up to problems with the ISP or equipment itself, some problems may be due to the settings of the router.

One of these settings is the MTU. Changing this setting on your equipment can optimize your internet speeds and connectivity. But to do so effectively, you must first understand what MTU is and how to find the right settings for your network.

What Exactly Is MTU?

MTU stands for Maximum Transmission Unit. This is just one of many settings that you may have to adjust to fully optimize your router. The MTU size is a setting that determines the largest packet size that can be transmitted through your system. These packets are measured in octets, or eight-bit bytes. The Transmission Control Protocol determines the maximum packet transmission size based on your MTU settings. The MTU settings can be configured through your router’s advanced configurations.

When to Adjust Your MTU Size

If you notice that your internet isn’t as fast as it should be or other performance issues, you might want to begin troubleshooting by adjusting your MTU size. The process is fairly quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any additional software or hardware installations. In fact, you can test your settings through DOS and change them through your router’s advanced configurations, as already noted.

As a rule of thumb, a larger MTU size will increase bulk protocol throughput. Fewer packets with the same amount of data are processed when the MTU size is increased. However, the tradeoff is that may lead to delays in subsequent packets, resulting in lags and minimum latency. On the flip side, a smaller MTU size will result in more overhead and acknowledgements that must be sent and received. For these reasons, you need to troubleshoot to make sure that your setting is not too high or not too low. Since every system and network is different, there are a few steps you will need to take in order to optimize your MTU size, resulting in optimum performance of your system.

Finding the Optimum MTU Size for Your Needs

Some of your wireless router settings may require you to install additional hardware or software, but this isn’t required for optimizing your MTU size. In fact, all you’ll need to do is access your computer’s command prompt and know a few important commands that can help you determine the optimum MTU size for your system.

To begin, open your command prompt to begin what is known as the ping test. One your command prompt is open, you will input the following command for Windows computers: ping [url / local server or IP address] -f -l xxxx. It is important to note that the brackets should be removed prior to inputting this command, the correct URL or IP being tested should be input, and the final digits should be the packet size value that is being tested.

If you are on a Mac computer, the command is slightly different. You will input ping [url / local server or IP address] -d -s xxxx, keeping in mind the notes stated above.

If a message is received that the packet needs to be fragmented, the test packet size can be dropped by 10 until the packet is no longer fragmented. Then, you can gradually increase the number until you find the maximum packet size that does not fragment.

Once this number is found, you’re not finished quite yet. Take your test results and add 28 to it. This final number is the optimum MTU size for your system. You can change this number within your router’s advanced configurations (consult your user’s manual or manufacturer’s website for instructions on how to access these settings) or you can go into your computer’s System Preferences menu to manually change the settings for built-in Ethernet.

Unsure of where to start testing? Some good numbers to begin testing for your test sample are 500, 600, 625, 650, 750, 1,000 and 1,500.

Once you change the value, even slightly, it’s important to test your network speed. You want to make sure that everything is working as it should be, moving at optimum speed and without lags and interruptions.

Final Thoughts and Notes About MTU Size

If you ever experience problems when connecting to the internet or using your network, don’t just assume that it’s because of a slow ISP or outdated equipment. While this very well may be the case, it’s also possible that you just need to customize your router and systems for optimum performance. This always includes performing ping tests and changing up your MTU size.

Remember, it’s important to:

  • Use the ping test to test your MTU size. You want to make sure that you find the maximum packet size that is transmitted without fragmentation.
  • Add 28 to the number you find in your ping test to get your complete MTU size.
  • Even if you perform all steps properly, it’s important to make sure that your network is still running at desired speeds and that your system isn’t experiencing any lags, interruptions, disconnections, or other issues.
  • MTU size should always be set to the same value for all computers within your network.

Have you had success finding and setting your optimum MTU size? Do you have any recommendations for those who are new to adjusting their settings? Are you facing issues when trying to find your optimum settings? Let us know in the comments!


What is Beacon Interval and What Should I Set it to?

When your internet speeds drop, there are a few common troubleshooting steps that you take, such as resetting or unplugging your router, changing configurations on your laptop, or even contacting your ISP. There is one step in optimizing that is often overlooked, and that is adjusting your beacon interval.

