At a glance
The TP-Link Archer C3200 hits all the marks in terms of what we can expect in an AC3200 router. The Archer C3200 comes equipped with a quad-core 1.8GHz processor and utilizes up to six 802.11ac streams and three 802.11n streams.
The router also has a decent number of LAN and WAN ports as well as two ports for USB connectivity with one using USB 2.0 and the other has USB 3.0 technology.
This is also a tri-band router which means it comes equipped with a single 2.4GHz (600Mbps) network and two 5GHz bands (1300Mbps) for a total, and theoretical, throughput speeds of 3,200Mbps.
There is also no direct mention of the amount of RAM and flash that the Archer C3200 has.
However, based on what we do know from the information indicated on the box, we should expect around 256MB RAM with a 128MB flash memory, at the very least.
With the specs that we can see from the Archer C3200, this is the next logical step for those who wish to upgrade their routers.
Does the TP-Link Archer C3200 offer enough improvements to be a worthy choice for an upgrade for your home network? Let's find out.
1.8GHz 64-bit Quad-Core CPU processor.
The Archer C3200 features tri-band technology to accommodate more devices without affecting performance.
Wi-Fi 6 standards, 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11ax/n/b/g, 5GHz IEEE 802.11ax/ac/n/a.
It is equipped with x8 detachable high-performance antennas with Beamforming technology and high-powered FEM.
Comes with 4x4 MU-MIMO technology.
It is equipped with Link Aggregation capabilities.
7.9 x 7.9 x 1.5-inches (WDH)
Modern and Compact Router
The TP-Link Archer C3200 measures at 7.9 x 7.9 x 1.5-inches (WDH) which puts it the average size router category.
If you are not a fan of the hulking and monolithic high-end routers but do prefer their futuristic design, the Archer C3200 is an excellent alternative to consider.
The Archer C3200 is a highly accomplished and well-rounded router that makes it a good contender into any "best of" router lists, and we will be going through these specific factors in this review.
Users can choose to install the Archer C3200 horizontally on their shelf or countertop or mount it to the wall via the two mounting brackets that you can find underneath the chassis.
Smart External Antenna Design
The Archer C3200 also features six external antennas that are located around the edges of the router.
I would also like to note the smart foldable design of these external antennas as they fold neatly inwards to the center of the router giving the unit a flush and even dimension.
This is a welcome design inclusion as most routers that incorporate several antennas can be quite cumbersome and messy in appearance.
This is not the case with the TP-Link Archer C3200 even though the antennas are non-detachable.
Practical Chassis Design
The LED status indicators are all in full display over on the front panel of the chassis which shows you the current state of your router, Wi-Fi, WPS, LAN, and WAN with a glance.
As for the ports, they are all located at the back of the chassis. You will find up to four LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports and a WAN port.
This is also where you will find both 2.0 and 3.0 USB ports as well as the Power button. Another notable aspect of the TP-Link Archer C3200's design is the vents that occupy most of the chassis.
There are cut-outs on the top, longitudinal vents on the sides, as well as triangular holes underneath which optimizes airflow and ventilation of the unit.
This focus on ventilation is essential, especially with tri-band routers as these router types tend to generate heat quite a bit.
While built-in fans are an option, the TP-Link Archer C3200 chose to go with a passive cooling design which they managed to hit right on the mark.
This lack of a built-in cooling fan also means that the C3200 is as silent as they come. Speaking of the bottom chassis, the Archer C3200 also utilizes rubberized feet which prevents it from sliding over smooth surfaces.
You will also find the label which indicates the router model's default IP address, username, password, and three default SSIDs.
As for the quality and heft of the Archer C3200's chassis, it certainly feels well-built with its sturdy and weighty feel.
Plug n' Play Style Setup and Configuration
The TP-Link Archer C3200 comes with pre-programmed security protocols right out of the box.
This router was designed with 'plug-and-play' in mind, and it shows as everything is pre-configured for the benefit of the user.
Setting up the Archer C3200 router is quite simple. You will need to locate the best placement in your home first. Ideally, you need to find an open space in the middle of your home to ensure that the router will be able to reach end-to-end.
Once you have the Archer C3200 plugged in and booted up, you will need to go to TP-Link's official web portal (tplinkwifi.net).
You will be immediately required to update your admin username and password, do so and make sure you write down the info for future reference.
Afterward, you will be directed to the quick Setup Wizard which you can blow through in a matter of minutes.
Once done, you can tweak the router settings further to fit your network preference. The TP-Link's web portal interface is pretty rudimentary in terms of design, but you can find everything you need in there.
