TP-Link AC3200 Review – A Top-Rated Wireless Tri-Band Router
Are you looking for a new wireless router for the home or office? The TP-Link AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router Archer C3200 offers you an affordable, functional, and effective package. The router uses a three-band radio output to ease congestion on the network with plenty of management options.
The TP-Link AC3200 comes with an MSRP of $259.99. So, is it worth investing in this piece of smart tech? This review unpacks everything you need to make your purchase decision.
TP-Link AC3200 At a Glance
TP-Link AC3200 Pros:
- Completely stable connection.
- Outstanding performance.
- Powerful Wi-Fi signal transmits through thick walls.
- Excellent close-proximity throughput of 5GHz.
TP-Link AC3200 Cons:
- Fixed antennae don’t detach.
- Mediocre storage performance.
- No sFTP accessibility to external drives.
- Middling range performance
- Relatively slow storage performance
Our rating: 7/10
The TP-Link AC3200 is one of the early adopters of XStream technology by Broadstream. As a result, you get a 3×3 tri-band router which is a modification of the standard AC5300 tri-band devices recently released.
TP-Link clearly designed this model as a close competitor to the ASUS RT-AC3200 and Linksys EA9200. TP-Link is one of the leading Chinese manufacturers in the router space and the main competitor of Netgear, Asus, and D-Link.
The latest AC3200 product class offers a fresh edge over previous models, with the additional 5GHz radio adding a further 1,300Mbps over the AC1900. As a result, you don’t get better link rates, but you can expect increases in throughput totals in the 5GHz devices, allowing users to connect more wireless clients to their network.
The AC3200 class is the replacement for the AC1900 models and a reliable upgrade to your old AC1900 in terms of price and performance.
TP-Link AC3200 In-depth Review
Features and Design Elements
The first thing you’re likely to notice is the unique design of the router. The C3200 features a square-style matte black plastic casing with rounded edges.
There are plenty of cut-outs on the top and six folding antennas, and the device’s look offers a sense of continuity, breaking towards the middle, revealing an X-shaped recess featuring the TP-Link logo.
The antennas aren’t removable, and there’s no option for removal for upgrading them. You get three single-band and three-dual-band antennas positioned around the case. While you can’t remove the antennas, they’re short and don’t get in the way, allowing for compact storage in your office or home.
The cut-outs in the top panel of the casing provide excellent airflow to the internals, and you’ll find the casing is never warm to the touch. The longitudinal vents on the C3200 cover all four sides of the case, and there are several triangle-shaped cut-outs on the base.
It’s one of the better-ventilated casings on the market at the moment. That feature is important since most tri-band routers get super warm, and there’s no space to insert a cooling fan without increasing the design parameters and production costs.
The passive-cooling design on the C3200 allows for quiet running, and you won’t hear it working in the background like other tri-band models from Asus and Netgear. Four rubber feet in the bottom corners provide excellent traction on any surface.
There are two holes in the rear panel of the casing, allowing wall-mounting and a label showing basic router information like the username and password, default address, and tri-default SSIDs. The case itself feels rigid and sturdy, featuring construction with durable materials. The casing has no flexion, even with all ports connected to the device.
The TP-Link C3200 offers convenient horizontal positioning on flat surfaces, and the wall-mount holes allow for simple installation on any vertical surface. Still, no screws or plugs are included in the kit, which is somewhat of a drawback, but no big deal.
The device has a compact footprint, measuring 7.9 x 7.9 x 1.5 inches, and it’s easy to hide out of view in the office or the living room.
The design and styling of the router give off an artistic impression, so it’s not an eyesore by any means if you have to leave it exposed in the room. The case styling and short, rectangular-shaped antennas give it a post-modern look.
The front panel of the TP-Link AC3200 offers a series of blue LEDs. The lights provide easy referencing of uptime for the power, Wireless 5GHz-1 radio, Wireless 2.4GHz radio, Wireless 5GHz-2 radio, and ethernet. If the power light flashes, it means the system is upgrading the firmware or initializing. The ethernet LED covers all four LAN ports.
The dual-color LEDs display blue when the system functions normally, offering internet access to the network. The LEDs turn orange when the internet is inaccessible. The USB 1, USB 2, and WPS buttons are on the right, with three buttons available for Wi-Fi. You can press the button for 2 seconds to disable or enable the Wi-Fi.
The WPS process allows easy connection for wireless devices to your network. The LED On/Off is a great addition to the router if you don’t want flashing LEDs in a dark room. The rear panel of the router features a series of buttons and ports.
Moving from left to right, we find a reset button with a recessed design. Press the reset button for seven seconds to reset the system and restore the factory default settings.
There are USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, a 10/100/1000Mbps Internet port, four 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet LAN ports, the power connector, and the on/off button. Overall, the design is compact and sleek, with easy accessibility to all ports and buttons and a well-ventilated casing.
TP-Link AC3200 – Hardware
When we take a look under the hood of the TP-Link AC3200, we find a dual-core BCM4709A0 Broadcom CPU, clocking impressive speeds at 16GHz, and a 128 MB flash memory with 256 MB of RAM and the PLX ExpressLane™ PEX 8603 PCIe switches. The switch setup is super useful for a third radio.