What Exactly Is a Beacon Interval?

A beacon is a packet broadcast sent by the router that synchronizes the wireless network. A beacon is needed to receive information about the router, included but not limited to SSID and other parameters.

The beacon interval is simply the frequency of the beacon – how often the beacon is broadcast by the router. Most routers are automatically set to a default of 100 milliseconds.

When to Adjust Your Beacon Interval

While the default setting of 100ms may work fine for most networks, adjustments may be necessary if there is a significant lag in wireless speeds. When troubleshooting other settings hasn’t affected the speed of slow broadband service, an adjustment to the beacon interval may be necessary.

Benefits of Higher and Lower Intervals

Most routers allow the user to adjust the beacon interval within a range from 20ms to 1000ms (from the default 100ms). There are a few guidelines that can be used to guide you to the proper settings for your hardware.

Increasing the beacon interval above 100ms can increase throughput and may result in better speeds and performance. When the router is using less bandwidth to send out beacons, more of its capacity is dedicated to network throughput. Some who have tested this method have also found that longer times between broadcasts can improve battery life of devices including laptops and smartphones between charges.

Decreasing your beacon interval means that the router is using more of its capacity to send out beacons, which leaves less bandwidth for network traffic. Lower intervals are recommended for use with multiple access points, as the more frequent broadcasts allow devices to decide on the better AP for connection.

The drawback of lower settings is that they can be far more draining on the battery of your devices. However, if you struggle to stay connected, the tradeoff may be well worth it to get a steady signal, especially in areas where there is interference.

Beacon Interval Lower (More Beacons) Higher (More Beacons)
Throughput Less More
Access Point Scanning Shorter Longer
Client Battery Life Lower Higher

Finding the Right Beacon Interval Settings for Your Needs

If you are struggling with a weak signal, keeping your settings low will be a potential remedy for this issue. If you want longer battery life and a strong signal, higher settings can be used.

The specific setting also depends on the settings for your particular router. Different makes have different ranges that can be used. For example, Asus hardware ranges from 20 to 1000 ms, while D-Link is more restrictive at 25 to 500 ms.

A good router for a basic home network is the Netgear WG602. In addition to easy setup, this router also has a web-based configuration tool for adjusting settings including beacon interval and RTS threshold.

A general rule of thumb is that if you have a home network with a strong signal, you can adjust to the highest allowable range. However, if this number exceeds 700 ms, signal stability may be affected. In this case, you would adjust down to a number between 100 and 700ms.

If you have a wireless network that has multiple access points with multiple users, it is best to drop the value below the default 100 ms. A good place to start is 50 ms, and you can monitor performance, signals, and other data to determine whether this value needs to be tweaked.

Unfortunately, there is no set number that works best for all equipment and wireless needs. Signal strength, your network, and your particular equipment settings are just part of what should be considered to find your ideal beacon interval. Tweaking and adjustment should be expected for optimal results.

Final Thoughts

Setting up a network can be frustrating, especially when you don’t have the fast speeds and strong connection that you’re paying your ISP for. Changing your beacon interval can be quick and easy way to potentially speed up your wireless connection.

When your speeds drop or your stability wavers, remember the following:

  • Switch to a new router if your equipment is old or outdated.
  • Use your web-based configuration tool to check and adjust current settings.
  • Adjust to a higher interval for better speed, performance, and battery life.
  • If stability is affected at the higher interval, adjust down and monitor for performance.
  • For weak or interrupted signals, drop the value below the default of 100 ms.
  • Start with a setting of 50 to 75 ms and monitor performance.
  • Tweak your settings accordingly.

If you’re struggling to find your correct settings or you need more information on how to adjust your beacon interval, leave your comment below!



What Are the Transmission Speeds of Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6?

When connecting to your broadband service, one of the most important cables that you can have is your Ethernet cable, which allows these high-speed transmissions to reach your computer. However, if you’ve ever shopped at an electronics store, you may have encountered some terms that aren’t very familiar, such as Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6.

With so many different types, price points, and brands, knowing exactly what to purchase for your network connection first requires you to understand the differences between these cables – particularly, what are the transmission speeds of Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6.

