Introduction & Closer Look
Without the internet, the world would be a very different place and I don’t even think Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf, and Tim Berners-Lee would admit that they knew their creations would leave to the current digital age we live in. I’m not here however to talk about the great men and women of technology, but the hardware which keeps it at the top of our minds on a daily basis. TP-Link has a new router in the form of the Archer VR2800 with a host of features, and I intend to find out whether or not it deserves your hard earned currency or not…
So what’s the deal with the new VR2800 model which further enhances TP-Link’s Archer series of products? Well, to begin with, the VR2800 is effectively a DSL modem router with the option to be used as a full solution on ASDL or VDSL lines, but with the added option of being used as a Wi-Fi router on cable services such as Virgin Media.
Taking a closer look at the TP-Link option, the Archer VR2800 features a very modern, but simplistic all-black design which has a ventilated panel for ambient air flow to cool the components, as well as a more glossy and reflective black finish on the other half of the top panel.
Last year, TP-Link changed the shape and design of their logo…the first major rebrand since their formation in 1996. Sometimes rebranding can rock the boat, kind of like Corsair did with their ‘tramp stamp’, but I think the new TP-Link logo looks very modern and a sign that they are moving forward with the times.
The Archer V2800 features some very useful connections and inputs, especially for a DSL Wi-Fi router. On the left-hand side, we have a pair of toggle switches for the WPS and Wi-Fi functions alongside a pair of USB 3.0 ports which allow for the attachment of storage devices.
On the rear, we have 4 slots for the 4 included dual band aerials which are included; these are actually adjustable as well, although I do believe they look better standing upright. Also present is a dedicated power switch, a hard reset button which requires something to be inserted so you don’t accidently press it, four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a DSL input connector. The 4th Ethernet port doubles up as a LAN/WAN port and this is the port you would use if connecting to an already pre-existing modem for use on non-DSL supported lines (mainly cable).
The back of the VR2800 has contoured gaps which allow for wall mounting, especially if you don’t have a suitable space on a shelf or desk for it to go. The white sticker label in the centre contains information such as the serial number, power information as well as the default connection details to enable you to get it running on your network.
In terms of accessories, most things are obviously built directly into the unit, but we do have four dual-band Wi-Fi antennas, DSL connector cables, a splitter, a power adapter and a single Ethernet cable. This is everything you need to get the TP-Link Archer VR2800 up and running out of the box.
Although not as stylish as the C9 from TP-Link or as futuristic as the Nighthawk range of routers, I quite like the simple and sleek design of the VR2800 and for someone looking for a modern looking DSL modem and Wi-Fi router, the VR2800 certainly has style by the bucket load. It looks simply majestic…
Now we have seen what the TP-Link Archer VR2800 has about it in terms of looks, let’s see what it has under the hood in terms of specifications and features…and we can see how it performs on my personal network!
Specifications & Features
|Interface||3 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 LAN Ports,
1 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 WAN/LAN Port,
1 RJ11 Port,
2 USB 3.0
LED On/Off Button,
Power On/Off Button
|External Power Supply||12V/3.3A|
|IEEE Standards||IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u, 802.3ab|
|VDSL2 Standards||TU G.993.2, Up to 17a profile (POTS)
ITU-T G.993.5 (G.vector)
ITU-T G.998.4 (G.INP）
|ADSL Standards||Full-rate ANSI T1.413 Issue 2,
ITU-T G.994.1 (G.hs)
|ADSL2 Standards||ITU-T G.992.3 (G.DMT.bis)|
|ADSL2+ Standards||ITU-T G.992.5|
|Dimensions ( W x D x H )||10.4 × 7.8 × 1.5 in
(263.8 × 197.8 × 37.3 mm)
