TP LINK TL WDR4300 N750 2017 Review
It’s no longer really all that rare for a dual-band 802.11n router to hit all the essential basic points. It’s a solved problem; as long as you’re not building the router for a very low price point, you know what to do.
Indeed, most of the hardware in these routers is identical; pick the Atheros SoC that suits your budget, pick some off-the-shelf RAM and flash memory, and solder them on the mainboard.
So, when we’re looking at the TP-LINK TL-WDR4300 – the current version of their N750 router – it’s not enough for it to be good.
There’s no shortage of good routers in the $80-$110 price range that this model inhabits.
What’s in question here is whether or not TP-LINK has managed to set their offering aside from the competition.
TP-LINK TL-WDR4300 N750 – Hardware
The TL-WDR4300 is a very similar machine to the lower-end TL-WDR3600; you’ll be able to tell that out of the box.
Physically, the only difference is that this model has three antennas, instead of the two of the TL-WDR3600. You still have an Atheros AR9344 running at 560MHz, and you still have 128MB of RAM.
You have the same four gigabit Ethernet ports and the same two high-speed USB ports; in the vast majority of respects, it’s identical.
The distinction here is in that extra antenna. This enables 802.11n broadcasting on the full three channels supported by the specification, when in 5GHz mode; you get a noticeable improvement in your wireless speeds over the TL-WDR3600.
Typically, you’re going to have a bit under 1.5 times the speed you’d have under the present conditions when broadcasting with two streams; that’s not earth-shaking, but it is a real difference.
In 2.4GHz mode, of course, this model behaves identically to the TL-WDR3600 the same hardware is running the same software, and consequently you’re going to see the same results.
Really, this goes for the vast majority of the questions you’re likely to raise; the wired networking capabilities, the USB ports, the uptime – everything is quite good, but it’s no better than TP-LINK’s own product that sells for $20 cheaper.
TP-LINK TL-WDR4300 N750 – Software
You’re probably guessing right about now that the TL-WDR4300 runs the same firmware as the TL-WDR3600 – and you’d be right. It has all of the features that you’d expect from the TL-WDR3600; the QoS tools, the USB file and printer servers, the pre-configured security settings – and they all behave in exactly the same way.
Functionally, this firmware is identical to that of the lower-end router; the difference – the only difference – is simply that it’s running on hardware that supports an extra antenna.
This isn’t even a bad thing, necessarily; TP-LINK’s firmware definitely has a more utilitarian interface then is the norm, but you have plenty of options and no real stability issues.
Still, it speaks to the lack of distinction between these two models. The TL-WDR4300 is a minor performance upgrade for the TL-WDR4300; it does all the same things, but it’s a fair bit faster if you’re able to make use of the extra stream.
The factory firmware is the same that it was on the TL-WDR3600 because, really, there’s no reason for it not to be.
It’d actually be more work for TP-LINK to produce two versions where they only need one; as is, the two routers are running essentially the same hardware, so any software features exclusive to the higher-end model would be so because the manufacturer had chosen to hold them back as a cash-grabbing measure.
The TP-LINK TL-WDR4300 is the TP-LINK TL-WDR3600 with another antenna. It provides relatively high performance – boosted substantially in 802.11n/5GHz mode by the additional stream alongside a solid array of features, but it is, fundamentally, the same wireless router that the N600 is
and the N600 tends to sell for closer to $60 or $70 than the $80 or $90 of the N750.
This is the funny part; TP-LINK has placed themselves in a position where they are their own biggest competitor.
The N600 and the N750 are – though unglamorous – products with their own niche in the market; they’re relatively affordable, solid, no-frills routers. That goes for both, though.
If you particularly need the extra wireless speed, buy this model – but, if you don’t, you’re better served saving your cash and buying the TL-WDR-3600.