What Does Cat5, Cat5e, and Cat6 Mean?

Before you spend money on a cable that doesn’t perform as expected or fit the needs of your home or office, it’s important to understand what exactly these cables are used for and why you may need one.

These types of cables are twisted pair cables that are used to carry signals. You may have also heard the term “Ethernet cable” used before, particularly if you’ve ever connected to a computer network. These Ethernet cables are used to transmit signals from the modem to your router (for wireless internet) or directly to your computer, if connected from the router to your laptop or desktop.

The term “Cat” when talking about these cables is a shortened version of “category.” So, for example, Cat5 cables are classified as Category 5 cables. These cables are designated into categories based upon specifications and applications, or simply, how they can be used.

What Are the Differences Between Each Category?

Cat5 cable is the cheapest of the three types listed here. However, as one would expect, it does not perform as well as Cat5e or Cat6 cable, but may be sufficient for slower internet speeds at your home. For business networks or gigabit internet service, Cat5 support these services as well as the other two categories.

Cat5e is a slightly more enhanced version of Cat5. Users of this cable will find that there is less interference at higher speeds. Because of its better performance, it is priced more expensively than Cat5.

Cat6 supports higher speeds, which is important for office networks, as well as for households equipped with the latest gigabit Internet service. This is the most expensive cable of the three, but those that on networks that can make use of 10 gigabit transmission speeds may find that it is worth the extra cost.

What Are the Transmission Speeds of Each Category?

As previously mentioned, the biggest difference between each category is transmission speed. This is important because you don’t want to have interference while you’re working at your business, and you want to take full advantage of playing your gaming console at the highest speeds possible.

Cat5 has the slowest transmission speeds of the three. It supports up to 100 megabits per second. It operates at a frequency up to 100 Mhz. If you haven’t invested in gigabit internet and aren’t connected to a business network, this inexpensive cable may fit your needs. It has more potential to experience interference than Cat5e or Cat6, which can prove to be frustrating. It is, however, the least expensive option of the three.

Cat5e is an enhanced version of Cat5. It has transmission speeds up to 1000 megabits (or 1 gigabit) per second and operates at frequencies up to 100 Mhz. However, when compared to higher categories, there is more interference. It is adequate for most networks, but as broadband speeds increase in the future, it may prove to not perform as well as Cat6.

Cat6 operates at up to 250 Mhz and it can handle transmission speeds up to 10 gigabits. This cable is generally about 20% more expensive than Cat5e, but will future proof home or office networks and can also reduce crosstalk.

Cat 6 offers the highest performance of the three, but it is not without its drawbacks. Because it is more tightly wound and has more insulation that the other two categories, it can be difficult to work with if it needs to be cut. Installation may be more difficult because of this, but those who want to experience less noise, fewer operating errors, and higher performance may find this trade-off is worth it.

Which Category Should You Choose?

If you have a router that supports gigabit ethernet, you’ll want to choose Cat6 or Cat5e cable because these are the two that will be able to transmit gigabit speeds. If you’re installing new cable and want to future proof, it is probably worth paying slightly more for Cat6.

It is also backward compatible, so this means that even if you don’t have the fastest service now, it will still operate at your current speeds until you decide to upgrade.

There are many great options to choose from if you’re connecting for the first time or simply upgrading your old cables. The Sewell Direct SW-29776-250 SolidRun Cat6 Bulk Cable is designed for performance and comes with 250 feet of cable ( for connecting your home or business network. It can be used for many applications, including but not limited to connecting your computers, security systems, and more.

Final Notes

When you connect to a network – whether it’s for work or play – you want to get the best performance. After all, you want to fully experience what you pay for each month. To do that, you need to make sure that you have the best cables that can handle the highest speeds.

Most routers today support gigabit ethernet, so even if your internet speed is much slower, you will see improved performance throughout your internal network if you use Cat5e or Cat6. Tasks like transferring files between computers or to network attached storage will take advantage of the faster tranmission speeds.

