To simply summarize my testing results, performance is rock solid on TP-LINK’s TL-WR1043ND. If you’ve read some of my other router reviews, you might know I use IRC a lot and staying connected is very important to me. The TL-WR1043ND is the only router I’ve used in a long time that absolutely gave me a rock solid connection to any IRC server. The router did not cause one drop over the two and a half week period that I used it. While stability is important, throughput is equally important. So let’s check out the test setup and the results.
Equipment & Setup
Router: TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.0GHz
RAM: 1GB DDR2 PC2-5300
OS: Windows XP Pro SP3 (32bit)
NIC: Marvell Yukon 88E8055 PCIe Gigabit (onboard)
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.20GHz
RAM: 8GB Mushkin Enhanced Blackline DDR3 1600
OS: Windows 7 Pro (64bit)
NIC: Realtek PCIe GBE (onboard)
• Xbox 360
• PlayStation 3
• LaCie Rikiki 500GB
• Kingston DT101 G2 8GB
• Transcend TS2GJFV33 2GB Jet Flash Drive
Wireless was tested with TRENDnet TEW-681GA 450Mbps Wireless N, and ASUS USB-N13 300Mbps Wireless N. Each adapter returned results differing by only 1 or 2 Mb, so I combined all wireless tests and took the five highest results.
Throughput Test Procedure
I used LAN Speed Test and LAN Speed Test Server for all speed tests. Speed tests were conducted in four different locations. The first location was in the same room as the router at a distance of less than 10ft. Second was at about 15ft from the router with one wall of separation. The third location was about 25ft with two walls between the router and the wireless adapter. Finally, the fourth location was 50ft with two walls.
LAN Speed Test allows you to pick data size and how many times to send that data. I setup chunks of data (10MB for wireless, 50MB for wired), and sent it back and forth ten times. LAN Speed Test will then average each transfer to give you a final measurement. To get as accurate of a result as possible, I ran the above process five times, then averaged all of the results. All data was sent from the desktop to the laptop.
For the wired tests, the TP-LINK TL-WR1043ND isn’t the fastest kid on the block, but it does have a higher average rate than the more expensive TRENDnet TEW-691GR. And really, an average of 806.5Mbps is not bad whatsoever.
Wireless speeds were a bit odd. Usually you could make a pretty linear graph of wireless speed vs. distance. However, once I got to about 25ft, wireless speed drastically dropped when compared to 15ft. The speeds I achieved at 25 feet and 50 feet are decent, and the connection was stable, but I’d like to see at least 80 – 90Mbps around 25 feet, and 50 – 60Mbps at 50ft.
USB & Media Server Testing
The TL-WR1043ND immediately recognized any USB device I connected to it. Whether the filesystem was FAT or NTFS, or if the capacity of the USB storage device was 2GB or 500GB. It really is just plug it in and go. Transferring files to and from the USB device whether it was FTP or Windows File Sharing worked flawlessly. The only issues I experienced were with the Media Server. I tried streaming HD videos from the router’s media server, to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Independent of the console, after about 10 minutes of streaming, the video would stop, and the router would stop responding to any new requests. New requests include anything on the WAN side, or connecting to the Admin Interface. Although any connections that were already established, or any new LAN connections worked fine. So if you are buying this router for a media server, it may not be the right device for you.
All testing up to this point has been one test running at a time. Although, not everyone only does one thing at a time. What happens if you’re downloading from the internet, watching YouTube videos in HD, streaming HD video over wireless, watching Netflix via their streaming service, listening to SHOUTcast on your iPhone, transferring 100GB worth the data over the wired network, and downloading files via FTP from the router’s USB port? Well I didn’t know what would happen, so naturally, I got everything setup and went full steam ahead. The TL-WR1043ND surprised me by easily handling all of the traffic I threw at it. Not one crash or severe hiccup. In fact, I think it might’ve been able to handle even more traffic, but I was at my max generating capacity.