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Pros: I guess you’re reading this because you’re looking for a wifi adapter to help solve a weak or unreliable network signal and improve bandwidth to your laptop or desktop. At the end of the day, the one and only question, then, is, “will this help?”
The adapter comes with a fairly long USB cable, allowing flexibility for ideal/better placement of antennas. The two, removable, 5dbi antennas suggest some horsepower, and the adapter itself is a bit larger than I expected. When you compare that to the kind of adapter that looks like a little flash drive and is 1/10 th the size, you might expect this thing could communicate with the moon.
So is it worth the extra money? Will it actually communicate with the moon?
Platform: Dell D630 with a very good Internal intel abgn card, 3 antenna. Windows 8 Pro.
Location 1 “good”: Location has a good, but not great existing wifi signal, 20 mhz/2 antenna, around -60db or so. This location generally works well, 40 ft from AP and 3 walls, 2 exterior. The test is to see if there is improvement over already acceptable reception. ISP providing 50/10 service. Generally, the wifi will limit download speed to something less than 50 depending on location.
Internal Card: 26.38 Mbps download, 11.86 Mbps upload
WN8200ND: 32.02 Mbps download, 12.05 Mbps upload
Conclusion: I was surprised at the improvement, around 15% in download throughput, but it was consistent and repeatable improvement.
Location 2 “poor”: Location has a poor signal, generally running -83 db depending on how you measure. Distance to AP approximately 100 ft and at least one exterior wall. Service is 20/4.
Internal Card: 2.34 Mbps download, 1.85 Mbps upload
WN8200ND: 6.10 Mbps download, 4.41 Mbps upload
Conclusion: Impressive improvement in throughput, more than 100% improvement both directions.
Cons: Size of the device, size of the antennas, long USB cable – all these “cons” are what are needed to make it perform. Although I was surprised by how large it is. I don’t think you’ll find a flash drive sized wifi adapter that will work as well as this.
And for the real minutiae:
The antennas slightly prevent the back feet from touching the desk. When you deploy this thing with the antennas bent and the device sitting flat on the desk, the back feet are too short, and it rests on the antenna’s “elbows”. Industrial designer taking a nap? It’s not a big deal, and doesn’t make it unstable or anything, but geeze.
WPS button? Seriously? Do people really use those these days?
Bright green flashy light? Oh yeah, I definitely need more of those. Not.
Overall Review: Testing showed a real, measurable improvement in wifi throughput vs a very good quality built in laptop wifi card.
Overall, I would guess the improvement in reception and transmission to be somewhere between 3 and 10 db in both directions. That’s enough to stabilize a fringe signal and make it more useable. Don’t expect miracles, though.
War drivers might really appreciate that the antennas can be removed, and replaced with some serious high gain directional suckers. While I didn’t try it, that might make it a candidate for some serious hardware hacking. Oh yeah, baby.
Pros: 2 very big antennas
5' mini USB cable
When you first take it out of the box, it's quite alarming how big the adapter is, especially the antennas. But with the included 5' mini USB cable, you can place it somewhere inconspicuous.
Make sure you run the install from the CD. The utility includes a Status page, WPS, Network, Profile, and Advanced. The Status page tells you the rate that you're connected, the channel, encryption type, MAC address, wireless mode, IP address, and signal strength. WPS gives you different options to connect, like push button and enter PIN. Network displays all the SSID's available in your area, along with their security, channel, and signal strength. A very convenient feature is the ability to sort by any of them. Profile displays a list of networks the adapter has ever connected to. You can modify the network information, including profile name, SSID, Network Type, Security Type, Encryption Type, Security Key, and whether to start the connection automatically. Advanced allows you to choose a wireless network adapter (if you have more than 1), turn SoftAP mode on/off, and turn Power Save mode on/off.
Testing speeds one floor down, I get an average 260Mbps connection rate, my download speed is about half of what my max should be, and upload speeds are at 100% of my max.
Cons: I was never able to get the Power Save mode to work.
The utility doesn't have a place to check for updated drivers, and the only way to tell what version driver you have is by right clicking on the system tray icon. In addition, TP-Link's website drivers don't match the driver version of the utility.
This only affects you if you're using Snap To on your mouse, which automatically moves the pointer to the default button in a dialog box. The utility's Network page doesn't like it. Whenever you try to scroll down the list of networks, the mouse keeps jumping around.
Overall Review: Only works with 2.4GHz network band.
The blinking green light is a bit misleading. When it's connected, it blinks, constantly. I'm accustomed to the blinking to mean it's trying to connect.
Pros: Plug & Play, Large dual antenna, compact, fast, incredible range
Cons: Linux (Ubuntu 14.04) can use the device, it won't attach to a network
Overall Review: I always try to use wireless devices without the included "Connection Software" that comes with it, and with both Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 10 Preview 9684, this worked just fine with just plugging it in. My speed was about 70% of what my wired speed was, but that's to be expected with a USB 2.0 connection.
While it was simple to just plug in and use with Windows, I spent over two hours trying to signin to my home network with Ubuntu, to no avail. I could SEE networks (even networks that I normally don't see until I'm out of range of mine), and I could enter my credentials, but after authentication occurred, I was dumped from the network (much like how LG tablets or Motorola phones do about half the time).
Sadly, while the Technical Support was quick, it wasn't useful. The reply was, basically, we don't support Linux and this device may never see support for it. For those of us who are dual-booting operating systems, or need hardware that will work with Linux (any build), this is not the device for you.
If, however, you are looking for something to use with Windows that has a large range, THIS is a great device for you. No need to open your case or portable - just plug this in and you're back online.
Pros: The first test unit I received died after just a few days of use. After several emails TP-Link asked me to return my defective unit and then they shipped out a new replacement. The connect speeds are still not very impressive typically around 147K, but the new unit has been reliable so far.