If you want to get the most out of your network without interference, system errors, or other performance issues, and want to future-proof as much as possible, you’ll want to stick with Cat6. While the cost may be slightly higher, you’ll get the full support you need to experience the fastest speeds possible today and for the forseeable future. The Sewell Direct SW-29776-250 SolidRun Cat6 Bulk Cable ( is a great choice that can handle all of your networking needs. If you have any questions about selecting the right category of cable, leave a comment.



TP Link Archer D7

Buffalo Airstation AC1750 ASUS RT-AC66R TP-LINK Archer D7
WiFi Performance AC1750 WiFi (450 + 1300 Mbps) AC1750 WiFi (450 + 1300 Mbps) AC1750 WiFi (450 + 1300 Mbps)
WiFi Band 2.4GHz & 5GHz 2.4GHz & 5GHz 2.4GHz & 5GHz
Ethernet Ports 4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
USB Ports 2 USB 2.0 ports 2 USB 2.0 ports
CPU 800 MHz dual core Broadcom BCM4706 Qualcomm QCA9005AP
RAM 512 MB 256 MB 128 MB
Flash Memory 128 MB 128 MB 8 MB
Antennas Internal 3 detachable antennas 3 dual band detachable antennas
MSRP $169.99 $169.99 $169.99

The majority of home and small business owners probably do not consider replacing the router supplied by an Internet service provider. However, by not investing in an upgrade, you deny yourself the many extended features and enhanced performance that a consumer grade router provides. The TP-Link Archer D7 is an affordable, sophisticated little device that has the capability of providing a more consistent connection at a price that is much less than many comparable models. Typically, a factory model D9 is designed to provide a wireless Wi-Fi Internet connection. However, for a little extra, you can upgrade the device to handle both ADSL and Wi-Fi.


The D7 measures 13.2 x 9.4 x 3.8 inches and weighs about 3 pounds. The technology is encased in a glossy, black plastic case and comes with a silver stand that adds to the overall appearance of the unit. Unfortunately, as the unit stands on end, there is no way to mount the router on a wall. The height combined with the antennas exceeds 12 inches, which means that the device must also be positioned on an open surface or in an enclosure that will readily accommodate the span.

There are three adjustable and detachable antennas that match the height of the router. The rear of the device features four Gigabit Ethernet ports that include three LAN ports and one LAN/WAN port. The backside also has a 3.0 USB port, a DSL port, the WPS button and the power switches for the router and Wi-Fi. The right side of the router bears a 2.0 USB port. The front side of the unit has eight icons that glow light blue when the device powers on.

Getting Started

Once plugged in and turned on, the router’s browser interface automatically detects the available ISP settings and requests that users enter a user name and password. A mini-CD included in the package also provides easy-to-follow instructions for anyone not familiar with the Internet set-up process. Though not hard to comprehend or navigate, the interface has an abundance of options that are especially appealing to experienced router users and tech fans. Here, you can forward ports, configure VPNs and perform other settings.

Overall Performance

There is no denying that the Archer D7 impresses with its performance. Though the unit may not be the fastest 802.11ac device, the recorded speed capability rivals many competitors. The router has dual-band functionality, providing both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections. Users may make the desired guest and control restrictions on both frequencies. Programming also includes the opportunity to restrict the bandwidth on specific ports or to certain IP addresses. The two USB ports provide the convenience of accessing storage, streaming media or adding a network printer. However, once again you must visit the TP-Link website to access and download the printer control software.

The signal strength that the D7 provides is more than sufficient for home or small business use. The 5 GHz band performs smoothly and data transfers are capable at speeds of up to 1,300 Mbps. The 2.4 GHz band transmits at speeds of up to 450 Mbps and over longer ranges. The lower band connects faster if the upper band range has difficulty. Unlike Internet service supplied modems, the dual-band options on the TP-Link Archer D9 enable users to switch from one band to another in order to avoid traffic congestion. The device also evaluates the appropriate band setting for devices based on the amount of online usage and distance located from the router.

In a nutshell, the D7 greatly increases the potential for reliable and consistent Internet connections. The device performs exceptionally well and provides a wealth of features. The TP-Link Archer D7 is a worthy investment. Though not necessary, the unit does offer many configuration options for the tech fan who prefers fine tweaking. The device also lends itself to future upgrades, which may include increasing the amount of Internet speed. In the event that your community Internet connection converts to IPv6, the D7 contains the technology to handle that too.