Additionally, the 2.4GHz radio utilizes a BCM43602 Broadcom b/g/n 3×3:3 chipset, collaborating with a powerful Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz amplifier. The initial 5GHz radio utilizes a BCM43602 Broadcom chipset, with a 5GHz WLAN Front-End Module Skyworks SKY85710-11 5GHz
The second 5GHz radio utilizes the same BCM43602 Broadcom chipset, including a Skyworks SE5003L 5GHz power amplifier. The C3200 offers users a 600Mbps maximum data transfer rate when using the 2.4GHz radio band. Each of the router’s 5GHz radios features a maximum data transfer rate of 1,300 Mbps (adding to the 3,200 Mbps promoted by TP-Link).
TP-Link AC3200 – Installation and Performance
The C3200 is easy to install and configure. All you do is plug it in, connect it to your device to the internet, and type tplinkwifi.net into the browser address bar. When the management-console opening page appears, look to the upper-left corner, and click the “Quick Setup” tab.
The system launches the setup wizard, walking you through wireless and internet setup. While testing your internet connection for compatibility.
The C3200 delivers excellent throughput on 5GHz close-proximity testing in the same room, providing a score of 293Mbps. That performance outclasses the Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band R8000 router from Netgear.
However, the AC3200 falls short of the performance offered to buy tri-band models from other manufacturers like the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-890L/R (558Mbps), the Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit Smart Wi-Fi Router EA9200 (443Mbps), and the Asus RT-AC3200 (452Mbps). The range performance offered by the C3200 is a bit underwhelming during a 30-foot 5GHz test.
The 73Mbps throughput of the C3200 can’t compare to the performance offered by the Asus RT-AC3200 (264Mbps), the Netgear R8000 (174.4Mbps), the Linksys EA9200 (255Mbps), and the D-Link DIR-890L/R led the pack with 310Mbps.
The C3200 tri-band router performs more like a midrange model than a high-end router in 2.4GHz throughput testing. The 47.8Mbps score on close-proximity testing is similar to the Linksys WRT 1200AC (50Mbps) and the Tenda AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Router AC15 (53.4Mbps), both of which are midrange models.
However, it couldn’t keep pace with its fellow tri-band routers; the Linksys EA9200 scored 90Mbps, the Netgear R8000 scored 90.7Mbps, and the Asus RT-AC3200 scored 86Mbps. Once again, the D-Link DIR-890L/R took top honors with 92.7Mbps.
The results of the 30-foot test are similar, with the TP-Link C3200 scoring 24.2 Mbps, making it the slowest of all tri-band competitors. For the final test, we connected the C3200 to a hard drive to the USB 3.0 port to inspect the file-transfer performance.
The testing involved transferring a 1.5GB folder featuring video, photos, music files, and documents. The 31.3MBps write speed is similar to the Linksys EA9200 (30.7MBps), offering slightly better performance than the Asus RT-AC3200 (23.2MBps) and the D-Link DIR 890L/R (26.5MBps).
The 64MBps read speed of the C3200 offers double the write speed of the Linksys EA9200 (34.9MBps), D-Link DIR 890L/R (52.2MBps), and the Asus RT-AC3200 (29.5MBps).
Similar Routers to the TP-Link AC3200
- D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-890L/R)
- D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-890L/R)
- Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router AC 1900 (WRT1900AC)
- Trendnet AC1750 Dual Band Wireless Router (TEW-812DRU)
- Asus RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router
- D-Link SharePort Go III Wi-Fi AC750 Portable Router and Charger
- D-Link Wi-Fi AC750 Portable Router and Charger (DIR-510L)
- Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200
- Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router
- Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station (A1521)
- RT-AC3200 Tri-Band Router
- Asus RT-AC3200 Tri-Band Router
- Linksys AC3200 Tri-Band Gigabit Smart Wi-Fi Router (EA9200)
- Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router
- Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router
TP-Link AC3200 – Setup and Interface
Let’s take a deeper dive into setting up the router. Configuring the TP-Link AC3200 is a straightforward process. Open its web-based utility and navigate to https://192.168.0.1 or https://tplinkwifi.net. Or you can enter admin for your username and password when the system prompts you to do so.
Create your new username and password, and the Quick Setup Wizard guides you through the entire setup process. Choose your time zone and region, and connection type. You can choose the auto-detect service or select your configuration from the list, with options for Static IP, Dynamic IP, L2TP, PPTP, or PPPoE.
You can decide to close the MAC address and set your passwords and SSIDs for each of the three bands. Finally, you can test your internet connection to ensure the router performs adequately. You can complete the advanced setup and configuration by navigating the router interface.
TP-Link AC3200 – The Bottom Line
Overall, the TP-Link AC3200 Wireless Tri-Band Gigabit Router C3200 offers users an additional 5GHz that’s excellent for reducing Wi-Fi network congestion between devices. The router provides a great selection of basic and advanced settings allowing users to optimize their bandwidth and manage their network.
The decent 5Ghz performance in this model offers 2.4GHz throughput and excellent overall range performance. However, it doesn’t perform at the same capacity as its other tri-band competitors.
However, you get good value for money, and if you don’t have the additional $50 in your budget for the D-Link AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Router (DIR-890L/R)($404.66), then the C3200 is a great choice for your home or office.