|Antenna Type||4 external detachable dual band antennas (RP-SMA)|
|Wireless Standards||IEEE 802.11ac/n/a 5GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz|
|Frequency||2.4GHz and 5GHz (Supports DFS)|
|Transmit Power||<20dBm (2.4GHz),
<23dBm (5GHz Band1 & Band2),
<30dBm (5GHz Band3)
|Wireless Security||64/128-bit WEP,
|Quality of Service||ATM QoS,
Traffic Control (IP QoS)
|Security||NAT Firewall, SPI Firewall, Access Control, Service Filtering, Denial of Service (DoS), SYN Flooding, Ping of Death, IP and MAC Address Binding|
|Management||Web Based Configuration (HTTP / HTTPS ), Remote management,
Command Line Interface, SSL for TR-069, SNMP v1/2c, Firmware Upgrade, Diagnostic Tools, Free Online Firmware Update
|Port Forwarding||Virtual Server, Port Triggering, DMZ, ALG, UPnP|
|VPN Pass-Through||OpenVPN, PPTP VPN, IPSec VPN|
|Protocols||Support IPv4 and IPv6|
|ATM/PPP Protocols||ATM Forum UNI3.1/4.0, PPP over ATM (RFC 2364), PPP over Ethernet (RFC2516),
IPoA (RFC1577/2225), MER\IPoE (RFC 1483 Routed), Bridge (RFC1483 Bridge), PVC – Up to 8 PVCs
|Advanced Features||Parental Controls, Network Address Translation(NAT), Port Mapping
Static Routing, RIP v1/v2 (optional), DNS Relay, DDNS, IGMP V1/V2/V3
|USB Sharing||Support Samba (Storage) / FTP Server / Media Server / Printer Server, 3G/4G Modem / SFTP Server / Web Storage|
|Certification||CE, RCM, RoHS|
|Package Contents||AC2800 Wireless MU-MIMO VDSL/ADSL Modem Router Archer VR2800
RJ11 DSL Cable
RJ45 Ethernet Cable
Quick Installation Guide
|System Requirements||Microsoft Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, XP, Vista™ or Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10,
Mac OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux
Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 12.0, Chrome 20.0, Safari 4.0, or other
Subscription with an internet service provider (for internet access)
|Environment||Operating Temperature: 0℃~40℃(32℉~104℉)
Storage Temperature: -40℃~70℃(-40℉~158℉)
Operating Humidity: 10%~90% non-condensing
Storage Humidity: 5%~90% non-condensing
The admin panel TP-Link use is pretty straightforward to use and is pretty intuitive in my opinion. When using over a DSL connection, using the quick setup option is the quickest and easiest way to get your network set up, but make sure you have your network credentials handy in case you need them.
If you want up to date and detailed information on your network, connecting to your TP-Link router via the IP or web address is pretty simple and straight forward; plenty of different options available and different features are included.
The Archer VR2800 does come with default network credentials, but you can certainly change them and I absolutely recommend you to do so for much-needed network security; don’t want to get hacked do you?
With the inclusion of 2 x USB 3.0 ports, attaching external storage is made easy and through the control panel, you can enable the devices to be shared across the network; this does also feature authentication which adds a level of security to protect your files from unwanted eyes.
If you intend to use the TP-Link Archer VR2800 on a cabled service such as Virgin Media, the process is also pretty simple. Below is a quick step by step guide which should allow you to connect easily and painlessly.
How to Connect a TP-Link Router To a Virgin SuperHub?
1. Turn on the TP-Link (perform a hard reset via the reset button first).
2. Connect to the Wi-Fi point as instructed in the quick setup guide and go through the basic setting of the new admin password and the time settings.
3. Go to the Advanced Tab and look on the left-hand side menu for Operation Mode. Select “Wireless Router Mode” and save it. The router will reboot.
4. Connect to the Superhub and place it into modem mode.
5. Power everything off. This includes the Superhub and the TP-Link and any connected devices (or disconnect them from Wi-Fi). Connect the Ethernet cable between the WAN port in the back of the TP-Link to the Ethernet port on the back of the Superhub closest to the coaxial cable.
6. Turn on the TP-Link router, wait until FULLY booted.
7. Turn on the Superhub, wait until FULLY booted and the only light showing in the front of the Superhub is the purple LED.