TP Link Archer C9

TPLink Archer C9 D-Link DIR-880L
WiFi Performance AC1900 WiFi (600 + 1300 Mbps) AC1900 WiFi (600 + 1300 Mbps)
WiFi Band 2.4GHz & 5GHz 2.4GHz & 5GHz
Ethernet Ports 4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
USB Ports 1 USB 3.0 port
1 USB 2.0 port
1 USB 3.0 port
1 USB 2.0 port
Processor 1GHz dual-core 1GHz dual-core
Antennas Three detachable antennas Three dual band high-gain antennas
MSRP $189.99 $179.99

The TPLink Archer C9 is designed for high bandwidth speeds, wide-ranging wireless connectivity and seamless management of networks through a savvy mobile application. While the price is slightly higher than its counterparts, it is definitely worth it. It makes streaming videos and online gaming an enjoyable experience with absolutely no hiccups.


The stylish TPLink Archer C9 will complement just about any home or office décor. Its sleek white body and three detachable dual band antennas provide maximum coverage, reliability and stability throughout your home or office. However, the device cannot be mounted on the wall, which may be a problem for some users.


When it comes to features, TPLink Archer C9 is the one of the top-picks of many reviewers. Adorned with dual band networks of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, it provides data transfer speeds of up to 1.9 Gbps when using the two channels. You will never notice any problem streaming high-definition videos, watching movies, playing games or doing any other activity that requires high Internet speeds.

The 2.4 GHz network can be used for basic Web browsing, checking emails and other less intensive tasks, whereas the 5 GHz network allows for heavier data transfer needs. This makes TPLink Archer C9 the ideal option for homeowners seeking high bandwidth speeds.

The Wi-Fi range is quite wide, thanks to the in-built feature called beamforming. This technology enables TPLink Archer C9 to instantly locate any connected device and direct wireless signals to that device. It focuses its signals in that direction, hence significantly amplifying the signal strength while increasing its range. Stability, reliability and a wide range make the TPLink Archer C9 a highly coveted router on the market.

The router also contains a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 USB port, with 3.0 performing 10 times faster than 2.0. Users can instantly plug-in their printers, scanners and storage devices without noticing any disruptions. Print to your heart’s content, scan large sets of files and transfer data effortlessly across networks to connected devices. Thanks to its easy-to-use mobile application, both network and data can effectively be accessed, managed and altered from remote locations.

The router contains an in-built 1 GHz dual-core processor, which boosts performance of the router significantly and enables quick management of Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB ports.


It requires a simple setup that is completed in a few steps. The TP-Link Tether application allows users to easily setup, manage and set controls and restrictions. Available at the Apple Store and Google’s Play Store, Tether offers an intuitive interface and user-friendly management of the router. You can change parental controls, create a guest network, restrict certain devices from using a network, share media files, check network statuses and do lots more simply by tapping your mobile screen.

For its fast speed, efficient performance and superior features, the TPLink Archer C9 is a good grab. The simultaneous dual-band router employs AC wireless standard that is up to 3 times faster than the N speed delivering impressive data transfer rates and decent performance in home as well as office setting. It is especially suited for users with heavy data requirements and delivers robust performance steadily at all times. You do not need high-end technical skills for managing the router, which enjoys user-friendly features from the manufacturer. The device normally comes with up to 3 years of standard warranty.

TP Link Archer AC2600

TP-Link Archer AC2600 Linksys EA8500
WiFi Performance AC2600 WiFi (800 + 1733 Mbps) AC2600 WiFi (800 + 1733 Mbps)
WiFi Band 2.4GHz & 5GHz 2.4GHz & 5GHz
Ethernet Ports 4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
4 Gigabit LAN port
1 Gigabit WAN port
USB Ports 2 USB 3.0 Ports 1 USB 3.0 port
1 USB 2.0/eSata port
CPU 1.4 GHz dual-core processor 1.4 GHz dual-core processor
Memory 512MB 512MB
Antennas 4 Detachable antennas 4 external adjustable antennas
MU-MIMO Support Yes Yes
MSRP $249.99 $279.99

TP-Link is one of the global providers of networking products and recently introduced the Archer AC2600 router. The dual-band device was designed to handle the wireless networking demands of homes or small businesses. The Archer AC2600 has the advanced technology needed to support multiple wireless devices simultaneously and effectively.

