Customer Review

55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, fast USB WiFi adapter, with a slightly dodgy software utility, 2 July 2012
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This review is from: TP-LINK TL-WDN3200 N600 Wireless Dual Band USB Adapter (Accessory)
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Most laptops now have built-in WiFi of some sort. Many desktops don't. If you're wanting to improve the WiFi connection speed of your Windows laptop, or to give your Windows desktop WiFi connectivity it didn't have in the first place, then this adapter is an option worth considering.

It's about 3" long, and has a blue light inside that flickers when the adapter is in use. It also has a WPS button for easy setup, but I typed in my security keys manually. A USB extension cable is provided, which may be useful if you're installing the adapter on a desktop computer. There's also a mini-CD containing the driver and utility software and a PDF manual.

It's a USB adapter, which means it's very easy to install, but it's also easily knocked when in use. If your computer can take an internal WiFi card and you can fit it or arrange for it to be fitted, then that might be a better option. USB is however the quick and easy solution.

This card is dual-band (it can work on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz) and can work at speeds of up to 300Mbit/s, which is twice as fast as the basic 802.11n data rate, and a lot faster than the 54Mbit/s you used to get with 802.11g. All of this is only useful if your home router (or wireless access point) supports the two frequency bands and the faster data-rates; otherwise, the adapter will slow down to match. The BT Homehub 3 router, for example, supports 300Mbit/s on the 2.4GHz band, but it doesn't have any 5GHz capability, so it should be fast but may be susceptible to interference on the more crowded 2.4GHz band.

The driver on the CD is essential: Windows 7 doesn't recognise the hardware without it. The WiFi connection utility is optional, and you can choose not to use it even if you have chosen to install it. I find it to be a little temperamental: on first use it wouldn't let me connect to a WiFi network until I had rebooted, and if I leave it running when my laptop goes to sleep, it incorrectly tells me that the adapter is disabled. It's better than the utility that comes with Windows 7, showing channel numbers as well as signal strength for each network.

Using quite a slow laptop connected to a 300Mbit/s-capable wireless router on the 5GHz band, at a distance of 5 metres I get data transfer rates of around 80Mbit/s: 600MB files transfer in under a minute.

Wireless doesn't yet offer the speeds you can get with wired ethernet, but it's getting faster. For browsing the internet, whether you have ADSL or fibre, this adapter should be able to keep up with your maximum internet download rates and still have a bit to spare, as long as your wireless router also supports the faster rate.

Note: If you want to be really cutting-edge, a few recent WiFi adapters are available that support speeds of up to 450Mbit/s. Once again, that will only be of use if your wireless router also supports 450Mbit/s. I'm happy with the 300Mbit/s that this adapter offers.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 30 Jul 2012 20:00:31 BDT
Hi, I was wondering how you worked around the software utility? I've just bought this and I'm using a Virgin Superhub but my computer only seems to find 2.4 connections (like BT and Plusnet)... do you know how I can change it to 5 on the software? The superhub doesn't have a WPS button so I can't make an immediate connection. I feel like I've wasted my money.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2012 22:04:02 BDT
Peter says:
The TP-Link adapter will work on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands without reconfiguring or using the supplied software utility. You do need to install the driver software; you're given the option to install the driver only when you autorun the supplied CD.

It's not the client but the wireless router or access-point (Super Hub in your case) that determines what channel will be used. If your Super Hub isn't broadcasting in the 5GHz band you may need to log into it and reconfigure it (have a look at http://help.virginmedia.com/system/selfservice.controller - it appears there's an "802.11N Band" box you can reconfigure). It might be worth checking first, though, using inSSIDer (from http://www.metageek.net/products/inssider/ - it's free, and it features in the Virgin Media video. This lets you see what band and channel all in-range access-points are using, and their relative signal strengths.

Good luck.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Dec 2012 21:50:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Dec 2012 21:51:15 GMT
Windows can't handle quick internet connections - their TCP/IP stack has been broken (and remains unfixed) since the early 90s. If you use Linux or Apple, you'll find that the wireless network data rates are very much quicker. My Samsung Chromebook regularly connects to my new Home network at 300 Mb/s, whereas my Sony Vaio struggles to achieve 30 Mb/s on the same network.

Posted on 13 Feb 2014 23:05:25 GMT
Chris says:
You say the driver on CD is essential. Could I get this online and install it manually?

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2014 09:26:52 BDT
Tom Wilson says:
I read 'driver on CD is essential' as meaning the driver is essential as windows won't recognise the device. The latest drivers are on the web

http://www.tp-link.com/en/support/download/?model=TL-WDN3200&version=V1

An earlier post from Michael recommends the download as the driver on CD doesn't support 5GHz capability.
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4.0 out of 5 stars (164 customer reviews)
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Peter
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Location: United Kingdom

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