The installation mini-CD that came with the new unit worked perfectly the first time on a new Windows 7 64-bit PC. Once installed, it had a nice interface to locate nearby WIFI sources.
I was able to backup the test PC without any data rate slow downs or lost packets.
The USB interface makes this a handy gadget to easily connect to any PC with a USB port to WIFI. No need to open the case on a desktop to install a WIFI interface card. It does not have to be installed in a single machine, but can be moved to different desktop or laptop systems as needed. This could be very convenient for students or travelers.
Cons: I was never able to obtain a full 300 Mbps WIFI-N connection as advertised. The unit seemed to top out at around 150 Mbps.
Overall Review: If the replacement unit continues to work reliably, I may start recommending these TP-Link USB adapters to my desktop and laptop users, versus permanently installed PCI or PCIe WIFI cards. These would also be handy way to repair a laptop with a failed internal WIFI adapter.
Recommended: These adapters seem to provide a lot of value for the money.
Pros: It does pick up more signals. Extended range was quite impressive.
Cons: Speeds while using this are seriously slower than the built in wireless card. This only does the 2.4Ghz band. The antennas stick below the base so it does not sit even.
Overall Review: I'm not overly impressed, but if you're having issues getting a signal this can allow you to connect.
Pros: Fairly easy to setup, Supports WPS for a very simple install.
Good price, durable construction, long cable for easy placement wherever needed, reliable connection for the most part.
Supports SoftAP and with two of them you can create multiple wifi hotspots, extend the range of your signal, or creating different access points.
Uses standard RP-SMA antenna connectors
Good signal quality, compared to other adapters it has the best signal strength every time!
Cons: Disconnects itself once in a while on 2 different computers (dual cores with windows 7) but runs great on my newer quad core (windows 7). Won't stay full screen on Hulu most of the time and sometimes it wont automatically connect and it loses signal completely. The driver is required from the included mini CD as Windows 7 doesn't seem to work without it and this could be a problem being since the disc is one of the mini's that not all drives can use. I would like to just plug it in and go but that maybe too much to ask considering I had trouble getting the utility/driver from their website to work. Comes with only 5dbi antennas. Slower than expected download speed (32Mbs average).
Overall Review: I'm happy with this adapter. It doesn't disconnect very often and seems very predictable. I've always been happy with TP-link because they always seem to work for me. I can't complain about the performance for the cost and versatility of the device. Downloaded drivers from the website just didn't work so keep track of that disc!
Pros: Increased signal strength over internal laptop adapter. Discovers more (further away) Wifi SSIDs than laptop's internal wireless.
Option to install driver-only is a plus. Does not require the software utility to function. It can be installed to use Windows built-in wireless networking utility.
Optional provided software utility includes an easy way to switch this to a secure WPA access point. Just right click icon and enable SoftAP mode. Now your PC is a simple wireless router! You can even create your own passcode.
Nice long adjustable antennas feel nice.
Five foot USB cable included.
Cons: Not plug-and-play on Windows 7 or 8. Requires driver CD.
Mini-USB port placement on front of unit doesn't make sense unless mounting on the wall, however there are no wall mounting holes on back.
Difficult to unwrap antennas from tightly wrapped sticky plastic packaging.
Blinking green light is too bright. Should be on the back, toggle off, or not exist.
USB cable is pretty thick.
Overall Review: I have a computer in the basement we use to stream movies but due to location it can barely pick up our wireless signal. I was using a power-over-ethernet adapter for the problem, but this transfers files over twice as fast and just as reliable.
I hard a hard time streaming media wirelessly, but now it just works.
Link speed reported as 144Mbps in task manager when connecting to 2.4GHz 802.11g.
USB is okay, but I'd prefer this connect via ethernet cable since you must install a driver anyway and the ethernet jack generally goes unused if when using wireless.
It does what it says and does it well, but it's not the most logical design in my opinion.
In conclusion, this is a quality adapter for the price. None of the cons merit taking away a star.
Pros: Fairly long USB cable, 5 feet. One touch button for automatic security. Personally I would prefer to simply use a password, but if you're having trouble with the software, if you don't have a disc drive or internet access prior to installation, that would be a convenient feature. This adapter gets really good range. In my bedroom, which is on the far side of my house, I can get a full 5 bars. My iPod only gets 2 out of 3 in the same room. It comes with two fairly long antennas that are very easy to install. You don't even need to use them really if you're not too far away from your router. The packaging it comes in is very secure and should do a good job keeping your hardware safe on the journey from Newegg to your home. Hasn't dropped a signal yet the entire time I've used it, which is well over 100 hours. Nice strong signal and I'm getting my full 50 Mb DSL speed.
Cons: I've only had a single problem with this wireless adapter and that was with the software. I installed the TP Link software that was included with this device and let it run. I was typing up a text document and every minute or two it kept pulling focus off of the window I was working on. That's the best way I can think of to describe it. I would be typing and the cursor would disappear so that what I was typing wasn't coming up on the document and I'd have to manually put the cursor back on my text document and continue typing. So, I closed the TP Link software and it stopped doing it. Fortunately, you don't need the TP LInk software to use this wireless adapter. You can just plug it into your USB port and let Windows automatically install drivers. Then use Windows wireless network settings to select your network and you're good to go. That is if you're using Windows Vista or 7. Windows 8 wasn't listed as compatible on their website for this piece of hardware. XP is compatible, but I don't think it will automatically install drivers. So I knocked off on egg for that issue.
Overall Review: This wireless adapter really is a good piece of equipment for the price. I would buy another one if I needed one. Here's an interesting fact I learned, the plural of "Antenna" is antennae if its referring to insects or some other animal and antennas if its referring to hardware.