8. Turn on PC, or connect wirelessly to the TP-Link router via any device you intend to use with Wi-Fi capability
To test the Archer VR2800s performance and capability, I have opted for a simple speed test on my network which is serviced by Virgin Media. My connection is officially a 200MB line and for comparative purposes, I have compared the performance to the Virgin SuperHub3 for the wired testing. Testing the Wi-Fi performance, I used my Samsung Note 4 smart phone 5 metres away from the source with both available frequency bands available; 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Below is the results of the testing using SpeedTest by Ookla at www.speedtest.net using the Manchester server for consistency:
Sometimes when choosing an ISP or internet service provider as they are more usually known, you are at the mercy of the equipment they provide and more people are opting to use more quality options which are available on the market. The TP-Link Archer V2800 is certainly towards the higher end consumer grade options and although primarily intended as use for DSL (VDSL & ASDL) modem router with a secondary option to use on cabled connections as a wireless router too. What’s it got in the tank and is it a worthwhile product at the sub £200 price point it sits in?
Regarding the performance, I am pretty impressed with the VR2800 and in comparison to the Virgin Superhub 3, it performs noticeably better…even enhancing the wire connection with the Superhub 3 acting in modem only mode. Download speeds while in wired and wireless mode were around 6-7MBps faster while using the VR2800 which equates to around a 3% increase in download speed. Upload speed was pretty consistent throughout both devices and ping was similar too; the VR2800 did have a noticeable performance blip during our wireless ping test, but I wouldn’t be too worried about that at all. Overall the performance of the TP-Link VR2800 is pretty solid and all-round great…
Although TP-Link has gone overboard on the specification, they haven’t gone as aggressive in terms of the design as they did with their Nighthawk range of routers. Here TP-Link has gone for a more subtle look which should mean that it suits a wider variety of setups and shouldn’t look out of place in a relatively modern setting. The 4 Wi-Fi antennas are adjustable in terms of positioning so you can either point them in different directions, or have them pointing straight towards the ceiling for a more uniformed look. I also like the fact the notification LEDs on the front panel glow white instead of a more traditional green colour. White is just sure a more elegant LED colour to go with and anything else would have probably been an easy 2nd best here. You can’t forget that with 2 x USB 3.0 ports
You can’t forget that with 2 x USB 3.0 ports, that attaching external devices such as USB flash drives or external USB hard drives, you can effectively create a storage drive which allows for sharing across the network and all the multiple devices connected too; perfect for sharing documents, photographs and even media such as music files, movies and other types of storable media. This not only adds to the function of the router itself, but it allows for 2, not just 1 storage device to be attached…2 is better than 1 right?
If you want to purchase this particular VSDL/ADSL modem router, you’re looking at around £200 which isn’t easy pocket change all things considered. TP-Link considers this to be ‘ultimate’ quality as opposed to the previous iteration in their range (the AC2600). Without being able to see much difference between the new version and the latter, the AC2600 also costs around £200 so it keeps with the current pricing structure. It might not be the best testament to value for money, but the performance does make a notable performance increase in download speeds and for those with pretty large or awkward houses that need a stronger and more reliable Wi-Fi signal, the TP-Link is a more notable unit. Quality comes at a price and for TP-Link, quality costs £200…
I’m actually a big fan of TP-Link as a company and regularly use products they produce on a daily basis; I’m not a fan boy as such, but I do appreciate good quality consumer products that do the job they SAY they do! That being said, the VR2800 is a welcomed addition to the TP-Link Archer range of Wi-Fi routers and overall I’m pretty happy on the whole. I’m not entirely sure I could justify a £200 outlay for a new router, but for those who want the best, you’re going to need to spend the cash. £200 is entrenching on DrayTek quality, but for the tech savvy consumer with multiple Wi-Fi devices that need connecting and needs a top performing quality DSL modem router, then the VR2800 is the one to get!
Big thanks to TP-Link for sending the Archer VR2800 DSL modem router in for review.
+ Sleek, modern and stylish design make it nice to look at
+ Download speed performance was noticeably better than the Virgin Superhub 3 modem router in the testing
+ MU-MIMO is the latest Wi-Fi technology for stability, performance and reliable connection for multiple devices being connected at once
+ 2 x USB 3.0 ports for option of adding external storage devices
+ All-around good quality DSL/ADSL modem router
- Pretty expensive and if you don't need a multi-compatible DSL (VDSL/ADSL) compatible modem, there are cheaper alternatives available