Top critical review
61 people found this helpful
Has its moments
on 14 October 2012
I'm another Virgin Superhub user looking for wifi that works and was led to the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND by price and review.
When it works, it works very well. But it has spells where the Wifi performance fluctuates to the point I want to reach for a hammer.
Some context: I have a large amount of professional experience in configuring commercial networks large and small... in my most important network there are six users each with a plethora of network devices. The four kids have laptops, desktops, Wifi mobile devices in addition to games consoles and my partner has iPhone, iPad and iMac ("it should just bloody work"). And I have my own modest collection of laptops and desktops. And a wifi printer. And the NAS. You should also know that I resent spending my time at home in network support mode. Which is why I wanted to replace the Superhub wifi function after that recent, disastrous firmware update became the last straw.
Switching the TP-WR1043ND on straight out of the box showed that setup on defaults was easy and worked fine. But I clearly like to configure things so I set up my preferred IP ranges and fixed device addresses. Still good. A few problems with something retaining my previous SSID name, but this wasn't the fault of the router and changing the SSID worked fine. I saw speed to the big iMac nearly double and all devices had noticeable improvement in signal strength around the house: the router is in the same place as the Superhub was (thats now tucked behind the TV out of sight, grrrrr).
There is no 'guest network' facility, which is only a pain because I don't like having to configure and re-configure the kid's Nintendo Gameboys... I prefer to leave a non-secured DHCP wifi network running that has a list of known devices but, ok, the rise in performance and stability was the payoff.
When PCs and Macs awoke from sleep mode ('Hibernate' or 'Standby') they would not pick up wifi again. Lots of playing around with locking IP addresses via the ARP tables seemed to fix things for a while but not for long. Same for static IP addresses. Seemed we needed to switch off wifi on the device, switch it back on again: that got tiresome pretty quickly...."Dad, I can't print again!".
Worse, every few days the networking just disappeared... five star signal and connection but no data moved, the ping was dead... the router equivalent of all the lights are on but the car won't go.
Today I got in and everybody moaned that the 'internet was down'. It wasn't , the TP-WR1043ND had gone into 'erratic mode' again. If I hooked a laptop directly into the Superhub (still in 'modem mode') by wire, the internet WAN was rock solid. If I hooked the laptop into the router by wire, it looked fine, all functions reportedly OK. On wifi, though, the ping was ranging between 50 and 13000 ms, averaging 4500 ms. That's terrible, really, really bad and my trusty laptop was the only connected device, I was on an empty wifi channel and there was no bleed-over, cross-over or interference from anything else that I could measure.
Power off....power on, same story. Same story three times.... and then it behaved properly on the fourth reboot. As I write I'm looking at the last ping test to the router which, across 1400 tests, was solidly between 2 to 10 ms. That's good, that's what I expect. The ping to bbc.co.uk was great too, between 14 and 87 ms; really pleased with that.
So, maybe its a bad box: I'm going to send it back and try another, I've had enough of this erratic behaviour, it should 'just work'. If it turns out to be a case of 'you get what you pay for', then maybe I need to pay a little more. I'll let you know how the new unit gets on.