The TP-Link N600 is about half-way between the previously reviewed Linksys N300 and Asus RT-AC66U and serves as a stepping point into the world of higher end routers.
The router is able to broadcast on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies meaning you can have high speed access for all your modern devices to watch media on while you can use the older frequency to reduce traffic and interference. On top of the 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports it also comes equipped with 2 USB ports which allows you to use it as a network storage drive, media server or for printer sharing.
Though not as stylish as the recent Asus models, the TP-Link has a distinctive and sophisticated look that wouldn’t look out of place in any home or office. We wish they would have given the antennas a gloss coating as well to match the shell but otherwise it looks very nice.
Depending if you want to go for nice looks or for practicality then you might wish to consider inSSIDer or a similar software, in order to figure out the best antenna position for your router.
Setting up the router is the same as with most other routers. We purchased ours without DD-WRT and promptly installed it using our guide (if you wish to purchase one that is already flashed then head over to Flashrouters). To change the settings we just went to the default IP (192.168.1.1) and changed the SSID names, multiple since broadcasting on two frequencies, and the security settings. From this point onward any settings you may wish to change are up to you to decide and play around with. We installed VyprVPN on our router but check out out DD-WRT list to find out our recommendations.
We gave our router a test both with and without DD-WRT installed and noticed that with DD-WRT there was definitely a slight increase in speed. We also found that once we used the optimisation tips provided by FlashRouters that there was also a boost in speeds. These tips are as follows:
Using Google DNS
Setting up Dual Band correctly – 2.4GHz broadcasting on N-only and 5GHz broadcasting on A-only
Clearly one of the main reasons to get a router is to be able to use it as a VPN server so that all your devices may be connected while not requiring additional simultaneous connections. Having a router running VPN is also useful for connecting your Xbox, Apple TV or similar so that you can enjoy media from other countries.
We also checked our router speeds with the VPN enabled. Though Speedtest.net only showed a slight decrease in speed when we used tbbMeter we noticed a significant drop – this is more likely due to the router than the provider – but were still able to stream Netflix and iPlayer without any problems.
Speedtest without VPN
Speedtest with VPN
10MB file test with tbbMeter and No VPN
10MB fies test with VPN
With its decent processing power and 2 USB ports the TP-Link WDR3600 is definitely a router that is useful for any home or office if you are looking for a cheap solution that can provide you with a lot of customization. However as we realised and we will show in some further posts setting up more complex things can be a bit of a hassle due to it’s limited Flash and RAM so if you are looking for an option that you have to play around with a bit less than we recommend you purchase the Asus RT-ACU66U.