Benefit of Dual-Bands

The Archer AC2600 broadcasts on two frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. For years, routers only used the 2.4 GHz frequency. However, with the many electronic devices used in most homes and other interior environs today, the frequency is either interrupted or over-saturated. The easiest solution to solving the problem is to have another frequency. The 5 GHz bandwidth is not as widely used and thus does not experience the same degree of congestion and interference. The Archer AC2600 router enables users to designate the broadcast over the 2.4 GHz frequency, the 5 GHz frequency or both simultaneously.

Qualcomm Technology

The technology within the unit features Qualcomm® VIVE™ 802.11ac, which provides speeds up to 2.6 Gbps whether using the 2.4 GHz band at 800 Mbps, the 5 GHz band at 1733 Mbps or a combination of the two. The Archer also has Qualcomm® MU EFX. The multi-user MIMO technology offers a greater degree of efficiency when operating multiple devices on crowded networks. This means that while older routers provided point-to-point data transmission to one device, other devices on the same network were left hanging and waiting.

However, the Archer AC2600 comes equipped with multi-user input and output capabilities that allow the unit to establish point-to-point connection with two or three devices simultaneously. This advanced technology improves speeds by as much as three times while reducing wait times. This capability enables the unit to successfully service more devices.

Though the MU-MIMO EFX technology has four connections, one of the these is used exclusively for monitoring and optimizing the function of the other three while reducing the amount of interference. In this way, data transmission is faster and has increased reliability. The technology also performs “dynamic grouping” of multiple devices based on individual usage and network requirements, which ensures that the connection to each device is delivered as fast as needed. The router also minimizes bandwidth congestion by assigning the appropriate frequency to each device.

Beamforming Capability

The TP Link Archer AC2600 contains beamforming technology. Beamforming allows the router to direct signals toward each device. Older, conventional routers emitted signals in a general broad configuration over a large area in a spray-like pattern. This type of broadcasting made routers more susceptible to weakened signals. On the other hand, the Archer provides concentrated transmissions in higher quality in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Not all AC routers features this capability. The Archer AC2600 router comes equipped with a powerful 1.4 GHz dual-core processor that allows everyone in your home to surf the Internet, stream media content or play games online at the same time. The processor combined with Qualcomm technology prevents network slowing and aggravating screen lag.

Overall Design

The unit measures 10.4×7.8×1.5 inches (263.8×197.8×37.3millimeters), is minimalistic in appearance and was created to set-up a network within minutes. The WPS button provides one-touch wireless security encryption. There are also power, Wi-Fi and LED on/off buttons that conserve power usage. Two USB 3.0 ports provide up to 10x the sharing speed compared to USB 2.0 ports. The built-in print server supports wireless capabilities from multiple computers. The media server enables flawless streaming of music and videos.

Additional Features

• Four detachable antennas
• Guest network access ensures secure broadcast access for guests if desired
• Parental controls allow users to restrict access for all connected devices
• VPN support enables secure access from remote devices
• WPA-PSK/WPA2- PSK encryption capability provides a barrier against network security threats

The Archer AC2600 is compatible with the TP Link Tether app that enables users to access or manage the unit using iOS or android devices. The app features a basic, intuitive interface to monitor router status, see who is online or check privileges. Users can also:

• Establish SSID, passwords and Internet settings for linked devices
• Block unauthorized users
• Manage permissions
• Parental control function
• Determine range extender location
• Schedule turn-off times
• Manage all TP Link devices

The TP Link AC2600 Gigabit Router is well-designed inside and out. However, the plentiful features and remote management capabilities do not come without a considerable cost. While the price may be off-putting, the router is ideal and worth the cost for anyone looking for a powerful router that delivers reliable connections for multiple devices.