However, the portal's 'rough-around-the-edges' design does not precisely offer a streamlined experience when it comes to navigation.
When you're done with the initial setup process, you mustn't forget to activate your Wi-Fi security by changing your SSID and putting up a password as well. This will prevent unknown and unwanted devices from connecting to your Wi-Fi.
That's about all you need to know about the setup process of the TP-Link Archer C3200, it is pretty basic, straightforward, and will take you about less than 7 minutes to complete.
Functionalities and Features
Flush with Excellent Features
The TP-Link Archer C3200 utilizes both 5GHz bands separately, which significantly helps in preventing signal interference.
When it comes to router features, the Archer C3200 comes with everything you would expect.
Some of the more notable features that the Archer C3200 comes with include the ability to share storage in your network and web filtering content for kids.
That said, the web filter feature is a bit of a hassle to use as it does not come with a preset list of websites.
You will need to input each website which will take time. There is also an easy to use Guest Network that you can give to users who you do not want to provide access to your network's shared files and devices such as wireless printers.
Underneath the hood of the Archer C3200 is an impressive quad-core processor that helps it reach excellent throughput numbers.
The router also comes with dedicated chipsets to accompany the tri-band wireless standard.
The 2.4GHz frequency utilizes the Broadcom BCM43602 with Skyworks SE2623L amplifier while the 5GHz uses the Skyworks SKY85710-11 amplifier.
This build gives the Archer C3200's maximum (theoretical) throughput for its 2.4GHz band to reach 600Mbps while the two 5GHz frequencies can clock up to 1,300Mbps.
Outstanding Tri-Band Wireless Technology
The TP-Link Archer C3200 uses the Broadcom XStream technology to deliver its top-notch tri-band capabilities.
The router can utilize one 2GHz and two 5GHz bands to help accommodate more devices simultaneously without it affecting the router's overall performance.
Because of this, a tri-band router is highly recommended for homes that expect to have more than a handful of connected devices at once.
This is not where TP-Link stops in regards to its enhanced router builds as it also outfitted the Archer C3200 with the MU-MIMO technology which is designed specifically to provide improved wireless connectivity for several clients/devices at the same time.
With these two particular router technologies combined, the Archer C3200 manages to crank up the devices that it can support to impressively high numbers.
The thing to remember here is that the Archer C3200 can support more devices, but the speeds are pretty standard and are almost identical to what an AC2600 router can deliver.
There is also the issue with devices that do not have MU-MIMO technology and won't be able to take full advantage of what the TP-Link Archer C3200 can offer.
Good Numbers, Good Performance
We installed the Archer C3200 in a real-world setting to give as accurate a performance grade as we can.
The C3200 delivers a reliable performance that pretty much meets our expectations. Using a Speedtest program, we clocked in throughput speeds of 330Mbps using the 5GHz band in the same room environment.
Next, we tried it again a floor below, and the Archer C3200 still delivered around 300Mbps speeds with our device.
As for the 2.4GHz band, we recorded throughput speeds around 122Mbps at close range while it dropped to 110Mbps when we moved to a different floor of the house. This is still an impressively fast performance.
We also pushed the router by playing 4K video streaming on our device, and we are happy to state that we did not experience any issues with the video.
Further pushing the envelope, we tested it again this time with two devices streaming videos with one playing 4K and the other displaying full HD.
Also, no issues were encountered, and the Archer C3200 managed to maintain its performance without breaking a sweat.
The TP-Link Archer C3200 is one of the more affordable tri-band routers around which you can purchase at about $150. Of course, this is an older model of the TP-Link Archer series, which explains the surprisingly low-price tag.
Then again, the refined design and capabilities of this router make it quite an excellent choice for those who wish to upgrade their Wi-Fi system but have a limited budget.
Overall, the TP-Link Archer C3200 certainly offers the best value for money if you consider the technology that it packs.
Of course, in terms of throughput speeds, the C3200 is not that exceptional as its main strength is with its tri-band multiple device support. Even with over a dozen devices connected, the C3200 still managed to maintain stable connection and speeds.
The Archer C3200 is a well-rounded mid-range router that also features tri-band capabilities thanks to an additional 5GHz band.
This allows the C3200 to maintain excellent stability when it comes to network performance and enable more devices to connect to your network without negatively affecting performance and speed.
At a reasonable price, the C3200 did need to sacrifice throughput speeds, but it still clocks some impressive numbers that will only be noticed by power gamers and heavy internet users.
If you are looking for a tri-band router that won't break the bank, I highly recommend you check out what the TP-Link Archer C3200 has to offer.